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March President's Circle Letter

Dear President’s Circle Members,

Finally, finally, there are signs of spring. I am delighted to see snowdrops, winter aconite, and crocuses pushing through leaf litter as the ground warms, sunlight lingers, and snow melts. All around me, there is a sense of relief (goodbye, winter) and anticipation (hello, spring!). At the Chicago Botanic Garden, one of the most welcome signs of the season is the Antiques & Garden Fair, which returns this year for a 14th season.

The Fair was introduced at the Garden in April 2000 as a large-scale seasonal celebration, its focus reflecting the growing interest in garden antiques. Co-chaired by Board members Donna LaPietra and Jeanine McNally, the inaugural event was an instant hit. Attendees flocked to the 70 vendors offering antiques and fine-gardening accessories, situated within a gorgeous indoor garden setting created by Bill Heffernan. Then as now, the Fair offered lectures by renowned garden and home-design writers, and an opening preview celebration to kick things off  and raise funds for Garden programs.

Antiques & Garden Fair

The Fair has grown in scope over the years, but its original success established a blueprint that has needed little modification. This year’s Fair, from April 11 to 13, features more than 100 exhibitors from the United States and Europe, offering both contemporary and antique garden furnishings. Bill Heffernan continues to work his magic as artistic director, overseeing beautiful display gardens created by five companies, including his eponymous William Heffernan Landscapes; Artemisia with Manfredini Landscaping & Design; Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, Inc.; Schmechtig Landscapes; and the Schwebel Company.

The hardworking co-producers of this year’s Fair not only helped to find our outstanding lecturers, Miles Redd and Danielle Rollins, but are taking care of all the other myriad details involved in organizing a successful event like this one. Thank you, Cathy Busch, Susan Canmann, Jen Kasten, Jane O’Neil, Peggy Swartchild, and Donna LaPietra. Donna is still, thankfully, at the helm 14 years after the first Antiques & Garden Fair, and Jane is another veteran from the early days, having co-chaired her first Fair in 2003. I am grateful as well for the many members of the Fair committee, and to Stella Show Management for keeping things running smoothly. We also have received outstanding support for the 2014 Fair from BMO Harris Bank, Bonterra Organic Vineyards, and Plante Moran. Our thanks would not be complete without mentioning American Airlines, who for years has been the official airline of the Chicago Botanic Garden, generously providing air transportation for the Antiques & Garden Fair.

I look forward to seeing you among the spring blooms—inside, during the Fair, and outside all season long—as our gardens and natural areas awaken from winter’s dormancy.

Best regards,
Sophia Shaw