Chicago Botanic Garden

What's in Bloom

What's in Bloom — Highlight 04.23.13

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Dalmatian purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Purple') is in the Sensory Garden.

Dalmatian Purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Purple') has spikes of purple flowers with throats intensely spotted with maroon. This cultivar is unique in that it blooms the first year from seed (all other species and cultivars are biennials and will only bloom the second year), and that the flowers face all directions (typically the flowers all tend to one side or the other of the stem).

Foxgloves are one of the few traditional herbal medicine plants to have transitioned into modern pharmacology; extracts of various plant parts are still prescribed to treat various heart ailments. As with all medicines, the difference between beneficial effects and poisoning is a matter of dosage. Because of the cardiac glycosides and other chemicals within the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds, this group of plants is rarely eaten by rabbits and deer.


PHOTO: Brunfelsia pauciflora

Pistachio trumpet daffodil (Narcissus 'Pistachio') features soft yellow petals with a greenish cast and a white halo around the trumpet. The trumpet is white at the base, changing to yellow at the edge of the cup. The original cross creating this new cultivar was made in 1978, and like other new Narcissus cultivars, it was not patented until 2004. Hybridizing flower bulbs is a long-term process, because many bulbs grown from seed do not flower until they are 5 to 7 years old; then they begin the process of evaluation for insect and disease resistance, and ease of propagation.

Pistachio trumpet daffodil (Narcissus 'Pistachio') is in the Lakeside Garden.


Tubergen milk squill (Scilla mischtschenkoana 'Tubergeniana') produces masses of milk-white flowers with the faintest of blue midribs on the flower petals. Frequently the flowers start to open at soil level, but as the flowering season progresses, the flower stalks elongate to approximately 4 inches tall. This is a sterile cultivar, and increase in the garden is achieved slowly through production of bulb offsets, commonly referred to as daughter bulbs.

The species range extends from the Caucasus Mountains south to the mountains of Iran, and it was introduced to cultivation in 1931. Like many other early spring-flowering bulbs, it can be grown in full sun, or underneath the canopy of deciduous trees, where it completes its growth cycle before the trees start to leaf out.

Tubergen milk squill (Scilla mischtschenkoana 'Tubergeniana') is in the Bulb Garden underneath the crabapples.


Helleborus × hybridus 'Blue Metallic Lady' features purpley-blue flowers with a silvery metallic cast surrounded by dark green, rapidly expanding tufts of deeply divided leaves. Hellebores thrive in shady woodland settings in moist humus-rich soils that are slightly alkaline in pH. Mature height and width is a little less than 2 feet tall by 2 feet wide.

This selection is a seed strain, so there will be slight variations on the flowers sold under this name. In climates with shorter winters, Lenten roses bloom more closely to their namesake date on the calendar; in the Chicago area, they usually begin to flower in April and frequently continue into early May. This specimen is one of a number of new exciting cultivars developed by Gisella Schmeimann of Cologne, Germany.

Blue Metallic Lady Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus 'Blue Metallic Lady') is in the English Walled Garden.


In spring, Cytisus × praecox 'Allgold', also known as Scotch broom, is covered with canary-yellow flowers topped with a pale yellow flag on a shrub maturing at 6 feet in height and width. Not reliably hardy in the Chicago area, this plant is also noted for its tolerance of salt spray and poor, acidic soils. The very small leaves are deciduous during droughts, leaving the task of photosynthesis to the green chlorophyll covering the stems and trunk.

Allgold Scotch broom (Cytisus x praecox 'Allgold') is in the Circle Garden.


Meconopsis 'Lingholm' is a beautiful selection of the Himalayan blue poppy, noted for an absence of purpley veining in the flowers. True-blue flowers are held well above the gray-green foliage covered with golden to silver hairs that glisten in the sunlight. Native to the very high elevations of southwestern China and the Himalayas, this plant thrives in lower elevations in areas with moist, cool summers, like the Pacific Northwest and the west coast of Scotland.

Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis 'Lingholm') is in the Subtropical Greenhouse.