March 10, 2013 • 11:09:13 a.m.

Woodstock nursery hopes to reconnect people with nature through display at Chicago Flower & Garden Show


(Photo provided)

Taking part in the Chicago Flower & Garden Show has become tradition for Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery. But what the Woodstock nursery brings to the event, ongoing now through March 17 at Navy Pier in Chicago, is anything but traditional.  

Known for its rare and unique trees and new gardening ideas, the nursery’s  “Living Art in the Garden” display features abstract trees in a garden designed with multiple vignettes.  

Among the display are a “Jurassic Park” creation, a Dr. Seuss-inspired village and a garden with Shona sculptures from Zimbab-we. Each includes the greenery along with creations, such as rusted pieces of farm and industrial machinery nestled in the “Jurassic Park” vignette.

The Dr. Seuss display centers around the Lorax, with the character “speaking through the trees,” owner Richard Eyre said. Taking on the voice of the Lorax during the show, Eyre said, “I get to play and have fun with the children, which I really enjoy.”  

Along with a promotion of their business, taking part in the show allows the family to help connect people, especially children, to the natural word, he said. The more connected to nature, the more harmonious and nurturing they tend to be, he said.

Any profits from the show are donated to Heifer Project International, which gives farm animals to families in need.

The farmers given the animals are required to “pass on the gift” and give the first female offspring to another family in need.  

“When you do these things, you try to pour your soul into it,” Eyre said.  

The family has participated in the garden show for more than 20 years. They became involved in the nursery business because of Eyre’s fascination with unusual trees that began while he was serving in the Peace Corps in 1968. He started the nursery with his wife, Susan, and mother, Margaret, in 1988.

The nursery sells dwarf conifers in a variety of shapes, textures and colors and includes a collection of Asian plants. Besides garden conifers, many slow-growing, ornamental deciduous trees are available, as well, such as European beech, ginkgos and numerous maples.  

“What we’re trying to do is inspire people with our living art,” Eyre said.

“When you plant trees, you’re planting something that exists for a long time, and you have to realize how big it’s going to get over time,” he said. “It’s something people will need counsel and help with, and that’s part of the services we provide.”

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