No matter the house or the holiday, the exterior lighting experts at Landscape Illumination fill the night sky with all kinds of celebratory blazes. Their designs send photons flying in a stylish manner, casting homes and businesses in a dramatic light usually reserved for celebrity abodes or vacation houses on the sun. To get an idea of the company’s mastery of luminescence or inspiration for future lighting, customers can take a gander at the experts' well-maintained online gallery of past projects.
City Escape Garden Center and Design Studio fills 17,000 square feet of space with pottery and internationally sourced houseplants, trees, and shrubs. Take a topiary-centric trip to the Eastern Hemisphere with a japanese maple ($144.99 for 6 gallon), or adorn yards with an ornamental, evergreen, or conifer tree ($29.99+). Embed shrubs, 6-inch table ferns ($14.99), or stolen Betamax players in one of City Escape's indoor or outdoor pots made from cast stone, iron, or fiberglass ($8.99+). The ever-changing gardening gamut encompasses grasses, perennials, and annuals, as well as trellises, bird feeders, and other accessories. City Escape beckons motorists with plentiful free parking, keeping greenery gurus from crowding the rush hour "L" with yet another tree.
County Line Orchard embraces guests with outstretched branches that hold more than 20 varieties of apples and a pumpkin patch flush with the warm and welcoming colors of the autumn harvest. Friends and families can traverse an orange-tinted wonderland with unlimited access to harvest activities of all sorts, from Moo-Choo tractor rides to fruit-picking excursions in the orchard. Those who attempt to navigate the two 10-acre corn mazes are well advised to fill rucksacks with butter, as even steadfast explorers must occasionally use their teeth to hack a path through the profusion of twists and turns. Bellies not filled with raw corn can make room for the bakery’s famous homemade donuts (not included in this Groupon) or an apple snagged from one of five U-Pick fields to which Grouponers enjoy unfettered access. Pumpkins available for purchase make ideal jack-o'-lanterns or catapult fodder, though honey farmers beseech guests to aim all launches away from the orchard’s active beehives.
Alsip Home and Nursery, which was named Best Nursery/Garden Center 2010 by the SouthtownStar, has more than 40 years of sowing, growing, and plant-bestowing experience. The expansive greenhouse and nursery houses hundreds of annuals, perennials, tropical houseplants, vegetables, bulbs, and seasonal plants looking for a place to lay their roots. Plant a shrub such as the Magic Carpet Spirea ($6.97) to coat the ground in lush colors that can hide a spare key. Bring some frostable greenery into your garden with a 4.5" Proven Winner plant ($3.99). 'Tis nearly the season to invite a tree into your home to share holiday pies; fresh-cut Christmas trees and trim will soon be available (starting at $19.99).
Before opening Windmill Acres, Bruce and Lee Ann spent years exercising their green thumbs. Both raised on fourth-generation farms, the couple started a produce company after they were married. In the fall, Lee Ann painted pumpkins to sell from their farmers'-market stand, a tradition that mushroomed until she needed to hire more employees to paint as many as 6,000 pumpkins every year.
In 1997, the pair opened Windmill Acres, a place where they could combine their talents for horticulture and art. The nursery stocks a bumper crop of seasonal plants, from vegetables and flowers to a beanstalk rumored to be a shortcut back home to Ithaca. A miniature farm houses furry critters that visiting kids can pet while their parents enjoy steaming cups of coffee and talk gardening with the knowledgeable staff. Near the bucolic scene, a gift shop made of reclaimed barn wood showcases jewelry, flowers, paintings, other creations from local artists.