The Anthurium- This sculpture was inspired by the array of red and pink-hued anthurium (Anthurium sp.) blooming in the tropical house of the conservatory. These tropical perennials are most noted for their attractive waxy, palette-shaped, bright red spathes, contrasting dark green foliage, and creamy yellow spadix. In Nebraska, they make great houseplants.
Artist statement: While this is technically anthurium, I call it the “King of Hearts,” bringing a romantic bouquet to you!
Audrey- Native to North Carolina in a boggy habitat, the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea species) has “trap leaves” that excrete a sweet nectar that attracts insects; these leaves spring closed around the bug and release digestive juices that drown and dissolve its prey.
Artist statement: What struck me about ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ was the humanity of a carnivorous plant. I just had to create a whimsical and mildly threatening homage.
Autumn Curtain- Shades of yellow, orange and variations thereof, always reside in the pigmentation of tree leaves. However, those colors are typically overpowered by the abundance of green from the chlorophyll in leaves during the summer. In autumn, when the days shorten, the chlorophyll breaks down and leaves begin to change colors. Visit the arboretum to experience the changing colors of the leaves throughout the year. Artist statement: I created 750 oak leaves to create this dancing cascade in amber and rust. I bring you the beauty of fall without the cleanup!
Best In Show- Orchid flowers occur in a mind-blogging variety of colors, patterns, shapes and sizes, which serve to lure the insects and other animals needed to make seed. Some orchids seem to play games with pollinators, such as ones with flowers that look and smell like a female insect to attract males of the species. Moth orchids (genus Phalaenopsis), like the one depicted here, are so-named because their flowers resemble moths in flight. See many other orchids in the garden's collection as you stroll through the conservatory.
Artist statement: At 13 years of age, I was the youngest member of the Michigan Division of the American Orchid Society. I always competed for 'Best in Show,' but the award always eluded me, so I created one!
Blue Star Rising- Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky next to the moon. Though Venus is a planet, it has been called both “the morning star” and “the evening star” by navigators. Venus, known as Earth’s sister planet, is cloaked in mystery, as its cratered and volcanic landscape is hidden beneath a thick blanket of clouds.
Artist statement: Venus tilting at her seven degree axis. Reminiscent of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night,’ Venus never fails to inspire.
Fun Fact: Located in the English perennial border, Amsonia tabernaemontana, commonly called Blue Star, has clusters of blue star-shaped flowers that bloom in late spring.
Butterflies of Nebraska- The lives of butterflies are closely connected to plants. Butterflies use plants throughout their life cycle. Adults lay eggs on plants, caterpillars feed on leaves and winged adults drink nectar from flowers. These 30 suspended sculptures represent butterflies native to Nebraska. Many of these spectacular sculptural butterflies are on this list of 46 species of butterflies that have been observed at Lauritzen Gardens. As warmer weather approaches, many of the outdoor beds will be filled with beautiful butterflies eating nectar and pollinating the flowers. Artist statement: Fluttering overhead you will find 30 representatives of Nebraska’s native butterflies. I hope their meandering path inspires your own.
Sponsored by the Dian Moore Family Fund
Crepe Myrtle- The crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.) is among the most essential Southern plants. Its showy summer blooms, attractive bark, and, in many cases, brilliant fall color, make it a year-round garden performer. The plant gets its common name from the crinkly appearance of its flowers, which resemble crêpe fabric.
Visit the temperate house of the Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory to see both plant and sculpture specimens of these notable flowering trees.
Artist statement: This Southern beauty was inspired by the diminutive crepe myrtle blossoms begging me to tell their story bigger… much bigger.
Dragonfly- Dragonflies play a very important role in the ecology of ponds and streams, especially since they eat loads of mosquitoes! Most of the life of a dragonfly is lived out underwater, first as an egg, then as a wingless nymph. The common green darner (Anax junius) is the most visible and widespread dragonfly in Nebraska. These colorful, 3-inch long insects can be seen cruising the airspace over the ponds at Lauritzen Gardens from spring into the fall. Artist statement: The sentinel of the garden, the dragonfly and the play of light on its beautiful iridescent wings continue to fascinate me.
Fireball- In autumn, the burning bush (Euonymus alatus) turns a bright-fiery red, resembling a fireball. This deciduous shrub can be used as an accent or natural hedge. It is particularly exceptional when featured in mass, at the foreground of larger conifers or evergreen shrubs. The burning bush and sugar maple (Acer saccharum), another plant with brilliant red color in the fall, can both be admired when visiting the festival garden. Artist statement: As a Leo, made of fire, I always seek the water. Too much fire boils the water, and too much water quenches the fire. I seek the balance of a warm bath.
Flock of Cardinals- Of the more than 125 species of birds spotted at Lauritzen Gardens, the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is one of the few birds that can be found in the garden year-round. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, cardinals are “a perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness, and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off of.” Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage, so they are still breathtaking in winter’s snowy backyards- or on display in the Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory.
