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, November 22, 2010

Holiday Containers

If you haven't already heard, Midwest Groundcovers produces some very nice winter decorated containers. If you are too busy continuing fall clean up, or are planting more landscape jobs because of the great late fall weather we are having, then give us a call because we are trying to make your jobs easier! We have two different sizes of beautiful containers at your disposal. 10" and 14" containers with live plants so that they can look great now, and in spring planted in the landscape. It can't get much more sustainable than that! Please give us a call with your order or if you have any questions. Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Last Flowers

Hello again,
It's getting to the end of the colorful seasons. Winter will be here shortly, so viewing some nicely colored flowers and fall color is needed before the doldrums of winter when everything looks black and white. Some surprises and some not so surprising follow here.

Centranthus ruber 'Coccineus'
This is the one that surprised me to see in flower. Usually blooming much earlier, the Jupiter's Beard was looking rather nice today. While this plant has been reported to be a seedy character, I find that it is well behaved. I like to mix it with Geranium 'Rozanne' for a blue and red summer show. The foliage stays very clean and could take the place of a red Phlox any day for me. Topping it off, is the fact that this plant is very drought tolerant. If you are unaware of this plant, try it for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
Aster tataricus 'Jindai'
This is a plant that can move around a little bit. But if you use plants that compete with it well, it shouldn't be a problem. I've had it planted for 6 years at Midwest Groundcovers and started with 5 plants. Now that same area has about 15. It is combined with Panicum 'Dewey Blue' and Solidago 'Fireworks', and the two of them keep 'Jindai' in check. Plants in general are much different than most Asters. While most are mounded in habit, 'Jindai' grows vertically. A recommendation would be to plant it near a stairway where people can look down at its' upward facing blooms.
Aster 'Vibrant Dome'
Sticking with Asters here. This is a new one that we just started selling this year. It is the sister to the well known 'Purple Dome'. Both develop nice mounded dome shaped habits. This is the pink for those that need something a little larger than the 'Wood's Series' Asters.

Allium 'Ozawa'
I was very impressed by the bees swarming this plant today. The pollen looked fresh and they were taking a dip in it. I showed this plant often last year as it progressed. I find it to be quite interesting. Unfortunately, the masses didn't agree and we will not have it for sale in 2011. However, we are revamping it in a quart pot thinking that it suits the plant much better. Overall, this isn't a terribly large plant. Growing only 12" tall and not much wider, it's difficult to make a small plant like this look good in a #1 size pot. So hopefully in 2012, you will take advantage of our new size and plant at will. It makes for a great late season perennial to poke in between your Echinacea and grasses.
Schizachyrium 'Carousel'
This is one that looks great all year round. But I am a fan of Little Blue Stem the most when it is in seed. I love the colors that the grass takes on. Russet reds and browns look great in contrast with Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies'. The Allium above would work great as well as many other smaller perennials. This plant can take dry conditions and does well with some moisture as well.

Thanks again for taking the time to read the blog. I hope you've enjoyed. And furthermore, I hope you have a great day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Winter Hours

Hello All,
Midwest Groundcovers has changed its' winter hours for 2010-2011. Starting on October 25th, Midwest Groundcovers will be open from 7:30-4:00 Monday through Friday. We will be closed the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. We hope this is of no inconvenience to you. Have a great holiday season, and as always a great day!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Annual Fall Color Review

Hello again,

I always like to do a fall color edition. This is my favorite time of the year when the plants are in the midst of transformation. Just like spring when they come to life, fall is nearly as spectacular with all the colors. While I love the trees a lot, the shrubs and perennials also have some great color. Here are some of the most outstanding at our facility.

Viburnum molle 'Morton'
This is a plant under consideration for the Chicagoland Grows program. It grows similarly to Viburnum dentatum, or Arrowood Viburnum, but it has beautiful exfoliating bark similar to that of an Oakleaf Hydrangea. Fall colors range from dirty yellow to the red you see in the picture. All colors are on the plants at the same time. Hopefully this will be offered in the future.

