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 28, 2012

Hello again,
The last week of July, and it seems like the weather is cooperating with us a bit.  Temperatures haven't reached over 100 for a couple days and we've had some spattering of rain showers to brighten up some of the plants.  So on Friday this week, I had the great pleasure of going to Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee and Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI.  Brent Gustason and I were dropping off Allium Summer Peek-a-Boo™ to these two gardens for them to place in their trials. Here are some of the things we saw. And they all happen to be New for 2013 for Midwest Groundcovers!
Echinacea Sombrero™ Hot SalsaI think I've become harder to please when it comes to coneflowers. There are just so many out there on the market. This one is truly different than anything else I've seen.  For one thing, the size is great.  Short and sturdy branching so flopping doesn't occur makes this a great improvement over other reds out there.  Plus, this color is so red and exciting that I'd beg you to show me a coneflower with longer lasting red color.  I don't think it exists yet.  And, look at how many blooms are on this beauty. In a container, I counted 21 flower buds yet to open.  Not bad for a baby plant.
Physocarpus Amber Jubilee™
It was quite exciting walking up to this plant at Olbrich yesterday.  I had only seen pictures of the plant and what we had in production.  In the ground, in a part shade situation, the colors really popped.  Bright orange and yellows aging to chartreuse.  Physocarpus is the new Heuchera.  There are new colors and sizes coming out all the time.  This seems to be a winner to me.  Who doesn't want a little orange pop in their garden?
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee'
Have you noticed that it is the year of the oak leaf hydrangea? Everywhere I see them, they just look spectacular.  Maybe because of the gentle winter we had, there was little die back, so they have quickly risen to spectacular.  I've always liked the plant, but I have a new appreciation for it now.  This is the largest 'Pee Wee' I have ever seen. Since it topped out at almost 4', I would say that it is about as large as it gets.  For the shrub border, in part shade, I'm not sure I can recommend much better than this plant.
The New World of Groundcover
We've spent years and years looking for the best new groundcovers.  Some candidates were great, some not so much.  But as we approach the 2000 teens, it appears that the best new groundcovers have been under our nose the whole time.  Or maybe, underneath our oak and crabapple trees.  They say sedges have edges, but if you are a landscaper right now, you can get an edge on the competition by using this amazing group of plants.  In this picture, you can see the fabulous groundcover of sedges that leads you to the bench.  Behind the bench was a Tricolor beech. With Solidago 'Fireworks' to the left and Anemone to the right, this little path walked us into a garden of calming influence.  It really made both of us take a breath and relax. 

Thanks again for taking the time out to read the blog.  To the many visitors that have come to our gardens in July, thank you.  We've had a great time having you all out here.  Other than my birthday and wedding anniversary, there is nothing better to me than to have you out here touring our grounds and learning about plants.  A personal thanks from me to you.  Until next time, have a great day!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Natives in the Garden

Happy Heat Wave Everyone,
Despite the intense heat that we've had the past couple weeks, there are certain plants in the landscape that have done very well.  Some surprising, and some not so much. We've finally received some rain, but it came down so fast that most of it ran off the areas that needed it most.  Though I think the pond is happy to have the run off.
Opuntia humifusa
On a trip to Michigan a couple weeks ago, I saw large stands of Prickly Pear cactus in Saugutuck State Park.  It was quite the sight to see.  There was a sign that said "Please do not disturb the natural area", so I obliged.  But here in St Charles, it's blooming too.  Our habitat is less fragile than the one in Michigan, so I could get nice and close.  Opuntia humifusa grows variable to 1.5' to 2.5' tall and spreads further than that.  This plant supports many mammals eating habits, and the guys here tell me it tastes great on the grill.
Euphorbia corollata
This is one of the plants that every year I can't resist photographing it.  Like a Poinsettia, the white parts are actually just modified leaves while the flowers are the tiny yellow center.  Growing anywhere from half a foot to 3 feet tall, this plant is incredibly drought tolerant.  Around here, I see it growing on the Fox River bluffs where it is mostly sandy and very well drained soils.  Like any other Euphorbia, I wouldn't recommend eating any of this.  Birds like it, but it is poisonous for mammals.

