Smallish Adventures - Orchids at Nicholas Conservatory

This weekend I went on a smallish adventure to the Nicholas Conservatory in Rockford. I had never been there before, and up until I created this post about 40 spectacular gardens in and around Chicago, I had never even heard of it. I'm so glad I went. It's a pretty little conservatory and, the best part, they had an orchid show going on!

Nicholas Conservatory Rockford Illinois
Orchids at the Nicholas Conservatory Rockford Illinois
Rockford Orchid Show by april bern photography
Orchids Nicholas Conservatory by april bern photography

I wish I had taken photos of the outside of this conservatory. It's pretty impressive. It's glass (as most conservatories are) and quite large. I was a tiny bit disappointed in the size of the actual flower space inside. Don't get me wrong-- it's gorgeous. I imagine wedding and engagement photos would be amazing here. I just thought it would be a little bit bigger, based on the impressive shape of the building. I can't wait to come back in the spring and summer to check out the actual garden section.

The orchid show itself was quite lovely. The tropical smells hit you when you first walk in, even before you notice any of the flowers. They really did a fantastic job of creating gorgeous eye catching orchid displays and showcased a lot of different varieties of orchids. Keep an eye on my flickr or instagram account for a lot more photos.

Would I go back? Yes, definitely. I plan on taking my mom here so she can enjoy the orchid show. And we will check out the rest of the garden in the spring, and at least one more time in the summer when they have their rose event.  And because I always make a trip to the Anderson Japanese Garden in the fall, I'm sure we will be stopping here and checking out their fall colors too.



Related posts:





Happy Earth Day- This week at the Garden

This is such an exciting time. The tulips will all be open within a week or two, the magnolia trees will be in full bloom, and in early May, the crab apples trees should full of little blossoms. And then, the lilacs... **sigh** I cannot wait.

Here's what was in bloom at the Garden last week:

Chicago botanic garden - english garden fountain
Spring Daffodils
Cherry Blossoms at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Hyanicth at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Spring tulips at the Chicago Botanic Garden

And, to add to the excitement of the season, I get to start creating my patio garden soon. If the weather holds up, I think I can start in the beginning of May--yay! This year is going to be even better than last year. If you need any tips to create your own container garden on your patio/deck, check out my post 5 Simple Tips to Create Gorgeous Container Gardens.

How's your spring coming along? What's your favorite springtime bloom? Let me know in the comments section below !



Related posts:

40 Spectacular Botanic Gardens, Arboretums, and Conservatories in and around Chicago-land for Photography

Finally, it's photography season! (cue the trumpets!) Time to dust off your lenses and clear off your memory cards. I've spent all winter researching and compiling a list of the places I want to visit this year with my mom (who is a blossoming photographer herself) as a kind of photography/garden bucket list. There are a ton of places in and near Chicago to check out and and many are just a short drive away. There are few a little further away that I haven’t been to yet, like the Rotary Garden in Janesville, Green Bay Botanic Garden, and a few in Indiana that I'm excited to visit. Road Trip!

40 best botanic gardens in the chicago land area

Here's my list of the best botanic gardens, arboretums, and conservatories in and around the Chicago area as well as few out of state that are a short drive away. If you’ve been to any of these places, let me know what you think. Leave a comment in the section below with a link to some of your photos, I would love to see what you captured. 

Chicago area

Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden



 Rockford area (and beyond)

Anderson Japanese Garden

Anderson Japanese Garden

Anderson Japanese Garden

Anderson Japanese Garden

Boerner Botanical Gardens

Boerner Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens




Did I miss any gardens or arboretums that I definitely have to add to my list? Let me know in the comments section below!


Related posts:

10 More DIY Flower Pot Painting Ideas

It's still (only) February, but I'm totally thinking about my patio garden already (it's never to early to start planning, right?)  Two years ago (has it really been that long?) I painted and distressed a bunch of terra cotta flower pots. This year, I think I want to try something a little more fun! 

Here are 10 more easy DIY painted flower pot ideas:

10 Super Easy DIY Painted Flower Pots

1. DIY Gold Foil Lettering on Flower Pots

2. DIY Drip Painted Pottery

3. Pot of Gold…err…Turquoise

4. DIY Chevron Pots

5. DIY Hand Painted Ikat Pots

6. Day of the Dead Planters

7. Nail Polish Marbled DIY Planters

8. DIY Painted Pots

9. Dip Dye Succulent Pot

10. Painted Terra Cotta Pots

I absolutely love idea 1 (the gold foil lettering) for my indoor plants. I don't have a cricut so might do something similar with gold foil. (don't worry! I'll post a tutorial when I do this!) I love idea 5 (the DIY Ikat Pots) for my pots outside. I can't believe how easy it looks to make this fun pattern! I think this would pattern pot would compliment my distressed pots nicely.

