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'

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Piet Oudolf - Second Phase

Hello again,
The second phase of the Piet Oudolf planting is finished. Gustavo and Fakundo have been working hard on this garden.

This week we again removed the Panicum 'Dallas Blues' from the garden. In its place, we will be planting Eupatorium 'Little Joe'. Also another area where Epimedium x rubrum was planted before, we will be incorporating Zizia aptera. Originally, we had tall Hamamelis vernalis in the garden. They were removed a couple years back, and now there is more sun than there used to be. So to give them some protection, the Zizia will provide some shade for those plants. At my request, we will keep the Epimedium there because in combination with the Muscari that bloom in spring, it is stunning.

Other weeds have been removed this week, such as milk thistle. This has been a little bit of a problem this year. They were about to bloom, so I had to take the guys from a different area of the gardens to remove them before they set seed. We don't want to have a perennial issue with this. Plants that we are waiting on for this section of the garden include Monarda bradburiana, Gillenia trifoliata, and Geranium soboliferum.

Thanks again for reading, and hopefully next week, we will have more excitement in the garden. Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Natives in the Garden

Hello again,
Native plants are looking great these days. So to encourage and inspire you to use some of these great native plants, I've got some pictures for you. Next post will be back to the Piet Oudolf garden changes. Here we go!
Echinacea pallida
One of the more common natives in the garden is the Pale Purple Coneflower. This beauty blooms a couple weeks earlier than the even more common Echinacea purpurea or Purple Coneflower. Both are excellent for your gardens. E. pallida grows 3-4' tall and very upright. It is easily distinguishable from other species by it's heavily drooping petals. There is even a cultivar out there called 'Hula Dancer', because the petals resemble the hula skirts. This grouping is located near the entrance to our facility in St Charles and cannot be missed.

Penstemon digitalisThis is a personal favorite of mine. The flowers are easily seen from far away. Variation of colors can be seen on this plant from pure white to dark pink. Sometimes even the foliage turns red and then gets selected for cultivation like 'Husker Red' did. Now more varieties are in the market including another favorite of mine, 'Dark Towers'. What I enjoy most is the tubular flowers that seem to attract bees and butterflies alike. While some may be wary of its reseeding capability, I think it's worthy of use. In large gardens, seeding around can even be encouraged. In fall the seed capsules and foliage turn dark red and are attractive again causing this perennial to be a 3 season gem.
Heliopsis helianthoidesThis is a plant whose cultivars first intrigued me. 'Summer Nights' and 'Asahi' are two that we currently offer. This is a cheery plant that brings a punch of yellow to you. Growing up to 5' tall, it can also seed around a little. It does like to live, that's for sure. Goldfinches, and other birds love this plant, and I see them and Juncos eating the seed late into winter. The foliage stays very clean, and overall the plant works well in the back of a border. Mixed with Parthenium integrifolium, the combination will offer a very nice contrast of white and yellow.
Asclepias tuberosa
Blooming all over the place right now is the Butterfly weed. It's very hard to miss with its dark warm orange colored flowers. This plant does best with well drained to dry sites, although I've started to see it seed around in areas that aren't so dry. Climate change??? Anyway, this is one from the genera that feed the Monarch butterflies. It is a great thing to plant this in your garden. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of pink and orange together, it looks pretty good around the base of the Echinacea pallida in our front entrance.
Asclepias syriaca
I tend to see more larvae from the monarch on the Common Milkweed. This one does have very large leaves and much larger flowers that are typically in the shape of a ball. It can reseed a little around the garden, so I recommend this as more of a middle of the border plant. If you don't want plants to reseed around, than I don't recommend this to you.

Baptisia leucantha
Over the years I get more and more excited about Baptisia. When seeing them in the wild, it is very exciting. These plants were growing near a stand of Penstemon digitalis at Nelson Lake Forest Preserve in Batavia. This is a very slow growing plant that will reward you if you have the patience to let it grow. This is also a plant that will be happier if there are other plants around its bare legs. I like to see it with Sporobolus heterolepis around the base.
Thalictrum dioicum
A very fine textured plant that has white flowers dancing over the delicate foliage. The dark stems on this particular plant really attracted me to it. There have been many cultivars of Thalictrum produced in the past few years. I personally like the straight species. We do have many of these in the Natural Garden Natives™ product line. They like to grow along the edges of the forest in damp locations and grow to 5' tall.

Thanks again for reading the blog. I hope you've enjoyed once again. Until next time, have a great day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Piet Oudolf Garden Changes

Hello again,
The changes for the garden designed by Piet Oudolf are happening fast. The first part of the garden has been renovated, with the exception of some plants that we don't have ready yet. So yet to go into this section of the garden will be Achillea 'Pomegranate' and Achillea 'Pink Grapefruit' which will be mixed in a combination together.

Gillenia trifoliata will be placed in front of the new planting of Pancium 'Northwind' that have replaced Panicum 'Dallas Blues'. Unfortunately, we don't have those yet, so we wait. We also replaced Panicum 'Shenendoah' with the correct variety. When we initially planted the garden, our 'Shenendoah' were done from seed. There was a lot of variation. Now we have started to produce this plant from division which keeps the integrity of the plant better. So the new plants installed will all have the red coloration that the seed grown variety did not.

This is the part of the garden that we took the most out of. Limonium latifolium had taken over this part of the garden, and once removed, there was quite a bit of space to fill. Veronica 'Eveline' was planted in its place and you can see that photo below.

This is the garden now that the Veronica are installed.

