04/28/2011 05:26 pm ET Updated Jun 28, 2011

Mother's Day 2011: Chicago Shops For Flower Alternatives

If a traditional flower bouquet and Hallmark card just won't cut it this year for Mother's Day, check out these blooming green alternatives. From mint leaves to Bonsai, you can design your own mix just for your mom. And, you can bet she'll be happy, especially when this non-traditional "bouquet" lasts longer than just three to five days.

Fleur: You can't help but smell the garden roses, jasmine, peonies and wax flowers (yes, these are real) inside Logan Square's vibrant Fleur. If you're looking for a "traditional" bouquet, without the traditional flowers (the hues of Ranunculus will get your attention), this is your place. Among the fragrant flowers, you'll also find locally-made jewelry, neighborhood monogrammed stationary, and an entire table devoted to what else? Mother's Day cards.
3149 W. Logan Blvd.; 773-395-2770

Sprout Home: If you're looking for the pros to design a special plant arrangement for your mom, look no further than Ukrainian Village's Sprout Home. Browse through the lofty selection of hard-to-find plants and intriguing ones like ferns, peacocks and diverse cacti, and pick your own, or let these green-thumb experts do it for you. They'll make recommendations based on the space for the plant, and then design a work of art for your mom. If you choose a terrarium, the designer will even include a layer of colored sand and action figures (just no plastic snakes, please) upon request. To complement your mom's new green arrangement, pick out a book for her on plant care, or check out the shop's tips to keep the greens growing.
745 N. Damen Ave.; 312-226-5950

Chalet: Skip the Jade plant this year, and give the gift of Bonsai. However, before you go ahead and pick the prettiest one, you should know that not all Bonsai are created equal. The greenhouse experts at Chalet know this, and lots more about this Japanese art form. They'll help you select the right Bonsai or assortment of Bonsai (be sure to check out the ones with blooming flowers) for your mom, along with the proper pot and tools. First-timers fear not: each Bonsai comes with a survival guide. There are also pre-made Bonsai kits available for going the simple route. But that wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Bonus: Specialists from the Midwest Bonsai Society will be on hand at Chalet to give you intriguing tips and answer all of your Bonsai-related questions this Saturday and Sunday, from 11 am-3 pm.
3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette; 847-256-0561

Asrai Garden: There's no shortage of gift ideas to sift through at Wicker Park's Asrai Garden. In fact, before you pop in, give your self at least 45-minutes to peruse the "English-garden style" exotic plants and blooms. Can't decide between an Echeveria, a carnivorous Pitcher plant or Staghorn fern? Better yet, design your own a wind chime plant. You'll hear it calling your mom's name. Pair that with a pack of stationary, a bar of all-natural soap, preservative-free body oil or a fragrant soy candle, and you'll be the golden child.
1935 W. North Ave.; 773-782-0680

Jayson Home & Garden: You'll have to walk around the indoor space at Lincoln Park's Jayson Home & Garden carefully, as plants are sprinkled in between home furnishings and cool artifacts that can make any urban apartment a true home. However, if you're mom wasn't born with a green thumb, but rather shows off her skills in kitchen, that's OK. You can find something for her that can she'll use in her next dish--fresh herbs. Choose an aromatic mix of fresh mints leaves, chives, cilantro, oregano, basil and thyme; they should last throughout the season. The best part? You can dig into them right now.
1885 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-248-8180