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, August 24, 2009

Phlox trials and the IGC Show.

Hello again,

Last week I had the opportunity to go to the Independent Garden Center Show in Chicago. I hadn't been to the previous two that were held here, so I was very excited to have the chance to go this year. The show did not disappoint. Traffic was good. Plants looked great. People were placing orders! This doesn't sound like a typical trade show in Illinois. That's because it's not. Heard around the show were many people saying that they would not be at MIDAM this year. The IGC Show is what they want to put their marketing dollars into. As I tried to scavenge at the end of the day for free plants, I found that everything was sold! That's great! It's usually a chore to get all those plants back home. Now there are customers to take them. Sure beats bringing forced plants in 18 degree weather.

If you were able to attend, let us know what you thought. Are you going to next year's IGC Show with America as the performing band? Are you going to both the MIDAM and IGC Show? Are you just going to MIDAM? Email us at mgplanttrials@gmail.com

And now for the plants in the landscape.

Phlox 'Babyface'
I've been looking for the counterpart to 'Minnie Pearl', a beautiful spring blooming white Phlox. They didn't bloom at the same time, so it doesn't qualify as it's counterpart, but the height is right. Some foliage towards the bottom of the plant is asterizing, but otherwise, flower quality is very good and overall the plant looks like a winner. These are 25" tall which is enough for it to go to the top of my trials list.
Phlox paniculata 'Swirly Burly'
This isn't the greatest performer overall. I really enjoy the flowers, but the habit of the plant is fairly poor. I've seen this happen with some of the other new introductions of Phlox in the past couple years. This is a case of, great flower, poor plant. If only I could hide the foliage behind something else, then this would be a keeper. Now, it's nothing more then a pretty face with a cute name.
Aster 'Blue Autumn'
I've been very pleased with this plant. The question here is, do we need to offer another Aster? I'd love to see 'Purple Dome' go away and be replaced with this, but it is much shorter and not an A. novae-angliae, so it wouldn't work as a sub for New England Aster. That would be a problem I suppose. They are blooming now, which is before the others. So, is this something that is needed on the market? Let us know.
Sedum 'Jose Aubergine'
I've talked about this plant a couple times this year. I wanted to show it with flowers on. Still a very attractive mound of foliage with the pink flowers just emerging. This is a great plant!!!


Weigela Ghost
This is perhaps the strangest plant I have ever seen. The foliage is so unique, you might wonder what is wrong with it. I have shown this plant in previous posts, but the coloring on the foliage wasn't as good as it is now. This is something that may scare you! But it's okay. The leaves are supposed to look like that!

Eragrostis spectabilis
Purple Love Grass, they call it. I think it's because when you see it, it is breathtaking. You could very well fall in love with it. The first time I saw it "naturally", was in Michigan when it lined the highways. I am down to this one clump where it is still alive or looking good in the landscape. The others rotted away. They like sharp drainage, and if you can give it to them, they will reward you with purple love.

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'
I've talked about this plant a bit in the past couple years. When it flowers, it still does the same thing to me. It makes me wonder how something like this could happen naturally. A very interesting bloom on a nice, clean plant. This one however, could be considered a weeping perennial. Plant it with something that can lend a shoulder to lean on.

Last week someone mentioned to me that the house near our property was looking spectacular. I couldn't get a picture to truly tell the story, so I skipped it. This week I focused on the rain garden and wasn't disappointed. You can see the Molinia 'Transparent' with Amsonia hubrichtii and Nepeta 'Sweet Dreams' . All plants are flourishing! There is no better place for Molinia than in a rain garden. This is their spot.
Dianthus 'Little Maiden'
I've mentioned this a couple times this year as well. I thought it would be important to show how clean this plant can look at this time of year. If you are tired of Sagina subulata not always surviving, then try this plant. It still likes good drainage but it sure looks better then any Irish Moss I've planted. A customer walked by these one day and said, "I could just lay down and go to sleep on those!" I concur. They are quite pillowy.
Euphorbia corollata
This is the native Euphorbia that we have in the landscape. It is a plant that I wish I could be more excited about. If I was planting a native area, this would be there. But in a manicured landscape, the weepy plants may not be encouraged. I could still see a combination of it with Sporobolus heterolepis and having a stunning combo. A great plant, but it needs a helping hand.

Aralia racemosa
This is a plant that needs to be part of the American Beauties Native Plants® brand. You can see the scale of the fruit versus the size of my thumb. The fruit is absolutely gorgeous. If only it could look that way around Christmas, it would be a great holiday decoration! Alas, it does not. But it looks really cool right now. And the flowers a few weeks ago were pretty interesting as well. In full sun, it has grown to 5' tall and close to as wide. In shade it can reach to six feet.

Finally, this is a combination in the landscape that I couldn't overlook. Hydrangea 'Limelight' and Eupatorium 'Phantom'. We do not carry the 'Phantom', but we do carry the similar 'Little Joe'. These are great plants together. Similar heights, and similar insects to enjoy the nectar. They are flowering the same time which offers even more excitement. I had a picture of Eupatorium 'Little Joe' but it was a little blurry so I stayed with the 'Phantom'.

This is such a great time of year to be looking at plants. Whether it is by going to the Independent Garden Center Show, the garden centers themselves, or by going into your own landscape and enjoying the sweet fragrances of late summer. The Japanese Beetles are starting to regress, the heat, though never really here this year, is starting to pass. Plants are just looking great! If temperatures stay where they are now, can we start the "Fall is for Planting" in August? I know it's a couple months early, but it could strike up some sales! Until next time, have a great day and thanks for reading.

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