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, March 2, 2009

Three Unique Plants for American Beauties Native Plants

Hello there,
I thought I'd talk about some native plants today. Two of the three plants are native to Illinois, while the other is a selection of a plant native to the southeast. All three will be plants that can offer a lot to your landscape! March is here, and there is so much to get prepared for. Hopefully, by this time, most our preparation is done, and we can focus on the task at hand. This is no small task though. We are responsible for making people look good. Both at the commercial level and at the residential. If it weren't for the landscape contractors and garden centers of the world, our homes and buildings wouldn't be the same. With the Olympics still a possibility, we should do everything in our power to make our small part of the Earth look great. Here are some plants that can help with that.
Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride'
I remember one of the first tours I ever did, this was a hit. The funny thing was, nobody on the tour realized what they were looking at. "I've never seen a Hydrangea with that kind of foliage," one person said. The flowers appear in late-summer to fall and are a nice large panicle of white. If you squinted your eyes long enough, you may see the resemblance of a Hydrangea. Anyways, this is a very nice, tried and true Heuchera which would add value to any landscape. This is native more to the Southeast US than to the Midwest, but that being said, it can handle more humidity than other Heuchera, and it has great drought tolerance. It grows 24"-36" wide and about as tall with flowers. In our garden, it is in mostly shade and looks great with Polemonium 'Stairway to Heaven.'
Hibiscus moscheutos
Unlike the above plant, this plant is native to the southern half of Illinois as well as the northwest counties of Illinois with the exception of Dupage County. This plant is not for drought. It lives naturally at the edges of ponds and in swamps. It is typically located in high quality native areas as it does not compete well with invasive species. The flowers of this species are variable. Sometimes white, sometimes pink, this plant is sure to enhance your water garden or bioswale. It attracts many types of butterflies, but it also attracts some Japanese beetles. So if planting these, remember to place your Japanese beetle trap in your neighbors yard so that they stay away from your plants. But, I'm not being serious, am I?
Lindera benzoin
Here is a plant most are not familiar with. I'd like that to change. Lindera benzoin is a special shrub for several reasons. If you are a Hamamelis or Witchhazel fan, than this could be a shrub you are looking for. I remember my first encounter when I saw the plant pictured to the left. It was on my birthday in late April, and I thought, "What is a Witchhazel doing blooming now?" As I walked closer, I realized it wasn't a Witchhazel at all. The sulphur yellow blooms I was seeing was from the commonly called "Spicebush."
To the left here, is a closeup of the flowers. What I like most of this plant is the speckled bark. When the bark is scratched, it creates a nice spicy aroma. This plant prefers a fertile soil in part shade. Pictured, this plant was in full sun at the Morton Arboretum and doing great! Also, the rare Spicebush Swallowtail, eats the foliage, as do a host of other butterflies. It is native to most of Illinois and especially Cook, Dupage and Kane Counties.

These three plants all offer up a great deal of pleasure! There should be something for everyone. If you have shade, you could plant Lindera or Heuchera. If you have sun, Lindera or Hibiscus. If it's moist, plant the Hibiscus!
Later this week, I'll dive into more perennials. Once, the new plants are spoken for, we'll start to get the creative juices flowing and start talking combinations! I hope you are excited for that. Until next time, I hope you have a great week!

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