Mariani Landscape
Hope for the Healing Planet;Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois

Contractor: Mariani Landscape
Consultants: Lightscape, Inc.; Masonry by Fernando; S.H. Bertucci
Category: Communications

Seizing the opportunity to educate the general public on sustainable principles, the Chicago Botanic Garden collaborated with Mariani Landscape to create a temporary garden display at the 2009 Chicago Flower & Garden Show. The end result was a stunning garden which showcased environmentally-friendly design practices that could be easily replicated at a residential scale. The garden illustrated that ‘green' can be beautiful, as well as functional. The landscape architect strived to transport the visitor from the trade show floor and into a garden oasis. This was accomplished by having visitors weave through shoji screens at an entrance to the space and surrounding the garden with layers of tall arborvitae and mixed deciduous shrubs. Once through the screens, the garden was revealed.

Those walking throughout the exhibit were treated to elegant arrangements of colorful greenery; a respite from the harsh winter outside. The center of the space featured a zig-zag bridge made out of Ipé-a Brazilian hardwood which had been harvested under the guidelines of sustainable forestry practices-and crossed a central water feature while directing views to key plant combinations. Over 4,500 locally-grown plants were used including eastern redbud, forsythia, cornelian cherry, maple, and witch hazel. Herbaceous plant material was selected to provide a tapestry of textures and avoid reliance on costly annual flowers to provide interest. The design incorporated perennials, easily obtained at any garden center, in unique and engaging combinations to demonstrate to visitors how they could replicate the look at their homes.

To serve the educational mission, signage called attention to aesthetic and ecological benefits, such as managing stormwater, reducing the heat-island effect and reducing energy consumption. As a host to over 50,000 visitors, the garden served as an ambassador of sustainability, raising public awareness of the advantages of environmentally sensitive landscape features.