There's so much that changes in the MG landscape throughout the year...we thought a plant trial and garden blog was the best way to start sharing "what's new" and "what's happening with all those new varieties" with you! Visit often for updates on how trial plants are performing in the gardens and to see photos throughout the season as we grow and change!

Welcome to the Midwest Groundcovers Landscape Blog

Welcome to the Midwest Groundcovers Landscape Blog
Astilbe 'Vision in Red' with Hosta 'Patriot' and Carex 'Ice Dance'

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Lurie Garden at Millenium Park

Good day everyone,
Last Friday, I had the great pleasure of accompanying Roy Diblik at the Lurie Garden in Chicago. This garden never ceases to amaze me. There was so much to photograph this day and so little time to write about it. So here goes!

Here is Roy Diblik talking with a group of people from the ASLA touring the grounds. Each group had very good questions. The speaker is always interesting when it is Roy! It's always fun to see the groups listening to him. Even when event coordinators were trying to move the group along, everyone waited in line to talk with him. Even if they miss the next presenter, they were still waiting for Roy. And if Roy was still there today, I bet he'd have a line.

Agastache 'Blue Fortune'
I remember when everyone was afraid that this plant wasn't hardy. I was one of the skeptics. But now, it grows everywhere. It does not require the drainage of the next plant, which is also an Agastache, so it does great in most any Midwest landscape. A really wet area may not be appreciated. Butterflies love it, and so do I. The anise scented foliage reminds me of small hardy candy I was given as a child.

Agastache rupestris
This is an Agastache you only want to plant if you have great drainage. I can't believe it lives at the Lurie Garden, but they do have excellent drainage. And it is a green roof, so that should help. Typically this is a plant that excels in the west. It is an interesting color, and if breeders want to keep trying, I'm sure the Chicagoland public would welcome this plant or something similar that would do well here. Yes, that's a challenge!
Parthenium integrifolium
A new addition to the Lurie Garden is Parthenium. It really shows up when you look at the garden as a whole. I tried to show it here with Panicum 'Shenendoah' behind it to give you an example of how nice it looks with a reddish background. Other then weedy asters, there isn't much in the landscape this time of year with clean white flowers. This shines like a beacon in a landscape covered with the colors of fall.

Anemone 'Konigan Charlotte'
'Queen Charlotte' for those who do not speak German. I have a real hard time not writing about at least one Anemone this time of year. Also blooming in the garden were 'September Charm', 'Praecox', 'Honorine Jobert', and 'Pamina'. What a sight to see.

Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride'
If there were a vote for the most underutilized plants for the landscape, 'Autumn Bride' would definitely get some votes. Look at how nice these plants look in late September! The foliage is very clean and the flowers are mighty attractive. This is in most day sun, but it can handle just about anything you throw at it.

Gentiana andrewsii
Okay, I was very excited two weeks ago to show you the picture of the Gentian in our landscape, and then I go to Millennium Park here where it is prolific. Here, it doesn't act like a plant that is difficult to grow. In fact, there had to be close to 100 plants thriving in the garden. It really catches your eye. Here it is combined with Sporobolus(Prairie Dropseed) and Amsonia hubrichtii(Narrowleaf Blue Star) with a little Origanum sneaking itself into the picture.

Scutellaria incana
We tried to grow this plant as well for a little while with little success. When I see the seed heads of this plant, I wonder why more people don't ask for it. They are cup shaped, which has given it the common name of Skullcap. Maybe that's why more people don't ask for it. Who wants a skullcap? What people may have wanted was the fact that mammals don't eat the plant because it doesn't taste good. This is especially good for a garden that is loaded with rabbits. I saw three small ones playing together at the end of the day.

Pycnanthemum virginianum w/ honeybees
This is a plant that I didn't see a use for just three years ago. I was asked to plant it in our landscape and did. I'm so glad I've been able to enjoy it's beauty. On this day at Millennium Park, it was swarming with honeybees. If you click on the picture to make it bigger, you can see a small swarm of two bees. I really like the gray, hairy foliage and the scent of the plants when crushed. The common name describes the smell of the plant best; Mountain Mint.

Molinia 'Transparent'
Who wouldn't like this plant? Unfortunately a lot of you don't. We don't sell much of this. But it is truly a gem. This is one of the best shots I could get. A difficult plant to photograph because of it's transparent seed heads, but I found the way. The city in the background with a blue sky. Brilliant! Think of this as the ultimate separator of a landscape. Place this where you would want people to be interested in what's around the corner. It creates a screen, but not a view blocking screen. Perfect for the fence near the neighbor that you don't want to talk to, but you also don't want to completely shield because your kid plays with their kids.
Salvia azureus w/ Monarch
Not a plant I think Midwest Groundcovers would grow, but I thought the picture was nice. He only would pose for me for the briefest of moments. The Salvia is a nice plant, but not quite like your brothers Salvia. These were 4' tall and a little wispy. They looked great scattered around the landscape in groups of three, but a specimen, it is not.

I leave you today with a couple of garden shots. It is hard to believe that such a garden could be as successful as this one in the heart of a city. Chicago is very lucky to have such a great landmark. For a short time, I was able to people watch around the garden. I was surprised to see people's reaction to the garden. Did they appreciate it? What are they feeling?

The one thing I noticed most, was that almost all the people were afraid to touch the plants. I find it very rewarding and interesting to walk a path with my hand out and feel the different textures of grasses and Agastache and all the other great plants. Why would these people feel differently? I mentioned this to Roy and he recalls seeing people at his place walking a path and looking around the tall grass along his path rather than walking through it. It would only take a quick brush with a hand to move them out of the way. In the process, that person would then know more about that plant and maybe even have a better connection to it. So why are people afraid to touch plants? Is it because we give ownership to the site and we've been cultured to not touch other peoples property? Is it because people really are afraid of plants? Maybe they get poison ivy really bad, and they don't know what will give them a rash and what won't? I'm not sure. If you are one that walks the garden without touching the plants and have a good reason why, I'd love to hear it. Email me at mgplanttrials@gmail.com and I'll post any really good reasons why you wouldn't touch a plant. Thanks again for reading and until next time, have a great day!

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