The journey begins when you cross the boardwalk—rough planks made of black locust, floating just above the water. Your step slows; the world gets quieter as the boardwalk ends and you disappear into Spider Island. Though small, Spider Island was designed to create the experience of being in a much larger, more secluded woodland. (Spider Island is the smallest of the nine islands of the Chicago Botanic Garden.)
This place is an intimate retreat in which all forms of nature are celebrated, a place of trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, sedges, and flowering perennials. In summer, birches provide shade, while dogwoods and willows flourish closer to the shore, directing views inward from across the water. Among the first to bloom on Spider Island are bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta); among the last is hairy toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta ‘Moonlight’).
When you get to the end of the path, take a seat on one of the granite boulders. Take your time in this tranquil setting—the long, sweeping view over the water isn’t going anywhere.