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A Beautiful Flower Show: Linnea In Monet’s Garden

This beautiful flower show was based on the book "Linnea In Monet's Garden". Check out the flower & foliage filled windows at Marshall Field's in Chicago - there are lots of pictures to view.

chicago Flower Show

A virtual visit to a re-creation of one of the world’s most beloved gardens, Monet’s home in Giverny.

These photos are certain to brighten up your day. After all, who hasn’t dreamed about floating around with Monet’s pond surrounded by water lilies in that infamous blue row boat? For 11 years straight I worked on the Marshall Field’s Spring Flower Show in Chicago which was installed in both the State Street and Water Tower stores.

I’m lucky to have these professionally taken photos (which means not by me) to share with you. The year was 2001 and the theme for this beautiful flower show was Linnea In Monet’s Garden. I’ll give you a brief rundown on how a show of this magnitude comes to be. Get ready to enter into a floral fantasy!

These photos of the window displays were taken at the Water Tower store:

Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show

The Marshall Fields’s folks chose the theme, took care of all the details regarding the props and orchestrated the overall project. Sometimes there was licensing to deal with and strict guidelines to follow. For this show, Parisian based florist Christian Tortu was contracted as the head designer. I visited his beautiful shop in Paris many years ago. SF Productions, based in California and headed by Steve Podesta, handled everything regarding plants and flowers – specing, buying, designing and maintaining.

Eight semi trucks packed full of vegetation and blooms bought at several nurseries left the Golden State and arrived in Chicago about four days later. No artificial foliage or flowers here! We installed all night long into the wee hours for four days – at least sixty people were involved in the whole process.

I worked on the window displays and as I’ve said before: “working in Marshall Field’s windows until 5 am causes one to lose their creativity factor very fast”.

Here are some pics of the State Street windows:

Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show

This flower show was based on the art book for children, Linnea in Monet’s Garden, by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson which was published in 1987. Lots of Spring blooms were used in this show to replicate Monet’s color filled garden including tulips, hyacinths, freesia, daffodils, scilla, wisteria, pussy willows and azaleas. Other plants included roses, hydrangeas, lavender, birch, citrus, weeping willow, flowering ornamental fruits, daises, pelargoniums and more.

More of the State Street windows:

Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show
Flower Show

The plants and flowers were all kept on the loading dock protected from the cold by a large tent with heaters inside. For most years I stayed on to maintain and freshen all the window displays – and those are some big windows. There was always an unwelcome blast of frigid air as you left the store and entered into the loading dock area. If it was 35 degrees the Chicago crew was crying “heat wave” and we coastal California wimps were whining “it’s freezing”! Anyway, I’m happy to say that every year the plants and people survived the whole production.

For those of you familiar with Marshall Field’s State Street this will take you on a trip down memory. Ahhh, such a classic store that was.

Flower Show

As some of you may know Marshall Fields is now Macy’s, much to the disdain of many Chicagoans. There will be many more posts of these Spring flower shows sometime in the future. Some of the themes include: Curious George, The Flower Fairies, another year of Monet’s garden and Provence in bloom.

Looking back on these photos makes me think how absolutely beautiful the windows and store always turned out. And what me appreciate them even more … I know how much work (eleven months worth) goes into a show like this.

I’m curious … did you see any of the Marshall Field’s Flower Shows?

Other flower shows I worked on to check out:

Alice In Wonderland In Chicago

A Flower Show With Peter Rabbit And Friends

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6 comments:

  1. This is so amazing and beyond what words can describe! I truly appreciate you posting these picture for those of us who didn’t see this! My mother gave me this book and matching Linnea doll before she passed, and it’s especially dear to me because my name is Linnea. This is so outstanding!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it Linnea! It was a beautiful show that year & both Marshal Field’s stores looked amazing. They were selling the books throughout the show with other related merchandise by the way. Everyone loved it! Nell

  3. Ohhhhhhh sigh. As a Fieldsian (what else can one say) from long ago I lament not being around to see this. It hurts to see what we have lost. And the wonder of this undertaking is almost painful too– it is so very special. If you were crosseyed by 5 AM on those occasions, it was so worth it. Having this opportunity to see what I missed is a treasure. Thank you for your part in bringing it into being, and now sharing it with us now that Field’s is face down in the mire–hopefully this period has been a bad, bad dream and floral and other displays of this magnitude will once again be part of our lives, for real.

  4. Hi Susan – I worked on the Marshall Field’s Spring Flower show for 9 years before it “changed hands”. The State Street store was absolutely gorgeous in the days of yore. It was a lot of work to do those shows (we did the Water tower store too) but always rewarding to see the reactions from the customers & the people passing by. I still have pictures from 4 or 5 of the other shows & plan on posting them at some point so stay tuned. I’m glad you got to see it! All the best, Nell

  5. Thanks so much for sharing these! The Flowr shows and especially the Christmas windows were a special part of my and my childrens growing up years!
    It is so wonderful that this one has been preserved.

  6. Hi Melanie – You’re very welcome! I’ve posted 3 other Marshall Field’s Flower Shows & still have 5 more to post. The props were always beautiful, as was the Field’s State Street Store. Nell

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