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, April 29, 2011

Midwest Natural Gardens

With sun, we finally are getting a little busy. So due to time constraints, this week's edition will be short and sweet. Here are some of the great plants over in our Midwest Natural Gardens site. Things are looking very beautiful over there. Here are the highlights!

Hierochloe odorata

Sweet Grass

Phlox bifida

Sand Phlox

Caltha palustris

Marsh Marigold

Geranium maculatum

Wild Geranium

Friday, April 22, 2011

April Showers are stopping the flowers

Hello everyone!
The rain that we've been having has really put a damper on the growth of plants. It's slim pickings trying to find new things in the landscape blooming. So I turned my focus to foliage and other colors that are appearing. A walk through the woods yielded some interesting plants.

Erythronium albidum
Trout Lilies are emerging and showing off their interesting mottled foliage. This type blooms white in spring, but there are also types in this area with yellow flowers. That variety is Erythronium americanum. Both plants are native to Illinois and have very similar foliage. You have to wonder what caused this plant to evolve the way it has. According to Illinoiswildflowers.info, this plant is greatly threatened by the spread of Garlic Mustard.

Trillium recurvatum
Praire Trillium is another plant taken for granted. I once sent a photo of Allium tricoccum to a colleague from Delaware. He was more interested in the Trillium which I thought nothing of. He later mentioned that he doesn't get this type of Trillium, so that was more interesting. These little guys are on the verge of opening their flowers, and with a little warmth, they will probably do so soon.

Trillium grandiflorum
What is a weed for some, is a treasure for others. Large flowered Trillium is plentiful on the other side of the lake in Michigan, but hardly found around here. We have reintroduced it into the woods on our property. When in bloom, I will surely re post a picture of it.

Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'
The catkins have emerged on this very narrow tree. While not in the landscape, we have some of these for sale in #7 sized containers. They are quite nice if you are looking for something for that very narrow area. Plus the catkins are interesting enough to merit purchasing this plant.

Once I left the woods, their were other things that caught my attention. It just takes a conscious eye to see some of the beauty that proceeds the blooms.

Sedum 'Angelina'This is a great Sedum that most know by now. It's winter color changes from the chartreuse of spring and summer to shades of orange and red. Quite the dramatic groundcover. Very drought tolerant, this plant has been known to grow very well in gravel and on green roofs.

Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem'
If you've followed the blog over the years, you've heard me wax poetic on this plant for some time. If not, the greatest attribute to this plant is it's spring growth. The new growth is orange, red and yellow and finely textured. Flowers later in the summer are interesting as well, but don't have the jaw dropping effect the foliage does. Not nearly as aggressive as it's parent, this variety has learned to live a little more cohesively with its neighbors. While I've seen a little suckering the past couple of years, the initial one plant that I planted 5 years ago is still only 4-5' wide with suckers and all.

Viburnum x juddi
Judd Viburnum has always been one of my favorite plants. It was the first plant I ever planted in my parents yard when I got into this business. It's also my first misidentification of a plant to a customer. I once sold several of these as Witchhazel because I thought the flower buds, like the ones pictured, had to be something that a witch would make. I was 18 and had no idea what I was doing. This actual instance has reminded me to give newcomers to the horticulture business a little break on ID because I surely needed one. And of course, it only took a couple days after for the blooms to open up and then I knew 100% what this plant was named.

Happy spring everyone. I hope that the rain will start to go away a little and we can enjoy what spring is all about. I suppose if you are a Forsythia fan, then this is the best spring possible. The cool weather has definately kept the blooms on a little longer than normal. I'm ready for the Mertensia and Viburnum to start blooming. Until next time, have a great day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April Showers

Hello again, Happy Spring everyone. This weeks post will be shorter than normal. The rain has made it difficult to get good photos. And luckily, business has started to pick up a little so that takes my time as well. Without further ado, here are the plants.

Forsythia Show Off® In my estimation, this is the year of the Forsythia. They look absolutely great. Most have been flowering since we had the 80 degree plus days a couple weeks ago. The cooler weather we've been having ever since has kept the blooms looking fresh as ever. This particular variety is a Proven Winner® ColorChoice® Shrub. It only grows 4-6' tall and has a very upright habit perfect for placing among perennials in a bed.

Forsythia 'Kumson' Another Forsythia looking great right now is the 'Kumson'. This variety is known for its venation on the foliage. White veins contrast very nicely with the dark green foliage. What is particularly interesting about this plant is that it has bloomed again in the fall each year it has been in the garden. Talk about a show off! This one grows 6-8' tall and spreads even wider. It prefers full sun, but can handle some shade as well. In full shade, the venation will go away and you'll have solid green foliage.

Bergenia 'Winterglow' I was pleasantly surprised to see the Bergenia blooming this morning. It's nice dark pink flowers barely reached above the soil. Later the squeaky foliage offers something great for a children's garden. The common name for this plant is Pigsqueak, because when you rub the foliage together it makes a pig snort like sound.
Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign' This is a plant that has been in the trial garden for three years now. When we first saw photos we were very excited. A very vivid blue flower on an all green foliage. Unfortunately, we were unable to get liners back then, or it would have made the product line. Now it's back to the drawing board. Would you buy a Pulmonaria that did not have spots or white on the leaves? Let us know. If you want Midwest Groundcovers to grow it, you'll have to speak up. Thanks in advance! Thanks once again for taking the time to read. Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Inspiration for Spring!

Hello again, On this cool and dreary day, I thought I would send some color your way. Things are starting to wake up and look fantastic. Below are some great items to get your imaginations going. I hope you enjoy them. - Narcissus 'Dutchmaster' This is your common daffodil. But I just think it's such a great sight to see when all we've been looking at is brown all winter. Other varieties have started as well. And with the heat that is coming this weekend, I would imagine most will be in bloom by the 15th of April. It's a great time to think about going to the Morton Arboretum to get more inspiration in their Daffodil glade. Pulsatilla vulgaris var rubra This is the first time we've carried this plant. Also known as Pasque Flower, this beauty not only looks great in flower, but the seed heads become a feathery mass that float gently above the foliage. Pasque Flower grows best with well drained soils in full sun. It also grows well above City Hall in Chicago on the rooftop. Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' This is my favorite Hellebore by far. What makes it so great in my opinion, is that the flowers face upward rather than the majority that face the ground. The subtlety of the green, white and pink colors dancing on the flower are romantic and a welcome sight once the snow finally melts away. These will grow well in most shady to part sun areas.

Phlox divaricataThis is one of my all-time favorite native plants. The light purple flowers above the clean green foliage are delightful. In the woods, this naturalizes well with Geranium maculatum. This requires some moisture if planted in full sun, but is very easy to maintain if given some shade. The foliage isn't the greatest after the blooms have faded, but if it is too unsightly, it can be pruned back and it will reflush as nice as it was in spring.

Thanks once again for taking the time to read. I hope you have a wonderful day and beginning of spring. Until next time, have a great day.