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, 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!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hello again,
May is rocking right now, and business is good.  Most of the people coming into Midwest Groundcovers appear to be in good moods with optimism for the near future.  The only thing missing right now is time, I've heard a couple times.  Lets hope that at the very least, our industry is in recovery mode, and it will only continue on the upward swing.  Here are the plants looking great this week.

Zizia aurea
I am the fortunate one to give MG's combination of the week in our newsletter this week.  Zizia in general is one of my favorite plants for sentimental reasons.  My mentor Jerry Young passed away when it was in bloom, so I'll forever remember him when I see this flowering.  In my favorite combo, it is combined with Salvia 'Wesuwe' and Allium 'Purple Sensation'.  These grow in our Piet Oudolf designed garden and look excellent there.

 Hosta 'Liberty' and Hosta 'Big Daddy'
 Two of my favorite Hosta are these two. Together, they are planted on the west side of our building which actually gets a good amount of shade because of some crab apples there.  The foliage on the 'Big Daddy' has finally gotten to a large size four years after planting, which comes to my next point. It takes about 5 years for a Hosta to become mature.  Like fine wine, Hostas get better with age, so refrain from dividing them and being the favorite neighbor on the block, and let them mature into beautiful specimen.
 Dianthus 'Firewitch'
Not that it needs any more promotion at this point.  It is the PPA Perennial Plant of the Year for 2006.  It's hard for me to believe that it was that long ago.  Anyway, this is the best performing Dianthus in the garden by far.  The clumps by our shipping department are neglected and just get bigger and bigger every year.  This year, with the cooler temperatures that have stuck around, the colors seem to be more vibrant as well.  In my Dianthus trials, 'Neon Star' was the best, but it was irrigated. 
Salvia 'Pink Friesland', Baptisia 'Prairie Smoke', and Zizia aurea
In the Piet Oudolf garden, these planting have succeeded this year.  This is the first year they've been in the garden. When Piet was here, he really liked the combination of Salvia 'Wesuwe' with  Zizia, and he wanted to try it in pink.  I think that it is a nice combo, and the Baptisia that have been in the garden this whole time look very nice with it as well.

Baptisia Starlite Prairieblues™
I think I post about this plant every year.  I just love it.  Unfortunately, this year we don't have many available.  And at this very moment there are none.  But in the future, we will have beautiful #2 size plants that will be far better than the #1's we've sold in the past.  And this plant is worth every penny to have.  It's a tad smaller than Baptisia australis and blooms earlier.  This year, they are all blooming at about the same time.  In the past, it was always at least a week ahead.  But strange weather this spring had changed everything.
Baptisia Twilite Prairieblues™
The dark purple on this variety always surprises me when it has the color it does this year.  In the warmer springs, er the consistently warm springs, the color turns much lighter.  This year they look great.  And the plants are getting huge.  Like Hosta, Baptisia get bigger and better with age.  I think it's the first time these are the last to bloom.  But it's possible I just didn't take note of that. The mother plant of Twilite Prairieblues™ stands taller than me at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Now, I'm not that tall, so it's not saying a lot, but it's still pretty big.

Thanks again for taking a moment out of your busy day to read the blog.  Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hello again, and happy May!
I decided to peruse the more shady areas of the landscape this week.  To my delight, there were many things looking great. 

Osmunda cinnamomea with Hyacinthoides hispanica
This was an unintentional combination that occured because of the Hyacinthoides naturalizing in the landscape.  The color contrast of the light green fronds of the cinnamon fern with the dark strap-like leaves of Hyacinthoides is great.  But what you can only slightly see in the picture is how they contrast so well with the Heuchera 'Blackout' behind it.  The three plants together make for an attractive combination.
Carex pensylvanica with Hyacinthoides hispanica
This is where the original plantings of  Hyacinthoides began.  Most of the year, the Carex fills this spot out and looks great.  But this time of year, the bulbs are the best.  A lawn-like area is transformed into a bloom festival.   There are concerns in some parts of the country where Spanish Bluebells have become aggressive.  I could see that happening over time.  In an area that is maintained, I think it's worth planting. 
Polygonatum 'Prince Charming'
This is a plant being introduced by Chicagoland Grows, but it was bred by Brent Horvath at Intrinsic Perennials in Hebron, IL.  I've had it in the landscape for a good amount of time now, and it has thrived in two spots.  Both with a lot of shade, like you see in this picture and with partial sun.  The blue-green leaves are stunning all growing season, and now are decorated by white flowers that look like hanging earrings.

Heuchera 'Palace Purple' with Hosta 'Halcyon'
Classic combination of the week here.  Purple and blue look so good together in the shade.  I may have posted this before, but I'm recycling thoughts.  I used to scoff at those who used 'Palace Purple' over some of the other Heuchera.  There is a reason so many Heuchera have come and gone, and this one remains.  It is the best in all my trials.  It always comes back strong, and can even perform in some sun.  Hosta 'Halcyon' is another favorite of mine.  For the smaller sized blue Hosta there is no better in my opinion.  One step further, it is the parent to some of my other favorite Hosta like 'June' and 'First Frost'.  Classic plants can look amazing together, and knowing they are classic can also help you to know that they are qualified performers in even the toughest situations.

Thanks again for taking the time at the blog.  I hope you have enjoyed, and until next time, have a great day,