The Lurie Garden: After the River
The River of Salvia is an annual high point for Chicago’s Lurie Garden. This year, though, by the time I was able to visit the river had started to dry up, with most of the Salvias no longer in bloom. But even after the river peaked, there was plenty of excitement at the Lurie Garden when I visited today.
First of all, there’s a new Allium in town: Light Blue Garlic (Allium caesium). This Allium has densely packed flower heads of an unusually intense blue. It’s an Allium that makes exciting combinations wherever it goes: among the Salvias still blooming (mostly Salvia sylvestris ‘Blue Hill’ – not sure about the taller, more purple one in front)…
And among the Salvias whose blooms were done.
And among the bright green of emerging perennials.
From the reaction of passersby, it was clear that Light Blue Sage is a crowd pleaser. Children were fascinated, and I could swear I heard the members of a Chinese tour group repeating the word “meili”, which means beautiful (this is one of maybe 5 Chinese words I know).
Other stars of the day included White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba).
I grow the Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis) in my garden, it’s not as tall and blooms earlier.
There’s also plenty of Smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis).
It’s great fun watching honeybees and other pollinators crawling in and out of the tubular flowers.
A close look at the flowers reveals the nectar guides meant to draw insects to their just reward.
I wish I had known about Bradbury’s Monarda (Monarda bradburiana) before I planted all that Wild Bergamot (M. fistulosa). Bradbury’s is so much more compact. But then again, I would probably just want the Bradbury’s Monarda along with the Wild Bergamot.
Lurie Garden uses a fair amount of Betony (Stachys officinalis). This is ‘Rosea’, and they have a couple of other varieties. Not one of my favorites, but it’s certainly a drought tolerant, low maintenance perennial.
The Echinaceas were also just starting to bloom.
Lurie Garden has several members of this genus – not sure about the one above. Too dark to be Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida). Maybe Tennessee Coneflower (E. tennesseensis) – but I didn’t think it had those droopy rays.
This looks like Pale Purple Coneflower – with a Sweat Bee on top.
I noticed that a bunch of the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) had been removed, particularly in one corner that it had come to dominate. But have no fear, plenty of Milkweed remains for the Monarchs. In fact, I saw several Monarch Butterflies during my walk, like the one on the Allium above. The Milkweed flowers were unopened, but I saw evidence of caterpillars on the leaves.
Over in the partly shaded Dark Plate, there’s one of the biggest clumps of Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) I have ever seen.
There are also some big drifts of Phlomis (Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’). I gotta say, to my eye this is a funny-looking flower, but interesting.
Here’s a closer look at the flowers with some Geranium ‘Orion’.
I really admire the dark stems and delicate star-shaped flowers of Bowman’s Root (Gillenia trifoliata).
In addition to flowers, Lurie Garden is unsurpassed when it comes to plant textures. At this time of year the combination of Blue Wild Indigo and various Amsonias create the impression of either a rolling green sea or banks of green clouds drifting across the sky.
Can’t wait to see what next month will bring.