Visiting the horrors of the Chicago Botanic Garden

My parents took the boys and me to the Chicago Botanic Garden this week, as a kind of end-of-summer outing. It’s a 385-acre living plant museum situated on nine islands featuring 24 display gardens in Glencoe, Illinois. We strolled the grounds and took in two exhibits: the Model Railroad Garden and Butterflies & Blooms.

The Model Railroad Garden is an outdoor display with 16 garden scale trains on 1,600 feet of track. The buildings are handcrafted with natural materials, including twigs, bark, leaves, acorns, and pebbles. It reminded me of an episode of a short lived horror anthology, DARK ROOM, called “Siege of 31 August,” starring Ronny Cox as a farmer tormented by his memories of war when his son’s toy soldiers come to life. The railroad garden looked perfectly innocent in the daylight, but I bet it’s scary as hell at night, and I’m just glad we were there on August 29, instead of August 31.

Butterflies & Blooms is a netted greenhouse filled with butterflies, which seem pretty innocent themselves one on one, but when there are hundreds of them flitting around, landing wherever they please, including your hair, I couldn’t help but wonder what a dose of radiation might do to these harmless little beauties. Their coiled proboscis might become some horrifying stinger, or they might grow tusks or some damned thing.

So overall, a nice day, but I wonder why I can’t even go to a garden without imagining something horrible happening. At least I didn’t see a topiary making its way toward me with a haunted hotel looming in the background.

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