Sporobolus heterolepis
This is a plant that I talk about often. To me, there are not many grasses better than this one. A drift like this under a tree makes for an artistic impression. Very little maintenance is ever required for this. We burn in March and let it go the rest of the year. No watering is ever needed and it will look this nice well into winter. In this particular planting, Echinacea pallida is mixed in to give some spring color to the area.

Viburnum x juddiiThis is an all time favorite for me. I love the fact that I can say this is the first plant I ever planted once in the industry. I planted it because the flowers in the spring are very fragrant. Later I learned of its' amazing fall color. Growing 6-10' tall and just as wide, this is a great plant for the back of the border, or somewhere near a window where you can enjoy the sweet and spicy smells in spring.

Deschampsia 'Goldtau'This has been a very difficult plant for me to photograph. The delicate seed heads are difficult to get without blurriness. This variety is nice because it is very resistant to foliar rust. Other types of Tufted Hair grass are very susceptible. I have it interplanted with Flower Carpet® Scarlet and the two look great together. You should give it a try. They look great in containers as well!

Rhus Prairie FlameOne of the best fall coloring shrubs in my opinion is the Prairie Flame Sumac. The bright reds and oranges that come from this plant are spectacular. The plant can sucker a little, but it does offer an excellent substitute to the overplanted Burning bushes you see everywhere.

Amsonia hubrichtii
One of the best fall coloring perennials around is the Narrow leaf blue star. Read on later to learn about one of her sisters. A. hubrichtii has very fine textured foliage and can come in all sorts of shades of gold in the fall. While this plant tends to look chlorotic a lot of the summer, the fall color more than makes up for it. Mixed with Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies', the blues and yellows can highlight any garden.

Physocarpus 'Coppertina'
Most of us have grown to love the purple summer colors of our new Ninebarks that have hit the market. But I especially like the contrasts of reds and purples when fall colors start to appear. 'Coppertina' gets its' name from the early spring colors it displays on new growth. This is a Proven Winners™ ColorChoice™ shrub.

Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia
This is one of those plants that looks great all year long. The willow-like leaves gently sway in the winds throughout the summer, and in spring, when first emerging, the purple to red stems look great in contrast with the light green foliage. Then this time of the year, mostly golden foliage with some tints of red show off for all who wish to see. These have proven to be very drought tolerant, and for those looking for more flower color during the summer, it would make a nice combination with Perovskia 'Little Spire' or Echinacea 'Sunrise'.
Thanks again for reading the fall edition. Hopefully more things will color up soon, and different fall pictures will be available. Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Did you know?

Hello again,
Did you know that Midwest Groundcovers started selling fruits and vegetables in 2010? If you didn't realize that, we are. We are selling the plants! In an effort to help our customers and our customers' customers, we are producing fruit plants so that we can all live a more sustainable lifestyle! The six fruits and veggies are below that we will be carrying. I hope it is as exciting for you as it is for us!



Concorde Grapes



Sorry for the quick post this week. Things have been fairly busy around here which is great! Keep up the landscaping and have a great week!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Colors

Here we are, a day away from October. The temperatures outside are wonderful. Who doesn't love the 60's? Things in the garden are looking great, although a lot is starting to go to sleep. It's interesting to see how things change from year to year dependent on how the weather is or was during the summer. We had a lot of drought this year, which means certain plants are losing leaves earlier. Some are not coloring at all. Our Viburnum 'Redwing' in the landscape looks poor compared to last year. Check last falls post to see how gorgeous it can be. So onto the plants. Many things were looking quite nice this morning.

