July Stars of the Lurie Garden (2018)
There are certain plants that really define a garden at a given point in the season. This is certainly true of the Lurie Garden in July.
To my mind, these are plants that are beautiful individually, but that change the whole feel of a garden when they work together in big groups.
For example, Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) and their close relatives really help make this a vibrant place at this point in the year. At the Lurie Garden there are a variety of species and cultivars, notably Pale Purple Coneflower (E. pallida), Tennessee Coneflower (E. tennesseensis) and Wavyleaf Coneflower (E. simulata), along with E. purpurea.
Even a small clump of Echinaceas stand out. Here they are surrounded by Alliums not quite ready to bloom.
Echinaceas are one of the best plants out there for wildlife, as these bees will attest.
As will this Monarch Butterfly. Butterflies seem unusually plentiful this year at the garden.
One reason, no doubt, is the presence of lots of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). This is an aggressive plant, and it has been spreading itself energetically around the garden. But it is also a beautiful flower with a heavenly fragrance, reminiscent of honey. There is one particular corner in the Light Plate with a very large clump of Milkweed, and I cannot pass by without stopping to take in the scent. Fortunately, there are several less aggressive species of this genus.
Another plant that grabs my attention at Lurie Garden in July is Rusty Foxglove (Digitalis ferruginea).
The combination of Rusty Foxglove with white and purple Blazingstar (Liatris spicata) is just brilliant. Both stand at attention but the colors and flower textures contrast with each other so beautifully.
Then there’s Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ (Allium lusitanicum), truly a fantastic plant when planted in large drifts. I love that mass of lavender blue, which is always humming with bees.
There are many plants that may not be stars, but still are playing supporting roles at the Lurie Garden right now. There are a variety of Monardas in the Dark Plate providing some additional color – mainly purple and pink. Not sure about the one above – looks like ‘Purple Rooster’ but maybe it’s ‘Scorpion’.
There’s just one clump of this Fleabane (Inula magnifica), but it definitely catches my attention. It’s intriguing, but I’m glad that it is used sparingly.
A massive Queen of the Prairie in the Dark Plate (Filipendula rubra).
A few nice drifts of Culver’s Root ‘Temptation’ (Veronicastrum virginicum).
Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) does a good job of mixing in with short grasses and keeping the ground covered.
This is another plant combination I love: Globe Thistle ‘Big Blue’ (Echinops bannaticus) with Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus).
Not a plant, but certainly another star of the garden: the stepped pools, which are working again after a long struggle with underground pipes. On a hot July day, people just cannot resist taking off their shoes and socks and putting their feet in the water.