I’m jealous. Amy typed this up sent this in – thank you!

“J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 tale catapulted a short furry-footed homebody hobbit into a journey through the wonders and dangers of a mystical made-up land. With Tolkien’s text in mind, Bryce Bandstra, general foreman of the Chicago Park District conservatories, put pencil to paper and set out on an adventure.

Bandstra sent his fancy flying to mythical Middle-earth, piecing together plants and hardscapes for this year’s Hobbit Garden at the 2001 Chicago Flower and Garden Show. The 2,800-square-foot exhibit–a serendipitous prequel to the movie adaptation of Tolkien’s further Middle-earth novel, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” that is to be released in December–recreates homebody Baggins’ hobbit-hole and the surrounding Shire.

“Everyone knows ‘The Hobbit,'” says Bandstra. “It was an opportunity to do something entirely imaginary and to entertain more members of the family….”
A horticultural tie-in to the upcoming film, the garden is a Middle-earth illusion blending from-the-book settings with details drawn from Bandstra’s imagination and Old English garden designs.

In Bandstra’s fairy-tale countryside, there is, of course, the hobbit-hole, complete with door, chimneys and windows, nestled into a verdant hillside. A man-made stream–standing in for Tolkien’s The Water–flows past a birch grove and a meadow composed of turf grass, primrose and dame’s rocket. A winding brick path leads to the hobbit’s door and his cottage gardens, spilling over with scented geraniums, rosemary, thyme, scented viburnums, foxgloves, bleeding hearts and forget-me-nots. Quotations from “The Hobbit,” written on signs throughout the display, guide those unfamiliar with Tolkien’s story down both the literary and the garden path.”

Chicago Tribune, Sunday March 4, 2001 Section 17- Chicago Flower andGarden Show Page 13