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'

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April Flowers

Hello again,
Fresh flowers and new foliage are all over the landscape today! I left work yesterday angry at myself for forgetting my camera at home. So I quickly walked the landscape this morning looking for plants worthy of the blog. There are always things I have to pass up because they are not peaking yet, and I want to save them for a future blog. But I couldn't resist the temptation to take a picture of Mertensia today. Here is what I saw.
Viburnum x juddii is one of my favorite plants of all time. I know I say that all the time, but it's actually the first plant I ever planted once I got into this field. This picture is of the flower buds of course. They are most tantalizing. At 18 years old, I didn't know much about plants and I remember telling people at the garden center I worked at that these were Witchhazel. Oops. That was my first embarrassing moment in horticulture, followed by many more of course. Waiting for these buds to open is like waiting for three weeks to eat your birthday cake after licking the bottom of the candles.
Our entrance today looks very nice. The Daffodils are blooming their little heads off making our sign more attractive.

Hyacinth 'Carnegie' is a real nice white Hyacinth that we carry in limited numbers in fall. It is sharing the spotlight with the Daffodils in the entrance spawning the comment from Linda Michels, "The beauty and power of white!"

Antennaria 'Pewee' is an introduction from Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in Hebron, IL. It is in full bloom right now and looks real nice. This could be a good candidate for our groundcover program. It has proved itself as vigorous, but not weedy. There may be some potential here.

Phlox subulata 'Emerald Blue' is one of those plants that you either love or hate. I think there is definitely a space in the garden for Creeping Phlox. What else produces such a nice bloom so early in spring? As you can see from the picture, our plants are just beginning to bloom. There are tons of buds all over it ready to show off. Better yet, it is very drought tolerant which in our new world is very important.

Carex pensylvanica is a great native groundcover. When flowering, it offers a very ethereal planting. Here it is mixed with Hyacinthoides hispanica which creates a very beautiful combination I would recommend to anyone.

Mertensia virginica speaks for itself. We have planted a large group of them in our woods here and while they aren't as far along as this one is at our entrance, they are starting to look good. Once the whole patch of them starts blooming, I'll be posting pictures of that. Truth is, I can't wait to show off the woods here. So much is about to happen. The anticipation is killing me!

Finally a shrub. Forsythia Show Off is a fairly new introduction from Proven Winners Color Choice Plants. These Forsythia are so floriferous it has caused many people to change their opinion of the Forsythia. In the landscape they maintain a compact habit and don't get gnarly like some of the old fashioned types. Definitely worthy of garden space.

Thanks for reading this edition of the blog. With the heat approaching, we should have plenty more to share next week. Enjoy the beautiful weather and until next time, have a great day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Special Garden Center Edition!

Hello everybody!
Today, I'm going to change it up a bit. We have some outstanding plants in pots that are ready to get into the homeowners hands. Typically I stick to the plants in the landscape, but Midwest Groundcovers, LLC is in the business of selling plants too. Therefore, I really want to show you how great these plants are, just in time for the big rush of this weekend! The temperatures will rise, and so will the heart rates of unsuspecting customers walking into the garden center to see these! Have a look!

Baptisia australis
These girls are budded up and ready to bloom. Get a head start on selling the 2010 PPA Perennial Plant of the Year!

Zizia aptera
As you can see, these plants are already showy, waiting for someone to pick them up. The Zizia aurea is blooming as well!

Polemonium reptans 'Stairway to Heaven'
If variegation is what you seek, then climb the stairway! These plants look fabulous and they are just begging to be put on the retail shelf.

Polygonatum biflorum
Another nice foliage plant, this one is quite the impressive woodland native. These are just about to begin flowering. But who would leave that pretty foliage behind? Mix this with ferns on the display bench and your customers will know how to use it! The Lady Ferns look particularly nice right now.

Dodecatheon meadia
What a fabulous little native plant this is. These are budded and blooming. There is serious sales potential putting these out on a bench! The curious flowers are just too difficult to pass up.

Aquilegia canadensis 'Little Lanterns'
Don't miss out on this opportunity to light up your native display with 'Little Lanterns'. This plant remains petite every year. In my garden, the seedlings have been small as well! Another of our native curiosity flowers. They look too good!

Caulophyllum thalictroides
These beauties are beginning to bloom. But it's not only about the flowers on these fine plants. They have very nice foliage resembling the foliage of Thalictrum. And in summer, the fruit is to die for. The common name Blue Cohosh is because of it's pure blue fruit.

American Beauties Houses
As you can see, the American Beauties are looking great. They just need a home. In this picture, Cimicifuga racemosa is flanked by Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' and Allium cernuum. The Lady Ferns in the back are just gorgeous as well.

Delosperma nubigenum
American Beauties are not the only thing ready for the garden center. The Jeepers Creepers are ready to go as well! This Delosperma was very attractive. And it goes with the trend of succulents. This is a must have.

Origanum 'Aurea'
These are looking stellar as well. This would help to brighten up the garden center on a wet rainy day. Hopefully that day will not come until Sunday night or Monday morning.

