The Lurie Garden in October 2018
August and September were busy months, and I’m afraid that I neglected my Lurie Garden posts. But now I’m ready to get back on track with October.
Actually, before I get into October, I want to mention one outstanding feature from the past couple of months. Namely, all of a sudden, there were Bottle Gentians (Gentiana andewsii) blooming everywhere. I took the picture above in September. Sadly I don’t have anything that shows just how many Bottle Gentians there were. Believe me, it was LOTS. I always think of Bottle Gentian as a finicky plant, slow to establish and spread. But it must be pretty happy at Lurie Garden.
As with a lot of other plants, the Bottle Gentian bloom period began and ended early this year. The picture above was taken a couple of days ago. Those brown things poking up out of the white Calamint (Calamintha nepeta) are what’s left of the beautiful blue Gentians.
Overall, the Lurie Garden’s larger Light Plate has shifted into that period when the grasses and foliage make up a patchwork quilt in soft shades of of brown, red, green, and gold. The hot dry weather over the last couple of months have made a lot of the fall color more muted than usual, for both trees and perennials.
Even so, there is enough color to stimulate the gardener’s eye. Among the grasses, there’s the dark red of ‘Shenandoah’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).
How come ‘Sheandoah’ doesn’t display this kind of color in my garden?
While the seedheads of Switchgrass reminds me of floating mist, Prairie Dropseed’s make me think of the tiny sparks given off by sparklers.
Here’s another view.
Little Bluestem ‘The Blues’ (Schizachyrium scoparium).
The taller Little Bluestem ‘Blue Heaven’.
This is Blue Gramma Grass ‘Blond Ambition’ (Bouteloua gracilis). I’m sorry, but I think this is a weird plant. Makes me think of levitating disembodied eyebrows.
I forget what this grass is called but it looks good catching the light against a dark green hedge.
There’s lots of Fountain Grass ‘Cassian’ (Pennisetum alopecuroides) in the Light Plate. Fall is its best season.
In the Dark Plate, ‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) has softened to light, golden color.
Arkansas Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) is Lurie Garden’s star plant for foliage in fall and winter. The needle-like leaves gradually transition from green to gold.
Seems like the staff have discreetly edited out a bunch of the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) that had been popping up all over the Light Plate. They were kind enough to wait until after the Monarch migration, so no eggs were harmed. There’s some nice yellow foliage color among the plants that remain.
The fall foliage of Prairie Spurge (Euphorbia corollata) brightens up a corner made somber by dark stems of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).
But if you look closely, you can see that the Purple Coneflower seed heads are animated by foraging Goldfinches. Too bad these birds have put on their dull winter plumage.
Everything isn’t seedheads and foliage at Lurie Garden these days. There are still big patches of Calamint, buzzing with bees even in October.
There are drifts of cheerful Asters in the Dark Plate, though I forget which species is in the above photo.
This one is Sky Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense).
The Tatarian Aster (S. tataricus) is tall and distinctive – and so upright!
Here’s a close up of the flowers. By the way, do not make my mistake of calling them “Tartarian Asters”. That would be an Aster originating from the land of the Tartars, known for their famous tartar sauce as well as steak tartare.
A big patch of Toad Lilies (Trycirtis formosana) blooms near the Tatarian (not Tartarian) Asters.
Here’s a close up of the flowers. I tried growing Toad Lilies, but they all got munched by rabbits.
Finally, there are Goldenrods in bloom, mostly ‘Fireworks’ (above) but also some ‘Wichita Mountain’.
Sorry this has been such a long post, it’s just that there is always so much to notice in this garden. October is a good time to visit Lurie, there are fewer people even as there is just as much to see.
I’ll be curious if November will make the autumn colors of Lurie Garden more muted or more intense.