Easy Elegance™ Mystic Fairy® Rose
Mystic Fairy® has long been one of my favorite roses. It produces clusters of many flowers on each stem. The flowers size is about 2" across, but the richness of the color is what I find most striking. Foliage on these plants looks great as well. What I have noticed on this plant that further increases my appreciation is the fact that the Japanese beetles seem to stay away from it. At least more than some of the other varieties we carry.
Speaking of Roses, when a bed of them can look this good going into October, it's amazing that we don't use them more often in our fall plantings. I know it's not the most traditional mum or kale in the world, but the richness of the colors and their variance should make them a natural option for fall color programs.
Rhus 'Prairie Flame'
Speaking of beautiful fall colors. The Rhus are starting to color up in the landscape here. I show this every year, because I think this is such a great substitute for the Burning Bush. Similar textures, but much greater color in my opinion.

Hosta 'Patriot' with Carex 'Ice Dance'
This is a combination that was developed in a shady container. I liked it so much that I had to try it out in the landscape. While 'Patriot' is an old classic, why not still use it. It looks great in combination with the Carex. It especially looks good now that the deer have started to leave them alone.

Aesculus parviflora
This was more of a surprise than anything this morning. I was walking and shocked by the fact that these June bloomers had flowers on them now. Not just one or two, but there are many flower buds starting to open. When I spoke of weather conditions above changing what plants are supposed to do, this was the one that got me thinking the most today.
Viburnum prunifolium
The fruit of this giant shrub are spectacular every year. I urge you to read the excerpts from Michael Dirr's Manual on this plant. He creates an amazing image with his description of his group of fellows eating the fruit. They are just now starting to color up, and will eventually share purples with its current reds and pinks.

This is a yet to be named cultivar that Chicagoland Grows™ is working on. I have been trialing them for 3 years now. They have made it through two winters. The fruits of these are extravagant. Multiple shades of purple tantalize the eyes, but of course are currently unavailable. Feedback would be exceptional on these. If you feel that this is something that you would like to have in the future, please send us a line.
Baptisia Twilite Prairieblues™
In the talks of fruits, I should perhaps mention the seed heads of this great plant. If you are thinking of trying any from seed, you should pick them now as the seeds are falling fast, I thought on first examination today that the seed pods looked like little mouths asking for food.
Sedum Sod Flats
A potential contemporary option for fall colors in your landscape is to use our Sedum sod flats. Not only are the reds that come from these plants great, but it also gives you a little touch of the holidays to come. Green and Red. Time to start setting up the Christmas trees! But really, this is a simple quick solution to a color program. Lay out the sod flats like you would grass and have a beautiful layout for the fall.
I have a whole bunch of Asters to show in the next post. These are looking quite nice as well. For more information on the plants that are in this post visit www.midwestgroundcovers.com
Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The First Day of Autumn

The first day of Autumn has come and there are some amazing plants in the landscape.
Physostegia 'Vivid'
Last year we made a change from 'Pink Bouquet' to the much more requested 'Vivid'. Judging solely on landscape performance, this was a good decision. These plants just bloom their little hearts out. I have not seen this plant to be overly aggressive in the landscape. It's surrounded by plants that could easily be overtaken by an invasive, but they have stayed still. Last year I photographed this plant in December with blooms on it. There are more blooms on it now then their were last year, but this is just to say that it has a long bloom time. Especially if you are looking for fall blooms.
Sisyrinchium 'Lucerne'
Being a member of the Iris family, this plant has grass-like foliage that offers a really nice texture to a dry location in full sun. Here they are planted at the front of the border with Mazus reptans as a groundcover in front of it. The texture changes are quite nice to the eye. In the summer, the purple flowers attract bees and small butterflies.

I look forward all year to when the Anemone start to bloom. The display garden has a nice grouping of 'Pamina', 'September Charm', 'Honorine Jobert, 'Robustissima' and 'Prinz Heinrich'. 'Robustissima' is about done, but the others are just starting to look their best.

