Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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The Salvia River

The Salvia River

The Salvia River is flowing once again in the Lurie Garden.

The crocuses and grape hyacinths of spring have given way to an undulating sea of several different salvia varieties. It stretches for about two-thirds the length of the garden, which lies between the downtown Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan.

This was probably the most photographed garden in Chicago on Memorial Day weekend, with many families, friends and lovers out for a short cruise. The cool blues and purples somehow seemed to make the high heat and humidity a bit more manageable for a time.  Some also enjoyed the water feature that divides the garden in two lengthwise.

Salvia blooming Lurie Garden

There are still bulbs floating here and there although they are now alliums or ornamental onions.  The Star of Persia (allium christophii) is an explosion of purple while the allium atropurpureum provides violet purple dots of color. The dark green leaves of allium 'Summer Beauty' are coming up nicely, with their flowers content to wait for the next wave.
Several other plants have already joined the flood of color. There's Blue Star (amsonia), which provides some light blue. A touch of white, not unlike like the crest of a wave, comes from False Indigo (baptisia), Bowman's root (gillenia trifoliata), Beardtongue (penstamon) and the Great White Fleece Flower (persicaria polymorpha).

To accent all that, there's the pink in Jerusalem sage (phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’), Bradbury's bee balm (monarda bradburiana) and Great Masterwort (astrantia major).

Salvia River Lurie Garden
Salvia Lurie Garden Art Institute

The ornamental grasses are just setting sail, although prairie dropseed (sporobolus heterolepsis) is already providing some nice ripples in the landscape.  These grasses will eventually anchor the garden, which was designed by Piet Oudolf, throughout the fall and winter.
For now, though, the Salvia River just keeps rolling along.

To see more pictures of the Lurie Garden in other seasons, see spring and winter.

Salvia at Lurie Garden southwest
The Lurie Garden, looking southwest

Star of Persia allium Lurie Garden
Allium christophii 'Star of Persia'

Allium atropurpureum at Lurie Garden
Allium atropurpureum

Bradbury monarda at Lurie Garden
Monarda bradburiana

Prairie smoke baptisia Lurie Garden
Geum 'Prairie Smoke' in the foreground, white baptisia in the right middle ground
 and the part of the salvia river in the very back.
By Karen Geisler

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