Round two begins today with the removal of more Coreopsis tripteris, Limonium latifolium, Vernonia glauca, and Aster novae-angliae. There was also some spread of Aster 'October Skies' that needs to be corrected. A little infestation of Creeping Bindweed will also be removed and we will be removing the Salvia that they have crept up on. The Salvia will be replaced with the same variety. Also of note, a planting of Geranium 'Dilys' will be coming out. This was part of the original planting and a variety that we never decided to grow. In it's place will be Monarda bradburiana. Other new plants that will enter the second garden include Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe' and Scabiosa 'Pink Mist'.

Thanks again for taking the time to read the blog. I hope you are enjoying the updates. Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Piet Oudolf Garden Changes

Round one of the renovations to Piet Oudolf's garden are about to begin. I'll be a little more specific about what's about to happen in today's blog. Several varieties are coming out of the garden for various reasons.

Eric and Fakundo are working hard on the removal of Panicum 'Dallas Blues' and Salvia 'Amethyst'. These two plants are coming out because for one reason or another, we no longer sell these varieties. 'Dallas Blues', especially in production was a magnet for rust. We love the look of the Panicum, so we are replacing it with Roy Diblik's introduction, 'Northwind'. 'Northwind' will give the same verticle element to the garden that 'Dallas Blues' has without the rust. Salvia 'Amethyst' left our product line because of a lack of sales. It is a great looking plant, but if sales cannot support it, it goes away. In this case, Salvia 'Pink Friesland' will replace it in the garden. It will be a little bit shorter, but that will work in this instance.

In this part of the garden, Limonium latifolium is being removed. I'm waiting on some plants for the back part of this garden where more of this plant resides, but I don't have the replacement yet. In the section that has been emptied, we will be planting a small number of Geranium 'Brookside' and Heuchera 'Mocha'. Limonium left our product line, because the more and more we tried to promote the plant, the less and less we'd sell. Hasta la vista Limonium.

In this area, Eric is working on an area that will have Veronica 'Eveline' planted. The Limonium had reseeded in most of the garden, so he's removing parts of it from all over. In it's place will go the Veronica. The other difficult plants in the garden that are being removed are Coreopsis tripteris and Aster novae-angliae. Neither of these were ever intended for the garden, but reseeded from other locations.

Another interesting thing happened when walking through the gardens. When Piet first showed up, we talked about removing all the Tradescantia from the garden. Then we found this wonderful combination of Tradescantia and Zizia aptera. Both of us were impressed by this combination, so we plan on using it in another location. While the picture here is of Tradescantia ohiensis and Zizia aptera, we will be using Tradescantia 'Concord Grape'. This picture was taken at Nelson Lake a couple days after Piet visited, reaffirming to me, that this is a "natural" combination for the garden.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to read. I hope you enjoyed the first round of changes that we will be making. Stay tuned for many more. Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Piet Oudolf Visit

Hello again,
This week will be a little shorter than most. It has been busy and a lot of things have been going on. On Monday, we had world famous designer Piet Oudolf on site to look at the garden he designed in 2004. We discussed many options including the elimination of varieties that we no longer grow. Some of the items that will be coming out of the garden include Limonium latifolium, Panicum 'Dallas Blues', Aster novae-angliae that wasn't intended on being planted in the garden, but seeded there from some faraway land. Also being removed will be areas of Salvia 'Blue Hill' and Anemone 'September Charm'. Some of the plants that we will be introducing into the garden include Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe', Monarda bradburiana, Scabiosa 'Pink Mist', and Nepeta 'Early Bird' to name a few. As the project continues on, I will be blogging the progress with more detail. Until that time, thanks for reading, and have a great day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Warm days are here

Hello again,
Things are looking great outside, and business is getting better as well. It's great to be busy, that's for sure. On Monday, June 6th, Piet Oudolf will be at our nursery to look over the gardens that he designed back in 2004. It's hard to believe that we've been surrounded by that beauty for so long. He is coming at the ideal time too, because the gardens are looking fabulous. There will be some changes, so please come out in the future to check out what we've done. Onto the plants....

Sisyrinchium 'Lucerne'
Blue eyed Grass only grows to 16" tall in our gardens. Iris-like foliage with a tint of blue looks great in combination with the yet to bloom Stachys minima. Both these plants are together in our garden in a dry location with morning shade. This is the first year I've had a mass of the 'Lucerne', and I have to say it is breathtaking. If this plant is not part of your palette, you should think again and start using it.

Dianthus 'Little Maiden'This diminutive groundcover is very showy this time of year. Foliage resembles Sagina subulata and flowers look like tiny white egrets flying around. Or maybe, little maidens is what the breeder had in mind. Regardless of what you see flying around above the plant, this one is drought tolerant and nice both in flower and not in flower.

Phuopsis stylosa
This plant has been on the blog in the past. But I haven't had a picture that illustrated how many blooms are on the plant. This plant has proven successful on the edge of a walkway that gets salted in the winter. It also grows well in a part shade situation. There doesn't seem to be a spot that I've tried so far that it hasn't been successful. I believe this would be a great substitution for Polygonum reynoutria which has found itself on the "Invasive" list.

Geum 'Fireball'This plant has been a beacon of light in the garden. It's rare that a plant carries this color and doesn't grow in a ditch. 'Fireball' is an introduction from several years ago that we added when Echinacea Orange Meadowbrite™ first came out. Orange was in! Now we have these beauties available to you. They look especially great in the garden mixed with Salvia 'May Night' and Oenethera macrocarpa.

Thanks again for taking a spin around our gardens with me. To those of you that will be visiting for the Piet Oudolf talk, we'll see you then. If you missed out, talk to you later. Until next time, have a great day!