Gentiana 'True Blue'
They've begun to bloom! This is new to our product line this year. It is very exciting to be able to offer a Gentiana to our customers. It is a hybrid and not a native variety, but that is what allows us to have success growing it. Plants are fully budded and will make a great impression at your garden center or in the landscape. This plant in deer resistant and attracts late season butterflies and according to some websites, hummingbirds. It can be grown in full sun to part shade.
Calamintha nepeta ssp nepeta with Aster laevis
The cooler our night time temperatures get, the more blues that come out in the Calamintha. Combine that with the light purple flowers of native Aster laevis, and you have a brilliant combination. This would be a very nice option for a dry location keeping in mind that the Aster doesn't look like much until now.

Sedum display
Our Sedum display is 90% done. I need to get the labels out there and there are two varieties unavailable at the time of planting. Currently, 28 of the 30 groundcover Sedum we sell are displayed in this location. We had done this in the past and the competition ended with Sedum kamtchaticum being the most vigorous. Everything was torn out and replanted so that we could again show you the differences between these excellent drought tolerant plants. I hope you are able to come out and take a look.

Thanks again for reading. Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall colors in September

Hello again,
It's mid-September and fall colors are starting to show. Our Honeylocust have already started to drop it's golden leaves. Amelanchier's are starting to show some of their beautiful oranges and reds. Crabapples are losing leaves and showing off their gorgeous fruit. Roses are starting to look phenomenal! Here are some of the others that look stunning. As well as another new project being installed this week.
Coreopsis tripteris
One of my favorite natives is the Tall Coreopsis. The purples that start to show on its foliage at this time of the year are outstanding. It grows to 8' tall and can be a reseeder, so space and a little diligence with pulling the seedlings are good ideas when planting this one.

Zizia aptera
Another native showing great color is the Golden Alexander. Most of the foliage and seed heads have turned this color of red. We have a nice planting of this in front of our pick up yard and they look stunning right now. It flowers in early spring when the Salvia first start to bloom. This plant will do well with moisture, but can also handle a good amount of drought.
Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'
This is also in front of the pick up office. I really didn't expect this plant to come back when we first installed it. I thought it would offer up some nice mid-summer color but it would succumb to the winter. In general, Butterfly Weed really likes superb drainage or they risk rotting. In this area, it remains very dry and that was the key to its success. These have been flowering since June and still have lots of blooms still going. It's fun to see its cottony seed heads surrounding a bright orange-yellow flower. A great deal of Monarch butterfly larvae have been feeding on these plants all year. It has been fun to watch.

Liatris aspera with Allium 'Summer Beauty'
These beauties just started blooming this week. Already, I have counted at least 6 different species of butterflies drinking the nectar. Some of the smaller butterflies have been the most beautiful. The seed heads of the Allium are quite nice in contrast with the flower color too. Being such a late bloomer, it was nice that the Allium filled the area earlier in the season with flowers. Other natives that would work well with it include Ratibida pinnata, Eryngium yuccifolium and Panicum virgatum.
Schizachyrium 'Carousel'
Thought the picture is somewhat blurry, the colors are there to see. The autofocus on my camera no longer works, and it's like learning how to use a camera all over again. I digress. 'Carousel' is an amazing plant if just for this time period. But the colors throughout the year are outstanding. Even in winter, the foliage is a different brown than the seeds which gives it contrast all year round.

Sedum display bed
A new project that we started this week was to replant our Sedum varieties in a new "Sedum Sun". There will be one on each side of this path. Gustavo and Eric are the ones planting it in the picture here. 30 varieities of Sedum will be displayed when all is said and done. One large group representing the sun and 14 rays. It has started out very nice, and should be completed early next week. More pictures to follow.

Hibiscus bed
In this trial bed, we have all of our Rose of Sharon Hibiscus. There are five varieties in bloom in this area. Lavender and Blue Chiffon, 'Lil' Kim', White Chiffon, and Sugar Tip. They are all looking very nice. It is a great time to come out and take a look at these beauties.

Rosa Easy Elegance® All the Rage and Physocarpus Summer Wine®.
I have to admit to not seeing this combo all year. It was quite by accident. I most often see this garden from the other side of the Ninebark. The dark foliage of Summer Wine® with the bright coral color of All the Rage is a very nice contrast. The colors this morning with the strange rain clouds overhead perhaps made it more impressive. But clean foliage on both of these plants warrants use.

