Oily-haired hipsters and transplanted Schaumburgers alike used to look down on the tractor tire in my side yard on Chicago's near west side. Ha, they didn't know how much they were missing, as the women of Wolcott were living it up, happily drinking in that old-school view. I insisted that the tire stay put. It took an angelic volunteer, by the time I'd moved away, to lighten up our sow thistle and dandelion-laden corner with more delicate, Smith and Hawken-appropriate native plant landscaping.
But even living thousands of miles away, I pine for the long-gone tire. Now it would even be in high demand as a garden prop for local green thinkers. Turns out the city's premier eco-minded landscaper, Christy Webber, devotes her own work to a shabby chic style she calls "West Side Revived," replete with "found objects such as plastic piping, bottles, street signs and license plates." I can't decide if this talk, along with all the breathlessness about Daley's green urban renewal, either makes me suspicious or homesick. The Garden in a City show, named for Chicago's Latin tagline, happened this weekend and I missed it even though I'm in town. Eh. So dig through these pictures to see how the third coast is beating its bicoastal brethren at gritty city greenery.