The Lurie Garden in August
So yesterday Judy and I went to the Lurie Garden to see how things were progressing.
Now that it is late August, the transition to fall has clearly begun. Not so many flowers, but lots of billowing mounds of different textures and colors. It made me think of a giant patchwork quilt. I wanted to be able to stretch out a giant hand and feel the patches – coarse and smooth, spiky and soft.
The occasion of our Saturday visit was the Midwest Meetup, a small gathering of regional garden bloggers. We were lucky to be given a tour by Laura Ekasetya and Jo ana Kubiak, Director and Communications Director, respectively, of Lurie Garden.
A whole new cast of starring plants have now presented themselves. Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus heterolepis) catches our attention with its airy seedheads and a fragrance that seems like a cross between cilantro and buttered popcorn.
The white Purple Coneflower ‘Virgin’ (Echinacea purpurea) still has many blooming flowers, along with others that have gone to seed. This corner of the garden was full of Goldfinches feeding on the ripe Echinacea seeds.
We took in the “dark plate” on the east side of the garden first. Judy and I were struck by this mass of white Mountain Fleece (or, if you want to be rude, Knotweed – in other words, Persicaria amplexicaulus ‘Alba’) with ‘Gateway’ Joe Pye Weed (Eupatoriadelphus maculatus). Yes, you read that right – Eutrochium is already obsolete, now it’s Eupatoriadelphus, a truly ugly and ungainly name. Excuse me just a moment. GAAAAAAAAAAAH!
OK, where was I? Oh, yes – there was also this red Persicaria amplexicaulus ‘Firedance’ blooming with a big swath of Japanese Anemone ‘Praecox’ (Anemone hupehensis).
At one point Jo ana showed us a corner of the garden that had been trampled because it’s a popular spot with people who want to take selfies while standing IN the garden. For some reason it’s not good enough to stand on the path, which is what they should do. As if to illustrate the point, a woman walked off the path and into the garden just then so her companion could snap a photo. Jo ana politely asked the woman to GET OFF THE DAMN PLANTS (emphasis entirely mine – Jo ana was soft-spoken and courteous).
This is a really nice combination of Burnet (Sanguisorbia menziesii), with its little red dots, contrasted against Goldenrod (I’m guessing Soldago rugosa ‘Fireworks’). It looks great, even though the Goldenrod hasn’t begun to bloom.
And now, over to the “light plate” on the west side of the garden. Due to its marvelous vistas, this section really defines the Lurie Garden for me and many others. Here we’re looking north towards the Pritzker Pavilion, which you can see over the hedge.
And here we’re looking west towards the Chicago skyline. The yellow flowers of Compass Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) really stand out from a distance.
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) looks like it is trying to reach up towards a distant skyscraper.
A bright mass of Prairie Baby’s Breath (Euphorbia corollata) combine wth Purple Coneflower to make an arresting contrast of light and dark.
Another of the standout plants at this time of year is Sea Lavender (Limonium latifolium). The soft masses of tiny flowers last for months, changing color as summer progresses to fall. Allium seedheads are in the background.
And I shouldn’t forget ‘Blue Heaven’ Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).
Bees were buzzing all over the garden, and we saw a number of butterflies as well. No plant had more bees than the Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum). This plant doesn’t do much for me visually, but it attracts bees like nobody’s business.
Even after the seedheads mature, Purple Coneflower makes little black dots in the landscape that are visually interesting. You can also see the narrow vertical stems of Liatris and Digitalis ferruginea.
Most of the Bottle Gentians (Gentiana andrewsii) have not yet bloomed but Judy found one spot where we could appreciate the lovely blue of their unusual flowers.
As I think I’ve said before, there isn’t a bad month to visit the Lurie Garden.
That’s all for now.