Cephalanthus occidentalis
This was my surprise of the day.  Janie Grillo told me there was a button bush at Natural Garden that was in a pretty dry area, but this was the first time I had seen it.  It looked great.  I guess this plant doesn't have to be near water after all.  There is something special about this plant.  It may not be the most clean looking plant in the world, but the strange white sputniks of flowers are incredibly interesting.  It made my day out there.

Thanks again for reading this abbreviated version of the blog.  Thanks also to the Garden Writers Association for coming to our facility this week.  It is always great to have you and our other guests out to our gardens.  Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sneek Peek at Allium Summer Peek-A-Boo™

Hello again,
Everyone has come to love Allium 'Summer Beauty' for its ease of care and beautiful habit and blooms.  The only people I've run across that haven't liked it were marketing a similar product with a different name.  I can't see any other reasons for not liking it.  It is rejected by rabbits and deer.  It's drought tolerant.  The foliage stays super clean and the flowers attract pollinating insects. I am excited to present to you today, our Midwest Groundcovers exclusive, Allium Summer Peek-A-Boo™.  The top picture below is the iconic 'Summer Beauty' while each of the three below it are Summer Peek-A-Boo™.  The major difference between the two is the height and compact habit of the Summer Peek-A-Boo™. Come to one of the industry trade shows this summer to get a peek at what's growing on.
 Allium 'Summer Beauty'

Allium Summer Peek-A-Boo™

Here is a comparison of the two plants. As you can see, the 'Summer Beauty' is much taller of a plant the Summer Peek-A-Boo.  I would think a garden mixing the two together to have differing heights mixed together would be interesting.  Also, having the Allium blood, rabbits and deer still stay away.

I hope you are all as excited as I am for this new introduction.  I think it will work wonders in many applications.  And think about the more compact habit on your garden center benches!  This morning, I was looking at both side by side, and was flabbergasted by how the new plants almost makes the 'Summer Beauty' look messy. Hold tight, 2013 is just around the corner.  And if you must see it beforehand, come to summer field day in Wisconsin or Illinois, as well as the IGC show at Navy Pier.  Whats more, we have an established bed of these at our facility you can see in the ground.  Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Natives Outshine the Competition

Hello again, I've never been one to run through the sprinklers. At least at work that is.  But lately, if there is water in the air, I'm trying to get under it.  This is hot folks!  You didn't need me to tell you that though.  After the forth consecutive day above 100 degrees, I had a tough time getting the urge to go out and take pictures.  If you are outside all day like a lot of you probably are, I'm not complaining.  I have it made being able to work in an air-conditioned office.  If the weatherchannel.com report is correct, we should be back into the 80's by Sunday.  That will be a relief. 
Liatris spicata
If there were ever any reason to promote natives, times like these really market them well.  While walking through the gardens this morning, I noticed that most of the plants that looked best were native plants.  This picture has both the Liatris and the Eryngium yuccifolium otherwise known as Rattlesnake Master.  This combo borders our native area.  These were planted three years ago now, and are doing a great job turning this area into a somewhat designed native garden.

Parthenium integrifolium
I think I talk about this plant every year.  I also think that it's probably because it fills a time when not much else is looking great.  Sure the Echinacea are blooming everywhere, but you already know about those.  I have this planted in many areas now, but I like it best mixed with the Liatris and in another area with Geranium 'Bevan's Variety'.  The bold textured foliage looks great with fine textured plants like grasses as well.

Monarda Grand Marshall™
While it is very dry outside, there are some parts of our landscape that get plenty of moisture.  Water running from our Yard Shoppe display area filters into the garden that has Grand Marshall™.  This keeps this area well watered without having to put the labor into hand watering it.  When designing this garden, it was my intent on putting things there that I don't have enough water for in other gardens.  Ligularia, Carex elata 'Aurea', and various Astilbe have done well here.

