The Morton Arboretum

One of the perks of my membership at the Chicago Botanic Garden is that I get free admission to a ton of other gardens throughout the country, including the Morton Arboretum out in the western suburbs of Chicago.  Since I figured it was time for me to take advantage of this free admission, Michael and I decided to pay it a visit.  It was certainly worth the trek!  It’s a heck of a lot bigger than ChiBot with a much different collection.  There are some manicured gardens here but the big draw are the trees (which is no surprise since it’s an arboretum and not so much a botanic garden).  We didn’t actually look at any of the proper gardens and spent pretty much all of our time ogling the specimen trees and the natural areas.  Among the many exciting things I learned here were that Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is fragrant.  I’d never actually heard of a grass with fragrant blooms before so this was exciting.  It was an interesting smell…kind of like cilantro but without the soapy overtones.

I also re-learned why I ever thought Acalypha wilkesiana was such a great plant.  Look at it in that large pot.  It’s just so striking.  It’s such a shame that the ones at work were always faded out from being grown inside and not given a chance to develop that amazing color.

 

I never thought about using white pine (Pinus strobus) as a hedge plant before bit I fell in love with the result.  Who wouldn’t want to have their property surrounded by that?

 

There were so many amazing trees there…

 

These were easily the largest dwarf alberta spruce I’ve ever seen.  I know the tag says they can get to 20 feet tall but I’d never actually seen one 20 feet tall until now.

 

When I first stumbled upon this tree was like “wtf, that can’t be a norfolk island pine” so I had to run up and look at the tag.  Turns out it’s Cryptomeria japonica, a plant I’ve frequently read about and probably seen a few times when I was in Pennsylvania, but never really noticed until now.  I also had absolutely no idea that it’d grow this far north.  Now I’m lusting after it and neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed one.

 

And last but not least I’ll leave you with this shot of one of their wild areas.  I really need to make it back.  The arboretum is 1700 acres and I think we saw maybe 200 of them.

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