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, April 27, 2012

Piet Oudolf Garden additions and Physocarpus

Hello again,
This week, the Piet Oudolf garden is starting to look great.  It almost always looks good, but it's starting to really come to life, I should say.  New combinations installed last year are some of the highlights of today's blog.
Anemone sylvestris with Nepeta 'Early Bird'
It makes me laugh sometimes to think that I used to not like either plant in this photo. Maybe it's the sum of all parts that make it look great.  But these two look spectacular together.  The Anemone really brighten up the garden nicely. And the Nepeta are becoming a fine addition to the edges of the garden where I had difficulty growing things before.

Monarda bradburyana and Nepeta 'Early Bird'
Who would've thought Nepeta would make it twice in a row. Piet matched these up very well.  That man continues to impress me.  I go back to a conversation with Roy Diblik about Nepeta in which he told me that "It just works well in the landscape.  You can always rely on it to look good when you go back to check on the job site.  The Monarda pictured should be in bloom next week, if it ever warms back up. Their dark, reddish foliage mixes really well with the purple flowers.

Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia
I love the Amsonia genera, and this one could be my favorite.  For today, it is.  I love the contrasting dark stems, with the light green foliage.  Blue flowers are just a bonus.  We originally had planted red species tulips at the base of the plant, but they have mostly disappeared since planting.  When they were there, the red flowers also contrasted nicely with the dark stems.  These will grow 3' tall and as wide.  I would mix it with an Echinacea cultivar with orange flowers for later season interest.
Physocarpus Summer Wine®
At the employee entrance to our building, I planted these Summer Wine® four years ago.  They have begun to really occupy the area well.  The bottom right corner of the picture is Cotoneaster apiculatus which has textural contrast.  Without irrigation, they have thrived here.  Flowers are a week or so away.  These plants, four years later, are about 6' tall and wide.  They make great substitutes for Prunus x cistena.
Physocarpus Coppertina™
A little lighter in color than the aforementioned Summer Wine®, Coppertina™ has copper tones, mostly in its newer foliage.  Later in the season, it will take on a much more purplish cast.  It always appears a little lighter than the Sambucus Black Lace™. The two varieties mentioned seem to be fairly resistant to the powdery mildew this plant sometimes gets.  At the very least, they prove to be resistant in a dryer landscape.  Neither plant is subjected to large amounts of irrigation and do very well.

Thanks again for reading.  Until next time, have a great day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Busy April

Hello again,
You know it's April, when I have only three plants for the week.  We have been busy as I hope everyone else is.  Plants are looking great, but they are getting scared of low temperatures that are threatening us tonight. At Midwest Groundcovers we have a new product line of Culinary Herbs that we call Cottage Fresh Herbs, and they are going inside for the night.  They do look great, and being a fan of Basil, I've purchased a couple that I've been snacking on.
Tiarella 'Elizabeth Oliver'
This beauty is doing very well in our shade gardens.  I have it mixed with Asarum canadense in one spot and Dicentra spectabilis pokes its blooms out in the other garden.  The flowers are great, but I mostly want to show the great foliage which lasts all growing season.  These are flourishing under crabapples with old roots, so drought tolerance is one of the major benefits to this plant.  I highly recommend it.  And we actually carry it in #1 size plants and Quarts.
Geum 'Mai Tai'
Last week I mentioned a plant in combination with 'Mai Tai'.  I wanted to show the actual plant this time.  This is such a beauty.  Brent Horvath from Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in Hebron, IL developed this plant, and I think it's got a lot of potential.  Nepeta 'Early Bird' would be a very nice blue flowering perennial to combine with it.  I have them growing on the hillside in full sun along with it's sister 'Tequila Sunrise'.  Both plants are visually stimulating.

Polemonium reptans
One of my favorite woodland natives is Polemonium reptans. I've also learned fellow Midwest Groundcover employee, Trish Beckjord loves this plant as wel.  It grows well in a lot of shade, but I also have it planted in some sun.  It has become a favorite mix of mine, where I planted this, Aster divaricatus, and Brunnera 'Jack Frost' all together.  They are looking stellar right now under our Crabapple. 

Happy Spring everyone.  I hope you are all having a great April.  Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Gems in the Garden

