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'

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's happening now?

Hello all,
I struggled with a topic this week, going from "New Plants", to "Grasses", to "Native Perennials", to "What's Happening Now?" So as it turns out, I'm sticking with my last idea of "What's Happening Now?" And by doing so, I get to tell you about some underused plants and also a little of the new. Regardless of how you'd categorize them, they are all good!

Rhus copallina 'Prairie Flame'
Perhaps one of the most underused shrubs in our product line, based on merit. Growing 4'-6' with spectacular fall foliage, this is the ultimate substitute for Burning Bush! Non-invasive and nice flowering to boot. Just keep in mind that it is late to leaf out, so it's not dead in mid-April, but just about to wake. It's time for a change! McCain and Obama would rather you plant a Prairie Flame than a Burning Bush!

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky'
This Hydrangea has proven durable in the landscape here at St Charles. I planted it two years ago and moved it in the fall last year. It survived transplanting and is very floriferous. What is exciting about this is that the flowers are pink at the base and white at the tip. Truly a unique cultivar of Hydrangea. Watch for this on the market!

Eupatorium 'Little Joe'
I was never quite the fan of Joe Pye Weed until I saw 'Little Joe'. Of course now, I love Joe Pye Weed to no end, but that's how I started. Opinions change right? Anyways, this is the best when looking for a plant that can be in anyone's garden. Standing only 4' rather than 6-8' like many others, it attracts butterflies, bees, and people. Listed as a great nectar source for our honey bees.

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'
I know this has shown up multiple times on the blog, but I like it! And because I was on this tall perennial kick, I thought, wouldn't it make a great combination with the Eupatorium above. The strong arms of 'Little Joe' helping his friend Henry stand up straight. Even without 'Little Joe', 'Henry Eilers' merits landscape space. Late season bloom to diversify the late summer landscape.

Salix purpurea 'Nana'
Here is something for the person looking for fine texture. You cannot beat the fine texture of Arctic Willow. Blue foliage with dark stems wave in the wind. If properly maintained, they can be excellent landscape plants. These prefer to be cut back hard each spring and let them grow. Treat it like you would a Buddleia. If not pruned they can get a little woody and less attractive.

This edition is a little shorter than usual. I'm working feverishly to help get the 2009 catalog ready. It's going to be fantastic and hopefully something to look forward to. Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great day!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back from PPA

Hello again! Sorry it's been a little while. I've been off on vacation to Yellowstone National Park and a great business trip to the Perennial Plant Association in Philadelphia. While Yellowstone was awesome in every sense of the word, I will not be showing you any pictures; this week at least. Who wants to see a picture of a moose in a field of Lupines?

Philadelphia was great as well. The architecture was fantastic. They had fountains that would make Buckingham Fountain in Chicago blush. We went to the top of the museum and took our pictures with the statue of Rocky and ate at some great restaurants. We walked to see the Liberty Bell and then strolled through China Town. That was an experience to say the least! But all that wasn't what I was there for. And no, I wasn't there for the Philly Cheese Steak, but I admit to having one and it was great! We were there to talk plants.

If you have not been to PPA before, it's very much a gathering of plant geeks! This was my first time, and I've never felt so comfortable. It's quite exciting when people you don't know are walking up and introducing themselves. Especially when they are well known plants people. I don't want to be a name dropper, so I'll keep that part to myself. But if you have never gone, and really like plants, it is a must. Next year is in St Louis, so it's a little closer for me. If you like natives, you must attend the next symposium. Down below, I have chosen a group of pictures to show you. It's real hard to choose 10 pictures from over 700, but I lost a memory card so that eliminated 250 or so. So then I was able to narrow it done to 23. 10 just isn't enough! Also a special thanks to Diana Reavis for two of the people pictures. The following will be given out as awards:

Best Daylily: Everyone who knows me, must know that this is a tough award to give:

While I am unsure of what the name is, we saw this at Stephanie Cohen's house. It was 6 inches across. If anyone does know the name, please let me know!!!! I've never really wanted a daylily like I want this one before.

Best Seed Pods:

This is the woodland Paeonia japonica. This was found at the incredible home of Peter and Eve Thyrum. I am not the most fond of garden art, but they have done it very well. Plus the miniature Hosta collection that they have is to die for. A very prominent plants person said aloud, "I've never seen miniature Hosta displayed so well!" It was true. Speaking of garden art....

Best Garden Art:

This was tough. This was at another private home where the house is dubbed "Wyneden." They had an incredible forest of bamboo, which I'll show you later. But this little bird, I found interesting.

Most incredible tree:

One of the main reasons I couldn't wait to go, was the hopes that I'd see a Franklinia alatamaha blooming. At Longwood Gardens, my wish came true. Who needs Disney World? If you don't know of Franklinia, you should Google it! This was a difficult award to give as well, mainly because we went to Scott Arboretum which had some amazing, huge trees. I highly recommend a visit there.