Artist statement: Cardinals are cheerful, stick around in the harsh winter, mate for life; they are my favorite bird.
The Goldenrod- Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) is the state flower of Nebraska, chosen for its hardiness and for its abundance throughout the state. This species of goldenrod blooms in clusters of bright yellow petals that jut out from thick, green spike-like stalks. Goldenrods are attractive to bees and butterflies. At Lauritzen Gardens, giant goldenrod grows profusely in the parking garden and in the Song of the Lark Meadow, where it explodes into bloom in late summer.
Artist statement: The state flower of Nebraska, brought to you in all of its ruffly, golden glory is guaranteed to be hypoallergenic!
Fun Fact: Goldenrods have been wrongfully accused of causing hay fever, which is actually an allergic reaction to wind-borne pollen from other plants such as ragweed.
Sponsored by First National Bank
Iris- Single, bearded or double and a favorite of many gardeners, the iris comes in every color of the rainbow, except red! The iris is a plant often used by water purification facilities to aid in the purification process. Check out the spring flowering walk, March through May and see how many varieties of irises you can spot.
Artist statement: The contrast of ruffled, regal purple flowers juxtaposed with ‘sky arrow’ leaves has always drawn my attention.
Making A Splash- Cascading raindrops fall from the sky when clouds can no longer hold the weight of the water. As a part of Lauritzen Gardens' conservation efforts, there is a cistern buried below the temperate house of the conservatory that can hold more than 25,000 gallons of rainwater. The rainwater is collected as it runs down the outside of the conservatory and is directed into the cistern. That water is then used to nourish the conservatory’s plants.
Artist statement: This sculpture is making a splash...literally.
Making A Wish- Often considered a pesky weed, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a hardy perennial that can grow to a height of nearly 12 inches (our sculpture is just a bit larger in size!). The plants are known for their deeply-notched, toothy, spatula-like leaves and their bright yellow flowers that open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening. When the flower dries out, it turns into a round ball of fluffy seeds. When the fluff is blown, the seeds scatter and fly through the air. For ages, people have made wishes on dandelion seeds in the hopes of them coming true.
Artist statement: Do you remember the last time you picked a dandelion puff and made a wish on its ascending seeds of promise? If you don’t remember the last time, I invite you to do it now!
Sponsored by the Kathryn Burney Family
Mr. Lincoln- Lilac- A longtime favorite of gardeners, the lilac (Syringa sp.) is a low-maintenance shrub typically grown for its intense aroma and beautiful blooms. Lauritzen Gardens has a lilac collection at the northeast end of the Gross Family Spring Flowering Walk. In spring, this corner of the garden is filled with the intoxicating fragrance and color of these classic garden plants. New and classic lilac varieties may be found here, in a palette of milky white and pale blues, pinks, and lavenders, alongside deep purples and magentas.
Artist statement: Of all the lilacs, Mr. Lincoln is the deepest purple in color. I only regret that I could not capture its scent.
October Gust- In October, chlorphyll production in trees declines significantly, resulting in a striking collage of yellows, oranges, browns and more. Enjoy the serenity and fall color the woodland trail and native grasses have to offer while meandering through a century-old forest of bur oak, while observing the native plant community that has long existed on our riverside Loess Hills.
Artist statement: Caught in a whirlwind of leaves on an October day, I rushed to the studio to make this piece.
Water Garden- Water lilies (Nymphea sp.) are not only beautiful to look at, but they also serve an important purpose in the pond-mainly in aiding its ecosystem. Water lilies spread across the water‘s surface, filling it with color and vibrancy all the while keeping the pond and the creatures in it safe and healthy. Lilies provide shade, help prevent algae growth and give shelter to fish and other wildlife.
Tropical water lilies are larger and flashier than the hardy varieties and tend to be more fragrant. They also tend to bloom for a month or two longer, stay open later in the day, and are more likely to produce multiple flowers at any given time. Tropical water lilies share the same color palette as hardy lilies, but tropical varieties also come in blue and purple.
These exquisite beauties can be admired in the ponds of the tropical house year-round, and during the spring, summer and fall in the ponds in the parking garden.
Artist statement: This tropical house is a fitting location for the purple-blue water lilies, another rare bluish flower, rising above a tranquil pond.
Sponsored by Teri and Ron Quinn
Weeping Willow- Displayed in the center of the koi pond, the branches of this weeping willow gracefully weep down to touch the water.
In the landscape, this graceful giant is known for its open crown of wispy, ground-sweeping branches and long, slender leaves. Often seen as one of the first indications of spring, the weeping willow’s (Salix babylonica) yellow twigs and green foliage appear early in the season—sometimes as early as February.
The weeping willow is not hardy in Nebraska. At Lauritzen Gardens, a beautiful specimen of curly willow (Salix matsudana), with its beautiful spiraling branches, can be seen growing in the Arboretum and Oberman Bird Sanctuary.
Artist statement: This custom-made copper and resin trunk supports a dripping chandelier in shades of green and yellow.