Garden Stories

Loving fall—to the harvest moon and back

Fall Prairie

Even as we tend summer's lingering flora, we’re celebrating the coming fall at the Chicago Botanic Garden—just the way our ancestors have done for centuries.

As the growing season winds down, it’s a busy time for gardeners, ahead of the fall equinox on September 23 in the Northern Hemisphere. Six days later, the full harvest moon reaches peak illumination, signaling a time when life slows and the first frost approaches—around October 15 in the greater Chicago area.

Garden’s Windy City Harvest farms, VeggieRx

Fall colors

Bulb Festival


On the Garden’s Windy City Harvest farms, our teams work in the fields through late October, harvesting spinach, arugula, kale, and collards, along with cherry tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beets, and more—some of which goes to eligible patients in our free prescription produce program, VeggieRx. You can shop for the farm-to-table produce, depending on availability, at our Farm on Ogden indoor market in Chicago.

On our main campus, at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, our teams are filling baskets with figs, apples, golden raspberries, and blackberries, along with cantaloupe, pumpkins, okra, corn, eggplants, and more—all of which is donated to the nonprofit Roberti Community House in Waukegan.

Meanwhile, as the maple trees hint at gold and crimson, we’re checking out the big bluestem grass and other parts of Dixon Prairie and keeping our eyes open for migrating dragonflies, butterflies, and birds. To welcome the season, our Fall Festival & Bulb Sale features bluegrass music, a big gourd mountain, and a marketplace with local vendors. 

Other parts of the world have fall traditions that have carried over for generations. In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a 3,000-year-old tradition; families gather to share mooncakes filled with seasonal lotus root paste and other treats. During the New Yam Festival in Nigeria, festivities include traditional Yoruba storytelling drums and feasts that feature a yam dish called amala in honor of the first crops. In Consuegra, Spain, celebrants ring in the saffron harvest with special meals, including paella seasoned with the pricey spice.

Need inspiration before deciding how you will mark the season? Peek outside for the gifts of the season