This year, with the Chicago Honey Co-op, we harvested over 70 pounds of honey from our hives. We may do a second harvest depending on the weather this fall. We always leave plenty of honey for our bees to eat over the long winter.
The most common visitor question in the garden right now is "What's that blue plant over there?" On this beautiful first day of the fall equinox, bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii), is bringing vibrant color to the autumn garden. This oddly shaped flower never opens, hence its moniker. This native flower co-evolved with pollinators that have wings that beat quickly enough to create vibration.
Lately out in the Lurie Garden you may have noticed some insects of unusual size. Unlike the fire swamp in The Princess Bride, we don’t have a problem with giant rodents. We do at this time of year have a noticeable population of native, solitary wasp species that sometimes startle visitors. Fortunately, the three most commonly found in the garden in August don’t sting humans and are actually beneficial to the garden.
The great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus) is a beautiful, iridescent, midnight-blue wasp that is found on rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), sea lavender (Limonium latifolium), and blunt mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum). This solitary wasp is an important pollinator.
The Lurie Garden has a small section of lawn along the south end of the Boardwalk feature in the garden. This is a great place for visitors to relax on a blanket in either sun or shade. We also use this area for family activities such as storytelling and our toddler programs. We keep our garden chemical free, including our lawn, so the clover you may see blooming there is a happy occurrence. We do hand weed the dandelions to prevent the seed from blowing in the garden beds, but white clover (Trifolium repens) does not cause a maintenance issue in the garden. In fact, it is a welcome sight to humans, bees, and bunnies.