If you're looking for more DIY painting ideas, check out this post-- you'll find more really great ideas to decorate your pots including several techniques.  10 DIY Flower Pot Painting Ideas

If you're looking for even more, even cuter ways to decorate your indoor and outdoor flower pots, stop by and check this post out : 10 More Super Cute Ways to DIY Your Flower Pots

If you're looking for some fun ideas for easy and trendy ways to DIY succulent planters, check out this post: 10 Super Cute Ways to DIY succulent planters



Have you tried one of these techniques? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments section below-- I'd love to hear how it went!


Related posts:

My Gorgeous Patio Transformation!

I finally got to plant over Memorial Day weekend! YAY!!!! I couldn't stand my bare, empty patio any longer and the weather was just perfect for going to the plant shop and picking up some plants for my new deck railing planters. Apparently everyone else had that same idea too, and they were all trying to get to Pesche's! It was so bad, they had cops directing traffic in order to get in and out of that place! NOTE TO SELF: Don't go plant shopping during Memorial Day Weekend. Mom and I went to Lurvey's instead, and I have to say, I am so happy we did! I got these gorgeous leafy plants for my planters and they turned out even better than I had originally planned. I love them, and am in love with my outdoor space now!!! Check it out! 

The plants in this planter came from Pesche's a week prior to Memorial Day weekend!

The next thing I need to get is a patio umbrella or some sort of sunshade so that I can actually sit outside during the morning and afternoon! What else could I use?

Do you have a patio or a garden (or both?) Let me know! I'd love to check out your outdoor space!


Related posts:

My distressed painted flower pot DIY

Remember a few weeks ago when I was in the process of painting my flower pots and I posted the list of my top 10 DIY painted flower pot ideas? Well, I did finish them and I LOVE how they turned out!

Here's a quick little DIY on how to paint flowerpots so they look distressed:


These distressed pots were super simple to make and I LOVE the results!

1. Start with clean, dry pots

2. Spray lightly with Krylon Make it Stone spray paint and wait for it to dry.


3. Paint with your choice of acrylic paints. I used a combination of Martha Stewart's Wedding Cake, Blue Sky, and Cloud and I just dabbed all three colors on the pot with no real rhyme or reason.


4. Once the acrylic paint is dry, take a course grit sandpaper and rub some of the paint off!


Voila! Easy-peasy distressed flower pots!


Did you try this DIY? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments section below!


Related posts:

How does your Garden Grow

A few years ago my good friend, Robert, moved from Chicago to a suburb outside Dallas, TX and has started his own little garden (Ha! "Garden"  is a little bit of an understatement!) ! I'm sooooo inspired by him!  I love getting updates about his weekend gardening adventures and I love how excited he gets when his plants/trees and chickens (yes! Chickens!) thrive. As of a few weeks ago, here's a small list of what he's planted:

  • 4 plum trees (red, yellow and purple), apple, pear, peach, dwarf apple  two apricots, mandarin (which replaced an orange tree that died this past Winter) and a Chinese date tree (also known as Jujube).
  • 4 blackberries 4 blueberries, 4 raspberries, 4 strawberries, 6 grapes vines, watermelons, sugar snap peas, 3 tomato plants, one bell pepper, 18 onions and a bunch of asparagus, turnips. chocolate mint and wild garlic.
  • Also 4 cannas, 10 Gerber daisies, 39 roses, 25 irises (a variety of colors), super petunias (they're ridiculously beautiful early in the year when nothing else grows yet), a bunch of Mexican Heathers (they look great in the 100+ degree days and require little water), plumbago, butterfly bushes, 4 lilacs, 4 azaleas (2 pink and 2 white), lavender, jasmine, honeysuckle, a dozen or so begonias and 6 mums.

Wow! that's some list (I'm sure he's added more since sending me that list a few weekends ago...)

I love Roberts explanation as to why he started gardening:

"Hard to say to say exactly how all of this got started. Gardening is pretty addictive, like getting a tattoo. Takes a while to get started, but once you do, it's hard to stop. Keep wanting to add more and more things to the yard. Sometimes they survive and sometimes they don't and you always build on whatever's left, just like everything else in life. Learned a lot from experience and still do. I never planned on spending the rest of my days in this house, but with every single plant we plant and every leaf that grows, it gets harder and harder to even imagine being anywhere else but here. "

I love it! He's inspired me to start my own little garden this year.  Unfortunately, I live in a town home and I don't have the luxury of having a backyard to plant stuff. I do, however, have a tiny patio that I've started to fill up with plants and pots.

So far, I have planted two strawberry plants and basil, parsley and spinach in a little seed starter greenhouse kit. After a few weeks (maybe 3 weeks?) I finally had some little sprouts. It seems like only the basil and the parsley has taken root and started growing.


After 5 weeks, I have basil and some sick looking parsley!

Here are my strawberry plants (Yes, I know, they probably need more space, but this is all I have-- they'll have to make due..) I have numerous buds, but no real berries--yet. I've got my fingers crossed!

Within the next few weeks I will plant some beans (how hard can they be to grow? I think i grew some when I was in first grade!) bell peppers and I'm going to try the spinach again. Wish me luck!