The Chicago Botanic Garden canceled its beloved annual Orchid Show to adhere to ongoing state mitigations to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Orchid Show was set to open this month, but the garden announced its decision to cancel the annual event in mid-January.
“We’re disappointed that we could not bring you these winter favorites but are already planning and looking forward to the 2022 Orchid Show,” the Chicago Botanic Garden website says.
In addition to the Orchid Show, all related events have been canceled, including Orchid After Hours and the Orchid Marketplace, which both draw large crowds to the Glencoe institution.
Other annual events, like Super Seed Weekend and the Science Festival, have been canceled this year, as well.
Amid the cancelations, however, the garden still has other events that it hopes will keep plant and flower-lovers happy in a safe, socially distanced environment.
“We are fortunate that we are primarily an outdoor venue, which is what allows us to safely welcome visitors who find respite and comfort here while connecting with friends and family,” said Harriet Resnick, the vice president of visitor experience and business development at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “At this time, we plan to keep the grounds, garden shop, Garden Café and Visitor’s Center open on a daily basis during the winter months.”
The programming currently offered by the garden is focused on events that can be held outdoors, including winter bird walks on Feb. 27 and March 20, when participants can birdwatch through the garden’s outdoor spaces. There also are self-guided woods walks every Sunday through Feb. 28, when participants can explore the flora and fauna of McDonalds Woods, with a fire at the McDonalds Woods shelter afterward to warm up by.
The garden is also hosting numerous classes that are available online, including Houseplants 101, Photography Techniques and virtual cooking classes. They also set up live cameras in the closed greenhouses that can be streamed online.
“The health and safety of our community of visitors, staff and volunteers, as well as our community at large, remains our top priority,” Resnick said. “We continue to follow state guidelines in response to the COVID-19 health crisis and are asking that everyone take the same preventive measures taken in any other public space, such as practicing social distancing and wearing a face covering when indoors and within 6 feet of people outside your own party.”
When Gov. JB Pritzker first issued a stay-at-home order in March of last year, the Chicago Botanic Garden was quick to shut its operations down, according to Resnick.
“In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, the garden closed for 82 days from mid-March 2020 through early June 2020 and, when reopened, we operated with reduced capacity and implemented preregistration,” Resnick said.
The rules are still in place today — and have been for the past seven months — for the events that are continuing to occur at the Chicago Botanic Garden, now that it is open for visitors.
“Pre-registration for timed entry is required for all visitors, including garden members, until further notice,” Resnick said.
For those interested in attending an event at the garden, pre-registrations can be made online at the garden’s website.
Regarding the future of other garden events, Resnick said the organization will continue to follow state protocols when it comes to other plans, and whether they will be held or not.
“Unlike other outdoor events we hosted at the garden this past fall and winter, hosting indoor events are more challenging in a COVID-19 world,” Resnick said.
Erin is a freelance journalist based in the Chicago area. She most recently served as the editor of The Highland Park Landmark. Her work has also been featured in Chowhound, Choose Chicago, Eat This Not That, MSN and the Lake County News Sun.