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, 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.

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