Remembering Chicago’s Gardens

June 1, 2009 SF2 076 (2)
While cleaning out the photo files on the computer in order to make room for yet more photos if the sun were to ever shine again, we were forced to go through the images taken during the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling at the end of May in Chicago. Like our beach vacation folder, this is a very large file and each image needed to be studied and its worthiness determined. A daunting task.

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It was difficult to let go, but there were hundreds of shots and not enough space to keep them all.

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These photos taken at the Lurie Garden in Millenium Park are the vision that comes to mind when remembering what we learned during this trip that could be put to use in the Fairegarden. On a much smaller scale of course, but it was the use of large drifts of a few varieties of Salvias blooming beautifully in shades of blue and purple that seemed doable here. S. ‘May Night’, S. ‘Blue Hill’ and S. ‘Caradonna’ are already citizens of the Fairegarden.

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Plant names were written down in the notebook, trying to get the full botanical latin and correct spelling. Once back home, plants were moved and new ones purchased to try to get the same vibe as the Lurie presented. The pink fluff that is Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum was ordered immediately upon returning home from Chicago from High Country Gardens. The muhly bed along the driveway was enlarged to make way for our own version, the Fairelurie. Click here to read about it. An update will be posted soon to show what that bed looks like now. Note: it does not look like this.

June 1, 2009 SF2 077 (2)
There are certain aspects of the Lurie that cannot be duplicated, like the juxtaposition of the modern and traditional architecture of the skyscrapers with the timelessness of the mass plantings.

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With Taurean determination, plants from the notebook were tracked down and purchased. Some were found at our local treasure, Mouse Creek Nursery. Others had to be ordered online. Two new types of Amsonias from Mouse Creek have been added here, A. tabernaemontana and A. illustris. A. hubrichtii was here already. The image above shows the blue stars of Amsonia tabernaemontana fronting Baptisia spikes. We have blue, white and yellow Baptisias that give us spring flowers and lush blue green fresh foliage for the rest of summer. They are not planted with the Amsonias and don’t really move well, but this is a good combo that has been noted for the future.

June 1, 2009 SF1 064 (2)
The above plant was particularly elusive, but finally a source was found, it was ordered, delivered and planted. Sanguisorba menziesii, three pots, were purchased from Arrowhead Alpines, along with several other must haves. They don’t look like anything more than sticks at the moment, but next spring should see the toothed foliage emerge with fresh vigor. There may even be flowers.

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Another garden visited that was chock full of ideas was the Chicago Botanical Garden. These planters look like hypertufa and were so colorful at the entrance to the native area.

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The Botanical gardens were spread out. As walled steps were climbed, this poppy field was revealed at the top. The vision took your breath away as the hidden vista jumped into view, it had every single visitor clicking their shutters whilst oohing and aahing.

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The conifer garden was superb. Miniatures of every hue and form lined the paths while the larger specimens commanded respect behind.

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Walking towards the veggie area, this planting was passed and the need to add this plant to our own space was noted. Pasqueflower, Pulsatilla vulgaris is grown at Mouse Creek. It has been ogled several times when perusing the greenhouses there and might have to be added this fall. Fall is a most excellent time to plant in our area, the heat has subsided and the ground is moist. Roots will grow happily over the winter to produce large and strong foliage and stems in the spring. It is much easier on the plants to not have to deal with the heat and drought of summer while still being able to send searching roots into the soil.

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The veggie bed was the most ornamental ever seen. It is fun to imagine our own veggie plot so neat and geometrically planted. Not likely to be achieved, but still a nice dream.

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On our final day in Chicago, the architectural river cruise tour was enjoyed with a couple of fellow bloggers. We learned the history of many stand out buildings and background stories of the times during which they were built. A fun side excursion before hitting the Miracle Mile of Michigan Avenue shopping.

During the long nights of winter when there is a lack of brilliant color in the garden, photos like these will keep our cogs and wheels clicking and turning while we plan and dream of next year’s garden.

Added: This post has been added to the fabulously pedicured Veg Plotting’s Out On The Street series, OOTS for the third quarter. Thanks, VP!

