The Lurie Garden is an urban model of responsible horticulture, providing a healthy habitat for a wide variety of plants and wildlife.
Walking through the Lurie Garden, your senses can be overwhelmed taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of large, dynamic, and diverse collection of plants.
The garden contains over 222 types of plants within its relatedly small five-acre footprint. You will find 20 types of grasses, 26 types of trees and shrubs, 34 types of bulbs, and 142 types of perennial herbaceous plants within the borders of the Lurie Garden. Ninety (40.5%) of these plants are native to North America and 26.1% (58) are native to Illinois.
The mixture and diversity of plant life at the Lurie Garden not only creates a visually striking four-season garden, but also supports an extreme abundance of local insects, pollinators, and wildlife. Working with the high diversity and high concentration of plants makes the Lurie Garden a leader in plant selection, management, and maintenance practices.
Animal & Insect Life
The design, management, and plant diversity of the Lurie Garden support a vibrant community of animals. In a quick stroll through the garden, you will likely encounter several of the 100+ species of birds that make homes at the garden throughout the year. You may also encounter any number of beneficial insects such as butterflies, moths, bumblebees, honeybees, various beetles, or grasshoppers and katydids.
Visitors have seen a good diversity of arachnids such as spiders too, especially in the fall. You may even see a few rabbits or squirrels too! The Lurie Garden is a wonderful place for visitors to learn about, interact with, and observe animal and insect life not typically present in an urban environment.
The Lurie Garden’s plant, animal, and insect life are managed using a combination of traditional gardening knowledge and forward-thinking ecological concepts. A dedicated group of garden horticulturalists and gardening volunteers manage the beauty, design integrity, and biodiversity of the garden.
The Lurie Garden uses management practices rooted in natural areas ecology, specifically the strategy of adaptive co-management. A key component of adaptive co-management is the use of data collected from the garden and its plants to make management decisions. For example, Lurie Garden horticulturalists closely monitor pest insect populations within the garden and only implement management of pests once populations reach a predetermined level.
Use of synthetic chemicals or similar substances within the garden to manage weeds, pest insects, or diseases does not occur. The management philosophies and practices of the Lurie Garden are examples of how public gardens and parks can provide beauty and ecological service while minimizing their environmental impacts.
A Green Roof Garden
Essentially a rooftop garden, Millennium Park and the Lurie Garden are situated over a network of underground parking garages, pedways, and commuter electric train lines. This unique engineering and location situation presents special, but manageable, plant care challenges.
Visitors are often surprised by the presence of large, mature trees in the Lurie Garden given its relatively shallow soil depth and construction as a rooftop garden. Horticulturalists at the garden have become highly skilled in managing plant growth and development in the challenging environment of a rooftop garden. Knowledge gained at the Lurie Garden is applicable to those troublesome spots in your home garden.