As you can see, the product is looking great! Now we need to have some real nice weather so that the garden centers out there get busy! So, order today. These plants are hot and won't last forever! I hope you enjoyed, and I hope that you can have a great next couple of days when the weather is supposed to act like Spring! Until next time, have a great day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Emergence of Spring

Hello everybody,

There is a lot going on in the garden right now. There are lots of bulbs blooming, and things emerging, but there aren't many plants that are particularly photogenic right now. We still need time for most of the perennials and shrubs to kick into gear. So, I put this picture here as a gesture to let winter know that the sun is setting on it, and it is time for spring to jump forward. No more snow. Do you understand, Mother Nature?

Hepatica acutiloba; I know that I have recently posted on Hepatica. But I think that the excitement of spring is not complete without a couple more photos. One of my favorite things about this plant is its variation in color. I've posted two more pictures of the plants in our woods. These two are quite the opposite in the color spectrum, and I did plan on showing a pink one, but it won't fit in between the other two pictures on the blog. So it's gone. But, spring is happening! And if you have a trained eye, a walk in the woods can be a time of magical discovery. You just need to look closely, and you can see all the great things coming to life. You may also see a little garlic mustard coming to life, which is not a great thing, but something we must deal with.

Ligularia 'Britt Marie-Crawford'
This is the new growth on 'Britt Marie-Crawford'. It is quite stunning, and not shown incredibly well by this picture. One of the darkest colors I've seen in the garden. In a couple weeks, the clumps will be formed and the leaves will be much larger. This is a spectacular introduction that should not go unnoticed.

Sedum 'Jose Aubergine'
As I was looking for new growth on plants I walked upon the old Sedum trials. This, is perhaps the best of the dark foliaged varieties. When we had a lot of rain in the spring last year, this was one of two plants that did not flop over or rot. This plant could be available this year from us. Keep checking the availability!!!
Polemonium 'Heaven Scent'
This is also one of my favorites for early season foliage. 'Heaven Scent' is a new cultivar that we have in our trials. Last year, its spring blooms were fantastically fragrant. When standing next to flowering crabapples, the scent from this Polemonium was stronger than the very fragrant Asian crabs and was quite possibly sent from Heaven. The scent is very much like grapes. Very cool plant in flower and not. And it was developed in Hebron, IL by plantsman Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennials.
Thanks once again, for taking the time to read these. I know we are getting into the busy season and it will be harder to take the time out of your day to read. But they will only get better! Thanks again, and until next time I hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Clean Up!

Welcome Spring!
Now that the bulbs have officially popped out of the ground. Some of them quite literally popped out of the of the ground and just lie there dead now. You have to love the freeze and thaw effect. 12 hours of Gustavo cutting down plants and sending them to the compost. Or sending them to the prairie to act as fuel for the burn. The plant topography has really changed in a matter of a week. It's sad to see all the winter interest go away, but that means Spring is here, so it's not so sad after all.
This year we employed a weed whacker to take down 90% of the perennials in the Piet Oudolf garden. One person was able to cut the entire garden down in two days and get rid of all the evidence. There was minor bulb damage, but hopefully next year the Galanthus will look stunning. There is still a lot of Muscari waiting in the wings.

It's always fun to see the trucks drive away with loads of organic matter. This is the fourth or fifth load of the day.

Other bulbs are blooming in the garden. One of my favorites is the Chionodoxa forbesii that we have on perennial island. It is always great to see the first blues of the season. We also have a lot of Crocus, Scilla, and Puschkinia blooming here and there. The Iris reticulata in the grounds are quite breathtaking as well. It is so much fun to garden in grounds like these.

So, with all these bulbs blooming everywhere, I though I should go take a look in the woods. Are the ephemerals blooming? At first glance, the carpet of the woods is nothing more than leaf litter. It still looks pretty bare with the exception of a couple areas where Narcissus are coming up and Christmas fern has made it through the winter. But on closer inspection, I was pleasantly surprised to see many of the woodland friends emerging and getting ready to show off their stuff. The plants emerging are Erythronium americanum or Trout Lily, Trillium grandiflorum is starting to leaf out, Phlox divaricata laphamii is leafing out as is the Mertensia. Asarum is starting to grow as are the Dodecatheon. But then, if you look real close you can see the subtle superstar of the woodland garden. Hepatica acutifolia!
When we first started planting this garden, we installed around 400 Hepatica acutiloba. I've been eagerly anticipating it's arrival for months. Then on April Fool's Day, I walked the woods and discovered 40-50 plants were starting to bloom. My stress level instantly dropping, I had to pluck one from the group. I just wanted to be able to share the excitement with our staff. So it is time to start going to the forest preserves and looking for these gems. I would imaging the Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) would be arriving shortly. I have to say it is much more exciting to go out and take pictures of plants than to search through pictures of plants we will be selling this year. Living in the now is so much fun!!! Until next time, have a great day!