Frances

Other posts about the Spring Fling Chicago 2009 can be viewed here and here.

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39 Responses to Remembering Chicago’s Gardens

  1. Charlotte says:

    As always…. wonderful photographs!!

    Thanks Charlotte. These gardens were quite photogenic. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  2. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, it is lovely to see these pictures again, thank you. Like you I love the Lurie garden, I think that is the one that made the biggest impression on me, from all the different blogs. I intend to get more salvas, Geum triflorum is a must have, I have wanted to try a Baptisia for years and since I have been reading blogs Amsonias have been admired. So many plants, where will I put them all! At least I have several Pulsatilla vulgaris though they are not so upright for me but the flowers are lovely, as are the seed heads in your photo. I hope you achieve your ‘picture’.

    Best wishes Sylvia

    Thanks Sylvia. One can see Piet’s thumbprints all over the Lurie. His style really speaks to me and thanks again for sending those articles! I have been buyiing every new Salvia I see, and there are so many of those, some are bound to like it here. The Geums made it through our hot humid summer, although it was not as hot as normal, and wetter. I do hope to get the smoky seed heads. The plants at the Lurie were jammed close together, not my usualy planting style, but trying it out now. Glad to hear you can grow the pulsatilla, even floppy they must be wonderful. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. Urban Green says:

    Wow! The Botanical garden is just so awesome – sea of poppies, mix of bright cheerful flowers, the conifer and the veggies. Wish I could be there!

    It really was magnificent, Urban Green! Everywhere one turned, the scene was pure delight. If you ever have a chance, do go! Chicago is a fabulous city! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Beckie says:

    Frances, your photos brought back such wonderful memories. The Lurie was breath taking and I am looking forward to seeing the new plants in your garden next spring.

    Thanks for a delightful post. Have a great day!

    Thanks Beckie, wonderful memories for sure! And meeting you, and every one else was as wonderful as the gardens. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  5. At last, Frances, the Northern version of muhly grass. The Geum triflorum has a similar look for all of us lusting after a pipedream. I love it with the bergamont, I find I am drawn to monochromatic colour schemes, rather than more mixed versions.
    What a great garden for city dwellers to have!
    Deborah

    Thanks for stopping by, Deborah. The Geum is amazing planted en masse, equal to the muhly, if not surpassing it in creating that sea of pink fluff. I liked the monochrome plantings as well. Must try harder to plant in that fashion here, the opposite of my normal thinking. Chicagoans are very lucky. I would be at those gardens every day if possible. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    That magical blue/purple river running through the Lurie still runs through my mind occasionally. It would be such fun to have space to replicate even a small area like that.

    Hi Lisa, a memory worth reliving over and over! We just have to adjust the vision to meet the reality of our own gardens. Nothing is stopping us from making a grand swath of blue salvias, they grow well in most gardens too. Do it! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. tina says:

    You sure took some gorgeous photos. It looks like a very nice city to visit.

    Thanks Tina. These gardens were very easy to shoot! I wish you could have been there, we missed you. You would have loved every minute. If you ever get a chance, do go! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  8. Well you obviously kept the best ones. OMG, these are so beautiful to look at. Thank you for the virtual trip to Chicago, Frances.

    Thanks Jackie, that was the goal! It was hard to eliminate many, some just weren’t in focus, but each one had a sweet memory attached. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. Gail says:

    Frances, The Lurie is a wonderful garden and the take away ideas are still fomenting! I’ve seen the plantings in summer and fall, but not winter. It was beautiful and still idea rich. Oh, to have the wide open space to create even a small river of those spectacular blues and purples. Like you I ordered Prairie Smoke, bought more amsonias and salvias…We’ll see if the drainage is up to PS’s specifications this winter! Your photos are wonderful…I have a photo of you on the hill taking the poppy shot at the CBG! gail

    Hi Gail. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the winter view? There is probably a shot of it online somewhere. As for the drainage, this summer has been a real test for that already, don’t you agree? We still are not sure of the viability of the Geum here, but the plants look fine so far. Only lost one, some critter took it right out of the ground the day after it was planted! Wire caging was added after that, and I still check them every single day. Now if we could just put a stop to the slugs, all would be well. I would love to see that poppy shot, would you send it to me, please? With chocolate on top? πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. ourfriendben says:

    Wow, what fabulous combinations, Frances! Thanks for taking the time to sort and share them! It’s been a while since I’ve been to Chicago, but I remember the botanical garden and the river cruise very fondly. Sadly, I’ve never been to the Lurie. But now it’s on my list!

