Osmocote Advertisement

Fit for a Queen


The juxtaposition is a little jarring at first, and then you start to smile. You’re downtown, driving along Lake Shore Drive, the splendor of the city’s sophisticated architecture for a backdrop, and what do you see as you pass directly east of Buckingham Fountain but hundreds and hundreds of giant yellow-flowering sunflowers. A country flower if there ever was one.

Making the contrast even more striking is the fact that this spot is also called Queen’s Landing because it is actually the location where Queen Elizabeth II disembarked when she arrived in Chicago for the first time.

Usually these giant flower beds are filled with tulips in spring, followed by a mix of annuals for summer, but this year Adam Schwerner, director of natural resources at the Chicago Park District, wanted to do something different and got the bright idea of seeding the beds with nothing but 8-foot tall ‘Mammoth’ sunflowers. Moore Landscapes, Inc. did the work, says Jim Pearson, vice-president for maintenance at Moore.

Gardeners will be surprised at how closely the sunflowers are spaced (I certainly was), but they’re thriving. Pearson filled me in on the history:

“The beds were actually thinned out when the seeds had emerged at around 8 inches,” he recalls. “When they started getting taller, we had every intention of thinning them out again, but CPD liked how thick the planting was and told us to hold off. We also entertained ideas of staking the plants. We were worried about the winds and/or the big flower heads toppling the plants like dominoes. So far they have held up beautifully. The plants may only have about two more weeks of life in them before the blooms are done. The birds and squirrels have already started picking at the seed heads, and people have started pulling the heads off as well.”

All Photos: Natalia Salazar, Chicago Park District

The sunflowers won’t be back next year, says Pearson. Plans are afoot to prep the beds for an immediate permanent planting of flowering shrubs and rose bushes.

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Plant Identification Flow Chart

A comical plant identification flow chart from our columnist, Mike Nowak.


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - NovDec 2015

Here’s the thing about gardening: it’s never done. So now 2015 is winding down, the year in which I thought my garden would …


Article Thumbnail
Columns
The 29 Steps

One of the things I've come to notice about the horticultural racket (and I'm using the term with extreme fondness, unless I'm n


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Diary of a Bad Gardener

Dear Diary, I’m soooo excited that I can hardly breathe!! Spring is almost here!! I can feel it in my very, very cold toes ...


Article Thumbnail
Features
Poinsettia and Its Kin

They don’t look alike. Not even close. But kinfolk come in all shapes and sizes. True of people and true of plants.


questions

The foliage on our cucumber plants is starting to wither and turn yellow. They get plenty of water and I feed them regularly. What could be wrong?

I am interested in growing fruit trees in my suburban DuPage County yard. Can sweet cherries be grown here? Can you suggest varieties of apples, pears, peaches, apricots and plums that are hardy and disease resistant?

Besides mums, what are a few other plants you would recommend for containers for fall color?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement