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 29, 2009

May Day

Hello again,
The garden is forming drifts of purple everywhere I look. Piet Oudolf's design is spectacular with Salvia, Baptisia, Amsonia and Nepetas blooming or beginning to bloom. Perennial Island has Hyacinthoides hispanica amongst the sedges blooming away, and Iris' are about to start as well. A couple other plants I will speak about shortly. Thanks to all of our customers that have stuck with us during these hard times. We appreciate it greatly and wish that the rest of the year will be as busy as this first part has been. Thanks again to all of you. And now the plants....

Hyacinthoides hispanica
This has turned into one of my all time favorite combos. The Hyacinthoides hispanica or HH for the rest of this, works very well with the Carex pensylvanica on our site. The shrubs hovering over them are Rhus coppalina. The foliage and the flowers make these worth buying for some of your jobs. Now, we don't sell the HH, but we do have a bumper crop of Carex pensylvanica right now!!! Get them while they last.
Salvia 'Pink Friesland'
We have just added these to our product line, and I wonder why we haven't had them sooner. This is such a nice looking plant in flower and in bud. The buds are an interesting shade of purple with pink tones. It's fabulous before and after they open. In the landscape, the plants have only grown to about 12" which would also be a very nice size for the plant. It is displayed with our other Salvia which sets up a nice contrast of blues and pinks. You could plant Salvia Caradonna with Pink Friesland and have quite the nice look. If I were to combine them, I would do 40% Caradonna and 60% Pink Friesland. This would allow small clumps of Caradonna with Pink Friesland weaving in and out.
Phuopsis stylosa
OK, first of all, who doesn't like saying Phuopsis, pronounced Foo-OP-Sis. This is new to the Jeepers Creepers line. It has foliage very similar to Galium, and flowers in the shape of Allium. The plants in the landscape are loaded with buds. At this time, we don't have them ready in pots, but they'll be coming soon. This is my first experience with this plant, so it's exciting to me. Is it exciting to you?
Armeria 'Joystick Red'
OK, this will be the last post on Armeria, I promise. But they just look very good in the landscape. I've only shown the closeups of the flower, and I think the dainty blooms hovering above the foliage is quite impressive, so here you go. These are sold in flats of quarts.
Chyrsogonum virginianum
Also new to the Jeepers Creepers program. In the landscape it is quite special. This very well could be one of the tallest of the Jeepers Creepers maxing out at 12". The flowers are perfectly spaced like they were sewn by a master quilter. The flowers last for a long time and show well with many colors. If you like Stella yellow, you will like these.

Monarda bradburiana
The most unique Monarda I've seen. This one has spotted flowers. When talking to Roy Diblik about this plant, he says it's been uncommon because the flowers bloom earlier so breeders can't hybridize it. Such a sad thing. Could you imagine Monarda 'Coral Reef' with dark maroon spots on the petals. OK, I can't either, but it could be interesting. Is this a plant you would buy? Would having Monarda blooming at the end of May be helpful to you in your landscapes or at your garden centers? Please let me know, as your feedback could lead to this plant being produced by us. Currently it is just a trial.
Iris pseudacorus 'Holden's Child'
When I planted this in the landscape I was a little nervous. I didn't want to contaminate the grounds with Iris pseudacorus. I've heard stories about how hard it is to get removed. But it was given to me as Iris 'Berlin Tiger' which I was rather interested in anyways. Well, it didn't turn out to be 'Berlin Tiger' but it did turn out to be a piece of art. Very beautiful, but I'm still scared by its vigor. We already have one "Beautiful Monster" contaminating our wetlands with the Lythrum salicarias, we don't need another. It will be removed at the end of the year. Or maybe once it's art gets washed away.

Apios alpinum
This was going to be my Mystery Plant of the Week, but I haven't been getting many replies, so I'm abandoning that. This is an interesting groundcover that seems to be the love-child of Mazus reptans and Veronica 'Waterperry Blue'. I'm sure these plants were not hybridized to come up with Apios, but you get the point. The foliage seems to cover most of the blooms right now, so I am not sure it is something that we will continue with. But it's an interesting plant nonetheless. Maybe you've heard of it and have been looking for it. If that is true, let us know. Your opinion counts! The final Mystery Plant was Hypericum calycinum.
It's been a great week everybody. Thanks for keeping us busy. As stated before, Midwest Groundcovers would like to thank everyone for doing business with us. You are all appreciated. In the near future, we will have a guest blogger, Christa Orum-Keller who has some exciting news to share with all of you. Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Garden is Blooming!

