Saturday, 10 September 2011

Lurie Garden in Millennium Park

The Millennium Park in Chicago is a part of the extensive Grants Park situated between Lake Michigan and South Michigan Avenue. In Grants Park you will among other attractions find the Art Museum, the spectacular and famous Buckingham Fountain and in the very south of the park the Shedd Aquarium with a very wide range of aquatic animals including sharks, turtles and jellyfishes.

On my daughter’s birthday, July 16th 2004, the Millennium Park in the Northern part of Grants Park, was opened to public. Here you can visit the Lurie Garden made by Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel.

It is a 20,000 m2 (5 acres) big garden divided into two different parts, the light plate and the dark plate, divided by a formal water channel and a broader pathway. Both sides are planted with perennials and are traversed by several walking paths. The perennial planting design is made by Piet Oudolf from the Netherlands. It is a kind of naturalistic planting although the plants are arranged in distinct blocks rather then spread naturally in a meadow like pattern.

Piet has used a mixture of plants from North America, Europe and Asia. The Salvia River known from Drömparken in Enköping in Sweden is here used in a bigger scale and its movement through the planting breaks the static planting blocks a bit in a very beneficial way.

When we visited the park in the end of July the Echinacea purpurea was blooming as best together with especially Hemerocallis and Allium senescens.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Indian Boundary Prairies

Stuart Goldman, Prairie Restoration Specialist

Indian Boundary Prairies consist of four high-quality restored prairie remnants in Markham south of Chicago. Although the four prairies are situated close to each other they all look very different and also inhabit various plants and animals.

The Dropseed Prairie is the smallest, the Sundrop Prairie looks most remote and wild, the Painthbrush Prairie needs more restoration and the Gensburg-Markham Prairie has perhaps the most flagrant flower displays of them all. But they are all four worth the visit and they have all a lot of interesting prairie plants to discover.

At the Gensburg-Markham Prairie I met Mr. Stuart Goldman, restoration specialist and responsible for the maintenance of the prairies in Markham. He told me that when his boss started the renovation of the Gensburg-Markham Prairie it was just a waste land with trees and shrubs and not much left of the former prairie biotope.

Today they have converted the land back to a high-quality prairie with a diverse flora. The soil here is a mixture of black soil and sand and the conditions are more or less mesic, but with both dry and moist sections. One third of the prairie is burned every third year, normally during spring.

Among plants I found in bloom at the prairies in Markham I can mention Allium cernuum, Asclepias syriaca, Asclepias verticillata, Dalea candida, Dalea purpurea, Eryngium yuccifolium, Euphorbia corollata, Liatris spicata, Monarda fistulosa, Parthenium integrifolium, Phlox glaberrima, Pycnathemum virginianum, Ratibida pinnata, Rudbeckia hirta, Silphium integrifolium, Silphium laciniatum, Solidago juncea, Verbena hastata and Vernonia fasciculata.

Liatris spicata and Solidago juncea at the Gensburg-Markham Paririe

Stuart in action with instant weeding of invasive unwanted plants

Liatris spicata and Parthenium integrifolium at the Gensburg-Markham Prairie

Vernonia at the Sundrop Prairie

Smooth Ironweed, Vernonia fasciculata

Yellow Coneflower, Ratibida pinnata

Smooth Phlox, Phlox glaberrima

Worled Milkweed, Asclepias verticillata

White Prairie Clover, Dalea candida and Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum

Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa at the Sundrop Prairie