The Lurie Garden in June (2018)

In late May and June the River of Salvia flows through the Lurie Garden. I visited Lurie with camera in hand on the 14th and 15th of this month. There were patches of the river that were done blooming, showing only bare flower stalks.


Fortunately, Lurie Garden plants a mix of Salvia varieties: ‘May Night’, ‘Rugen’, Blue Hill’, ‘Dear Anja’, and others. That extends the bloom period of this floral river, and provides a number of variations on the theme of blue and purple.


I think the light blue here is ‘Blue Hill’.



The Salvia was very popular with honeybees, as well as some native bees.


Along with the Salvia, Lurie Garden is currently featuring frothy masses of Smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis). The two complement each other really well, each with its own flowery spires – one clothed in white, the other in blue or purple.


Here’s a closeup of the Penstemon.


And they look good together no matter which is in the foreground.


Another plant with blooming spires notable at this moment is White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba).


White Wild Indigo tends to grow taller and bloom later than its cousin Blue Wild Indigo (B. australis).



Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) is kicking off the Coneflower season.


Eastern Bee Balm (Monarda bradburiana) looks like it is just past its peak bloom. If only I had known about this plant when I planned my Sidewalk Border. Instead of engaging in domestic disputes with Monardas aiming for a height of 5′ or more, I’d be living in harmony with this polite Bee Balm which is satisfied at a mere 2′. Though those taller Bee Balms provide color later in the season.


Patches of bright golden yellow stand out amid all the blue, white, and pink. This is the Yarrow (Achillea) ‘Moonshine’.


I noticed several patches of Prairie Smoke (Geum Triflorum), still sporting their wispy seedheads. I’ll have to ask the staff how they manage to keep their Prairie Smoke from being overwhelmed by taller neighbors (especially the ones that self-sow), a problem I have in my own garden.


Climbing the stairs into the Dark Plate, I got a nice view of the Knautia (Knautia macedonica). I wouldn’t be surprised if this plant provided some inspiration to the pointillists.


There are several nice patches of the Hardy Geranium ‘Orion’.


One morning I ran into Lurie Garden Director Laura Ekasetya and she pointed out that these Geraniums, though not native, seemed to be very popular  with native bees.


Behind ‘Orion’ is a big patch of Phlomis (Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’). To my eyes this is just an odd-looking plant, but it does get your attention.



There are also some large stands of Bowman’s Root (Porteranthus trifoliatus). This North American native grows up to 4′ tall and 3′ wide, something I need to remember since I planted two in my back garden that are currently only about 3″ tall.


They have these dainty little flowers in spring along with deep red stems. Their fall color is supposed to be good though I’ve never noticed.

June is a transitional month, a bridge between spring and summer. In Lurie Garden, June brings rivers of purple and spires of white, attended to by a myriad of bees.

54 Comments on “The Lurie Garden in June (2018)”

  1. Thanks so much for the visit to Lurie, which I miss more and more. I’m with you on the Prairie Smoke and Monarda situation but I don’t have a leg to stand on, being a barely weekend gardener. Laura and her cohorts are out there every single morning tending to the flora, or at least that’s how I remember seeing her when I used to walk by practically every day.

  2. I am presently writing a few brief paragraphs about Echinacea purpurea for next week. It is not my favorite flower because it is a fad here, but we happened to get some nice ones at work. I liked them in Oklahoma more because they did not seem to be a fad, but more like a practical plant that was well suited to the environment (because it is native), like some of the salvias are here.

  3. The rivers of purple and white are beautiful. And, yes, it is so much fun going with you through Lurie Gardens.Before I started reading your blog, I had never heard of it. Now, it is a place I long to visit. Thanks so much!

  4. The salvia-smooth penstemon combination is brilliant. I like the straight P. digitalis with green foliage and clean white blooms much more than ‘Husker Red’, which I grew years ago. Will look for seed…

  5. While I was in the Kansas City area, I visited Burr Oak Woods nature preserve, and met some of the plants you’ve shown here for the first time: a variety of white penstemon, blue and white false indigo, pale coneflower. There were new milkweeds, too, which the naturalist at Burr Oak helped me identify. It’s delightful to have had the chance to see some of these unfamiliar flowers in your blog as well as in the pastures, prairies, and ditches.

  6. I love having friends who live near The Lurie so I can see it all year long! I first met Eastern Bee Balm (Monarda bradburiana) at the Lurie and it’s been in my garden ever since. I also plant non natives that native bees love. They are necessary with the long growing season we have.

  7. The salvia is gorgeous & you’ve intrigued me with the Eastern Bee Balm so I’ve added it to my front garden list. After all of your “teaser” posts, I’m so looking forward to seeing the Lurie garden in person come August.

  8. It’s great to get a monthly update on this garden. Looks like the pollinators are all being kept happy, and the overall effect of the salvia is quite something. I wish my Knautia would spread into such a nice patch as those. Maybe I just need to plant more of them! Thanks for the tour Jason!

  9. Thanks for the tour of this lovely garden, Jason! I’ve seen the river of salvia in full bloom before, but don’t remember seeing the penstemons blooming at the same time–what a great combo! I’ve had trouble getting Prairie Smoke to survive here, probably for the reason you mention, it has to compete with larger neighbors. Such a shame, because I think it’s so neat. Love the Knautia!

  10. The block planting of Salvias really appeals to me because Salvias are, in general, very tolerant of our hot summers/cold frosty winters. The Lurie garden is a summer’s delight……thanks for the tour & I love the buildings of the city in the background…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: