When is the best time to see Chicago’s tulips?
Best locations to see Chicago’s tulips
History of Chicago Tulips
In the Mid-1990s, 30 planters were installed in the median of Michicagn Avenue spanning between Roosevelt Road and Oak Street. The Chicago Department of Transportation organizes the planting and care of these gorgeous city features. Over 100,000 blubs are planted each year. Chicago tulips come from the Netherlands. Planting takes place between October and November. On the other hand, bulbs are removed in late spring and are given away to the public each year for free. Who can resist free flowers?
Best places to see tulips outside of Chicago
- Chicago Botanical Garden – Located just twenty miles north of Chicago, the Chicago Botanical Garden has over 750,000 tulips on display. In addition to the display along the Crescent Garden, head over to the Graham Bulb Garden to see lesser-known species. Vibrant colors fill this space as would-be gardeners draw inspiration for their personal gardens. Check out the Chicago Botanical Garden’s calendar to not miss any of the exciting activities they offer.
- Garfield Park Conservatory – Just fifteen minutes west of Chicago’s downtown, the Garfield Park Conservatory hosts a wonderful spring show. Admission is free. However, entrance does require a reservation. This year’s show, “Bees Knees,” features the relationship between bees and blooms. Inside the conservatory, glass works from the acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly can be found in the Aroid House. In addition to being a beautiful place to walk around to see the botanical displays, the Garfield Park Conservatory helps engage teens with long-term relationships with nature. Education and inclusion are key to the long-term health of our planet.
- Richardson Farm – Covering 544 acres and two farmsteads, Richardson’s farm is located at the border between Illinois and Wisconsin Northeast of Chicago. Each year on five lakeside acres, they host a tulip festival. Opportunities for family photos are available, but the photographer must obtain a special permit for the shoot.
How to photograph Chicago tulips
As a professional photographer, I can tell you there is no one way to photograph them. However, in my experience, I have found a few techniques to continuously create beautiful compositions. These tips and techniques will give you the best opportunity for success.
- Arrive early when the light is soft. This will allow the flowers to really appear saturated in the absence of direct sunlight. Tulips close overnight, so if you are looking for open blooms, arrive late morning. Most flowerbeds will still be in the shade of the tall buildings.
- Use Chicago’s key architectural attractions to fill the rest of the composition. As seen in the featured image of this post, I chose to use the Wrigley, Tribune, and former Hancock buildings to fill the background. Directly across the street from the Chicago Theatre lays several beds of tulips perfect for unique compositions.
- Photograph them from between 4ft and 5ft from the ground. Depending on the lens you are using, this angle provides the perfect perspective to capture the flowers while drawing in the surrounding elements.
- Place one powerful tulip in the foreground to let your audience walk deeper into the photograph. This gives them the feeling they are standing there with you.
- Think abstract. Not all photos need to include the city. These displays are gorgeous. Find compositions where the flowers speak for themselves and fill the scene.
- Try going low to give the feeling the flowers can go on forever. My image above, “Tulip City,” provides the viewer with the impression that the rows of tulips keep going through the urban landscape.
- Bring a wide-angle lens. Although one is not needed, wide-angle lenses help bring more of the scene into focus.
Get outside and fall in love with spring.
For us living in Chicago, spring is a long-anticipated season after a long winter. Coupled with warming temperatures is the emergence of spring flowers. Besides, surrounding yourself with nature, even in a big city, is a great way to boost your mental health. Find a friend, grab a camera, and get outside. While the display only lasts a few weeks, it is certainly worth seeing. For more information on Chicago photography or luxury fine art photography, check out my other articles under the news section of the website. I appreciate your interest in my work. The deeper we fall in love with nature, the more we will work to protect it.