The Lurie Garden in October

October is the golden month at the Lurie Garden.


Fluffy mounds of Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii and A. tabernaemontana) glow in the autumn sun.


I had wondered if this years hot, dry September weather would affect the Amsonia’s fall color this year. But it looks pretty good, I’d say.


Lurie Garden’s radiant vistas make me so happy that I want to hug passing strangers, and I am not a demonstrative person. However, I’ve been able to restrain myself.


Various grasses beautifully complement the Bluestar.


‘Blue Heaven’ Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is one of the grassy stars of October.  Look at that color!


And how the fluffy seedheads catch the light.


But Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is the most glorious of all the grasses at Lurie, especially ‘Shenandoah’. The leaves have red streaks through the year, but in fall they begin to turn from green to yellow, as well.


One problem with Switchgrass, though, is how hard it is to come up with different ways of saying “airy seedheads”. Swithchgrass does have airy seedheads that are very attractive in autumn, but the phrase is overused. I looked up synonyms for airy and came up with “breezy”, “gaseous”, and “well-ventilated”, none of which were really helpful. So I’m open to suggestions here.



Whatever you call it, I’ve noticed that the texture of Switchgrass tempts many people to run their fingers through the upper part of the plants.


Over on the east side of the boardwalk, there’s a patch of Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).


These are very nice, though they don’t excite me too much as I have more than enough in my own garden. I’ll be curious to see if the Northern Sea Oats ends up making a pest of itself at Lurie.


Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus heterolepis) is spread generously throughout the Lurie Garden. At this time of year it takes on a golden color, though it no longer has that Cilantro fragrance.


Here’s a big patch of Fountain Grass ‘Cassian’ (Pennisetum alopecuroides), with the irrepressible Calamint (Calamintha nepetoides) blooming in the foreground.  There was a gentle wind that day, just enough to make the grasses sway back and forth.



There were some other late blooms in addition to the Calamint. A big drift of Tatarian Aster ‘Jindai’ (Aster tataricus) was blooming its heart out.


Can’t resist blue flowers with yellow centers. Fun fact about Tatarian Aster: unlike so many unfortunate species, it was allowed to stay in the genus Aster. I guess it pays to know the right taxonomists.


Nearby, there was also a big patch of Toad Lily (Tricyrtis – not sure the variety).


There was some ‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) still in bloom, though most had gone over.


Of course, the seedheads of flowers like Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium, above) and various Echinaceas are a major presence in the Lurie Garden this time of year. They keep the garden full of foraging finches and sparrows.


There is really no bad month to visit Lurie Garden, but I’m beginning to think that October is one of the best.

That’s all for now.

47 Comments on “The Lurie Garden in October”

  1. It is looking good now. My Amsonia hasn’t started coloring up yet. It doesn’t get the sun that it should. I have tried to divide it as it is mature but the root system is too tough to get a shovel through so it sits there in the shade. Loving all the fall color of the Lurie.

  2. What a stunning month in the Lurie garden! I think the designers planned this autumn crescendo. I love those Amsonias.

    For the Switchgrass, how about “soft pillows” of flowers/seedheads? Or “soft bustles”? I agree, the airy seedheads has been overused but gosh it really is an apt description!

  3. Oh, that fall colour is glorious! I think that so many people focus on spring and summer gardens with fall being considered the “clean-up” time – this is a great reminder that planting for fall colour is incredibly worthwhile. Ha – gaseous airheads just doesn’t sound quite right, does it?? 🙂

    • I was walking through Lurie today after work. It really is hard to come up with the right word. From a distance, wispy might work. But up close, the individual seeds stand out almost like an archipelago of tiny islands. That doesn’t work either, though.

  4. I love seeing pictures of this garden, and I do agree that October is particularly spectacular. The grasses and the movement and the way the light catches those different shades of silver and gold are just wonderful! I could list what I like about it, but I think it is just about everything! 🙂

  5. Pingback: FRIDAY FINDS – The Impatient Gardener

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