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 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!


  1. Some cool stuff Kevin, I'll have to stop by and see the new Oudolf garden. You are right, the Huechera 'Caramel' colors this spring are fantastic. I have a question though, how much sun can 'Caramel' take?

  2. Hey Richard,
    I've got 'Caramel' in morning sun until mid-day in the picture shown. At home, I have it in full sun, and it does decent, but not as ideal as the other locations. I've never seen it burn like some of the yellow ones will, but it's not flourishing either.


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