Chicago Botanic Garden

What's in Bloom

What's in Bloom — Highlight 10.25.11   AddThis Feed Button

PHOTO: Feverfew

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is flowering in the English Walled Garden.

Feverfew produces white, daisy-like flowers late in the fall on perennial plants to two feet in height with nicely dissected green leaves. It grows best in full sun with moderate moisture and moderate fertilization. It is avoided by most herbivores because of the chemical constitutents in the leaves.

The common name is derived from the Latin febrifugia (fever reducer). During the Middle Ages it was also recommended for tonic, digestive, and emmenagogic (menstruation-provoking) properties. Modern medicine has documented a series of negative side affects associated with the use of feverfew, but has been unable to confirm beneficial uses. A close relative of feverfew was used to flavor ale before the use of hops was adopted.

The native range for feverfew extends from the Balkans to the Caucasus region. Because of its folk-medicine reputation, it was carried by emigrants from Europe with them on their voyages and can now be found naturalized in parts of North America and Chile.

PHOTO: Happy Single Wink dahlia

Happy Single® Wink dahlia produces deep-purple foliage with lilac flowers that have purple centers. When grown in full sun with moderate moisture and fertilization, it will bloom up to frost. After frost, harvest the tubers and store over winter in sawdust in a cool dry location.

Dahlias were cultivated by precolonial Aztecs for food and ornament. A French physician/botanist spy sent to Mexico to collect cochineal insects to break the Spanish monopoly on red dye noted two different types of dahlias in cultivation in 1715. For about 200 years, dahlias were botanic garden curiosities; then the Dutch received a shipment and began to hybridize them. Today, Dahlia cultivars are grown around the world and are numbered in the thousands. They are classified according to the size and shape of the flower and petals, and almost every region hosts a society dedicated to their growth and exhibition.

Happy Single® Wink dahlia (Dahlia 'Happy Single® Wink') is in the Bulb Garden.

PHOTO: Vyron mum

Vyron mum occurred as a sport on a different chrysanthemum cultivar in a Dutch nursery. It features medium-sized yellow blooms with a brownish center and has a full-bloom shelf life of approximately two weeks. It is described as a nine-week cultivar, which refers to the number of weeks of shortened day lengths needed to initiate flowering.

Vyron mum (Chrysanthemum 'Vryon') is in the Sensory Garden.

PHOTO: Ozawa onion

Ozawa onion produces delightfully miniature pompons of intense purple flowers (tinted red) throughout fall on a plant that rarely exceeds 16 inches in height. Like the other alliums that are reliably perennial in the Chicago area, this plant produces rhizomes (in contrast with most other alliums, which produce bulbs).

Ozawa onion (Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa') is in the Landscape Garden.

PHOTO: Gnome Pink globe amaranth

Gnome Pink globe amaranth grows to a maximum of 8 inches in height and features pink flowers from late spring until the first frost. A great annual for the front of the border, it is disease and insect free and in addition tolerates heat, drought, and poor soils. The flowers are beloved by butterflies, and the seeds are considered a delicacy by mice, birds, and other wee beasties storing up food for the long Chicago winter.

Gnome Pink globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa 'Gnome Pink') is in the Enabling Garden.