Hopefully the next week we'll have some refreshing temperatures out there.  Right now it seems like a dream.  Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Heat is On

Hello again,
What a difficult summer we are having. I always argue for the Midwest, saying that we have four seasons and that is why it is better to live in Illinois than in Florida.  Having Winter, makes us appreciate Spring and Fall all the more.  Not having a Spring though, like this year, sure makes this area much less appealing. We went straight from winter to summer this year and left out the part of the year where most of the rain comes.  I've asked you to dance, and we got a little rain today, but not enough.  Even with the extreme heat and lack of water, plants are still looking good.  Our landscape crew at Midwest has been working very hard to keep things looking nice.  Areas of the garden that we never usually water have needed it this year.  So this is a public thank you to Gustavo and Fakundo for taking care of the plants so that I can get decent images of them.  And here they are.

Hydrangea Invincibelle® Spirit
I had a group of students out this week for a tour.  They came from Des Moines area Community College, or DEMACC as they call themselves.  Thanks for making us a part of your road trip touring.  When I asked which of the two they liked better, they chose this one over the Endless Summer® Bella Anna.  The color of flowers is very similar.  Maybe a little darker on the Bella Anna, but the Invincibelle® Spirit as a whole looks like a better plant.

Hydrangea Incrediball®
This is the best this plant has ever looked in our garden. I've seen the mother plant at Spring Meadow and it was very impressive.  I've come to the conclusion this year that Hydrangea arborescens needs three years in the ground to reach their potential.  The added watering that we've needed to do this year has potentially helped them get larger and a little stronger.  The plant itself is still only 3' tall but some of the flowers are nearly a foot wide themselves.

Aesculus parviflora
This is my annual posting of Bottlebrush Buckeye.  I fall more and more in love with it every year.  This hedge was intended as a production hedge where we'd take cuttings every year for propagation.  Well, the nursery manager that asked me to plant it, left a year later and they have left the plants to grow large and beautiful.  Six years in the ground, the plants are 6' x 6' wide and flowering like crazy.  These have not gotten any supplemental watering, so they are proving drought tolerant as well.  The ones in more shade are about a week behind in flowering, but these in full sun look great right now.
Asclepias incarnata
A couple quick pictures of some milkweed here.  I am fascinated by the flowers on these.  A. incarnata is one of my favorite plants.  Monday, I had a good friend in here telling me that she loves to read the blog and hear me say over and over again, "this is my favorite".  So here's to you Brenda!  I like it mostly because it photographs so well.  But also because its genera is the host to the monarch caterpillar.  Insects of many backgrounds flock to this plant to take a sip of its sweet nectar.

Asclepias syriaca
Larger flowers form on this species.  This is the common milkweed plant that you are most likely to see on the roadsides.  It does seed around quite freely.  The biggest threat to this plant though is mowing.  Roadside ditches with this plant in it should be left alone after the beginning of June.  Monarchs are in danger of lower numbers year after year, and if we mow down the plants they require for nourishment, we lose their habitat.  Furthermore, these plants most likely have larvae already on them when we mow, essentially killing one of our continents iconic migratory animals.
Piet Oudolf Garden
It's been a little while since I've posted a picture of this garden.  It is looking quite nice today.  The Echinacea are beginning to bloom all around the garden which really adds a lot of color.  In this picture, Amsonia hubrichtii is beginning to show it's fall color in June per usual. The fine texture of the Narrow-Leaved Bluestar and the Coneflowers mixed looks great.  The garden overall, is looking the best I've seen in many years.  I'm very happy we had Piet out here last year to take a look.  This morning, we had a discussion about removing some plants from the garden.  The targeted plant is the Eryngium yuccifolium.  I love Rattlesnake Master, but it is officially becoming a beast in the garden.  It could be the most difficult of the weeds we've had to remove, but we're going to give it a try.

