Introducing TZ

Meet Our Iconic Orange Tabby

Wearing his trademark whiskers and curious gaze, among the many precious treasures in store at CityEscape is TZ. Our regular visitors know that our 9-year-old orange tabby is Mr. Friendly. But not many people know his story.

I was looking around for an orange tabby to be a companion for our older store cat, Tommy (who is now in kitty heaven). I soon found TZ on Craigslist, where he was living with his six-week-old littermates at a residential home in Round Lake, Ill. So, after a half-day drive to Lake County and back, TZ became mine, now lives at CityEscape and gets his name from a combination of Tommy and the name of my first orange tabby, Terry. I used to call Tommy and Terry “the T’s.” Somehow, the T’s morphed into TZ and the name stuck.

Our cute furry little bundle headed straight to work finding napping spots in the office and a space in the hearts of our visitors. An extremely smart cat, we taught TZ the meaning of “soft paw” – to be gentle when playing or saying hello.

TZ has grown into a proud, sweet boy who offers little kitty kisses to friendly visitors, and it took almost no time for him to quickly became an icon for CityEscape. Many of our regular visitors now enter the shop and specifically look for our furry mascot.

It’s not uncommon to find TZ riding along on the bottom of a shopping cart. He can also be found playing “lion” in the plants, gazing at our water features, patrolling the plant yard and exploring our new pergola, where he especially likes sitting on top of the fireplace. He is not territorial. As a pet friendly shop, TZ doesn’t mind visitors unless they bark or stick their noses at him.

On your arrival at CityEscape, don’t be surprised if TZ greets you in our courtyard with a swish of his tail and a curious gaze. He roams throughout the shop and our plant yards and can be found exploring every nook and corner – sometimes stopping to smell the flowers or admire a fluttering butterfly.

As king of CityEscape’s plant paradise, TZ believes everyone visits just to see him and he is a natural at posing for pictures, so don’t be shy to snap a few for your social media pages. Perhaps TZ’s favorite spot at CityEscape is his cardboard box lid on the cash wrap counter – the perfect place for a scritch – but there is not a container or basket in the shop that is too small for him to squeeze into.

If you haven’t yet met our adorable orange tabby, head to CityEscape and he’ll be sure to say hello. And in case you’re curious: TZ is the only treasure in our shop that is not for sale.

See you soon,


My first day at CityEscape.
Look at little kitty me! I’m as big as a stapler!
I found cozy kitty snuggles on mommy’s scarf. She can get to her paperwork later.
Here’s me as a kitten with my big brother Tommy. He’s in kitty heaven now.
My favorite snoozing spot at CityEscape is by Rowan at the register.
I like to play “lion” in our ornamental grasses.
There’s no basket too small for me to squeeze into.
Caught that mouse—and a little cat nap.
I posed this way on purpose.
Sometimes I just like looking like I belong in the vignette.
The first snows are always fun for exploring and greeting our visitors!

(Photos: Sue Markgraf, GreenMark Media)

My Gift to You

The Magic of CityEscape at Christmas

Growing up on my family’s Michigan flower farm, Christmastime was always a season of wonder and discovery.

My December memories include blankets of crisp white snow, majestic pine twinkling with ice and spruce decorated with snowy puffs. Inside, among the season’s scents from the kitchen, heirloom ornaments, passed from one generation to the next, accented on our fresh Christmas trees.

Holiday memories have a way of becoming family traditions – and that’s the magic behind CityEscape at Christmas.

Inspired by a childhood where tradition mattered and creativity was encouraged, the care and love put into CityEscape’s holiday experience is my gift to you.

From twinkling lights in the courtyard and fresh-cut greens and wreaths in the pergola, to holiday music, scents and vignettes throughout the shop, my intent is that you take home inspiration that evokes memories and ideas to craft new traditions.

From holiday trees and greens to scents and accents, every item at CityEscape is hand selected and a treasure for gift giving that is custom and unique. Around every corner, visitors will find joy in the many holiday vignettes situated with purpose throughout CityEscape. Every tree tells a story of tradition, trends and experiences, while providing a visual shopping trip of creative, how-to ideas and “ah-ha” moments.

To elevate trees literally and figuratively, our signature style is to present them in containers that are appropriate to the story or theme we’re presenting. Containers may be vintage, wrought-iron, urns, classic or contemporary. This is something you can easily do at home to emphasize the story of your family’s holiday tree.

My team and I begin planning CityEscape’s holiday experience in October, mindful to include traditional palettes of red, green, gold and silver, while bringing in new ideas for blending or spotlighting trends, colors and styles.

Through the years, we’ve had upside down trees, trees mounted on tables and in sleighs and even a pink tree. This year, BOHOLOVE is the customer favorite. It features Bohemian influences balanced with white-washed vintage urns, baskets and an oversized natural wood Italian mirror as a backdrop.

The entire Boho look is comprised of shell chandeliers, gourd baskets from Zimbabwe, natural wood and shell tassels. The colors are white and champagne, with tinted clear glass balls and finials and glittery snowflakes. White birds and star seed pods are tucked into the branches.

No matter the style of tree, the secret to elegant presentation is layering. Wrap twinkling lights on each branch, working from the inside to the outside. Place larger ornaments deep in the tree and complement their shapes with cascading French ribbon woven into the branches. Add florals, seedpods, glitter sticks, garland or berries to further layer the look. You’ll find these items and more in CityEscape’s Christmas Market.

