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, April 25, 2008

The Sweet Smell of Spring

We've been waiting all April for signs of spring to really show. The weather has been cold and rainy. The jobsites too wet to do any planting. It seems that may have come to an end. Of course the weather forecast for this weekend doesn't look too good, so we'll see. But spring is definately here. You can tell by all the daffodils blooming. Magnolias in full flower scenting the air in which we walk. Buds on the crabs are itching to open as well as the fragrant Viburnums. All in all there can't be much more of an exciting time of the year for those into plants. So let the fun begin. Hopefully this will be a prosperous time for everyone in our industry. Without further ado, this is what's going on in the landscape and in the pots.

In the landscape:

Today, April 25, 2008 Midwest Trading is holding a Build-a-Pond day at our St Charles facility. A great group of people came out to learn about the installation of these water features. Unfortunately, the pond won't last long, as it is going to be removed in the next couple days.

Also in the landscape we are seeing Magnolia blooming, Daffodils exploding, and Hyacinth spreading it's delightful fragrance. In the next week or two our entrance will be showing off 500 Allium Purple Sensation! That should be pretty cool! Pictures will be posted once this occurs.

One last phenominal woodland wildflower has been in bloom this week. Sanguinaria canadensis. These wildflowers are blooming at our St Charles location.

In Michigan, Trillium grandiflorum and Trout Lilies.

Finally, I would like to mention Ricky Castillo. I'd like to send his family our wishes. Ricky always had a smile on his face, and made those of us that were around him much happier. We will miss you Ricky. Good bye.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Woodland Wildflowers

Hello again! This week I have the honor to give a little glimpse of our native woodland wildflowers. A couple of weeks ago, the California Pack Trials were taking place, and I was about to start getting into annuals. I'm always looking to continue my passion for plants, and had been holding out on annuals until the end. But my interest was growing daily as I was being sent a blog from the Ball Seed Co. website. Then I walked into one of our growing areas and saw the Trilliums, Blue Cohosh, Jacob's Ladder, and Mayapple. The annuals are quickly forgotten. Never did I realize how much I was missing out on the greatness of Spring. If you have not gone to one of your local forest preserves to see the spring wildflowers, you are missing out. While delicate, they are some of the most impressive plants I've seen. As a fellow employee said, "It's like Disney where all the fairytales are made." It's true. Here are some of the woodland flowers currently blooming!

Hepatica acutiloba
Dainty flowers in the spring. This plant likes alkaline soils while it's brother or sister H. americana likes it more acidic. H. acutiloba has it's white to dark pink flowers first thing in the spring. Its' hairy stems hold the flowers upright. Once spent, the foliage then appears. The foliage is trilobed and pointy.
If you like variegation, why not go with a Trillium. Before the Hostas emerge, this is the foliage beauty of the shade garden. Trillium displays many variations on its' leaves. No woodland garden would be complete without it. It also looks good in natural plant combinations like below.

Trillium recurvatum with Allium tricochum.

In the Midwest Groundcovers Landscape:
Right now, so much is happening in the landscapes around us. A little bit of 70 degree weather and the plants are waking up. I was excited to see all the Geraniums and Astilbes with foliage emerging. Even the Baptisia is starting to show it's buds! Without question, spring has sprung! The most exciting time of the year for the plant geek in all of us! So, if you too, are a plant geek like me, than I suggest that you make a trip to the Morton Arboretum in the next week or two. The Daffodils are starting to bloom, and they have a remarkable display of them there in the Daffodil Glade. Check it out!

Until next week, have a great day!

Friday, April 11, 2008

April Showers Bring May Flowers?

Hello again! In the past, I've only shown you the plants in the landscape. But I think that the plants in the containers are equally important. If not, email me at kmcgowen@midwestgroundcovers.com and let me know otherwise. Today I want to show you the American Beauties Native Plants(TM) that we carry. Like I said on a previous post, these plants are geared to the garden center. However, they offer great merit to the landscaper as well. Here are some of the fine examples we have growing in our greenhouses.

Iris virginica shrevei
This is a very nice wetland plant. It will be very successful in a moist area or a sunny rain garden. It will decline if given any shade or dry conditions. The foliage is a dark green, very sturdy sword like leaf. It is very attractive even when not in flower.

Baptisia australis
I'll be doing another piece on Baptisia once they are blooming in the landscape. We have so much to show you! Who wouldn't want this in their yard or garden center? Beautiful herbaceous shrub, with pea like foliage. One of the best characteristics of this plant is actually its winter appeal. Once frost appears, foliage and seed pods turn black making a great contrast with the snow.

Mertensia virginica
How can you not love the flowers of Virginia Bluebells? Some of my fondest spring memories involve sitting in a patch of Mertensia in full bloom. This is an ephemeral so it will lose its leaves in summer, but it's spring display is one for all ages.

In the Garden:
With all the rain and cool weather, it seems as though spring hasn't totally figured out whether it's time to awake or just sleep walk. Some things are happening, but others are curiously absent. For example, Hamamelis or Witchhazel, is blooming and almost spent. Yet Cornus mas or Cornelian Cherry, is struggling to break bud. My memories are that they are almost always simultaneous. So we'll see. It could be a goofy year for the plants in the landscape. Let's hope not, but who knows. So in the garden and looking great are the same plants from last week with one beautiful addition; Chiondoxa. Check it out!

In Production:
It occurred to me the other day how lucky I am to be able to see how we propagate plants. Our Quonsets get filled the brim with seed flats and itty bitty plants emerge. For your viewing pleasure, I will show you a couple pictures of our current production of native plants. Enjoy!

Look at those little guys and girls! Thanks for reading this week. I hope you have a safe weekend and a great day!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Welcome Back Spring!!!

What's on tap
Hello all, and welcome back to another fantastic year in the garden. This year we will be creating some interesting new spots in the landscape to enjoy. Among the most exciting of the projects include an American Beauties Native Plants garden. In this area, we will be removing a large stand of Polygonum reynoutria that is no longer wanted. The new garden will require very little maintenance after the first year. We have over 100 varieties of perennials that will be going into our trial gardens. This will be changing throughout the year, so it does pay to come often if you want to see what's going on! Some changes to our Piet Oudolf garden will occur, and also a new water feature will be installed this April! Plus oodles of garden space with established plantings from past years.

What's Blooming?
This week in our gardens, it's not what's blooming, but what are they going to cut down next. Gustavo and Armando are back doing our spring clean up! If only they'd come to my yard next! Gustavo and Armando have been here many years. Gustavo has been the foreman of the landscape crew for as long as I can remember. The work these men do is truly inspirational and I believe they deserve a good amount of credit for how great our landscape looks.

There are a few things blooming in the gardens today. The early bulbs are doing there thing. Crocuses, Iris, and Hamamelis are all brightening our days at this point. I can't wait another week or two for the rest of the plants to start doing there thing.

New and Exciting!
A couple of new and exciting things will hit the market this year from Midwest Groundcovers. The biggest one is the American Beauties Native Plants program. This is mainly geared to the garden center market, but we feel that it can benefit all parts of the industry. It is not a program for the native purist, as it does include selections of native plants. No cultivars are accepted however. Knupper's Nursery and Garden Center in Palatine were the first to receive the plants this spring. As you can see below, their display looked fantastic. Check out abnativeplants.com for more information on the plants in the program.

Thanks for reading the first installment of 2008. Keep checking in, as I will have lots of information here this year. I hope you enjoy! Have a great day, and happy spring!