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, October 31, 2008

The Molinia, Groundcover edition

Hello all,
I must apoligize for the quality of photos in this edition. I pride myself on having good pictures here, but it's just too bright here in St Charles to get anything without glare today. Regardless, I do have some fun picture for you today. Happy Halloween, and enjoy the following:
Lamium maculatum 'Aureum' I'm amazed sometimes by plants I would never expect to like. This one goes into the category of great performers for somewhere other than my garden. But if you really like chartreuse and pink mixed together, than this is the plant for you! I have this planted in full sun. I like to test plants and see how durable they really are. It has stood up to the test and then some. It is really quite beautiful for a yellow plant with pink flowers.
Veronica 'Waterperry Blue' is my newest favorite groundcover. When I planted it this year, many people wondered why. I planted them on 8" centers and the ground looked pretty bare. Now, the plants have completely filled in and they are flowering like crazy this fall. What a great plant for parking lot islands! This could be the next great sub for Polygonum!

I think it may be difficult to see what is in the picture to the left. Here we have removed all the Thuja 'Brabant' and planted Thuja Nordic Spire(TM) in it's place. It has really changed the atmosphere of our Perennial Island. I can't wait to see it next year and have a new canvas to paint.

Midwest Solutions: In our trials of Midwest Solutions, one of the plantings has stood out to me this year. This planting is of Knockout(TM) Rose and Molinia 'Heidebraut'. The roses are visible all year because the seed heads of the Molinia do not obstruct the view. If roses aren't your thing, substitute Phlox paniculata, or Echinacea 'Pica Bella' for a nice combo!

Or, you could just plant it on it's own and enjoy it for its own beauty. This plant can surely stand alone. It merits consideration in any yard that does not get too dry. In periods of drought it does like some supplemental watering.

I hope everyone will go out and vote this upcoming Tuesday. It seems to me to be a very important election. Though I think that is the case during any presidential election. Use your right to vote! And on a less political note, Happy Halloween! Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Color

Hello all!
When one thinks of fall color, the first thing that comes to mind is the trees. Maybe a burning bush. Itea? Mums? While I am not here to say that any of these are bad, except for maybe the mums, but that there is a lot out there that gets overlooked. Some that would be great as substitutes for mums. I try not to be a plant snob, so I won't go after the Burning Bush, but I'll show you some great subs as well for that. Here we go!
So, I'm not trying to make you jealous, but.....I went to Door County Wisconsin last weekend and the color was unbelievable. Pictures like this were everywhere. Isn't fall great? This particular shot was taken on a road on Washington Island. It was well worth the ferry price to get there.

Corylus americana is a native shrub that has exceptional foliage. In an ice breaker that we had last fall, Christa and Grace voted for this plant as their favorite plant for fall color. What an endorsement! On top of that, it bears great tasting nuts! Good luck opening them though. You definitely need a nut cracker.

Rhus copallina 'Prairie Flame' is the ultimate substitute for Burning Bush. This is it's fall color. I'm not sure if there is any more needed to be said about this plant. My campaign for this plant this year is, "Obama and McCain would rather you buy a Prairie Flame than a Burning Bush."

Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur' is quite the show this fall. Dark burgundy fall color is glossy and lustrous and fades to a red. This plant never looks bad. It does grow big though, reaching 10-12' at maturity. It bears fruit in multiple colors. White and blue and some are red. It's a must have for the shrub connoisseur.

This picture has both Schizachyrium 'Carousel' and Itea 'Scarlet Beauty'. "What a combination," Kim Kaczmarek, outside sales to garden centers said. I agreed. We have a median at our facility showcasing Chicagoland Grows product. These plants look great together. It's quite the collection of plants. If you need more information go here.

Aconitum fischeri: This is a plant that I put in full sun, knowing that it prefers shade. I was scolded for putting it in a no- win situation. Well, they look fantastic in full sun! Hah! This is why I trial things so hard. Sometimes a gem comes out. This plant looks better than the ones that I have in shade. Aren't they gorgeous? Would you plant these? Should we sell them?
Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' I promise, I will soon stop talking about Anemones. I remember when I first started in this business when a fellow plant geek was talking about Anemones, I said, "It's just an Anemone." As he looked at me puzzled, I wondered what I just said. It was his favorite plant. Years later, I was wrong Dave. These are quite the cool plants! Now they are amongst my favorites.

Okay, I promise this is the last one! What happens when you have September Charms meet up with October Skies? A great combination for the fall. Anemone 'September Charm' and Aster 'October Skies' make for a delightful combo.

Amsonia hubrichtii is one of the best perennials for fall color. Although in the past couple years, they've been yellow the whole summer too. But right now, you can tell that they just shine in fall. Think of the reds of the Rhus Prairie Flame with this Amsonia in the foreground. What a combo that would be. Maybe, I'll try that around here.

