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'

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frost in the Garden

Not everything in the garden is beautiful at this time of year. In fact, most people would say the garden is dead and not worth looking at. I need to argue against that. There are many reasons to walk around your garden. Those reasons come to life on the mornings where frost covers the ground. Groundcovers! They are the stars of this time. Especially the ones that are evergreen. Here are some that I came across today that I have found to be wonderful.
Sedum 'Immergrunchen'
Not only is this plant great for green roofs, but it is also an excellent groundcover. This was my favorite plant this morning because of the frost. There is something special about the frost lining the rims of the leaves, creating a piece of delicately displayed artwork. How great you are, Mother Nature!?! You can see on some of the plant, that the foliage is turning orange. That is also a characteristic I find charming about this plant. Because of this, it became the centerpiece of our Sedum sun. Turning orange in early winter, it creates the sun with all the other varieties streaking away as its rays. When 'Fuldaglut', 'Dragon's Blood' and 'Red Carpet' turn their brightest colors of red, it is a stunning display.
Sedum forsterianum
Speaking about the virtues of sedum, here is the iceberg stonecrop, which looks very interesting today. The corkscrew effect of the foliage is more easily seen with frost dusting the plants. These plants have flourished in the garden for many years underneath our crab apples. So they do receive their fair share of shade and still keep looking nice.

Phuopsis stylosa
Sort of Sedum-like in appearance, this groundcover has a spiral effect as well. The frost on this was quite beautiful. I don't think the picture does it justice. I have this planted in areas where it gets full sun and in areas where it receives very little sun. In the area with more sun, it is a pale yellow-green color right now. It resembles Sedum 'Angelina' in these areas. In the shady area, they are a dark green. In both areas, the plant has proven vigorous and will undergo a salt test this winter. I'll let you know. This could be the ultimate Polygonum reynoutria substitute if it holds up to the salting. It even has pink flowers in spring!
Ajuga 'Black Scallop'
I don't typically like to talk about Ajuga. I think I say that every time I bring up 'Black Scallop'. It's not that they don't have a use. It's just that I like other groundcovers better. Black Scallop however, is on my good list. And with white frost sprinkled over the top of the near-black foliage, I find it irresistible. The plants pictured have been in the landscape for four years and have flourished. They receive good drainage and half day sun. The foliage is larger than most other Ajuga we carry with the exception of 'Catlin's Giant'. 'Catlin's Giant' is similar but with lighter colored foliage.
Geum 'Tequila Sunrise'
This is another introduction from Intrinsic Perennials in Hebron, IL. While there isn't a flower to show you, these plants look spectacular covered in frost. You can really see how fuzzy the foliage is because the frost has attached itself to each little hair. I'll be excited to show you the bi-colored flowers in spring. I currently have three of Intrinsic's Geum on trials. I'll be looking for feedback next year on whether or not you like them.

Stachys 'Big Ears'
Speaking of fuzzy! These are the fuzziest plants known to me. And they look marvelous with frost covering them. At this time of year, these start to yellow up a little for winter. But with frost attached, they are looking like they do all year. Fuzzy. To really appreciate the frost on this, enlarge the picture and check out the edges of the foliage. Very interesting.
Dianthus 'Little Maiden'
These small plants have looked great all year. At this point, with the frost covering them, they sort of look like turf. But a refined turf right? If you are familiar with Sagina subulata, and you have had trouble growing it, then try this one out. The foliage offers a very similar look, but then it adds dainty white flowers in spring and sporadically throughout the season. Like most Dianthus, a dry and well drained site is important for the plants to thrive.
Potentilla neumanniana 'Nana'
Its varying stages of foliage offer color this time of year. With browns and greens, and a little white from frost, they look fun. To me, they look like little pinwheels. This has been a remarkable addition to our groundcover line. We have found that this plant is salt tolerant and grows rapidly. The species is native to Eastern Canada, so it is a North American native. While aggressive on the ground, I don't anticipate any issues with this being invasive. It has been in the landscape for several years now, and I have not seen any plants go to seed. Another great possibility as a substitute for Polygonum reynoutria.
Heuchera richardsonii
I didn't anticipate the beautiful fall colors that are emerging from this plant. We have several planted in our experimental groundcover garden, and they are all turning shades of red and orange. The frost creates a wonderful rim around the leaves, which makes this Illinois native look sharp. In the summer, leaves are medium to dark green. It flowers a creamy white, and sometimes pink. The pink ones are few. But a selection could be done for fall color. Some plants are definitely better than others. The beauty of bio-diversity and growing native plants from seed. Heuchera breeders should be looking at this plant for hybridizing because it would add a really nice fall feature. Imagine Heuchera 'Chatterbox' type flowers in summer followed by an orange and red fall display. What a combo that would be. But alas, it doesn't exist yet. It is just a dream.

Even at this time of year, the garden is full of surprises and beauty. November is not the time to forget about the garden. It is the time to respect it for its subtle beauties. It will make you appreciate the flowers more come spring because you'll know there is another show to anticipate later! Until next time, have a great day!

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