    Thanks to you for visiting, OFB. The Lurie in Chicago is reason enough alone for a return trip. A Must See! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. VP says:

    Frances! You’ve put together the post I was searching for OOTS last time πŸ™‚ These are just the images of The Lurie I was looking for, thank you.

    I’ll add this post to the OOTS list straight away if I may…

    Oh thanks, VP! I didn’t even think of this one as an OOTS, but should have. There is a local trip that was made recently that I want to write about. I will let you know when it gets posted, but of course nothing we have around here compares to Chicago. πŸ™‚
    Frances

    • VP says:

      I’m sure your other promised post will be just as fab, Frances and it’s no trouble at all to bag this one for OOTS in the meantime! I realised the other day I’ve actually been to where The Lurie’s sited – we visited Chicago in 1992 and had a really good look around. But as with all cities, it’s certainly changed!

      Thanks VP. The other post will be published on Friday. Chicago must have changed alot since you visited. If you come to the states again, do try to swing into Tennessee! πŸ™‚
      Frances

  12. Instead of getting rid of the photos, you could save them to a USB device. I know they are said to be for temporary storage, but they are so small and if you were going to erase the photos anyway, it might be worth it.
    Thanks for the time travel back to spring and the reminder to divide my Pulsatilla. I tend to forget about it when it gets lost under the Prairie Dropseed.

    Thanks MMD. I do save them to disc or jump drive, but there is no need to save them all. I hang onto them until they are stowed someplace, and usually do it at the end of the year, so the files are pretty full right now. I went to Mouse Creek today and she was out of the Pulsatilla. She did say they grew easily from seed so we will give that a try over the winter.
    Frances

  13. Pam/Digging says:

    It’s great to see photos of Chicago again–lots of fun memories and beautiful gardens. I’m envious that you can grow the Prairie Smoke. I think it was my favorite Chicago plant.

    I hope you’ll join me next week in posting about a National Park you’ve visited, Frances. You’re so close to one of them, the Great Smokies.

    Hi Pam, thanks. I wouldn’t say I can grow the PS until it has made it a full year here, or two. Good deal about the parks series, I have DVRd the whole thing and will view it at my leisure. I did a post last year about a trip to part of the Smokies that will be perfect. I will give the link when you have it up.
    Frances

  14. Carol says:

    How lovely to see these gardens again … fabulous from your view finder… I love the colors and the juxtaposition with the architecture. You have some truly great lines in your writing Frances… this one “will keep our cogs and wheels clicking and turning” brings a laugh to my space. Carol

    Hi Carol, thanks. View finder, a great phrase! A laugh is always good, glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  15. VW says:

    I still remember often the dramatic drifts of salvia that were featured in so many of the blogs after the Lurie visit. Thanks for posting more pictures of it. The geum is a great addition to the scene; I don’t remember noticing it in pictures this spring.

    Thanks VW, wish you could have been there with us, a great get together! The salvias were outstanding, who doesn’t love a sea of blue? The geums were planted in a smaller area, maybe some didn’t get over that way, there was so much to see and we were on a tight schedule for much of the time. We went straight to the Lurie on the day we arrived in Chicago, not with the whole group and got to spend a lot of time taking photos in the evening light. That is when most of these shots were taken.
    Frances

  16. Patsi says:

    So many pretties !!
    Poppies always impress me…well anything in large fields will do the trick.
    The Salia and your muhly grass would do a much better job. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Patsi. My salvias are not full yet, they were moved and divided from other places in the garden. In a year or two it might be that patch of blue desired. The poppies were like nothing I have ever seen before, on an incline for best effect. It made us gasp in delight! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. HI Frances,
    What a beautiful contrast, between the city and the park. I’m amazed!
    Beautiful fotos.

