Chicago’s Lurie Garden

After the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Lurie Garden should be the next must-see item on the agenda of any avid gardener visiting Chicago.

Lurie Garden
Part of the Chicago skyline as seen from the Lurie Garden.

It is a five acre garden in the heart of downtown, designed by Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel. Truly a garden in a city.

Lurie Garden
Love this combination: Monarda bradburiana, Allium atropurpureum, and Amsonia tabernaemontana. I like the low habit of the M. bradburiana but prefer M. fistulosa’s lavender color.

The Lurie Garden has a prairie-style design, but it is not a prairie. It is a mix of native and exotic – bulbs, perennials, and grasses, with a few shrubs and small trees.

Red Poppies Lurie Garden
Red poppies are a new element I haven’t seen before.

This is a garden that is beautiful throughout the growing seas0n. In my opinion, though, it is at its most glorious right now, when the salvia are in bloom.

Lurie Garden Salvia
There is a massive sweep of salvia (mostly ‘May Night’ and ‘Blue Hill’) that curves from one end of the garden to the other, know as the River of Salvia.

Judy came out and took some of these pictures during her lunch hour, when it was quite overcast. She came back after work as well, when the clouds had cleared and the sun was starting to set.

The garden is bordered to the west and north by an evergreen hedge. To the south is the Chicago Art Institute.
The garden is bordered to the west and north by an evergreen hedge. To the south is the Chicago Art Institute.

On most days the garden is full of awe-struck visitors, tourists and native Chicagoans, taking pictures with cell phones and fancy cameras.

Lurie Garden
A wonderful mix of colors and textures.


Prairie Smoke
Prairie Smoke.

Anybody who works in the Loop has no excuse for not visiting the Lurie Garden. And no serious gardener should leave the city without spending some time here.

51 Comments on “Chicago’s Lurie Garden

  1. I have never seen the garden so stunning as it was today. Drop everything and rush right over, if you are anywhere near.

  2. I was there yesterday. You have captured it well. I love the Prairie Smoke, I look forward to seeing it every year.

      • Aha. Thanks for the advice. I’m still bushwacking my way through finding things I actually planted…

  3. Piet Oudolph is the maestro of texture, harmony and color. He is the thinking man’s landscaper and prophet. How I wish I could visit the High Line and now I can add this destination to my wish list. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. What a lovely garden in the middle of Chicago. I love the way they play with the colours. The salvias are fantastic. Piet Oudolf is a master of gardens.

    • After I first saw the River of Salvia, I bought about 15 and pulled out some other plants so I could do my own miniature imitation.

  5. I have heard this is a gorgeous garden! Your photos prove it. It would be so wonderful to have all that space to play around with, to create a whole river of color. I have to be content with measly skinny ribbons of plants.

    • I know, life is so unfair, isn’t it? To have five acres to play with … of course, someone would have to pay me to work on it full time.

    • You’re welcome! You will have to come to Chicago some time and see it for yourself! Lots of other fun stuff to do here.

  6. I want my salvia to look like that, darnit! (stomping foot) Mine never get that deep blue even though it says it will. What a beautiful place to have in a big city!

    • Yes, as I wrote above, this garden inspired me to go out and buy around 15 salvia and plant them in a drift. Looks nice, but not quite the same.

  7. This is a garden I always wanted to see. You might consider hosting a Fling in Chicago again. Like Buffalo, it could use a second go with all that there is to see there. I would love to see one in Philadelphia too. Not many more places with such beautiful gardens in such close proximity.

    • The Chicago fling was 2009, three years before I even know about garden blogging. 2014 and 2015 are already scheduled, but it would be a blast to have one here in 2016. Only thing is, I don’t know that many garden bloggers here.

  8. Jason, The Lurie is a splendid garden…I am so glad I’ve seen it in several seasons, but, I must admit the rivers of salvia are stunning.

  9. Unfortunately I can’t leave more than one ‘like’ to this page or maybe a ‘love’ or better an ‘adore’. So you don’t live far from this place, do you? You shall go there regularly and report any change with a post, you that? For example on the second-last picture I can see allium leaves and oregano clumps that will be a wonderful sight in one month or so… I love this garden and you took beautiful pictures of it, I’d drown in that River of Salvia…

    • Good idea, Alberto, I think we’ll do a monthly feature on the Lurie. It changes so wonderfully through the seasons.And there’s a white flower there that reminds me of ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ …

  10. What a gorgeous garden. I saw it in person when I visited a few years back, but it was September and didn’t look this way. That salvia is amazing. Yet another thing I would want to try to copy if I had the space.

  11. I want a field of purple and green! This garden is beautiful and so peaceful. I love the flower combinations, well done!

  12. This ‘River of Salvia’ does make a dramatic statement. A gorgeous garden indeed. I can spend the whole day here and feel totally contented.

  13. Wow! Truly beautiful. The salvia is amazing. I would be one of those awestruck visitors taking photos, too!

  14. Jason, monarda bradburiana,, salvia blue are the simplest and nicest plants, those decorate well this garden.
    Thank you for sharing and have a nice weekend!

  15. I have always wanted to see Chicago, mainly for the architecture, but when pictures started come out showing the Lurie, I then had another compelling reason to plan a visit.

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