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, September 25, 2009

The Conservation Foundation

Hello all,
A group of Midwest Groundcovers people went to The Conservation Foundation this week. We were given a nice tour by Jim Kleinwachter of the facility along with a lot of historical information on the site. It was quite fascinating to see one of the first dishwashers in the kitchen of the historical building. It only had and on/off button. Take a look at your dishwasher, if you have one, and see how many buttons it has! Anyways, if you have the opportunity, Jim is a wealth of information and very interesting to visit. Here are some pictures of the day.
The garden in front of us in this picture has what Jim calls his "A-list" natives. Plants like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Liatris and Sporobolus reside here and are of the sort that the homeowner is comfortable with. If we can start with the "A-list", and then start to mingle in some of the companion natives like Ruellia and Pycnanthemum, we can get to a point where natives become common plants. Like they should be and some, like the A-list have already become.
Another view of the garden here, where the Sporobolus hovers over the path. The essential oils of this plant made my legs smell like cilantro all day. A welcome smell to me. To some, not so much. If you read last week's blog, then this is a path where people may not walk because the plants are there for the touching. More on that at the end.
Solidago caesia
I'm always excited when I can't identify a plant. I've seen many Solidago in my lifetime, and I can have trouble differentiating them. But this one, I've never encountered. The blue leaved goldenrod was very bright and showy on this day. Something I'd consider for our product line. I'll see if I can get some for our landscape to see if it is one of those seedy Solidagos.
Liatris scariosa
I was pleasantly surprised by this plant. The flowers were very robust. When told this was Liatris scariosa, I was pleasantly surprised. I was once told that the Liatris that we call L. aspera, was really L. scariosa, and now I know that we were correct!!! They are very different. Anyways, this was frequented by many an insect. In this picture, if blown up, you'll see at least three different organisms enjoying it's sweet nectar.
Stylophorum diphyllum
I was very surprised to see this beauty in bloom. Typically, Celandine poppies are blooming in spring. If soils dry, it typically would go dormant. But here it was, blooming and looking quite clean for the time of year. Maybe it was because it was in the children's garden. There were a good number of annuals in there that most likely require some water. My guess is this little guy gets the occasional shower.
Hibiscus moscheutos
I have to admit to not liking most Hibiscus. But there is something about going into a natural area and knowing that this really is a native. Wow! There were many plants in bloom this day, most having a white center. I had to climb through the plants to get this view, and it was worth it. Beside it, were the remains of a cut down purple loose strife. I'd much rather see the Hibiscus!
Nymphoides peltata
This was the plant that truly stumped me. It took some looking around to finally identify it. The common name is "Floating Hearts", which I find to be sort of nice. I'm not the common name kind of guy, but I could see sending a floating heart to my wife! That sounds so nice. What is really nice is that this is a native plant as well. What a beauty!
I received a couple differing views on why people were not touching the plants at Millennium Park. One thought was that people's skins are more sensitive to different things. I did not realize that Zizia could cause burning on your skin. Maybe the people are afraid of any allergic reaction they may have to the plant. Another person disagreed entirely, and this is what they wrote;
Assuming most of the visitors were landscape architects…I believe they were observing the Lurie garden as a piece of artwork. A creation on display to be appreciated as one appreciates art. And with the Art Institute now stretching it’s arms out into Millennium Park…who could resist the subliminal parallel with art. Of course, when one appreciates art in a museum, one cannot touch it – or only so in very rare instances. It is most respectful to keep one’s distance. Landscape Architects are an artful group of people and often a gentle and very respectful group of people. I don’t think the reasons you pondered about why they wouldn’t touch the plants were at all what was in their minds. I think the art on display model is more accurate. Their lack of plant touching was showing their respect for the creation they were appreciating. Make sense? It is an interesting observation, and perhaps LA’s need to be specifically welcomed to enter the work of art and touch it… As a landscape architect nursery person, I very often touch plants as part of my appreciation of them and derive much pleasure from it…I think most LA’s just need a push and they will delight in the ‘FEEL’ of plants!
While not everyone that I was watching was a landscape architect, it does bring up some interesting points. Truth is, everyone probably had a different reason for not wanting to touch the plants. But the bottom line is, the "FEEL" of plants that was mentioned above, can do a lot for ones' soul and should be explored more often.
Thanks again for reading. I'll be going to Michigan next week, so I'll be able to see some of the trial plants that I've yet to install. I'll bring back some photos from our nursery over there. Until next time, have a great day!

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