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Flowers and fashion in Chicago

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Courtesy of Greater North Michigan Avenue Association

(Read caption) CITY IN BLOOM: From June 26 until Labor Day, Chicago's Magnificent Mile is filled with flower gardens.

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If you’re in Chicago between June 26 and Sept. 1, do plan a stroll along the Windy City’s Magnificent Mile.

Not only will you gaze at great flower gardens, but the annual ComEd Gardens of the Magnificient Mile – dozens of small gardens funded by the high-end hotels, restaurants, and retailers along north Michigan Avenue – have some zany green inhabitants.

For the second year, students from the International Academy of Design and Technology and the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago have been given dress forms and asked to adorn them creatively in recycled materials.

These could be anything from old chicken wire to a hat like one Queen Elizabeth might have worn in the mid-1950s. Think of it as a green take on the traditional department-store mannequin.

These creations are then placed in individual gardens. And they'll be auctioned off, with the funds going to the Magnificent Mile Charitable Foundation.

I was intrigued as I read the list of gardens and what plants the plots will contain. Experienced gardeners will get a chuckle from some of the plant descriptions – hibiscus trees, cherry wavy petunias, etc. – which were obviously compiled by nongardeners (and probably over the phone since many have phonetic spellings). But that's OK – lots of us don't speak Latin fluently.

It sounds like typecasting, but the Apple Computer store will host a Zen garden, which “gives a tropical feel of calm serenity.”

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