"Those who see beauty only in bright colors...must learn to look differently at plants, at the forms and structures beneath." Piet Oudolf
The winter garden is full of color--just in more subdued tones: brown, silver, and neutral tones create a calm, reflective palette. Seed heads range from the bronze-colored orbs of rattlesnake master to the icy blue panicles of Russian sage. Some plants provide brighter colors such as little bluestem grass with its rainbow of rusty tones and also our hawthorn trees with their bright red berries, attractive to birds.
The sounds of the garden in winter are another quality that often goes unnoticed. Our Shoulder Hedge feature has European beech trees that cling to their copper leaves all winter. As the wind blows, the leaves create calming rustling sounds.
At Lurie Garden it’s bulb planting season. We do our best to keep this labor intensive task as simple as possible. While working out in the garden, we hear just about every theory there is on how to plant bulbs. Since each year we add large quantities of bulbs (10,000 this fall) in an established garden, we have our own way of doing things, but our method may work for you as well.
We typically use a hori hori knife to plant each bulb individually. Since we are planting bulbs among perennials in a garden that has been around for ten years now, there is not enough room to dig out large holes and add multiple bulbs that way. Corer-style bulb planters waste time trying to get the cored soil out of them. English style trowels,
If this weekend’s Great Chicago Fire Festival sparked an enthusiasm for pyrotechnics, then this method of weed control may be for you. At Lurie Garden we use a handheld torch to eliminate weeds in our paths. Our beautiful, reclaimed granite walkways get pesky weeds growing in the spaces between the pavers. Since we are a chemical-free garden, we do not use herbicide. Vinegar, an organic weed control method, tends to kill the weeds, but you are stuck with the dying foliage hanging around. Torching weeds eliminates them entirely. Weeds not larger than three inches can be completely incinerated without leaving behind residue. Wood sorrel (Oxalis sp.), the most prolific weed
The most common visitor question in the garden right now is "What's that blue plant over there?" On this beautiful first day of the fall equinox, bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii), is bringing vibrant color to the autumn garden. This oddly shaped flower never opens, hence its moniker. This native flower co-evolved with pollinators that have wings that beat quickly enough to create vibration.