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, October 12, 2009

Beautiful Fall Colors

Hello friends,
This week is the week that proves most difficult in our industry. Threats of frost and snow mean covering plants in the nursery and annuals that look terrible! It's not a time most of us look forward to unless we have a nice plowing contract for the winter. I look forward to this time of the year because I love the colors fall produces. We were just talking in the office about how nice it usually is this time of the year. Where did the jeans and t-shirt weather go? We didn't seem to have it this year. Well, some plants are surely disrupted by this cold weather, but others go on looking great. Here are some examples of plants that look good after a hard frost.

This morning, I was excited to see this container. Usually the Geranium 'Jolly Bee' goes to bed after a hard frost, but here they are still blooming with a nice specimen of Festival Grass™ accompanying them. Both plants I predicted would look terrible today when I came in. I was wrong on both accounts. The Festival grass has really stood up well this year to all the climactic change. They still show the deep burgundy color everyone loves. While not hardy, the fact that they look good now speaks volumes for planting them in your customers planters. I am still not the biggest annual fan in the world. Or if you truly want to classify it differently and call it a tropical, that's fine. But this plant is beginning to win me over. It is worthy of being in our landscape and yours.

Flower Carpet® Scarlet
It is still blooming. And it's not just a scattering of blooms. This plant is really blooming well! The foliage is very glossy green and tough as nails. This is a great plant. It reminds me how nice the new generation of Flower Carpet® roses really are.

Calamintha nepeta ssp nepeta
I feel like I'm constantly sticking up for this plant in the landscape. I first have to talk about how it is a sterile plant and will not run you down like the straight species Calamintha nepeta would. Then I have to convince people that the bees that cover this plant throughout summer will not sting their customers as they walk to the front door. If you've ever been on a tour here, you know what I like to do to the bees. I dive into the plants and they all scatter drunkenly to the next plant to get more pollen. They don't care about me! But look at this picture taken today. For those of you looking for a long bloom time in the garden, it's still blooming. It has not stopped since June!!! This is a must have! If you don't like the scent of peppermint, well I can't help you there. But I am more than willing to sell you on this plant if you need more pushing!
Sedum kamtchaticum
Not the first plant you think of when considering fall color. But it should be up there. Think of this color as a groundcover! We have it installed on a roof here at the nursery and it looks stunning. We have it mixed with Allium 'Forescate' and other varieties of Sedum. Imagine having a planting of this as your groundcover, and Asters and Amsonia hubrechtii intermixed. Ooh. Bright yellows, purples and reds!
Iroquois Beauty™ Aronia
What a nice plant for fruit and fall color. Oranges and yellows and reds oh my! Add black to that and you have Iroquois Beauty™. This has the best fruit display of any Aronia I have ever seen. It stays short so it adds value because of that. These have not completely changed, so think of how great they could be! Though I like the contrast of green and oranges. Herman Tiedeman and I both agree that Aronia could be a great substitution for Burning Bush in the future, but the time is now to make the change! Aronia 'Brilliantissima' is the best for fall color and adds red fruit to boot.
Rhus copallina Prairie Flame™
It's not that we hate the look of Burning Bush. It's that it is so one dimensional. It turns red in fall. Yea! With Prairie Flame™, you add a bloom time in summer where it looks great again. The texture of the plant is far nicer than that of a burning bush. It does sucker a tad, but otherwise is a fabulous plant. The fall color is outstanding as well. Pictured in reds and purples, it also takes on tones of yellow and orange before it drops. Quite the nice plant.
Redwing™ Viburnum
When I started writing this, it wasn't intended to throw Euonymus alatus under the bus. But since I've started, I feel more inclined to do so. Not only does this have phenomenal foliage, but it is also a native cultivar. So it is beneficial to the environment in addition to being beautiful. The fruit of this species is attractive to birds. In early spring, the new foliage is a reddish tinge which gives it the name Redwing™ as the new foliage amongst older green foliage looks like the wings of a bird.
Corylus americana
Few shrubs rival American Hazelnut for fall color. It is also a native so there are many benefits to this plant. It produces hazelnuts for one!!! I've tried them, and they are just like the flavor you add to your coffee. They are tough to crack, so a nutcracker is recommended. If you are looking to plant the seeds, abrasion is necessary. Be careful though. It says to make a puncture hole on one side of the nut before planting. I'm still not sure what the best way to do that is. The way I tried produced a hole in my finger. Anyways, you can see how nice the foliage is.

It's hard to do a segment on fall color and not show you any trees. I walked by some Amelanchier and Sugar Maples that I would have liked to add. But shrubs are so often forgotten. Grasses and trees can be the easy stars of fall, but there are some great shrubs that deserve your attention as well. It's been a pleasure. Until next time, have a great day!

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