Hello again,
No one guessed the plant of the week last week. It was Smilax ecirrhata or Upright Carrion Flower. It looked otherworldly when I saw it first. I was quite impressed. And it's not everyday that I find something in the woods that I have no idea what it is. I must be a geek, because it was like having a birthday cake! Maybe I'll go a little easier on you this week.
First we'll start with some of the happenings in the landscape. It's the one time of year where I genuinely like the Spiraeas. Our Spiraea trial is fairly new. It was installed two seasons ago. All the varieties we carry are there as well as some trial plants. We actually like the ones we carry better than the new ones!!! How about that!

Aquilegia 'Dove'
I know that I showed you all the Aquilegia last week. But now the houses are in full bloom. I feel bad that these all didn't make the homeowners place. They would still look great if you were to purchase them after Memorial Day. If you read this tonight, we are open from 7 to 3:30 on Saturday. They will be available!!!!

Allium 'Forescate'
They are looking very nice in the landscape. A recent boon in Green Roofs has taken all our crops of Allium 'Forescate', but I thought it was worth a tease for next year. This particular picture is of a seedling in the landscape that had a lot more purple than pink in the bloom. It could just be the straight species.
Weigela 'Gold Rush'
I was so excited when I saw these in the nursery. I've told people as recently as last week that we didn't have any Variegated Weigela that were ready. Surprise!!!! Here they are. 'Gold Rush' is ready to go, and they are currently flooded with blooms. A must have for the variegated lover.

Armeria 'Joystick Red Shades'
I have become smitten with these flowers. The texture of the flower is almost straw-like. The greatest asset of this plant is its salt tolerance. Furthermore, these plants were blooming in the landscape last October and are blooming now. I don't know if that will be the norm. It's my first time playing with Armeria.

The Great Unveiling!!!
Syringa meyeri 'Pink Palibin'
This plant comes from the Chicagoland Grows program. Hopefully we will have some of these available soon. They are quite fragrant and a much lighter pink color than the Syringa 'Palibin' we've all grown to love. If you are into pastels, you will like this lilac.

Baptisia Starlite Prairieblues
Speaking of Chicagoland Grows. This to me, is the second best plant that has ever come from the program. Pixie Meadowbrite Echinacea the first. This is the first Bapsitia to bloom each year. It's quite the site. Our Baptisia garden is ready to rumble, so if you have the time to stop by, please come check them out.

Salvia 'Sweet Esmeralda'
I was very pleasantly surprised when I walked up to 'Sweet Esmeralda'. Immediately, James Taylor entered my mind singing, "How Sweet it is". This is from the Salvia pratensis species, which means it may reseed. But the colors on this beauty are very unique for most plants in this zone. The hood of the flower being a rich pink, with the "tongue" being a darker color.
Dianthus 'Gary Eichhorn'
This trial plant I must be honest, I wasn't that excited about. There are all these great looking flowers coming from breeders all over that were much more interesting. But the performance of this plant far exceeds the performance of other Dianthus in our trial gardens. It is not currently in the program, but I am seriously considering it. It came from our plant breeder extraordinaire in Hebron, IL, Brent Horvath.
Sedum ternatum
I walked up to our stock bed of Sedum ternatum yesterday and was amazed at how beautiful it was. I kept thinking a shady yard of this would be wonderful. This is the shade tolerant Sedum we've all clamored for. And it's a native as well!!!

Mystery Plant of the Week!!!
This is the mystery plant for the week of May 25th. It was the first week of the Mystery Plants, that I received no answers for. As I mentioned above, Smilax was the answer. This weeks plant is a groundcover that we have added to our catalog in the last two years. Hint hint!!! While it has never bloomed for me here, it has great foliage interest throughout the season. Good luck. This one should be a little easier than Smilax ecirrhata.
Well, as always, thanks for taking the time to look at some plants. Hopefully it is entertaining and educational. And even more so, I hope it makes you want to buys some plants from us!!! Have a great day and if you are reading this before Monday, an inspirational Memorial Day. Until next time........

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Aquilegia: How Sweet it is.

Hello again,
This will be a brief blog for the week. It's May after all and we are pretty busy! I still have two focuses. One being the great plants that we have for sale, and the other being the beautiful plants in the landscape. Most of this will center on the amazing Aquilegia. I always find that Aquilegia find new places to live in the garden. But I think most of these are welcome re seeders, as they look so great this time of year. And away we go!

Aquilegia 'Dove'
This was the first bloom on the plant. This, as well as all the rest are mostly in full bud. These are ready for the garden center or the landscape contractor that wants to make a big splash when the plants first go in.