As I've been typing away, the rain has continued to come down gently.  I want to treat it like I'd treat my young nieces and nephews and say that it can't possibly rain any more.  These clouds are not strong enough to persist through the day.  I just don't believe that they can do it.  Come on reverse psychology!  I hope this rain reaches all of us that need it desperately.  I'm going to continue with the rain dance.  We need as much as these clouds are willing to give.  Hopefully the next few days this will continue and resaturate the ground.  Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Drought Tolerant Plants

Hello again,
We caught a glimpse of wetness coming from the sky yesterday.  It lasted a whole minute!  On Saturday of last week, we received less than an inch, but it's better than nothing.  As dry as we are in the Chicagoland area, some plant are thriving and looking great.  Most of what looks the best are native the region as well. Below are some of the best for the worst of droughts.
Dalea purpurea
I've always been a fan of Purple Prairie Clover.  My only problems have been in the years that we have wet springs. Last year, this wasn't the nicest plant in the garden.  This year, all Dalea are looking quite spectacular.  The white species, D. candida are also blooming their little hearts out.  The only other thing to note on this plant is that rabbits adore it.  So mixing it with plants like Allium and Calamintha are good ways to keep the rabbits off of it.  And they are both drought tolerant making them nice companions in the garden.
Asclepias tuberosa
Butterfly weed thrives on drought.  This is one of those plants where you want to make sure you have the best drainage possible to ensure livability.  I see these growing in Michigan frequently where the soil is mostly sand.  Asclepias in general are the host plant for monarch butterflies, so this type of plant is one that is necessary for your butterfly garden.
Ruellia humilis
Wild Petunia is late to leaf out. These usually emerge in mid to late May.  This year I started to see them in the first week of May.  This plant does reseed profusely and can even move its way into the lawn.  For me, I like that it has become the Violet for the sun in our lawn.  Others may not like it as much as I.  In some of our gardens, it climbs the stems of other perennials and blooms atop them.  This is especially effective with the Liatris aspera.
Allium senescens var glaucum with Stachys minima and Mazus reptans
This is the perfect combination for the trendy fairy gardens.  All plants in this combo are less than a foot tall and contrast very well with one another.  The pink flowers of the Stachys have been here for a couple weeks already and if the cool air persists, it could last for a couple more.  The Allium have yet to bloom but will be soon offering up tasty nectar to Painted Lady Butterflies everywhere.  The Mazus blooms earlier in spring and sometimes re-blooms in fall.

I hope everyone is still staying busy and able to keep all their plants watered.  We still are desperate for rain around here.  It's gotta come soon right?  Until next time, I hope you have a great day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Generation Flower Carpet® Roses

Happy June everyone,
If only we could get some rain, this month would be great. Without it, gardens that I used to never water are thirstier than I ever remember seeing them.  It's dry out here in St Charles.  The river is down. My favorite lake, Nelson Lake, is looking quite shallow as I can see fish swimming from my view on the observation deck. The season started so early this year, and the drought and heat seem to be following.  I won't claim to know how low the water table is, but I would imagine it's below where it should be for mid June.  A lot of the roses peaked out at the end of May, but one group seems to be flourishing.  That is the Flower Carpet®.  Having been bred for the Australian heat, these plants have proven worthy of their drought tolerant status.
Flower Carpet® Amber
One of those unique colors that looks hot this time of the year.  As you can see in the photo, the flowers go from amber to light pink.   Amber has grown to 28" tall in the landscape and 40" wide.  En masse they are stunning.  Combining this variety with Vernonica 'Hocus Pocus' would make a stunning combination.

Flower Carpet® Pink Supreme
This is the improved version of the older Flower Carpet® Pink.  When I first saw this plant, I thought it was nearly the same.  Then I saw it perform.  While the old Pink was a great plant, this one is better.  The foliage stays super clean all season long while the older pink can sometimes look a little poor.  Flowering seems to be stronger as well.  I would like to see this with Achillea 'Moonshine' for contrast in color and flower shape.  The two could have a drought tolerant friendship.
Flower Carpet® Scarlet
I've liked this plant for some time.  When I look around the landscape, and especially when I first started doing the landscape here, it is planted frequently.  I first planted it with Solidago 'Fireworks', and created a combination that Ray Kroc would be thrilled with.  The combination of mustard and ketchup colors was fascinating to me.  Now, I think I would look for something like Calamintha nepeta ssp nepeta, to offset the orange-red color of this plant.