    Thanks, Ken. It was striking, the tall and varied buildings with this prairie garden right in their midst. Every view was wonderful. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Miss Daisy says:

    Fabulous! What a beautiful tour and gardens to visit. The contrast between the modern day buildings and the cottage looking gardens was interesting. I love lavender and all of the flowers planted en masse! Nicely done!

    Thanks Jen. I found the skyscapers as background for this amazing garden to be almost surreal, in person as well as in the images. That massing of plants is something very difficult for me to do in my own garden. I am a one here one there kind of planter and have to retrain. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. I’m a Piet Oudolf fan, too!

    If only I could get him here to plant up my 2 acre meadow. I’m sure he could convince the Homeowner’s Association! πŸ™‚ What a dream to have… I do have a new garden plan approved for a section of the meadow, but haven’t had the energy/time to begin working on it this fall. I kept looking at Oudolf’s garden photos while drawing my plan.

    I’d love to visit Lurie in the spring as well as the Battery along the NY harbor where there is another Oudolf garden design.

    Thanks so much for posting more of these incredible photos!

    Cameron

    Glad to hear it, Cameron! I could look at his books, magazine articles and the Chicago photos all day and never tire of them. So much to learn as they are studied. The books and his web site are so full of ideas that can even be used in small areas like I have. Your meadow plan sounds excellent. I bet he could speak to your association, although my friend at Mouse Creek, who has met him says his English is not very good. Late May at the Lurie seemed like a most excellent time to see many flowers at once, but I’m sure it looks good anytime. We are both member of his fan club! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. Les says:

    I could never get tired of seeing that field of salvia at the Lurie. I must go see it for myself. In the picture with the amsonia and baptisia, I found it interesting that the lights in the background mimic the form of the baptisia.

    (Also, I love the phrase “taurean determination”, I may have to steal it)

    Thanks Les. I loved the lights in that shot too, very geometric! It was amazing to see so many of the same kind of plant, with slight color variations in the flowers. Like an old masters painting. Feel free to use any phrase you want, I don’t own words. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. Sweet Bay says:

    Amazing photos of beautiful plantings! All those pools of Salvia, the Baptisias, the Prairie Smoke, the sweep of poppies, the Pasqueflower seedheads — all of it’s just gorgeous.

    Thanks Sweet Bay, it would have been hard to take a bad photo of these places, they were unearthly in their beauty. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Lythrum says:

    It’s so surreal to see the beautiful gardens and the tall buildings behind them. πŸ™‚

    Hi Lythrum, that is exactly the feeling I got while there. One just couldn’t stop seeing the buildings and the plantings together as incongruous, but in a beautiful way. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. Teresa says:

    All these photos are so great! What a treat for all of you to have been there. Thanks for sharing a post on your trip again. It is such an inspiration of what could be.

    Thanks Teresa. This was a fabulous trip, just like Austin was the year before. I look forward to Buffalo next year. All garden bloggers welcome! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  24. lynnsgarden says:

    Glad you shared these amazing views, Frances! I love the Prairie Smoke and poppy photos especially πŸ˜‰ I’m earmarking next May for Spring Fling…can’t wait!

    Thanks Lynn. About next year, I don’t believe it is in May, but do know it will be held in Buffalo, New York. I think it will be more like mid summer, when the gardens there are at peak. There will be more info when they have firmed up the dates. Elizabeth Licata from Garden Rant and Gardening While Intoxicated is in charge. See links on my blogroll on the sidebar.
    Frances

  25. Darla says:

    I’m sure your garden will come close to looking like this, without the skyscrapers, unless you consider the ladder that you climb to take some of your photos..

