SG549: An Inside Peak Into The Chicago Botanic Garden

Today, I invited two people onto the podcast from the Chicago Botanic Garden. The first is Jodi Zombolo. She is the Associate Vice President of Visitor Events and Programs at the botanic garden and discusses some of the exciting events the botanic garden hosts each year. The next guest is Lisa Hilgenberg, who is the lead Horticulturist for the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. As a fellow Minnesotan, she is in charge of over 50,000 vegetable plants at the botanic garden, which she discusses a bit more in-depth on the show!

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.

SG549: An Inside Peak Into The Chicago Botanic Garden

Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden


Wonderland Express


The Orchid Show


Interview Questions

Welcome Jodi, why don’t you start off by sharing a bit about yourself?

Time Stamp: 9:50

How many events do you put together in a typical year?

Time Stamp 10:25

Who is craving all these pumpkins during the Night of a Thousand Jack O’ Lanterns event?

Time Stamp: 13:10

What kind of candles did you use and how long did it take you to light them all?

Time Stamp: 13:45

Can you give us a high-level overview of The Wonderland Express? How did it get started?

Time Stamp: 15:45

The next event that I wanted to talk to you about is the orchid show. Tell us a little bit about that.

Time Stamp: 22:45

Do you sell some of the orchids too?

Time Stamp: 23:55

What’s the event like? Do guests learn how to care for orchids?

Time Stamp: 24:20

How many people come to the orchid show every year?

Time Stamp: 26:50

You also have an orchid show photo contest for your visitors?

Time Stamp: 28:10

How did you end up working at the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2010 – specifically as the lead horticulturalist at the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden– in charge of over 50,000 vegetable plants?

Time Stamp: 31:25

Welcome us to the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden of today. I was thinking your motto could be Fructus Insulam – Island of Fruit (is there Latin word for Vegetable?!)

Time Stamp: 33:05

The Chicago Botanic Garden traces its origins back to the Chicago Horticultural Society, founded in 1890. You and I were talking in the pre-show chat that there’s this fantastic book that has many images of the Chicago Botanic Garden during this time. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Time Stamp: 38:40

There was a lovely post by Katje Sabin about meeting you at the garden in wintertime. You shared with her how you work with the cycle of nature to handle challenges in the garden. How can home gardeners adapt the same practice – do you have some insights or advice to get them started down this path?

Time Stamp: 44:35

What would be an example of what you recently combatted with a more natural approach vs. a spray?

Time Stamp: 47:05

I loved the photo of the cold frames that your carpenters built. These are deluxe! They have hydraulic lid lifts and heating coils. How do they work?

Time Stamp: 50:15

You wrote an incredible post called Food for Thought: Celebrating the Vegetables of the 1890s. It was eye-opening for me to read it. Could you share your thoughts on this post and why it’s important for gardeners to know about seed preservation?

Time Stamp: 53:40

When you’re buying seed for the garden, do you have a specific source to go for seed? And when you do buy the seeds, do you focus on buying heirloom seeds?

Time Stamp: 57:25

There are a series of some beautiful vertical gardens at Regenstein. What tips do you have for gardeners who want to try this at home?

Time Stamp: 59:15

Now that the growing season is pretty much done, do you empty out everything?

Time Stamp: 1:03:45

You also offer vegetable classes at Regenstein. What are some of the things visitors can learn from your classes?

Time Stamp: 1:05:15

How concerned are people about the spreading issue with strawberries? They can take over your garden so quickly.

Time Stamp: 1:07:55

You wrote a post about Gardening Gift Book recommendations for the CBG last year. What would make your top ten list for garden books this year?

Time Stamp: 1:11:55

All gardens evolve. When you think about the crop plans for next year, what are you excited about as look ahead at the 2017 year in the garden?

Time Stamp: 1:16:15

Can you give listeners a quick overview about the seed swap event that the Chicago Botanic Garden hosts every year?

Time Stamp: 1:19:20

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Still Growing is one of the reliably informative gardening podcasts from North America. The format consists of an intro (personal gardening status chat, seasonal remarks), an extended interview with a guest, and an outro with funny outtakes, side remarks, and some chatter (poems, readings) from the host's children. The podcast is focused on reliable knowledge - the guests are typically experts like academics, master gardeners, gardening entrepreneurs or public garden leaders. The intro and especially the outro give it a homey feel. Given I live in the high northern region, just a little below the Polar Circle, I'm always looking for more cold-weather oriented gardening information. Jennifer Ebeling is in Minnesota, so that's helpful to me! Vegetable gardening (my main interest) gets a good share, but is not predominant. Most topics transcend your specific gardening interest and are applicable to many styles: landscaping principles, vermicomposting, greenhouses. The episodes are typically an hour long, which is just fine for me.

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Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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