Staying short and sweet this week.  Let's start doing a rain dance everyone.  We need it desperately in these parts.  Until next time, have a great day and Happy Rose Month!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June is National Rose Month

Hello again,
June is National Rose Month, so naturally, we finally replanted our rose garden near our retail center.  David Austin, Easy Elegance, Knock Out, Flower Carpet, Home Run roses and more were planted there this week.  Today I'll highlight the Easy Elegance®.
Easy Elegance® Yellow Submarine
For many years we've been looking for the best yellow rose.  For the longest time, I stood by Carefree Sunshine™ as the best, but I have since changed my mind to this one.  The foliage stays very clean and the flowers hold their color for a long time before fading to a cream color.  These will grow to 3' tall and wide and look stunning mixed with Salvia 'May Night'.

Easy Elegance® My Girl
My Girl is one of the more fragrant of the series.  Foliage remains very attractive even after the invasion of Japanese Beetles. Flowers are on the pink side, though this picture shows a lot of red.  It is a different color than the "knock out red" that has become the trend in rose varieties.  Yellow stamens really show off the pink color. 
Salvia sclarea 'Vatican White'
This is one of those plants that never ceases to amaze me.  Every year it blooms, it has the incredibly white, large blooms that soar over very large foliage.  Foliage is interesting when the plant is not in bloom, and it does have reddish-purple stems which are always a favorite of mine.  This was a trial plant of ours from many years ago, and it still performs.  It has moved around a little via seed, but the plants are pretty easy to pull. 
Geranium 'Rozanne'
My favorite plant.  Those of you that have been on tours with me, have probably heard me say that about many a plant as I walk around the gardens.  I have many favorites, I suppose.  But 'Rozanne' is my absolute favorite.  She blooms from now until frost.  During the hottest times of the summer, it doesn't bloom as heavy, but otherwise it most always looks great. Rambling to 24" tall and 36" wide, it can also "climb" on top of other perennials to make them look good when not in bloom.

Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem'
I usually have only photographed this plant when first leafing out.  That is my favorite time for this plant.  However, I've been asked several times about the picture on top of the blog currently, and how does it look later in the season.  This is the bloom time for 'Sem', and in bloom it looks great.  Still some newer foliage that has the oranges and reds with the green are present with the white flowers.  This plant can sucker a little, and form a colony of fern-like foliage.  In 6 years, it has grown 6' tall and 10' wide after suckering.

Thanks again for reading the blog, and until next time have a great day!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Natives, Perennials, and Shrubs, oh my

Hello again,
I've got a lot of topics to go over today, so I'll jump right into the plants.

Angelica atropurpurea
One of my favorite all time natives is this giant of a plant.  If you've read the blog before, you know I love stems.  And who wouldn't notice intensely purple stems on a 6' perennial.  Like something out of outer space, these plants will multiply in the garden.  Their preference is to be in a moist location, and I would imagine they would move around a bit more if it was wet.  These have been here for a long time.  Before I worked here, I remember seeing three plants.  You can see in this photo, they've spread a little.  Maybe not for the homeowner, but on a large site, quite the plant.
Prairie Garden
This was my attempt at a "Structured prairie" from a couple years ago.  Maybe not completely structured anymore, the garden has filled in, and I personally like it.  Parthenium integrifolium is starting to bloom and the Eryngium yuccifolium and Liatris spicata, all compliment each other well. In front is Sporobolus heterolepis which was planted like a grassy hedge in front of the prairie, "containing" the natives from creeping into the groundcovers which I am standing in while taking this image. This is two years after planting plugs.
Aruncus 'Misty Lace'
This plant has really garnered the attention of those who walk on perennial island.  Even before it bloomed, it looked great.  In full bloom, plants are only three foot tall and as wide.  I have them planted in morning sun and afternoon shade, with minimal moisture and they have far exceeded my expectations. I am a plant geek and like almost all plants, but I'm thoroughly smitten with this variety.  Allan Armitage bred this to perfection.  The key question for this plant is, how much would you pay?  It is costly, so they would have a higher price tag than most other perennials.  Worth it?
Penstemon  'Dark Towers'
This is another plant that I continue to enjoy in the garden.  Dark purple foliage and pink flowers.  I have trialed several varieties of Penstemon in the garden and so far, this is the best.  Others have been sturdy, but not as much color as this.  There are others yet, with outstanding color but bad form.  These plants only get 3' tall and around 4' wide in our landscape.  Leucanthemum 'Daisy May' is planted in front of it and makes a nice lower companion.

