Chicago Botanic Garden

What's in Bloom

What's in Bloom — Highlight 9.17.12 AddThis Feed Button


Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is in the Lakeside Garden.

Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) features pure white, lightly fragrant flowers in late summer when grown in full sun or partial shade. The flowers are followed by billowing masses of silvery, silk-like seeds in late fall. This perennial is excellent for use as an informal vine, or trained formally on arbors, and it flowers on the current season's growth, so plants that get too large can be reduced in size in spring without decreasing flower production.

Most sources identify Clematis terniflora as a native of Japan, but it is also listed in Flora of China, where it goes by the common name of yuan zhui tie zian lian. It has been grown in the southeastern United States since 1877 — about 60 years after it was first described by Augustus de Candolle, one of the most prominent botanists of ninteeth-century France.


Grand Bleu™ bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Inoveris') is a French-bred cultivar featuring a more compact growth habit with intense blue-purple flowers closely spaced in the flower cluster to provide more visual impact in the landscape. Deep-green foliage provides great contrast to the flowers. Like other bluebeards, it attracts butterflies and grows best in sunny, well-drained soils. Cut back this short-lived plant (in the Chicago area) hard in late winter to early spring to remove stems killed over winter, and to encourage a tighter growth habit.

Grand Bleu™ bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Inoveris') is in the Bulb Garden.



Sabra spike sage (Salvia confertifolia) is a tropical perennial (annual in Chicago) native to Brazil that features stems up to 5 feet in height with long straight spikes of red flowers. The leaves are large — 7 inches long by 3 inches wide — and deep green with rough texture. The flower stalks and calyxes of the flower are covered with velvety dark-brown hairs. This sage is beloved by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Pliny named this group of plants after the word salver (to heal) for their medicinal uses in the ancient world. The species name, confertifolia, refers to the densely packed flowers on the flowering spikes.

Sabra spike sage (Salvia confertifolia) is in the Circle Garden.


Fireworks rough goldenrod (Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks') produces fountains of bright yellow flowers resembling starbursts on a plant shorter in stature than the species. This plant prefers full sun and moist soils, and when provided with these conditions,it is insect and disease resistant. Bees and migrating butterflies swarm the flowers to obtain the nutrient-rich nectar, while a number of small seed-eating birds enjoy feasting upon the seeds. Goldenrod is deer resistant and NOT responsible for triggering allergies.

Fireworks rough goldenrod (Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks') is in the Sensory Garden.


At 2 feet in height, Vivid obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid') is shorter than the straight species, and produces lavender-pink flowers in vertical rows on spikes to 10 inches in height. This salt-tolerant cultivar attracts butterflies but is not appealing to browsing deer. Like other descendents of midwestern natives, it prefers full sun and moist soils, and when provided with these conditions, it is not prone to disease and insect infestations.

Vivid obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid') is in the Landscape Garden.