Getting To Know Morton Arboretum Fragrance Garden Seasonal Beds - August 2023

I had to pick up one of the kids at the Morton Arboretum recently had had a little bit of time to get some steps in and decided to go see the Fragrance Garden up by the Thornhill Center on the West side of the Arboretum.  It is a spot where you can park pretty close and get to see some beds and containers on a quick little, easy walk. 

A couple of years ago, I was in this same garden and posted some thoughts and photos here.  At that time, I was struck by the bedding plants and combinations they had in what felt like a very shady garden (which...is a lot like our own garden).    It was from that experience that I said (to myself) that I needed to think about using annuals beyond the container - as bedding plants - in the shade.  In fact....that was one of my 2023 to-do items and the push behind all of the annuals that I planted this year including some Lobelia, Begonias, Impatiens, Polka Dot Plants

The beds at the Morton Arboretum have inspired me prior to that shade garden visit.  I posted about this entrance planting all the way back in 2020 that combined Angelina Sedum and bedding Begonias.   Which...I immediately tried to replicate in our own front porch bed the next Summer.  

At that time, I was relying on my own eyes (and an email to the Plant Clinic) to identify what plants they were using in the beds.   

I was looking to 'get to know' more flowers and get a little inspired by what I was going to see in the Fragrance Garden.  And, the entrance beds didn't disappoint.  

Here's a few of them that I saw right when I entered:

Neat stuff, right?

When I was looking closer, I noticed this little sign in the bed:

They have a list of the plants in these beds online?  What the heck!?!  I went online and arrived here - their container and display garden page.  There, they have a 2023 list as a .pdf covering all of their containers and display gardens around the Arboretum.  I scroll down to the section about the Thornhill Education Center and see this little map:

And, each of those numbered beds have a list.  Here, below, are the rectangle bed and entry bed lists:



In person, what really JUMPED OUT AT ME in these beds were two things:  the Elephant Ear foliage and the spike-y, green foliage right next to them.

Here, below, are a couple more photos showing what I'm talking about:



Wild, right?  And, new (to me) plants.

Thanks to that handy list, I can figure out what they are now.


What is that other plant? It is Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) - which UW Madison says is a close cousin to the artichoke.  (Looks like it, doesn't it??)

Love both of these and know that when I think about annuals (next year), I'll have to be a little bit more critical of what I'm putting in the garden AND the timing of those purchases.  I've been seduced by the big box stores and buy too early.  

What else do I see in these beds?  The combination of Euphorbia and Zinnias.  The list says this is Glamour euphorbia (Euphorbia ‘Glamour’) and some double Zinnias named Double Zahara Salmon Zinnia

I've sort of backed-into this combination of Euphorbia and Zinnias as we (on a whim) bought some from Northwind earlier this Summer.  See this container below that is just about the only one we have that is appealing (to me):


That's something that I can draw from next year - both with containers as well as bedding plants.  By all measures, our containers this year weren't great.  But, I've gotten to know Euphorbia a little bit and I'll keep it on my list for next year - both containers and...in the beds.  

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