Cotinus Golden Spirit
Moving on to some shrubs.  Last year was the first year I had seen smoke on the Golden Spirit smokebush.  We had pruned the plants back to the ground in previous years to encourage larger foliage.  We haven't the past two years, and the plants still look excellent.  This is planted next to Sorghastrum nutans 'Indian Steel' whose blue foliage contrasts nicely with the bright yellow.  Fall color later in the season is yellows and oranges and reds.  Quite nice.

Viburnum 'Winterthur'
This is a plant that I have loved for a long time.  Fall colors on this plant are the wine red and persist for a long time. In the old days, we were afraid to grow this plant because some weren't sure it was hardy.  It is.  These have lived in our garden for many years.  I usually post about it in fall, but I found the flowers this year to be striking.  Slowly growing to 6-8' tall and wide, it makes a great specimen plant especially in an area where the fall color will be appreciated.

Clematis 'Ville De Lyon'
I love the opportunity to brag about our growers.  We used to have such a hard time growing Clematis, but our skilled growers have figured it out.  Because I personally am attracted to Clematis, it thrills me that we now carry a large array of them.  'Ville de Lyon' is looking very nice on our trellis after the rains.  Check out our availability on these vines for further options. 

Our tree allee
If you have been here in the recent past, you have probably noticed a change in the entrance.  Where Lindens once stood, now are Taxodium distichum.  After suffering from borers and japanese beetles the past few years, we decided to remove the Tilia and replace.  Our new allee will take some time to develop, but it should be worth it.  I can't wait to see the results ten years down the line.  And not to continue being a salesman, but we have some leftovers from this planting job available for immediate pick up if you are interested! 

Thanks once again for taking the time to read.  I hope you enjoy, and until next time, have a great day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Piet Oudolf Designed Garden

Hello again,
As promised, some pictures of the Piet Oudolf designed garden.  It was completely my pleasure to come in before we opened, when nobody is around and shoot some pictures of this garden. Without further ado, here are some of the best sights to be seen.
Monarda bradburiana
Taking the world by storm, is this great native plant to the Ozarks.  Missouri Botanical Garden has promoted this plant extensively, followed closely by Roy Diblik.  I have had it in the garden here for several years, and only in the last part of November did I ever see any mildew.  The spotted flowers bloom earlier than other Monarda.  I have yet to see them reseed in the landscape, but I'm sure it's possible.  I just wouldn't worry about it taking over like Monarda fistulosa can.  These only stand 12" tall and spread a little further than that.
It also combines well with other plants. Panicum 'Northwind' is in the foreground, with Sporobolus heterolepis, or Prairie Dropseed, behind it.  The purple blooms to the back left are from Salvia 'Wesuwe'.  The combination of the Salvia and Monarda is stunning.  With all the new plantings from last fall, we have watered a lot more than normal this year.  The ground is really dry around here, and I assume it is around you as well if you are in this general vicinity.  In the front right of this picture is Allium atropurpureum which is very interesting as well. A few remain from the original planting, and they seem to move around.
If you are having a spring baby, and you aren't sure if it's a boy or girl, you can plant Amsonia x 'Blue Ice' with Scabiosa 'Pink Mist' and it will cover the baby pink and blue colors.  Scabiosa is new to the garden.  I honestly didn't expect it to come back as nice as it has.  This section used to have a large "blob" of Amsonia 'Blue Ice' and Piet didn't like it, so we broke it up with the Scabiosa and yet to bloom Gillenia trifoliata.  The older Gillenia are in bloom however, and are quite the interesting flower.