Quite the unlikely fall color. People don't think about fall when thinking about roses. But they are quite spectacular right now. This is Rosa 'Sunny Knockout'. Roses are thriving from the cooler temperatures, no Japanese beetles, and less humidity.

Easy Elegance Rose 'Kashmir' This is one of my new favorite roses. I know I have a lot of favorites, but I did qualify it as a favorite rose. It produces stunningly fragrant dark red blooms on a single stem. They truly look like a hybrid tea. Very hardy to my surprise, this has been a standout in the garden this year. And now, it's sending up a lot more blooms. So much nicer than those mums we used to plant here.

I almost made it through all the plants before slamming the mums. I apologize to those that like the fall mums. I can be rather biased to plants and I just haven't warmed up to those yet. So, hopefully the rain coming today and through the weekend won't knock everything down and I'll have current pictures for you next week as well. I do have many pictures from throughout the year of plants that will be new in the catalog for 2009. Those will be here this winter! Also, I'll keep updating with winter interest from the garden designed by Piet Oudolf. It's quite magical. But, don't start thinking about next year too soon. There is still time to plant. So enjoy the fall while it lasts, and until next time, have a great day!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Going up to see Ed Hasselkus

Hello all,
As you can see from the title, I had the opportunity to visit with Ed Hasselkus of the University of Wisconsin Madisons' Longenecker Gardens. There were four of us in all, and the three not named Ed, walked away privelaged and inspired. Stories were told about how trees were obtained and from where. How a 50' tall tree was planted from seed 33 years ago and where Ed got the seed from. When we left the property, we all wished there was a video camera and tape recorder to keep his stories alive for future generations. In all my times in this industry, I've never felt like this. I was in the company of a man who was supremely talented, and better yet, supremely modest. I've met a lot of influential people in the industry. And this isn't meant to slight any one of them. I am a really fortunate individual to have met many an icon. Maybe it's because I've not been in the others home turf, but Ed was quite the gentleman and scholar. Thanks Ed for your time and your sincerity!

Some of the many amazing things that happened that day was the realization of how beautiful Ash really are. And how sad it will be when we are not graced by the precence of White and Green Ash during the fall season. I've taken them for granted over the years, but they were sure beautiful up in Wisconsin. These aren't the only trees at risk however.

Though not immediately at risk, there is concern about the overplanting of yet another tree. When will we learn? Acer freemanii 'Autumn Blaze'. That is not what the picture is, but the tree in jeapordy. Autumn Blaze is a spectacular tree. But if we continue to plant so many, who knows when the next beetle will come to get them. The tree in the picture is Ed Hasselkus' variety named 'Waukesha' It was quite spectacular. If you've ever come on a visit here at Midwest, you know that I preach diversity. If we only use 10 plants, than we open ourselves up for disappointment when a disease comes and destroys one. If you overuse the plants on your palette, your palette could get boring.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum We were walking along and viewing his trials of Hydrangea paniculata, which were quite interesting I might add, when we were overtaken by a fragrance of french toast. Around the corner was this beautiful Katsuratree. If you have not been touched by the fragrance of these beauties, you need to find one to smell. I remember when I first got into this business, there was a hot day at the garden center I worked at, and a fragrance of burning sugar was everywhere I walked. I then realized that the foliage of the Katsuratrees was drying out and making this fragrance. Part of me wanted it to continue to dry out, but the other part didn't want to kill it either. If you don't know it, introduce yourself. You will find a new friend.

And if you've never seen the fruit of a Gingko, here you go. I was quite surprised by the charm and beauty of the fruit. Hearing the stories of how rancid the smell is when on the ground, I thought they must be ugly too. Not so. These were gorgeous. I should have grabbed a couple to eat!

From the Longenecker gardens we travelled to Olbrich Botanical Gardens with tour guide Jeff Epping. It's quite an experience to go from Arboreteum to Botanic Garden. This is another must see garden.

This is just one of the fascinating containers at Olbrich. Spiranthes odorata and a bunch of Pitcher Plants. How cool!!! They were in the process of removing some of the many containers with tired annuals. These however, were not tired at all. If only I could have taken this container home!

One of the other oddities at the Olbrich is this Thai pavillion. Acclaimed as the only one of it's kind in the US or Thailand to be surronded by gardens. This pavillion is one that would be seen at temples or at a palace. It is not a religious structure. Because the University of Wisconsin has one of the largest Thai populations, the Thai government donated this incredible work of art.

Finally, this is at our office here in St Charles. Our rose garden is blooming it's heads off. It's one of the first times all year that they haven't been covered in Japanese Beetles. And when we were looking at it, Christa Orum-Keller noticed that the roses and green roof really accentuated each other nicely.

I must be on my way. Next post will be on fall colors and fruits. Thanks again for reading, and until next time, I hope you have a great day!