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, 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!


  1. Delightful read, stunning pictures. No rain for us here in Toronto, souring temperatures, an unusual breeze making things even more dry than we could even imagine. I hope what rain did fall for you guys refreshed at least, if anything.

  2. I'm sorry you haven't gotten the rain TT. Friday's rain was followed by Sundays extreme wind. In our area, there were gusts over 90mph on Sunday leaving trees and powerlines on the ground. Whoever is in charge of the weather is not happy.

  3. Your pictures look great. I just keep watering, watering, and watering. OH my water bill, but it is worth it. Thanks, Kevin.

  4. Wonderful website, great design and interesting content.


  5. Good luck with the Eryngium. Have Asclepias incarnata which just showed up in my garden one day. I have no idea from where. We have tried digging is out twice so far, and it's back again. Guess it's those deep roots that make them so hardy.

    And Kevin. . . . . how many favorite plants do you have?


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