While you’re enjoying the tradition and beauty that Chicago offers during the holidays, add CityEscape to your list of must-see destinations and find your family’s fresh-cut tree with us. After all, we have magic in store.

May your holidays and the new year be filled with familiar comforts and new traditions.


CityEscape’s winter wonderland evokes timeless traditions while lending sparkle to new ones.


White-washed star seedpods are tucked into branches on CityEscape’s Bohemian inspired tree – voted a 2021 customer favorite.


Tradition! Green plays a supporting role to red and silver ornaments, faux berries and trailing French ribbon.


Tradition! Green plays a supporting role to red and silver ornaments, faux berries and trailing French ribbon.


Shades of green, blue and silver with lots of sparkle and shine are on point for Holiday 2021.

(Photos: Sue Markgraf, GreenMark Media)

Personalis Hortus

Introducing Our New Pergola Courtyard

When CityEscape opened in East Garfield Park 14 years ago, I envisioned an “escape from the city” that would provide a place of rest, renewal, and inspiration. This summer, we are excited to open our new Pergola Courtyard – just off the entrance to CityEscape. The space is designed to model creativity, inspiration, and motivation to enjoy your own personal space.

The courtyard and fireplace are part of CityEscape’s original build. The pergola structure, which was part of my original vision for CityEscape, is the newest addition. I think you will be wowed by how the pergola transforms the space in form and function.

Now stylized, the Pergola Courtyard is a great example of how to transform a blank outdoor space. Layer yours with potted plants, found objects and your favorite table and chairs to create a warm and inviting area for work, play or alfresco dining. Watch for a seasonal refresh of the Pergola Courtyard as we head into fall.

Before entering our store, don’t forget to enjoy our Secret Garden – a tiny outdoor room framed by a handmade wire arbor from the U.K.

A most rare red passionflower, hardly ever seen in the Midwest, climbs the arbor. Vintage vessels contain hydrangea, flowering annuals, and sculptural tropical plants. An espaliered Japanese maple now stands where our unique porcelain Italian fountain (the original inspiration for this garden space) once was. We are excited that the beautiful fountain found a good home this summer!

You don’t need a large yard to enjoy your own outdoor space. Your escape might be a porch off the garage filled with container gardens, or your deck planted with vertical lattice and specialty plants. Add a stylish chair and enjoy your escape with a chilled beverage and a good book. As summer begins its transition to fall, bring your tropicals indoors and enjoy them as houseplants through the winter months.

Are you looking for a new plant, home accent or unique item for your space? Whether you’re a Chicago resident or visiting the city, CityEscape awaits!

See you soon,


Just outside the Pergola Courtyard – this beautiful allée garden with its unique fountain is a visitor favorite.


Travel our pathways at CityEscape. You’ll discover small garden rooms that charm, inspire and motivate you to create your own.


Fountains of all shapes, heights and sizes define many of CityEscape’s garden rooms.


Enter our Tree & Shrub Garden through a serene lane overflowing with color and charm.


Within our Perennial & Annual garden, in-season plants in eye-candy colors provide inspiration for personalizing your own outdoor garden room.

(Photos: Sue Markgraf, GreenMark Media)

Lessons from Sam the Caterpillar

It’s always interesting to me how can grow into lifelong passions—and sometimes into professions. My love of nature and the environment began with a natural curiosity at a very young age and a gigantic, bluish-green caterpillar that I named Sam.

Sam was my world at 5 years old and I was delighted when I found Sam inching its way up a willow tree on my family’s Michigan flower farm. Sam was almost as big as my hand and its little hairs tickled my palm when my grandmother, mom and I tucked it safely into an old birdcage.

We had no idea back then that this beautiful creature was a cecropia caterpillar or that Sam would one day become a moth whose species is the largest in the United States. At its biggest, Sam the caterpillar was about four inches long and ¾ inches round. Sam ate mostly bits of willow, apple and lilac and one day spun the most elaborate silken cocoon.

When it hatched, Sam’s transformation was a beautiful surprise, and we worried about how to get Sam out of the birdcage without damaging its huge wings! Cecropia moths’ wingspan is typically five to seven inches.

Cecropia moths are found across North America and as far west as Washington and most of the Canadian provinces. They lay eggs on trees, with larvae commonly found on maple, cherry and birch. Cecropia moths live off the stores from their caterpillar fat. Lacking functional mouthparts and digestive systems, their primary function is to mate.

A member of the giant silk moth family, cecropia’s colors are an artful mix of beige, soft brown, red and cream, with unique markings and patterns on its wings. Their lifespan is about two weeks.

I was heartbroken when the day came that Sam was gone. The bittersweet joy of watching Sam transform provided profound lessons for me. I’m not quite sure how we figured out what type of moth Sam was, but Sam was glorious.

When I see a moth or butterfly in our CityEscape gardens, I remember Sam and those memories make me smile. Growing up on a farm and enjoying playing outdoors with my family taught me many things about life and about living curiously. As summer dawns on Chicago, encourage curious living with the children in your care. You just never know the impact it may have on their life—and possibly even their profession.

See you at CityEscape,