Hello again,
This week we have lots of new plants looking great. The cool temperatures of our normal spring are back and slowing down the process. Night time frosts have been scary at the nursery, but for the most part, we've been able to protect what's needed protection and our plants still look great. In the landscape, a couple things have declined due to the frost, but 99% of everything looks better than last year.
Thermopsis 'Sophia'
I had promised someone last week that I would talk about this plant, and then I got excited about all the others instead. Oops. This one deserves our attention though. In the same family as Baptisia, this looks great in our landscape. An evaluation group I'm a part of, called Perennials in Focus, has been buzzing about this plant in our yards. Everyone loves it. Some have it mixed in combination with Geum 'Mai Tai', and it looks very nice. 'Sophia' grows 20" tall and 30" wide in my garden. This picture was taken on the 6th of April and it still looks great.
Syringa vulgaris 'Prairie Petite'
I've had this plant in the landscape for a long time now. I always describe it as the landscape meatball for the meatball lovers. These have never been pruned, yet they keep a very compact pruned-like look. On one hand, the size and mildew resistance are fantastic for a common lilac. In 7 years in the landscape, I've never seen mildew on it actually. They are 40" tall and about as wide. My only problem with this plant is that the flowers barely reach above the foliage when in bloom. Is this a problem designers and architects? If you feel it's not a problem and you want us to grow it, let us know.
Sorbiria sorbifolia 'Sem'A returning member of the blog, one of my favorite shrubs is 'Sem'. This plant is 6 years old and 4 and 1/2' tall. The spread is about 6' wide with some suckering. What's not to like about the new growth on this plant though. White flowers will come later in the season, but the highlight is now when the new growth makes people sprain their necks double taking. In this instance, this plant is grown in full sun and very dry conditions. Last year was a wet one, and for the first time, I started to see suckering, encouraging me to recommend it for dry sites.
Kolkwitzia Dream Catcher™ I've begun to really like this plant over the years. Our plants are growing in the shade of a State Street™ Maple and have retained their color well. At this time, the plants reach about 4' tall and then create the illusion of Dr. Seuss's The Grinch's fingers as they extend to the woods. New growth displaying an orangish-red cast. For the shady area, it really gives a nice color to brighten up this spot.

Veronica whitleyi and Sedum sexangulare These two plants have learned to play very well together. While at first separate after planting, they now create an effect of spilled water over moss. The blue flowers of the Veronica are her for a month or so, and then the Sedum will follow with a display of bright yellow flowers. A nice groundcover combo.
Heuchera villosa 'Caramel'
Always a favorite of mine since I first laid eyes on it. The color throughout the season is great. This year, I think it may be the best I've ever seen. The These plants are 12" tall and nearly 2 feet wide. They are surrounded by Dodecatheon so they should be even more interesting to look at next week.

Nepeta 'Early Bird'
Mark this one as the earliest flowering Nepeta in our catalog. It blooms a couple weeks before 'Blue Wonder' in our gardens. Last year this was an addition to our Piet Oudolf designed garden, and so far I like the effect. We basically used this in areas near the walkways or the roads and they "spill" over the sides. At this point they haven't gotten quite big enough to spill, but they're almost there. Never having been a fan of Nepeta in general, I wasn't sure about this one. But it is starting to become more appealing. Every plant has its place, right? I think this one has found its spot.

Thanks once again for taking the time to read. It has been a nice and busy spring. Attitudes this year have been excellent, and that will lead us into better times. Until next time, I hope you have a great day!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Plants getting Cooler!

Hello again,
In 14 years in this business, I've never seen a spring kick into full gear this fast. It was rapidly approaching the acceleration of a Dodge Viper. And then...we get frost. This should come as no surprise to any of us, as this is quite typical of this time of year. It's just hard to take after weeks of summer like temperatures in March. While the heat may have sped up the flowering times of Amelanchier, Magnolia, and Forsythia, the cool has slowed down the likes of Crabapples and Redbuds. Hopefully we can continue to enjoy their sweet scents for longer than normal.
Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
Jack has become a yearly topic for me on the blog, and it's because I think he's great. For years, we were always concerned about the price tag that gets attached to this plant. Liners are pricey. However, it has proven to be worth every penny. Green foliage, frosted white, with brilliant blue flowers. It likes dry shade but yet can handle some sun if properly watered. In our gardens, I've tried mixing it with Aster divaricatus or now known as Eurybia divaricatus and they behave very well together. They both prefer some shade, and bloom at opposite sides of the growing season which makes it a more lasting combo.
Mazus reptans
This is one of my new favorite groundcovers. It's not "new" by any sense of the imagination, but new to me. We've carried it for many years and I always had trouble keeping it alive. It was at the bottom of a slope, and I believe the moisture run off was killing it. In the pictured area, it is between a rock and a hard place, otherwise known as pavement. It is super dry right here and not the greatest of soil. Yet here it performs excellently. A little frost this morning didn't deter it from having a great day either. This one only grows an inch or two tall, and does most of it's flowering right now. Some sporadic blooms will come later in the season but may not make you ooh and ah. Just a nice mat forming groundcover for those tough areas. Here it is in half day sun and shade.
Dicentra spectabilis
I have a soft spot in my heart for bleeding hearts. This has always been my moms favorite flower. This year, they started to bloom much earlier than normal. But the cold came right after they began so the flowers have stayed. For all the mothers out there, this hearts for you!

Exochorda Snow Day™ Surprise
I have to admit that I don't know a lot about this plant until now. I really like it. It's a very interestingly shaped flower. The shrub grows 3-4' tall and wide. The habit seems to be very rounded, which is an improvement over the straight species. It says in the literature that the plant can grow in full sun to part shade, but our Pearlbush seems to like more sun if available. Branching on this plant leans a little toward the sunny side of the garden. This is currently just a trial for Midwest Groundcovers. If you are interested in us growing this plant, please send a note and ask for it. We love to know the demand.

Thanks again for reading. I hope everyone is enjoying a successful April. Until next time, have a great day!