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, May 30, 2008

The Jewels of Chicago

Hello all! It's an exciting time of the year when the plants start to bloom and the customers start to call. It's hard sometimes to get out and see what the world has to offer this time of year. I wanted to show you what exciting things there are to see. Of course with a little of the Midwest Groundcovers gardens as well!

Thursday May 29, we hosted our 2nd annual Garden Writers' Day. 22 writers from Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois attended the event. Steve Castorani of North Creek Nursery and the inventor of American Beauties Native Plants(TM) was on hand for the event and did a presentation to the group to kick us off. Many thanks go out to those who attended and to those who helped carry out the day. We were able to get a group picture at the end of the tour of all the writers who made it. As you can see, it didn't take long for the poses to become a little goofy.

I guess I expected a little goofing around, but I didn't expect the bunny ears from Mike Nowak.

Green Roofs

On Wednesday a few of us got the rare oppurtunity to go onto City Hall's roof in Chicago. It was quite the experience seeing such an elaborate display of an intensive green roof. Seeing a Washington Hawthorn on top of a building in the city is quite cool.

Here is a picture of an extensive green roof. This one is planted at our St Charles facility. Intensive green roofs have more depth and can hold different types of plants. These are typically irrigated. Extensive systems, like the one to the right, are usually 2"-4" deep and are best planted in Sedum.

While on the green roof at City Hall, we walked upon some bee hives. Quite nice that people in the city are trying to help out our honey bee populations. They are in dire need of help. For more information on the current bee crisis, follow this link.

Millenium Park and the Lurie Garden

The Lurie garden is truly a Horticultural treasure. The Salvia river, and the Camassia bulbs are spectacular right now. If you have a chance to see this soon, go! Never before, have I felt so close to heaven.

Baptisia Starlite Prairieblues(tm)

The first of the Baptisia to bust out in bloom. It's light colored flowers are quite stunning right now. Big and bold and so much larger than the straight B. australis. These have also been a dream in production. They make size twice as fast as B. australis! Next week, I'll be attending a Baptisia Field Day, where we'll look at potential future introductions from the Chicagoland Grows program. Jim Ault is really doing a great job. We in this industry have to figure out how to get the public's interest.

On this cool rainy day, I'm looking back on the things I've been able to do these past couple weeks. It is quite easy for me to believe that I have the best job in the world! Thanks for reading, and until next time, have a great day!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

Hello again. It's been a couple weeks since I last posted. Spring apparently has arrived and business is getting better. It's funny how the people in the horticulture industry anticipate Spring all Winter so that when it comes, we can all get stressed out. It's also curious how for many years I've heard so many people talk about how "In the Chicagoland area, there is only two seasons; Winter and Summer." This year we finally have a great spring and everyone is complaining about how cold it is! It's in the 60's people! It's absolutely fantastic outside! Trees, shrubs and perennials are exhibiting some of the best colors in years. Let's enjoy it while it lasts. Anyways, on to the landscape. Sorry about the diatribe.

The Entrance
I can't tell you the pressure of designing an entrance to our facility. Last fall we decided to plant bulbs around the entrance in between the Koeleria glauca that will eventually make a nice groundcover. Right now you really can't see the Koeleria much. This Spring, I was disappointed when the Hyacinths we planted bloomed before the Alliums. I wanted to see them at the same time. Turns out, the consolation prize wasn't too bad. The Alliums have proven spectacular.
The Hosta Garden

The Hosta garden was installed last year. It was located in an area that was underused and a little raggedy. This year it has began to take off. All varieties of Hosta that we carry are located here. For the Hosta lover, it is worth a stop.

The Experimental Groundcover Garden

This garden was installed two years ago. Some of the plants that are included are, Carex glauca, Phlox divaricata laphamii, Heuchera richardsonii, Alchemilla mollis, Dianthus 'Feuerhexe' and Aster divaricatus. This has become one of my favorite areas in the landscape. The Carex running like a stream through the other plants has a very relaxing effect on me.

The Baptisia Garden

Baptisia is starting to bloom here in St Charles. The first one to bloom is the Starlite Prairieblues(TM). The Baptisia from the Chicagoland Grows program have exceeded expectations as far as growth rate. They blow other Baptisia out of the water in production. Sales is a different story. If you have yet to try one of these great new plants, you are missing out. They are well worth the space required in your garden. Plan like it's a shrub!

