There's so much that changes in the MG landscape throughout the year...we thought a plant trial and garden blog was the best way to start sharing "what's new" and "what's happening with all those new varieties" with you! Visit often for updates on how trial plants are performing in the gardens and to see photos throughout the season as we grow and change!

Welcome to the Midwest Groundcovers Landscape Blog

Welcome to the Midwest Groundcovers Landscape Blog
Astilbe 'Vision in Red' with Hosta 'Patriot' and Carex 'Ice Dance'

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Wonderful World of Seedheads!

Here we are at the beginning of September, and after a deluge of rain, the grasses are strutting their stuff. Sorghastrum Sioux Blue with it's yellow flowers will brighten up my days for the next week or so. Here are some of the interesting grasses I saw as I walked the landscape this morning.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder'
Probably the most common of the Maiden Grasses, Silberfeder always shines this time of year. Standing 6-8' tall in the gardens, it's hard not to notice. The silver seed heads will last all winter, though they begin to take on a straw-like color in the middle of fall.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
I'm sure everyone is familiar with Karl Foerster. I sometimes give it a hard time because everyone uses it, but it is still an excellent plant. If it has a use for nearly all landscape contractors, it must be a good plant, right? The most fascinating thing about Karl Foerster is the length of bloom time. Starting much earlier than most grasses, and continueing to look good throughout winter.

Andropogon gerardii
Big bluestem is certainly worthy of this column. This is the time of year its' other common name comes to play. Turkey Foot! You can see the tops of the seed heads take on the shape of, you guessed it, a turkey foot!!! Nice fall and winter color, this staple of the Midwest Prairie is calling you. Gobble Gobble!

Pennisetum 'Red Head'
I had great expectations for this plant. Fabulously large flower heads are beginning to appear now above large foliage to 3' tall. The finished plant will be in the neighborhod of 4' tall, depending on your soil conditions. This spring however, the plant that had overwintered the previous two winters was not looking quite the same. It had become a Cul de sac with it's only live growth coming from the outer edges of the plant. It was a tough winter, so there is a chance that it was a fluke.

Sporobolus heterolepis
I can't talk about seedheads on grasses without bringing up the Prairie Dropseed. Pictured here, it is planted with Echinacea pallida which gives a very nice appearance. Though not for everyone, these plants are incredibly fragrant. Depending on what kind of nose you have, it smells like buttered popcorn or cilantro. I personally feel it smells like the cilantro. Fantastic plant for fantastic places.
-Alright, so I've been told to leave a tease for the next blog posting. If you would like to see the seed heads from the Sorghastrum Sioux Blue, you better stay tuned for the next posting. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Looking at Rudbeckia

As you may or may not know, there are more Rudbeckia in the world than 'Goldsturm'. Though 'Goldsturm' has proven to be a successful plant for many, and was even given the Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association, there are more out there worthy of your attention. Now it has become overplanted a bit, and we need to look at other options. Have we learned from Elm, Ash, and Chestnut that monocultures can sometimes be a bad thing? Here are some Rudbeckias that we are looking at in our gardens.

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'
Truly unique flower on this plant. Quilled new petals rise above very clean, dark green foliage. Should be used more as a specimen plant rather than planting en masse. This was planted in spring this year, and is already 4 feet tall. Sizing up nicely, this is definately a keeper!

Rudbeckia laciniata 'Goldquelle'
This is a double flowering form that I first saw growing at the Minnesota Landscape Arboreteum. Foliage has stayed clean, and it is flowering prolifically. It is something different, that I'll have to keep my eye on. Plants right now are in the 3' range, smaller than 'Henry Eilers' and 'Herbstonne', but larger than 'Viette's Little Suzy' and 'Dibbles'.

Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstonne'
A giant among the rest, 'Herbstonne' reaches up to 6 foot in the air and shows off nice lemon yellow flowers with a green cone. A tough plant for the back of the border, but can require some staking in shadier areas. Quite "Outstanding in the Garden" is what one garden writer said. For larger spaces, this one deserves consideration.

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Dibbles'
A very special selection of R. fulgida from Roy Diblik. Upward curving petals on a more compact plant, distinguish this from the rest. The foliage has a blue cast, and is smaller than any other Rudbeckia I've seen. It is later flowering than the aforementioned varieties, but worth the wait. In fact that would make it a good combination plant with some fo the others because of the different bloom time.

Stay tuned as I try real hard to give them all black spot. So far they have not succumb to the bacteria that typically makes 'Goldsturm' so disfigured. They are all planted very close with the intent that I want to make it as hard as possible for them not to get it. This fall I will be planting Rudbeckia Goldsturm side by side with these in the hopes that something gets it. They can't all be good plants can they? Have a great day!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Spring Meadow Visit

Thursday, August 9th, Midwest Groundcovers accession group attended a tour at Spring Meadow Nurseries and Dale Deppe, owner of Spring Meadows personal garden. It was quite an experience looking at some of the upcoming plants that will be featured by Spring Meadow in the near future. Some of the more interesting varieties we saw were:
Kolkwitzia Dream Catcher(TM)
These were very large specimens growing in dappled light. Looked like a good sub for Rhus Grow-Low to me. It does have considerably more color than Grow-Low and shouldn't be in as much sun as Growlow, but if you have that part shaded spot, this could be a plant for you!

Hydrangea Limelight displayed very nicely in a container! Shrubs in large containers is a big thing up there, and obviously they know what they're doing. Wouldn't you want that in your yard?

As you can see by Dan Guiborat's face, this is a big Hydrangea! It is now nameless, but should be on the market in the next couple of years. It dwarfs the flowers of Annabelle, and as you can see, they still are held upright. "They tilted a little after a hard rain when the flowers were establishing" said Dale Deppe. From my perspective, it was still very impressive!

My Monet(TM) Weigela
The big push at Spring Meadow has been their introduction of My Monet(TM) Weigela. This was planted all over their gardens and would have been difficult not to have grabbed our attention. What do you think?

Thinking outside the box, here is Caryopteris Sunshine Blue with Weigela Wine & Roses being used as bedding plants. Very effective in the landscape.