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'

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Life in the Prairie

Hello again,
I don't typically post two blogs in a week, but I couldn't resist mentioning something about our prairie. Last year, the prairie pictured was actually a planting of Juniperus and Flower Carpet® roses. We made the change so that the prairie that existed would have a "designed prairie" next to it. I didn't expect to see the life that I see in just one year. Yesterday, I was literally startled by the amount of butterflies that flew into the air as I approached the garden. Swallowtails, Monarchs, and others flew off in every direction. I only wish I was walking up with my camera ready to go, but sadly, I was changing lenses at the time. I was able to capture some of the critters before they left.

Eupatorium maculatum was blooming in the creek bed, with Tiger Swallowtails all over it. Unfortunately only a couple remained after my approach, and this is the only one that was feeling photogenic.

Liatris spicata seems to be what most of the butterflies are going to though. This is a black version of the Tiger Swallowtail. Apparently, only the females have the black version. There were several of these black ones in the garden as well.

The prairie to me looks stunning. Although, I'm a little biased as I got to choose which plants to place there. Cassia hebecarpa, Liatris spicata, Pycnanthemum virginianum, and Parthenium integrifolium constitute the majority of what is planted. I've also noticed some Giant Swallowtails in the garden that seem to be infatuated with the Pycnanthemum, or Mountain Mint, as I seem them frequenting these often. Overall, even though the roses and junipers looked nice, they did not attract the amount of life that currently resides here.

Thanks again for browsing the blog. Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, July 29, 2011


Hello again,
So after five years of writing the blog, I have never written an entire post solely on daylilies. Some of them have made the blog, like 'Rocket City' which shows up once again today, but mostly, I figure people know what a daylily is. But the truth is, a daylily is not a just a daylily. While 'Happy Returns', 'Stella de Oro', and 'Pardon Me' are used very frequently, some of what I think are the best daylilies are hardly used. Furthermore, we have some new ones that aren't in the catalog yet, so I wanted to give a shout out to let you know we have them.
Hemerocallis 'Going Bananas'
This is a new one to us. 'Going Bananas' is an improved version of 'Happy Returns' with more flower power. When looking at them today, I also noticed that the flowers are larger. Foliage stays nice and clean on this plant making it a nice choice for the landscape. Pair it with Veronica 'Eveline' for a nice pastel garden.

Hemerocallis 'Siloam Peony Display'
A unique new color to our product line is this variety. We now carry two double daylilies. This one is peachy-orange with decent foliage. While this color is sometimes difficult to put into a garden, I would think it would be stunning mixed with white Phlox or Nepeta 'Walker's Low'.

Not pictured today is another new one we are carrying called 'Ruby Sentinel'. In the past few years we've experienced great difficulty in producing 'Woodside Firedance' which is one of our most highly sought after daylilies. Because of this, we are switching over to the more available 'Ruby Sentinel'. We think you will appreciate the change.

Hemerocallis 'Grape Velvet'
This has always been one of may favorite daylilies. The color is so rich and I especially love the contrast of the chartreuse throat. If you are looking for a great deal, I can put my salesman hat on and give you a great price on these beauties! Coreopsis 'Creme Brulee' mixed with this makes a great combination.

Hemerocallis 'Rocket City'
This one has made the blog before, and I need to reiterate how great it truly is. A couple days ago we received a request for "those native roadside daylilies". Knowing that he was referring to what I call ditch lilies, I tried to steer him in this direction. When seeing the plants he exclaimed that they look much nicer than what he was thinking of. I said, "Of course they are". In full sun, mix this with Schizachyrium Blue Heaven™ or 'Carousel' and have a stunning orange and blue display.

Well that was fun! I hope you liked today's daylilies. Try one out and see the difference. We currently have available 24 different varieties. Thanks again for reading, and until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's Hot in the Shade and Prairie

Things are sure hot around here. New plantings in the Piet Oudolf garden have been temporarily suspended until we can get heat indexes below 100 degrees. So I perused the gardens for other things looking good in the sweltering heat, and found some nice surprises.

Liatris spicata with Parthenium integrifoliumThis was part of a renovation from last year. This area was formerly Flower Carpet® Roses and Junipers. Junipers are still surrounding the area, but we replanted the rest of it with native prairie plants.

Another view of this area shows Eryngium yuccifolium and in the background Cassia hebecarpa. The beautiful Quercus bicolor, or Swamp White Oak makes a nice transition from our older prairie to the newly planted one.

Hosta 'Halcyon'
This is one of my all time favorite Hostas. It holds up very well even in intense heat. The plants further back are in full shade, while the ones in front do get some afternoon sun which is why they have a green tint to them. This variety of Hosta has been one of the best for sports. Some of the plants that have come from this include, 'June' and 'First Frost' to name two.

Astilbe Color Flash™Color Flash™ Astilbe looks great in the landscape right now. The flowers are light pink with a pleasing light fragrance. Not pictured, is the partner for this planting, Carex elata 'Aurea'. Together, this makes a nice combination for wet shade. The area in which these are planted gets wet everyday from us watering our display yard and perhaps is why this has been so successful.

