Late-summer in Chicago's Lurie Garden
Spanning the rooftop of the Millennium Park parking garage, the lush greenery of the
Lurie Garden appears as a surprising tour de force: An achievment that’s received worldwide attention for the transformation of a former rail yard into a classic Modernist space.
Designed by the firm of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf, & lighting designer Robert Israel, the park is a rejuvenating oasis for downtown office workers,
tourists and travelers.
Knotweed Persicaria a. 'Firedance'
Enclosing the 2.5-acre garden from the north and west, a massive wall of greenery dubbed the Shoulder Hedge pays homage to Carl Sandburg. Hornbeam, European Beech, Arborvitae varieties make up the hedging. Growing within steel armatures, the hedge provides a protective function, to separate the garden’s fields of perennials from the thousands of concert -goers who stream out of the Gehry-designed bandshell.
Water channel, wooden walkway and a limestone wall interrupt the garden layout, dividing it into two distinct compositions:
The light plate features a sunny, exuberant planting scheme, calling to mind a prairie.
While the dark plate conjures up a dramatic setting, where plant selections take on muted tones. Some 130 North American natives, plant species and cultivars emerge in Oudolf’s plantings; his designs well-known for their celebration of grasses.
Looking toward new wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, in background.
Coneflowers: blooms and seedheads meld with swathes of grasses.
Oudolf’s palette incorporates myriad shapes, together with feathery, airy, and bristly textures. The quality of movement associated with grasses is unparalleled, as is the unrivaled way the flowerheads and translucent blades catch the light, adding layers of interest to the garden even after snow begins to fall.
Goldenrod - S. 'Fireworks'
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' growing with catmint.
Looking out over the Lurie Garden through the glass wall of the Sculpture Terrace
atop the new wing of the Art Institute of Chicago,
where the garden's rill culminates in a sedate waterfall.
A work by Scott Burton, part of an installation on the museum's sculpture terrace,
overlooking Lurie Garden & Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion ... beyond the glass wall.
During my September visit, the blooms were fading and the grasses had taken on burnished hues, yet I found it difficult to pull myself away from the garden's embrace.