Midwest Living Review
Millennium Park's Lurie Garden, a living prairiescape painting framed by landmark Chicago architecture, not only illustrates Illinois' tallgrass prairie plants but demonstrates beautiful possibilities for Midwest gardens. "The Lurie Garden is one of the first public gardens to use native, sustainable prairie plants as aesthetic elements in a highly designed, city-center garden," says Jennifer Davit, the garden's director. More than 200 species of regional perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees thrive in the 5-acre rooftop garden capping a parking garage. Davit says that perennial prairie showstoppers (fuchsia shooting star and red-flowered prairie smoke) are reliable, low-maintenance choices for Midwest gardeners. Come May's gentle warmth, more than 120,000 flowering bulbs including tulips, daffodils and glory of the snow's giant blue blossoms bob in the breeze off nearby Lake Michigan. By Memorial Day, a river of purple salvia flows along the Lurie's perimeter, vibrant for up to four weeks. In winter, snow blankets plantings forming natural white garden sculpture. The garden hosts public programs, including planting demonstrations, workshops, tours and bird-nature walks. Lurie Garden designer Piet Oudolf visits often to host talks about Chicago's urban botanic masterpiece.View the Lurie Garden year-round from the Art Institute's sliver Nichols Bridgeway connecting it to Terzo Piano restaurant, owned by famed Spiaggia chef Tony Montuano. The seasonal fare resto in the Modern Wing overlooks Millennium Park and incorporates an outdoor sculpture garden patio (312/443-8650; terzopianochicago.com).