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, March 30, 2012

Plants that make you Double Take™

Hello again,
I've long disliked the genus Chaenomeles, or Flowering Quince. I never mastered the pronunciation of the genus and never liked the color of the flowers. Even more, I didn't like the fact that they were free of leaves during the summer. It seems as though things are about to change. While perusing the nursery in Virgil on Tuesday, I was stunned by the profusion of flowers tightly gripping the stems of this new brand of Quince. Double Take™ Quince made me do just what the name says. And the brand makes it easier for me to pronounce, which I like as well. Here are the three varieties that we carry.
Double Take™ Orange Storm was the first that made me look. Blooms covered the plant from top to bottom. The color is very eye catching even at the time of year when all blooms are engaging. In speaking with Gary Knosher, the President of Midwest Groundcovers, he mentioned that they didn't loose their leaves last year which is a special bonus.

Double Take™ Scarlet Storm
This was my favorite of all the blooming plants in the nursery. These plants were covered with blooms once again. Fully opened on young and old plants, this one looks like a real winner. I can't think of anything at this very moment that blooms with such brilliant red color at this time of year other than Tulips. It would be stunning to pair this plant with a Forsythia Show Off™ for early spring color. The fiery combination would surely attract visitors as they are both superb plants.

Double Take™ Pink Storm
I really like it when new breeding leads me to a genus that I would have stuck my nose up at in the past. Proven Winners® Colorchoice™ Shrubs has done just that with these three Chaenomeles. This is closest to the color I remember from past Quince. There were only a few blooms on this plant, so if you want to extend the bloom season of Quince, you can plant this one with one of the others.

Forsythia Show Off™
This has been such an early year for Forsythia, and while most are bloomed out, this one is still hanging on. The picture was taken on March 19th, way before they normally bloom, and it was by far the nicest Forsythia in the ground that I saw. The Landscape Design Association visited us on the 22nd, and many took note of how nice this plant looked. I heard from the group, "I don't like Forsythia, but that could change my mind." We gave a couple away to the audience, so hopefully people will remain interested.

As spring continues to fly by, we should all take a second to realize we may not ever see Pears and Redbuds blooming at the same time again. Serviceberries and Forsythia and Chaenomeles all in bloom at the same time. While it is definately shortening the flowering woody season, I have to remember what a non-industry person said to me last week. Crabapples were in full bud in front of her office, with Amelanchier, Pyrus, and Cercis canadensis in full bloom. She was a lady in her late 60's, and she couldn't understand why it worried me. She said, it's so beautiful Kevin. Why can't you just see that and take it for what it's worth. Someone telling me to stop and smell the roses!?! Wow. She's right. It's amazing. Soak it in. Until next time, have a great day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maintaining the Piet Oudolf Garden

Hello again,
It's been a while, and I apologize for the lengthy time in between posts. I hope everyone is getting geared up for a terrific spring. Here at Midwest Groundcovers we are getting ready for what we hope will be a great year! In the process, the garden is getting prepared for growth. We are attempting a new game plan for cutting down this garden. It has been quite the journey in making this garden a quicker maintenance project. In the first years, the project would take a full two days to hand cut the entire garden. We did that for a several years. It just wasn't efficient enough. Three years ago, we decided to try a new avenue. We started using a weed whip to cut the plants down. This took a two day project and cut it down to half a day. In the process, we'd take the native plants we cut down and move them to the prairie in the front of our facility to help with the burn. We didn't take all the plants, because we didn't want to spread the seeds of non-native plants in our prairie. Native plants were welcome.

We started phase three of our history in this garden last week. Roy Diblik has started to use this technique on his jobs, and has also implemented it at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park in Chicago. The theory behind mowing this garden is that herbaceous plants naturally grow amongst their own debris.

Therefore using a mulching mower to chop up the plants and leave them on top creates a natural mulch for them. We first removed some of the species I had concerns with reseeding about. This was mostly Eryngium yuccifolium, or Rattlesnake Master and Aster 'October Skies'. These plants were removed before mowing to keep them from moving around. This process took a half day project down to one hour. Now that is efficiency! As long as the ground is frozen or dry, this looks to be a great new maintenance program for this garden. Until next time, I hope you have a great day!