Aquilegia 'Blue Jay'
These are also just loaded with buds. And quite the beautiful flower.

Aquilegia 'Cardinal'
I think this one is my personal favorite. The flowers are so intensely colored. Who wouldn't want this to reseed in their landscape.

Aquilegia 'Winky Series'
These are such great plants. An Aquilegia where the flowers point upwards. This is a mix of plants, so chances are that there will be a mix of colors when you receive them. Just look at the purple one!

In the Landscape:

The beauty of Tree Peonies is unsurpassed. This is Paeonia 'Kamatafuji'. We have been tossing the idea of growing Tree peonies the last couple years, and I was wondering what people would be willing to pay wholesale. Let us know. If you want us to grow them, we need to know how much you want them. Thanks in advance! You can email me at mgplanttrials@gmail.com

Antennaria 'Rubra'
This is one of my other new favorite groundcovers. In all the places in the landscape, it just shines. And it appreciates drought, which means it will become even more valuable as water becomes restricted. A truly sustainable plant.

Dodecatheon meadia
Who can resist taking a picture of a mass of Shooting Star. What I love the most about these is their variability. That is the great thing about native plants, in that you can seed them and get some really cool results. These are blooming all over the landscape as I got a little crazy planting them a couple years ago. Now it's your turn. These are deserving little buggers.

Erythronium albidum
In the woods, the Trout lilies are blooming. These dainty flowers must be seen up close to be appreciated. A large patch of these are in full bloom. Gotta love it!

Last weeks Mystery Plant of the Week was correctly identified as Mahonia aquifolium by Carol Beatty. Thanks Carol for being the first to respond with the correct answer! This weeks may be even harder yet. I had to look it up and after many minutes searching various pages on the Internet, I figured it out. It didn't hurt that Grace Koehler steered me in the right direction.

Mystery Plant of the Week

This was found at Johnson's Mound, in Elburn Illinois. It was a vine-like plant with very interesting flowers along the stems. Good luck! Send your guesses to mgplanttrials@gmail.com

Thanks again for reading and I hope all of you are having a great spring. Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's Day Weekend

Mother's Day Weekend is finally here. It seemed as though this spring was never going to start, but now that it has, it's getting a little crazy around here. Business is good! People are starting to ignore the media and spend their money. We can still live within our means and spend a little money at the same time. What fun would life be if we didn't? I'll stay away from being too political and start talking about plants now. I'm much more versed in that.

Now that the heat has started to come, many plants are beginning to bloom. It's like being in a candy store when I walk on our Perennial Island. Phlox, Polemonium, Heuchera, Achillea and more are emerging or blooming and looking great! I just can't wait to talk about the highlights, so here goes.

Magnolia 'Yellow Lanterns'
I am still not completely familiar with this plant. We have it on our property and for those that have noticed it, they immediately come and ask what it is. It is much later in flowering than other Magnolia, and looks to be perfectly hardy here. If you have an interest in Magnolias, check this one out.

Veronica whitleyi
This little gem of a creeper is blooming it's little head off. One of the greatest things about being involved in plant programs is that it introduces fun new plants to us. I am grateful that Jeepers Creepers includes the V. whitleyi! A carpet of these is a site to see. And when not in bloom, they have a nice grayish tone to the foliage.

Vinca 'Blue and Gold'

This is another great new groundcover that we will be offering this year. It is quite the spectacular. It's vigor is impressive for a variegated Vinca. 'Ralph Shugert' better watch out! This one has yellow variegation and is much cooler if you click on the picture and see the full size picture.

Euphorbia polychroma
A very interesting plant this is. Its yellow flowers are outstanding this time of year. Just don't eat them as they are very poisonous. Did you know that Poinsettias are Euphorbia too? So think of your Christmas plant blooming yellow! And it's hardy!

Phlox bifida
This is one that we have just added to the line. It won't be available until next year though. We have the Emerald Blue and Emerald Pink Creeping Phlox already in our line and this one will fill out the lineup. The distinguishing feature of Phlox bifida is the notches in the petals. It is a very nice fine textured groundcover.