    HA Darla thanks, you are so funny! In fact, we have several ladders, maybe they could be positioned in an artful way…. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  26. Joanne says:

    Lovely plants but what awful buildings how I hate such places thank goodness I live where I do I would have to jump off if I was forced to live there.

    Hi Joanne, thanks. Interesting that you say that, those are office buildings, people don’t live in them. Chicago’s skyline is considered one of the prettiest, and I agree. There are all styles represented, some old and some new, it is what cities look like here. We don’t have the centuries old buildings like Europe does.
    Frances

  27. Rose says:

    I look forward to seeing your Fairelurie in bloom, Frances! I think we were all captivated by this garden, but I’m impressed how many plants you have already purchased from this list. I have managed to plant one lonely baptisia:)
    Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories; great for another rainy day like today. We’re supposed to get frost this weekend!

    Thanks Rose. The Fairelurie is blooming now and has been for some time, except the little geums which are tiny plants still. Hope to see them bloom this spring though. When on a mission, I am extremely efficient. Oh no to your frost! I can’t imagine that yet, but we may see some this month too.
    Frances

  28. Layanee says:

    Oh, those beautiful pictures brought back such great memories and none so vivid as chocolate. Remember the chocolate? Looking forward to the next great time in the company of plant addicts.

    Hi Layanee, remember the chocolate? You bet! That was so fun, a highlight of the entire trip. Yes, looking forward to next year, see you there! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  29. barbarapc says:

    nononono! I firmly believe in getting rid of a pair of shoes if I bring in a new pair, but photos……. Frances, go get yourself a separate hard drive – they cost less than $100 – I got one for $79 cdn – and it has a squillion gigs. Loved the shots of Chicago – those colours are absolutely yummy – I can see why you could hardly wait to get home to source them. I thought of the Muhly grass immediately when I saw the Geum triflorum. Gorgeous.

    Thanks, Barbara. I did have a hard drive, and SOMEONE gave it to The Hop ice cream shop. I need to get another. The color of the muhly is very similar to the geum. Wonder if I will ever have enough geums to make a statement planting like the grass for spring. That would be ubercool. HA πŸ™‚
    Frances

  30. Beautiful planting. Great buildings too. I love the city. Now was it windy or is that a myth?

    It was amazing, Rob. And no myth, it was quite breezy. The tall buildings downtown made for wind tunnels on the streets and over by the water was especially windy. But the temps were moderate and it was pleasant, cooler than back home in Tennessee. It was 90 degrees when we stepped off the plane in Nashville, argh! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  31. That same thought of cleaning up the photo files and tossing the rejects has been nagging me for over a month now. A chore for a blizzard I think. You have certainly chosen some excellent photos to keep. So nice to go back to the Lurie.

    Hard to imagine blizzards here, Christopher. But it was a good chore for all the rainy days we are having. Next to be culled, the beach photos, hundreds of those but fun to relive the moments. It was a delight to see the Lurie again. That was my favorite spot in Chicago.
    Frances

  32. joey says:

    Your fetching (a word I don’t ever remember using) photos and script say it all … enough to say, thank you for sharing, dear Frances.

    You are so sweet, Joey, thanks. Fetching is a great word, mind if I borrow it? There might be something that needs to be described in that way. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  33. bettyl says:

    What a wonderful set of photos! It would be a shame to get rid of any of them! We bought a small external hard-drive for storing photos. That way we can keep them all and still have room on the hard drive.

    Thanks, Betty, and welcome. I need an external hard drive, that is just the ticket. These are the photos that were saved. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  34. Jake says:

    That place looks amazing and I would love to visit it. I really like how you can see all the skyscraper’s of the city around it, sort of neat.

    Jake

    You would love it Jake, do go if you ever have the chance. The buildings were what set that garden apart, IMHO. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  35. Wow!

    Hi Orchid, thanks for visiting, glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  36. Nathan says:

    Fantastic photos. Look forward to seeing more soon.

    Thanks

  37. Patsi says:

    love this post!!
    So much eye candy

    Thanks Patsi! It was so beautiful in Chicago then. We will always remember it fondly. πŸ™‚
    Frances

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