The Styled Ramblings of Heavy Petal's Bruce Bailey

The Place to Bee in Chicago—Lurie Garden


Prairie plants such as
Echinaceas and grasses dominate at Lurie Garden.

Bees are busy and hard at work at one of the best kept
secrets in Chicago. Hidden away in Millennium Park is a quiet
oasis–Lurie Garden. Consisting of 5 acres and tended by one paid
staff person I was impressed by how natural the setting was.
Another great thing about Lurie Garden is that it rests atop the
Millennium Garden parking structure. Yeah, it is also a rooftop
garden! Is that making the most of your space and hiding an eyesore
all at once?

 I met garden writer Helen
Yoest ( and garden photographer
Christopher Tidrick ( at the
symbolic  “Cloud Gate” (Anish Kapoor, 2006).
With its mirror like finish, this  giant sculpture
lays between the vertical and the horizontal; the organic
omphalos refered to by citizens as the “Bean”. On this
glorious August morning, sun shining bright, the mood of
the trio was festive and we were hungry to bite into what Chicago
had to offer. Helen looked forward to seeing this piece as she had
never been to chicago and has a penchant for gazing balls. The
‘Bean’ is one big gazing ball that’s for sure. A few pictures
snapped and off we went to the one garden the three of us
wanted to see. What made that sharing more of an event is the
company I got to share it with.

Christopher Tidrick is
always on the lookout for a great garden shot. Screens or
scrims of grass create great layers and afford the photographer
endless possibilities.

Yoest- Spendor in the grasses. Textures of stone, plants, wood and
water were awaiting our discovery. This is one garden Helen did not
want to miss in Chicago.

entering through the armatured hedge the three of us were
amazed at the insular world before us. Textures of stone,
plants, wood and water were awaiting our discovery as we walked
through the small hedge opening, a snicket almost, but I could
be mistaken. Through the hedge we went and momentarily I felt that
we had stepped through the looking-glass. As a big fan of
the natural garden, I could easily glide through meadows and along
the shorelines taking it all in. Lurie Garden is right up my alley
that’s for sure.  Prairie perennials, grasses and great
textural plants from the plains mix well with other plants. OK,

I am describing it as a
jumble, but its more like a series of rolls. Screens or scrims
of grass created great layers while Echinaceas,
Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Apache’
Veronicastrum virginicum and
Eupatorium maculatus
stood tall and proud showing the world their
colors. Calamintha,
Pycnanthemum muticum,
Eryngium yuccifolium,
Amsonia hubrichtii
providing contrast and
interest. Layers and screens, screens and layers. More movement
seems to happen while everything is standing still in this

Just one
August morning is not enough for this garden. It must be visited
several times throughout the seasons. This is a great garden to
study in, have lunch, meet a friend for intimate conversation.
There is an other-worldliness about it. NO place in Chicago feels
like this.

A visitor to Lurie Garden will be
treated to not only a slow quiet pace, but a feast. The bees
certainly are. The bees in Lurie Garden don’t pay visitors any
attention. They are far too busy gleaning what they can and
collecting up what they need to survive the winter. Busy, busy,
busy bees. This is sort of ironic to me. The bees are much like the
humans who work around or outside the garden. I am not talking
the park employees, but those working in downtown Chicago. Outside
the shouldering hedges is a busy area of downtown. Thousands of
people are working and doing their thing so they can survive as


One response

  1. Thank you Bruce for this wonderful Virtual Tour it was if I was joining you, Helen and Chris and now I can’t wait to get back for another visit and stroll the paths with you again <|;-)

    September 12, 2011 at 10:42 am

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