Zizia aurea, Tradescantia 'Concord Grape', and Salvia 'Pink Friesland'
This was one of my bigger fears when planting in the garden. I've tried so long to eradicate the Spiderwort from the landscape, but to no avail.  Then Piet came and saw how nice it looked with the Zizia, so we planted more of it.  The Salvia nearby was a nice addition to the combo.  The combination of the two natives though, is how this combo became so stellar.  Minimal maintenance is needed except for possibly pruning the Tradescantia back after blooming.
Coreopsis 'Golden Showers' and Salvia 'Rhapsody in Blue'
The combination of the fine textured foliage of the Coreopsis and the purple flowers of the 'Rhapsody in Blue' is quite effective.  The Salvia have reseeded around a little bit and we've seen many plants in pink and different shades of purple.  It's very interesting.  We've chosen 'Golden Showers' because it is a very reliable variety that I have yet to lose in the landscape.  'Moonbeam', 'Creme Brulee', and some others have not done so well.  But 'Zagreb' and 'Golden Showers' are the real deal. 
As the season progresses, I'll continue to highlight this garden from time to time.  It's to the point, where it looks different every week.  Something new comes into bloom, and something old goes away.  Every year a new seedling comes in and sparks our interest as well.  Thanks again for reading, and until next time, have a great day!

Friday, May 18, 2012

May Flowers

Hello again,
It is quite busy around Midwest these days. I hope it's the same for you.  And if it is, chances are you don't have much time to read much of this, so I'll go fast.
Sambucus Black Lace™
This is one of my favorite shrubs on the market.  It works incredibly well for those that need a substitute for failing Japanese Maples.  Though in our new zones, we might be able to get away with most Japanese Maples at this time.  The benefit to these is that they have these great flowers that go with it.  They just started blooming earlier this week for us, and I love the contrast of the silvery pink flowers against the dark lacy purple foliage. I've had them in the garden for four years and they are now 4' tall and 6' wide.
Iris sibirica 'Temper Tantrum'
Every year I have to post a picture of this plant.  Every time I see it, it makes me want to stomp my feet.  They are just starting to open up and they are already looking fabulous.  These stand 30" tall and nearly as wide.  My plants are 4-5 years old in the ground.  Though 'Caesar's Brother' is a great plant and the standard in Iris, 'Temper Tantrum' is the loudest one we carry and very worthy of your gardens.
Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow'
If you've ever been to the website, http://www.perennialsinfocus.com/, you've probably seen this plant on one of our pages. I have never been the biggest fan of double flowers but this one just looks amazing. It's hard for me to believe that a flower can do that.  These stand 3' tall and maybe 18" wide, but the plants are very upright.  It seems the color is outstanding on these this year, and all Aquilegia for that matter. Aquilegia alpina and Aquilegia canadensis both look stunning right now in the landscape.
Amsonia x 'Blue Ice'
Maybe you have caught on this year that I like Amsonia.  So here is yet another one that needs attention.  'Blue Ice' is a great early season blooming perennial that also looks good throughout summer.  Known in Europe as Rhazia orientalis, 'Blue Ice' was first named such because it was found in a crop of Amsonia tabernaemontana at White Flower Farm.  Now it is planted highly for many reasons.  I've used it here as a low perennial hedge.  In our garden designed by Piet Oudolf, it is prominently displayed all around the garden, and one of the most commented on plants of the garden when in bloom.  My next posting will be all about the Piet Oudolf designed garden, and I'll show some of his outstanding combinations with it.  Only growing 18" tall in our gardens and a little bit wider than that, it has the best flowering characteristics of all Amsonia.  However, it also has the worst fall color of the Amsonia we sell.  So that is the only drawback that I can think of.

Stay tuned for the next posting of images of the Piet Oudolf garden.  Thanks for taking the time to read, and until next time, have a great day!