Lurie Garden's Salvia River 2010

The Lurie Garden’s Salvia River is in full glorious bloom. If you do one thing this weekend it should be visiting the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park to take in the sight. The Salvia River is comprised of four different varieties of 2,000 salvia plants. It was designed to mimic a flowing river. I suggest arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon and early evening to avoid the crowds that are drawn to this spectacle created with shades of purple and blue. 

Make sure to stand in various areas of the Lurie Garden to appreciate the many curves, then head up to the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, via the bridge for a completely different perspective. 
I visited the Lurie Garden today and my favorite part was crouching down and watching the honeybees navigate the river of blooms. I came home with the biggest urge to plant salvia in my garden, as I do every year I visit. Maybe this year I’ll keep my promise. 
Update: On Facebook a couple of readers were wondering what varieties of salvia are used to create the Salvia River. I asked Sue Markgraf of GreenMark Public Relations if she could find out the answer and here is her response:
Salvia x sylvestris – varieties ‘Wesuwe’; ‘Rugen’; ‘May Night or ‘Mainacht’

depending on the nursery; and ‘Blue Hill'”


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  • Wow, it's so crazy lush since I last saw it. I loved the salvia river last year and it's nice to see it this year, even if not in person. The purples are so vibrant, even in the sun. And the crouch- (erm, plant-) level shots are great.

    Did you happen to get any photos of the smoke puffs of the prairie smoke? I tried 15 times to get my own and the macro (cuz it's in no way me) didn't work on any of them.

    I needed something cheery to look at today, this did the trick.

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    No, I did mean to photograph them 'cause I remembered seeing them there with you last year and wanting to plant some. Unfortunately, the nephew got a nasty splinter and I had to leave the garden in search of tweezers and didn't get a chance to take the pics of everything in bloom. But if you need something to make you smile, I'll send you a pic I took. Also, on my flickr account I'll post pics of the airplane engines in the Modern Wing of the A.I.

  • In reply to MrBrownThumb:

    Sweet, thanks! I like airplane engines--have a feel what they consist of, since I built my model. Can you please also email me your fave full-size salvia river for my desktop background? Thanks!

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    What screen resolution do you use?

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    Oh man, that's amazing.

  • In reply to Erinthe6x8garden:

    Hi Erin,

    You should see it in person. Thanks for signing up for an account to comment.

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    I was able to put it up as my desktop background just by right clicking on the image, and the resolution is all right.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Cool. BTW, check your Email.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Thanks. Actually my favorite, which I have up now, is the one with the bee on a flower background.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Beautiful shots MBT! I have Blue Hill in the sunniest part of our shade garden - no sign of blooms yet, so maybe it's time to cave and move it to full sun in the front yard.

    Can't make it down there this weekend, but I've been yearning to visit the Lurie and the Art Institute gardens lately. . . soon. . . !

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    Too bad you missed it this year. Make sure not to miss it next year. Hope your salvia blooms soon.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    All plants grown at the lurie are posted on their website, For a plan of the perennials go here: This will tell you which salvia is planted where.

    The river is awesome!!!

  • In reply to JMHO:

    Hi JMHO,

    Thanks for the link and for commenting.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I have never seen such violets as this before! They are simply breathtaking!


  • In reply to cathy75:

    They colors sure are beautiful, eh?

  • In reply to cathy75:

    Working as alive good vendor I get rack after rack of salvia this time of year. I broke down and bought some "blue hill" and "snow hill" mixed pots for our new flower bed. I wanted "may night" but its a bit dark for what we were aiming for. A nice thick row or group of salvia looks amazing. And does wonders for attracting bees. You'd never know there was such a thing as a bee problem so many come to the salvias.

    I know where I want to go on vacation now.

  • In reply to purplefdu:

    Hi Purplefdu,

    Thanks for the comment and I hope you get a chance to visit Chicago when the Salvia River is in full bloom. Must be nice to be a vendor and have so much slavia around.

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