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.

Laura Ekasetya, center, and Jo ana Kubiak, right.

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.

DSC_0067A 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.

DSC_0063The 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.

DSC_0074We 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 nameExcuse 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.

DSC_0055And 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.

DSC_0052And here we’re looking west towards the Chicago skyline. The yellow flowers of Compass Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) really stand out from a distance.

DSC_0114Anise 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.

DSC_0133Another 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.

DSC_0137And I shouldn’t forget ‘Blue Heaven’ Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).



DSC_0152Bees 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.

DSC_0160Even 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.

DSC_0163Most 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.

36 Comments on “The Lurie Garden in August”

  1. The light was very bright, the kind of day when you can’t check your screen to see if you got a good photo. So I didn’t know how the light was going to work out in these photos. I’m especially happy with how I captured the light shining thru the bottle gentians.

    The Lurie is such a magnificent garden, as Jason says, there is never a bad day to visit. And any day you can tour with Midwest bloggers and hear from Laura and Jo Ana is definitely a good day!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous. Maybe you could tell us how she politely asked the person to get off the damn flowers, because my first reaction is always that people shouldn’t be so clueless, and it comes out in my tone, if not my words.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful post! I have grown to know and love the Lurie Garden through your posts and Judy’s gorgeous pictures. As much as I have to be dragged (kicking and screaming) into autumn, unlike me, this garden makes it all look so graceful and natural. I hope when I finally visit in person some day, it will be around this time. You are lucky to be able to visit the garden (and stay on the paths) any time you want!

  4. Absolutely “wow!”. Instead of going to Scotland, maybe I should consider coming to Chicago to take the leisurely tour I didn’t get to take when I was there last. It’s really a remarkable garden, and you are very fortunately to work/live close by.

  5. I know I write this every time you post on the Lurie gardens, but I absolutely love the wild colours of nature up against the city sky-line…especially the Pritzker Pavilion. Also the gorgeous blue of the Bottle Gentians…great photos Judy!

  6. Thanks so much for organizing this, Jason, especially arranging for Laura and Jo Anna to give us the tour. I’ve only seen the Lurie in the spring, so I was thrilled to see it again as summer winds down–it didn’t disappoint. Judy’s photos are fantastic! I just read your last post about the milkweed. I didn’t realize it had been named the state wildflower–hooray!

  7. We visited Chicago in July, and when I came around the corner from the amphitheater and saw the Lurie, I about passed out with joy. I even got a little teary-eyed! That sea lavender spoke to my heart. We St. Louisians were very impressed with that whole park: the concert stage, the children’s playground, and that beautiful garden.

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