Miscellaneous Greatness

Amsonia is blooming! It is quite a sight around here to see all the different types of Amsonia in bloom. From 'Blue Ice' to tabernaemontana var. salicifolia, there is one for everyone. If you are into low growing plants, try 'Blue Ice'. If dark stems are what drives you, try tabernaemontana var. salicifolia. Try saying that three times fast! That's a lot of syllables. A. hubrichtii for the soft textured foliage is nice as well. Get them while they're hot!!!

Heuchera 'Green Spice' is a greatly underappreciated coralbell. The multi colored leaves change throughout the year. It's also a native selection of H. americana to boot. Because it's a selection of a native plant, you can expect success!

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Until next time, I leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein:
"It's impossible to simultaneously prepare for and prevent war." To our fallen soldiers of the past, present and future, we are thinking of you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Groundcovers are blooming!

Hello again! May is here and with her she has brought more rain. When will it stop? The season has come to a yellow light. Proceed with caution! Once the rain has stopped, hopefully the light will be green and the season and our companies profitable. This week, I want to share some of the groundcovers that are doing well in the landscape. Also a completed woodland project I'd like to tell you about. So without further ado, here we go!

Heuchera 'Georgia Peach' PPAF
Emerging nicely from the ground a pale red with silvery overlay. This Heuchera has H. villosa in its' bloodlines. Therefore making it more heat and humidity resistant and overall a better landscape plant. Not to mention the cool color of it's foliage. A highly recommended plant!

Phlox subulata 'Emerald Blue'
At this time of year, how can you not enjoy the early blooms of creeping phlox? Whether blue, pink, red or white, they are stunning. Sharp pointed foliage covered in the starry blooms are very nice in a well drained location. Too much moisture will lead to rotting.

Waldstenia ternata
Barren strawberry is one of my favorite early season blooming groundcovers. Yellow flowers carpet the strawberry like foliage in spring. In a time of season where white and blue dominates the landscape, a little yellow groundcover really opens eyes.

'Anne Greenaway' is a uniquely variegated dead nettle. Yellow, green and white cover the plant all year. Pink flowers add to the garishness. But people like it! The only issue I'm seeing at this point as far as Midwest Groundcovers producing it, is that there is a lot of reversion where the foliage is all yellow. I'm going to keep watching and see if they continue to be unstable.

'Ghost' is a completely white foliaged variety. This was bred by Illinois native Brent Horvath from Intrinsic Perennials. This could be a great plant for the landscape. In our Lamium trial area, this has the cleanest foliage and will be blooming soon. It looks to be a real winner.

This is just a reminder to stop and enjoy the tulips while they last. It's such a short season, and we in this industry need to sometimes remember why we are in the industry. Yes, money is definately an object, but the beauty that we get to share with our clients makes the world better.


Sorbaria 'Sem' PP 16.336

One heck of a foliage plant. This one is much more compact than the species and has wonderful red new growth. Only growing to 3' x 3' it could be a nice substitute for Spiraeas. It does have a suckering habit, but seems to do so slowly. This plant should have lots of potential at the Garden Center or for the landscaper. While it is still in a trial stage for us, with enough feedback, it could make our product line.

Viburnum x juddi
Judd Viburnums hold a lot of personal value to me. This was the first plant in my horticulture days that I ever planted. Looking back on that, I am so happy I chose such a cool plant. It could have very easily been Flowering Almond or Goldmound Spiraea, but I chose the best fragrance of any plant in my opinion. If you have not stopped by your local fragrant viburnum and taken a quick sniff, I beg you to do so. You will not regret it!

In the landscape:

At this time, Midwest Groundcovers finds it very important to work towards being a more "Green" company. One of the ways we work towards that is with our own native landscapes. At our Michigan facility, our native woodlands remain untouched and pristine. Trillium grandiflorum, Blue Cohosh, Trout Lily, Bloodroot and Spring Beauties are all part of that landscape. Seen in bloom, it is quite breathtaking. In St Charles, a section of our woods was just planted with native woodland plants native to Kane County. The picture on the left shows the area. Being a shrinking habitat with all the development in the area, we felt it was a good idea to restore one of the natural treasures given to us. In doing so, we are looking forward to next spring when all the Hepatica, Trillium and Dodecatheon start to bloom. These are both a benefit to the humans who walk the paths, and the birds that migrate through it. The path in St Charles is by guided tour only as we do not want too many people tromping through the area.

While it is trendy to be "Green", it is also very important if we want our next generations to enjoy what so many of us take for granted. How many times have we driven over bridges and never thought to take a look at the view from the bridge? Too many times to count? This will not be a process that happens over night for any company. But if we are diligent in working towards a more healthy environment, we will all be much better off. Thanks for reading, and until next time, have a great day!