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'

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What is looking good?

Hello again! I'm back from getting married and going to the lovely land of Northern California. It's good to be back, but I already miss the majestic trees that surrounded me not so long ago. Thanks are due to Nate Jackson and Christa Orum-Keller for their work on the blog while I was gone. I appreciate that greatly, and I believe the readers enjoyed the information that you conveyed.

Upon my return, I was surprised by how different a landscape can look in just two weeks. I've never been away from Midwest Groundcovers in June. So much happens in that time frame. It's possibly the best time to be here. But alas, I really wanted to get married so leaving once in June to do that seemed appropriate. Below are some of the nicest things I've seen this week.
Aesculus parviflora
For the time that it blooms, there are few plants as beautiful as these. Our mass planting is peaking now. It is quite a sight. What I find most amazing is the diversity of insects on the plants. I counted 5 different types of bees alone. Many other pollinators were there as well.

Hydrangea 'Quick Fire'
This is a great panicle Hydrangea. This plant has taken the place of 'Pink Diamond' in our catalog. We did this because of the sizes are comparable and 'Quick Fire' blooms earlier. It is already showing the pink aging that gives Quick Fire its name. Other Hydrangea paniculata in the landscape are just starting to flower.

Monarda 'Raspberry Wine'
This is an oldie but goodie. It is like a beacon in the Piet Oudolf garden. It replaced some Monarda that we didn't carry that had died. Good reason not to carry it right? But this one is bright and bold. It can be paired with Perovskia for a nice combination or it can be in the back of the border with Salvia or Achillea fronting it.

Acanthus spinosus
For three years, I've wondered if I should take this plant out of the landscape. The foliage has been there, but it never flowered. When I got back, I was amazed to see that it had two large flower stalks. What an exciting plant. Though I think of it more as a novelty for the upper Midwest, it surely is nice. If you have time to wait three to four years for flowers, try Bear's breeches.

Dianthus 'Raspberry Swirl'
There are many different Dianthus flooding the market as we speak. We would like to know your interest. Do plants like this excite you? Do you find it easy to use them in landscape designs. Is the fact that they are drought tolerant a benefit that you see or are most of your jobs irrigated? These are many of our questions that we'd love you to answer by emailing us at mgplanttrials@gmail.com

Coreopsis 'Red Shift'
The new Coreopsis hitting the market are definitely interesting. Whether you are interested positively is the question. This is a highly regarded Coreopsis that we are now trialing in production. This plant was at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It starts a creamy color and shifts to the red you see here. What do you think?

Spigelia marilandica
This is a plant native the the eastern portion of the continent. It is still questionably hardy for our zone 5 gardens. These are plants again at the Chicago Botanic Garden which I will be looking for next year. They are quite the curiosity. As the Earth changes, plants like this may become more valuable for this area. While I know it has been a cool summer so far, the climate is definately changing.
Echinacea 'Coconut Lime'
Not your mothers Echinacea eh? And no, I didn't go to Canada for the honeymoon, I just like saying eh. This one has performed much better than expected in the landscape. It is blooming with very large flowers and exceptionally clean foliage. I'll watch the foliage this year to see if that continues.

Echinacea 'Tiki Torch'
I've been waiting patiently for this plant. When I saw it the other day in bloom, I was impressed. The orange flowers are truly unique to any of the other orange coneflowers on the market. This was a young plant at the Botanic Garden. The best news is, we have these available starting the 13th of July. These have not yet been tested in our landscape, but they will be going in shortly.

Stachys minima
When you look on the Royal Horticultural Society's website, you will not find Stachys minima. What does that mean? It is not a universally accepted nomenclature for this plant. However, this is how we found the plant and the name truly describes what you get. A real dwarf betony. These are just phenomenal right now. They would look great paired with Leucanthemum 'Snowcap' to give you a disc shaped flower with these spikes.

Piet Oudolf designed garden:
This part of the garden is mostly inspired by Piet. The plantings here were designed by Roy Diblik and myself. We decided that the Allium sphaerocephalum would look really good with the Schizachyrium 'Carousel' and the Echinacea paradoxa. I never would have thought it would look as good as it does. This combination looks great late into the season as the Carousel will change colors and flower and the Allium will be more of a structural plant than the beauty you see here. But everyone likes little spheres floating in the air right?

One more piece of trivia for the day. I spent time at the Chicago Botanic Garden this week with the group Perennials in Focus. You'll find out more about that at a later time. But we met with Dr. Jim Ault, breeder of the Echinacea Meadowbrite series as well as the Prairieblues Baptisias. He was asked why he doesn't use Echinacea pallida in his breeding. I didn't ask the question, but I had always wondered the answer. The reasoning is because E. pallida is a natural tetraploid, which means, somewhere along the line it evolved from other plants. Therefore there are not the right amount of chromosomes for him to hybridize with it. I thought it was interesting enough to pass along.

It's great being back and communicating with all of you. Thanks for keeping up with us. Until next time, have a great day!

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