Even though it gets used more often now than in the past, Calamintha nepeta ssp nepeta is such a great plant I need to continue showing it. Non stop blooms from late June until frost. And look at how bright it makes this area. Calamagrostis brachytricha, Amsonia hubrichtii and Schizachyrium 'Carousel' offer fall colors all around it. Allium 'Summer Beauty' in front shows off her nice seed heads in contrast.

Thanks again for reading. Hopefully you enjoy this article. There will be more to come soon. Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Major Renovations

Hello again,
This has been a year of change at Midwest Groundcovers. We have undergone some major renovations in the past month and a half that I want to share with you. Some areas had been left without change for many many years and some, like our grass area, was in need of a fixing. I don't have a great image of our grass area but I will mention it. We removed all the grasses that were there since 2004. Plants were growing into each other and it was too difficult to determine which grasses were which. A new lay out with better spacing should provide a nice display garden for the future. Of course it's small now, but next year this should be a site to see.
The first project that we completed was at the entrance to our Perennial Island. This area had previously been covered by Euonymus 'Coloratus', or Purple Leaf Wintercreeper. Now it has been developed as a trial garden for shade Midwest Solutions®. Lots of new combinations are in this garden. A sun combination flanks the front of the garden with Allium senescens glaucum mixed with Stachys minima. Please come by and watch as it progresses.

A smaller project was in front of our sign to retail. This had previously been planted with Pixie Meadowbrite™ Coneflower, but after several years, the plants reseeded themselves and the originals were crowded out. Echinacea 'Pica Bella' takes its place.

The center median as you drive in has been revamped. Formerly a mix of perennials in the front of the median, we've replaced that with a temporary display of our beautiful mums! Those will be replaced next year with something special! Two hedges of Gold Pillar™ Barberry with Buddleia 'Black Knight' in the middle replaces a very old planting of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' that was starting to deteriorate with weedy grasses seeding themselves amongst it.

For a couple years we enjoyed Koeleria glauca at our front entrance with Allium 'Purple Sensation' a white Hyacinth. The 'Purple Sensation' will be replanted, but the Koeleria had started to decline and needed to come out. We've replaced that with a large planting of Ruellia humilis and interplanted it with Carex glauca(flacca). Once this fills in, it should look great.

Speaking of the entrance. The plantings in front of the signs have been redone. The older plantings were starting to get overrun by Nepeta faasenii. So that planting was removed and replaced by four plants. The back layer, closest to the sign is Geranium 'Max Frei'. In the middle, is Sporobolus 'Tara'. This plant I deem as the best plant ever for underneath a sign. It is the perfect height to not cover any of this sign. In front of that is Coreopsis 'Zagreb'. Interplanted with all of these plants in Veronica 'Waterperry Blue' for a spring and fall show.

Last but not least, we have expanded our prairie. That is in the background of this picture. Removed were Flower Carpet™ roses that were not performing up to expectations. I think it was a little too dry for them here. The native plants that replaced them were Cassia hebecarpa, Wild Senna, in small doses with large swathes of Liatris spicata(Blazingstar), Parthenium integrifolium(Wild Quinine) and Eryngium yuccifolium(Rattlesnake Master). A band of Sporobolus heterolepis(Prairie Dropseed) was planted in front to seperate it from the outer circle which we did not plant native. In order to show our diversity of products, we have removed a large planting of Euonymus 'Coloratus' from this area as well. It was replanted with two great groundcovers. Veronica 'Waterperry Blue' and Potentilla neumanniana 'Nana'. These two groundcovers will be seen every time you leave our facility. These are two plants that have been trialed here and have been proven to be tolerant of salting. Try them out. They look so much nicer than Polygonum!

Hopefully you will enjoy seeing all this progress. More is on the way this fall as we continue to spruce up our facility. Until next time, have a great day!