One of my favorite combinations in the garden is this one right here. It mixes the Veronica 'Waterperry Blue' groundcover with Anemone sylvestris and the un-pictured Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia. The Veronica are starting to create a nice flowing carpet of purple flowers with the beautiful Anemone blooming white right now. The Amsonia is just starting to emerge and looks very interesting as well. Both the Veronica and Anemone will potentially re-bloom in fall, while the Amsonia turns a nice shade of yellow in the fall.
Lamium 'Anne Greenaway'
This is a groundcover that we have been trialing in the landscape. I'm not sure I like the reversion in the foliage. It seems that there is always some completely yellow leaves in there. It's kind of like a circus in a square foot. I've been waiting for the dancing fleas to jump out. If you like that kind of thing, great! If not, you could always use the more tame 'Shell Pink'

Brunnera 'Mr. Morse'
I absolutely love Brunnera. I think there is no better introduction to this industry than the intro of B. 'Jack Frost'. This one is very similar to 'Jack Frost', but with white flowers. A mixture of the two could be quite interesting. I haven't tried that yet. I have received little feedback from customers on this plant. If you would like us to grow this plant, let us know. Your feedback is needed!

Mystery Plant of the Week
Last week, nobody sent in an answer to the question. But the plant for last week, if anyone is playing along is Phlox x 'Minnie Pearl'. This week, a flower is what you can see. Hopefully that will make the identification process a little easier.

Here is the plant for this week. Again, you can email me at mgplanttrials@gmail.com to take your guess. There are over 100 people a week coming to this blog, so your name could be posted as the plant identifier extraordinaire! Good luck!

Thanks again for reading. Time is more of a commodity than ever before right now. So if you had the time to read this, I really appreciate it. I hope you all have a great week, and a fantastic weekend. Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Year of the......

Hello again,
2009 is the year of the ox according to the Chinese Zodiac. The Ox, or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. That isn't what I intended to talk about when I started the post calling this "The Year of the..." What I really wanted to talk about were the plants I'm seeing this spring that are really strutting their stuff. Once I thought about it a while, I thought that many of these plants could be considered hard working. I'm not sure I'm ready to personify so much as to say that the plants display fortitude, but you get the point.

The Year of the Muscari
It seems that there has not been a better year than this for Muscari. In the case of this picture, the hard working Muscari make a bed of Sedum look oh so much better. After they are done blooming, they go away and the Sedum looks good the rest of the year. They work together to make a great combination. It's a relationship very similar to Midwest Groundcovers and their customers!
The Year of the Amelanchier
Have you noticed how nice the Serviceberries are this year. They really pack a punch this time of the year. I can't remember seeing them look as great as they do right now. And the plant fits the hard working model of the ox in that it is a multi seasonal ornamental tree. Not only is the flower so nice, it produces tasty fruit in summer and fantastic fall color. The ultimate workhorse or work ox plant.

The Year of the Juddi
Ok, so every year is the year of the Juddi Viburnum in my book. I told the story last week of my mistakes in my early years calling it a Witchhazel. And while the buds of this plant are fantastic, the flowers are more so. The fragrance is unmatched. I would venture to say that the fragrance of a Juddi Viburnum exceeds the pleasure of the fragrance of the Common Lilac.

I can only give out "The Year of" to so many things. If I kept going, you'd start to wonder if everything is having it's best year. That would be unbelievable, so below are some things that are looking great, but maybe not their best ever. Or maybe they are, and I just don't want to water it down. Speaking of watering it down......

Podophyllum peltatum
I can't resist taking a picture of Mayapple after the rain with water droplets slowly moving from the center of the plant to the tips of the foliage. The foliage has an elegant weeping characteristic when first unfolding. The water droplets accentuate that.

Phuopsis stylosa
New to our Jeepers Creepers line, this stylish groundcover creates a delightful bright green carpet. In our landscape, it is below Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' which has large bold foliage. Of course, that foliage is terribly small right now. Later in the season I'll re-photograph this area to show you how nice it looks together.

Epimedium rubrum
Epimedium is perhaps the plant that displays the most fortitude. It may take a year or two to really take off, but when it does, it makes one of the nicest groundcovers we carry. Its drought tolerance allows it to grow very happily below Crabapples with large surface feeding roots. When the water runs out, plant an Epimedium.

Last year when perusing the beautiful Mertensia virginica, we found a couple of plants that were not the norm. These two plants displayed fantastic flower color, much different than the species. One is the purest of whites. The other is a very light lavender. Would you buy them in these colors?
Mystery Plant of the Week
I don't have any great prizes this week, but the person who first correctly identifies this plant will be recognized for their superior plant identification skills. My only clue for you is that this is not a sedge or a grass. Best of luck!!! You can email me your attempt at mgplanttrials@gmail.com.

Thanks again for reading. The volume of visitors to the site is outstanding and I want to thank each and everyone of you for taking time out to read these. It is truly my pleasure. Enjoy your spring, and start spending your money! It's time to buy some plants and start gardening!!! Until next time, have a great day!