Clouds of Gold at Lurie Garden

This is Bluestar’s big moment at the Lurie Garden, particularly Arkansas Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii). The big billowing plant with needle-like leaves has turned from green to gold. When I took these pictures yesterday, they were scattered around the garden like golden clouds come to earth.


Lurie Garden is famous for the River of Salvia, an enormous swath of blue flowers in late spring and early summer. I wonder if it would be possible to make a River of Gold in late fall utilizing the Amsonia. As it is, the Bluestar is dispersed around the garden. I would argue that it is Lurie’s signature plant for this time of year.


Bluestar takes its name from the tiny star-shaped flowers it sports in spring. It’s the fall color, however, that could be its outstanding feature. Here’s a view that combines the Bluestar with the bright red trees standing behind the green hedges, with the skyscrapers of the Loop in the background.


I can’t resist posting another picture of this view.


Here’s more of a ground level view.


Here’s another closer look at the Bluestar, with (I’m guessing) a compact Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) in the foreground.



I don’t mean to ignore the grasses, like the Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) above. They are sporting brighter and deeper colors,


Here’s the same Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Cassian’) I showed in my last post about the Lurie Garden. The seed heads have thinned a bit, and the plant as a whole has turned golden.


There’s lots of Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus heterolepis ‘Tara’) at Lurie. It’s a wonderful grass, both for texture and color.


And look at this Little Bluestem! Incredible color! Also, these pictures make it plain how important it was to surround this garden with that dark green hedge. It makes all kinds of things stand out so much better.

Even now in early November, Lurie Garden is still a place that can take your breath away.

47 Comments on “Clouds of Gold at Lurie Garden

    • I think that carefully selecting cultivars has been very important to the success of the garden, especially in terms of habit. And Douglas Tallamy has spoken positively of native plant cultivars as a way to increase the use of native plants in public and private spaces.

  1. What a comforting place. I just love all that fall foliage, especially in a sunny spot all sheltered from the wind and ready to enjoy.
    I can’t imagine my bluestar getting that big… might have to pull out the trimmers some day.

  2. Hmmm, I’ve been really appreciating my little patch of Ansonia but you’ve got me thinking about where else I could plant a bit, or five….yay!

  3. My patch of Amsonia never looks like this! What a wonderful garden to enjoy in the middle of a city, it looks a lovely place to be.

  4. It would be nice to have enough room to make a big cloud of blue star amsonia. I have one of them and it makes a lovely show in a boring border. Hmmmmm maybe a couple more of them would be better.

  5. Clouds of gold is right. So very beautiful, as is the other foliage.

  6. You have a great eye! I have only been peripherally aware of amsonia, and only because of its small spring flowers which I love. But you are right, it is quite impressive this time of year and a river of gold would be spectacular. Oh, for more yard!!

  7. Last fall, a little earlier than this, Midwest Groundcovers featured Amsonia hubrichii with Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium), an eye-catching fall combination.

    • It’s very useful in the garden around here. A. hubrichtii loves sun and tolerates dry soil. A. tabernaemontana tolerates shade and isn’t fussy about soil.

  8. Wow! Remarkable fall color.Your photos of Lurie garden remind me of Railroad Garden in Birmingham, a few blocks from UAB where I worked before retirement. The setting is very urban, and grasses are featured, along with native flowers.

  9. I never get tired of photos of the Lurie garden. I love the photo showing all the grasses, hedges, trees against the skyline. What very good fortune to have this garden in such a big city..
    The Amsonia does look like a golden cloud fallen to earth!

  10. Such a beautiful golden color!Thanks for posting your photos of it. Some day I’ll get to the Lurie Garden.

  11. Gorgeous! I see Amsonia a lot in garden magazines, and always think about putting it in my garden. I’m not sure I have the room, but it is such a gorgeous plant especially this time of year!

  12. Lovely. Bought Amsonia last year but it didn’t make it–must try again. Coincidentally just heard Th. Ranier speak today in Chapel Hill at NC Botanical Garden. He is co-author of Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes and guess what he showed? Amsonia in flowering in spring at Lurie Garden and another slide showing its golden color in autumn.

  13. Gorgeous! I just have one Amsonia H., but it sure stands out in my garden every fall. Love that gold color!

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