Sunday, September 16, 2012

Visiting the Luthy Botanical Gardens in Peoria Illinois

Visiting gardens all across the country and even the world is a passion for me; though I don't usually make special trips just to see gardens. If, however, I happen to be some place new then I will almost always take the opportunity to visit local public gardens. If I am lucky enough to know a gardener nearby I might even contact them for a visit as well. My recent visit to Peoria, Illinois saw Mr. Fix-it and I visiting a public botanical garden called Luthy Botanical Gardens. We happened to be in Peoria Ilinois due to Mr. Fix-it's job. He has the great fortune to be able to travel the country to fix aircraft. I sometimes get to visit him in the various locations and I get really excited to not only see him but to see new gardens and learn about new plants. Botanical gardens and nurseries are one of the best ways a gardener can learn about plants before planting them in their own gardens. 

I took a lot of pictures at Luthy Botanical Gardens because even though this botanical garden was tiny by most botanical garden standards, there was SO much to see that the whole garden was a feast for our eyes. I have prepared three posts on the Luthy and hope you'll enjoy this small garden as much as we did back in July. Yes, I am a bit late on posting. 

We start with the tropical house situated in a greenhouse you must pass through in order to enter the gardens proper. Here I had Mr. Fix-it pose for a nice picture for me. I don't normally talk about my husband, but I must say he is my best friend and I love him even more now then when we married nearly nineteen years ago. He is a good sport to traipse through gardens with me as I am sure he'd much rather be looking at cars in a junkyard or some local car show rather than garden touring. Look above Mr. Fix-it's head at the plant and what do you see?
A couple of leaves with writing on them! I thought I had taken a picture of the data plate on this tropical plant but I can't find it. I seem to remember it being called a "Write on me plant" but can't find anything about that kind of plant when I Google it. If you know the name of this plant please let me know as I have no idea what kind it is. Many people have 'written' on the leaves by scratching in their names. The leaves heal up leaving white scars where the etching was done. As far as I can see the writing did not harm the plant. We did not etch our names into the plants in case you were wondering.

A bit thank you to Sharon from A Lazy Woman's Garden for identifying my mystery tree! It is called an Autograph tree, aka Clusia rosea.
The textures in the tropical house were nice. I liked all of the color as well as the texture. This greenhouse was not very big but was nicely laid out.
Once you exit the greenhouse you can see the centerpiece of the garden; this water feature.
On our way to the perennial and herb gardens we passed a boxwood hedge. I like the effect of these hedges and really wish I had room for one in my garden. I've seen several gardens around my town that does have the small hedges and they are very nice for edging perennial beds. The natural wooden trellis was also a nice touch.

While in the sunny perennial border I noticed Genista Broom moth larva happily chomping away at the baptisia.  I let the volunteers know and they in turn said they'd notify the curator. I tell you this pest has been very widespread this year and I've been hearing how many mature baptisias have been decimated. Even botanical gardens can get pests.
Here is a long look at the conifer collection.
How cool is this bench?
Woodland gardens have my heart always because my garden is more like this than a sunny perennial garden. The Solomon's seal is a real workhorse in shady gardens like mine and this woodland garden at the Luthy. Do you notice the geraniums in the foreground? I am heartened to see them growing in shade. I too have planted some in shade and find they do okay but are not as generous with their blooms as their cousins in the sun.
The last picture of this first of three posts visiting the Luthy is of leaf impressions in a concrete bench. The textures are really nice....

in the garden....

Tip: When designing gardens think about how the plants will look side by side when not in bloom-vary the textures. 

There is a lot more to come from the Luthy as I am able to post off and on in the next few weeks. 

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. What a nice post. I'm so glad that you get to go, not only to see your other half [looks like he's lost weight] but to see all this beauty. Love that hosta.

  2. I know! I know!...its called an autograph do I know? I first saw it on the road to Hana, Hawaii at a cool nursery...thank you so much for the memory I had forgotten it!

  3. That must have been a nice visit! It's great that your husband visits gardens with you. That's real love!

  4. I've been to Peoria many times, but I wasn't even aware of this garden! Thanks for the tour, Tina; I will definitely have to check this out the next time I am out that way. The autograph tree is something else I've never heard of, a fun plant for a public garden like this.

    I'm glad you mentioned the Genista moth--I had completely forgotten about this earlier post of yours. The funny thing is, about a month later we discovered these caterpillars stripping the baptisia in the nursing home garden where I volunteer, and I immediately went home to check out my baptisia. Sure enough, many of the leaves had been eaten, though I saw so signs of the larvae on my plant. I should have remembered your post and checked on my plant earlier; I hope it comes back ok next year.

    Next trip to Illinois, you'll have to visit the Idea Garden near me!

  5. It looks like a great garden, thanks for the tour. The Genista moth was all over my mature baptisia, like Rose, I hope it comes back next year.

  6. Are we lucky gardeners or what? We have great hubbys to stroll the beauty and enjoy the time with us. I have never heard of the Autograph Plant. That is awesome but as you, I would not have etched my name either. I would still feel as though I am harming the plant. LOL. Nasty Caterpillar with that one. I am ever amazed at others lush happy hosta when mine are so small and seem to struggle in our hot climate. Keeping most of them in pots while in the ground is not help so I have put a few into the ground in hopes the Voles do not find them. Love that bench! I have seen several on blogs but never one in person such as this. I will be happy when I too discover one in person...

  7. Am doing a Landscape Diagnostic Clinic for MGs this week and one of the issues is the Genista moth caterpillar having eaten a baptisia. I knew what it was because of your posting earlier this summer!!! thanks.
    Love the botanical garden pictures, look forward to more.

  8. Ahh.....our other halfs are so patient with us gardners/nature enthusiasts. I am always thankful for Pat's support. Love the tour:)

  9. This is a new garden for me and it is lovely...the hostas and bench are great...very creative that bench

  10. Everything is so very lush, just beautiful but by golly that bench is awesome!!!

  11. What a nice article:)... I have worked here at Luthy for 12 years and have seen many changes at the garden. Ever Changing...that is what I love about horticulture! Some good, some well lets just say a "learning experience." Woodland is one of my AORs "Area Of Responsibility" and probably my favorite. I amend it every fall with ground leaf mulch from our leaf vac.shredder. It has helped tremendously and now we use pretty much all our leaves so nothing goes to the local landfill. Running them through the shredder they break down very quickly and the woodland plants seem to respond nicely. Thanks again for your nice Blog.

  12. What a nice article! I have worked at Luthy for 12 yrs and your right...there is always something to see in our little garden. Have you seen the pictures recently posted on Luthys Facebook page. It is nice to have a job where you can get your hands dirty and also be able to capture the beauty that surrounds you and share it with others:)!