Best use of corn:

This was located at Chanticleer Gardens. This was perhaps the finest stop in my estimation. From large trees, to innovative plantings of corn, to a bog garden, to an amazing Lotus pond. This place has it all. More pictures to follow!

Most Maintenance required:

While a lot of the places we saw most likely required a lot of maintenance, Conestoga House was clearly one of the most interesting. A significant portion of the plants here are tropical. They bring them in every winter. There were 20 foot tall plants that they bring in and out, and actually plant them in the soil. Amazing! They claim to be the hidden jewel of Philly. I agree.

Best Container:

I went through all the pictures of containers and had to pick this one. Granted, I didn't take pictures of all the containers at the Symposium, and there were some great ones there. But this one is in the middle of the garden at Chanticleer and I have fallen for succulents! This was one of many containers at their facility placed perfectly into the garden.

Scariest Plant:

The bamboo was attacking me and my camera. The roots were trying to trip me. Once enveloped by the bamboo, you really need to watch your step. While it was very cool, I do get a little nervous when I see it run that much. There is a lot of interest in clumping bamboos. And while I love them, I don't want our backyards in the Midwest to have a plant with this much invasive potential.

Scariest Plant Part 2:

Have you ever seen these at Longwood? They are among the coolest plants I've ever seen. But holy cow, are those thorns vicious! The pads are annual and the plants are sometimes 4 pads up to 5' wide each. Ooohhh...Aahhhh....

Best Architecture:

This was at Swarthmore College/Scott Arboretum. I truly felt that if I looked around long enough, Ben Franklin would walk around a corner. This place was magical in both its architecture, and it's trees. While sitting under a mammoth Kentucky Coffee Tree, I pondered the notion that maybe Ben did sit under this tree at one time. And if he didn't, I bet some other famous individual did.

Hosta of the Year 2009:

Hosta 'Earth Angel'

Best Lily Pads:

I know, what kind of an award is that? It looked pretty cool to me. This was at the Conestoga House.

Best Orchid:

Longwood Gardens has over 4000 orchids in three greenhouses. If you have not been into their conservatory, start making plans for a vacation. It was quite cool.

What PPA really looked like:

This was at Creek Hill nursery. On many of the tours, crowds do look like this. On one tour(the one that went to Chanticleer) there was a photo bus tour. This bus arrived an hour before everyone else. While it was hard getting on a bus at 5:45 am, it was worth it. If you are going to St Louis, it should be considered!

Best Small Garden:

If you look long and hard, you can sometimes find some nifty little gardens. I cannot take credit for finding this one. I'm way to big picture to see a couple toadstools in the middle of an incredible garden. So thank you Chris Darbo for stopping me in my tracks.

Best use of Sporobolus:

This is in Chanticleer. Can you tell I loved it there? This Sporobolus meadow was interplanted with Echinacea. The fragrance was just beginning. Of course, I could have posted about 20 pictures just of this meadow because I found it fascinating, but I'll spare you. But what a great way to use natives!

Best use of Allium 'Summer Beauty'

As a hedge!!! Why didn't I think of that. This one was taken at...... Chanticleer.

Best use for old buildings:

You'll never guess where this is from! Chanticleer has an old ruin that is quite phenomenal! The building has incredible reflection pools and interesting plants inside and out. Doors to the outside world made for interesting photographs.

Best Unnamed Plant:

This is a Polygonatum that was planted at Yoder. It came from Japan supposedly as a plant that was in specials because it didn't look like the rest of the plants. Their junk is our prize!!! It could take a while before this plant makes it to commerce, but I'll be waiting!!!! Just not ready to pay over $100 for a 3" pot.

Most Curious Plant:

These Pitcher plants were photographed at Mt Cuba in Delaware. The gardens here were fairytale like. When we first arrived, a person who likes to travel around the world said to me, "This is the most beautiful place in the world!" I didn't really believe that. I just came from Yellowstone for crying out loud. But as I walked around, there was a magical feeling about the place. I could imagine what it would look like in spring with all the woodland ephemerals blooming. Mount Cuba, along with Longwood and Chanticleer will be revisited. And all of the above, should be vacation destinations to plant geeks.

The Chicago Crew:

On the last night of the festivities, we were able to share a beer or two at North Creek Nursery. The five of us from left to right are: Christa Orum-Keller, Kevin McGowen, Chad Osborne, Drew Koschmann, and Chris Darbo. It was a great night, and made for a fun ride home. It was here that I wished we had more time. Elvis made an appearance!

Thanks for your patience in waiting for my next post. I appreciate it. I promise not to let it go that long again. Until next time, have a great day, and thanks for reading!