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'Hidden below a Washington Hawthorn is this nice stand of Hakonechloa. This year, this is the only variety that we carry. But next year, watch out! We'll be carrying two other varieties of Hakone grass. They will be 'Fubuki' which is a white and green variegated plant. Those also look nice in the landscape right now. And we will also be carrying 'All Gold'. These are nice plants for the shade, but usually require some moisture. In this area, they are under a tree and rarely get watered, so there is some drought tolerance there as well.

I hope everyone is staying cool and healthy out there. This weather is brutal. Thanks again for taking the time to read, and until next time, have a great day.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer blooms

The garden is looking great right now. Echinacea are blooming everywhere you look. There are definitely some stars out there, even though it all looks great.

Echinacea 'Pica Bella'This has been a favorite of mine since the first day I laid eyes on it. This is a nice, shorter variety growing to 30" tall maximum. The petals curve upwards which give it a unique look different from other coneflowers. Dark stems, and just an overall interesting color, make this a top-of-the-line perennial.

In the Piet Oudolf garden, seedlings have popped up everywhere with Echinacea and quite a few others. But these white Echinacea looked very nice amidst various pink seedlings. The contrast in colors is always a welcome site.

Monarda Grand Marshall™ has been one of the best beebalms in the garden for mildew resistance. I have it planted here in part shade where it gets plenty of morning sun but is in medium shade from mid afternoon on. Plants are located next to Ligularia 'Britt Marie-Crawford' and Dryopteris 'Brilliance', the Autumn Fern, and look great there. In the background, you can see that our Aesculus parviflora hedge is in full bloom. Grand Marshall™ grows only 3' tall in shadier locations to 28" in full sun. In a full sun garden, I would site near Liatris 'Floristan White' or Phlox 'David's Lavender' for some nice color contrast.

Thanks again for reading. We intend to go back to enhancing the Piet Oudolf garden next week! Until next time, have a great day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pink Hydrangea arborescens

Hello again,
I've been watching the two Hydrangea arborescens varieties the past two years. Last year however, a deer made it difficult to judge as it ate all the blooms off of Bella Anna® before I had a chance to see them. I have to admit to being a skeptic at first when these were originally released. I didn't expect the beautiful plants that I have seen this year. They have really changed my mind.

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle™ Spirit
Invincibelle™ Spirit is a bit taller than the other variety. These plants currently stand around 42" tall. My original concern on these plants was their ability to stand up. They have yet to flop on me. A lighter shade of pink than Bella Anna®, some have grown to appreciate it more. Even after 65mph winds this morning, they still stand up straight.

Hydrangea Endless Summer® Bella Anna®
This plant has darker blooms than Invincibelle™ Spirit. We have this planted in our entrance mixed with Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'. While not in bloom yet, I expect the yellow and pink combination to be stunning. We also have this in full shade, and it has done very well. These plants are coming in around 24" tall and wide.

Both of these plants have exceeded my expectations. I would expect them to do the same for you. Until next time, have a great day!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Section Three of Piet Oudolf Garden

This is round three of the renovation.

I wanted to start this post with something that has worked very well in the garden. This combination of Stachys 'Hummelo' with Coreopsis 'Golden Showers' has been very nice to look at the past couple weeks. The fine texture of the foliage on 'Golden Showers' also contrasts well with the more coarse 'Hummelo'. The colors together make a great contrast and the foliage textures will look great together well into fall.

In this area, we removed a large patch of Amsonia x 'Blue Ice'. The area in which is was planted was starting to get too big. We are going to cut the large swathe into pieces and plant Scabiosa 'Pink Mist' and Monarda bradburiana in the areas that are removed. We currently don't have the Monarda, so that will go in later. I also refrained from cutting out the other piece of Amsonia until we have the replacement plants. Originally, Geranium 'Jolly Bee' climbed over the top of the Amsonia, but eventually, the 'Blue Ice' took over the area and smothered the 'Jolly Bee'.

In this section, we used to have a large Amsonia hubrichtii seedling, that I was very fond of. If you've ever been on a tour of the gardens, I probably pointed it out to you. However, Piet did not like the height that it had, so we removed it. It was the plant collector in me that wanted to keep it there. But I do see his point, that it didn't quite fit. We will replace it with the real Amsonia hubrichtii.

Other changes in the garden include removal of Anemone 'Honorine Jobert'. While there is no question that it is a beautiful plant, it struggles with the dry soils that we provide in this garden, and often gets hit by frost right as the blooms start to break bud. They will be replaced by Liatris spicata. We also removed a large chunk of Sorghastrum nutans 'Sioux Blue' as it didn't really fit where it was. It will be replaced by Allium 'Summer Beauty' and when we have it, Geranium soboliferum. Thanks again for taking the time to check out the blog. Comments are always welcome, so keep them coming. Hope you are having a great summer, and until next time, a great day!