Archive for the ‘Perennials’ Category

Carol Koesel uses Genista lydia in her garden and provided our readers some great images and information about this little used shrub. For people with sandy soil, this could be a great choice for adding an interesting, colorful spring specimen. Here’s what Carol has to say:

I am not a big fan of “hot” colors in my yard.  I lean toward the cool blues and purples, pale pinks and multiple shades of green, but in the spring and early summer I appreciate pops of yellow to light up darker corners.

I’m also a big fan of woody ornamentals, natives as well as the more unusual genuses.

I think I first encountered Genista in the “High Country Gardens” catalog, or maybe it was in Dirr’s illustrated Hardy Trees and Shrubs, but it was the perfect plant for the shrub border screen in the back yard.  I did find it container grown locally, but have not seen it since.  Perhaps it can be ordered.

Genista lydia is a low growing groundcover that matures to about 1 foot tall and up to 5 feet across, and can be easily shaped or pruned if necessary.  Said to be hardy in zones 6-8 (9), it has done well in my yard for the past 8 years.  It prefers dry, sandy soil and full sun; it detests wet feet.  For two to three weeks in late May to early June it literally vibrates with chrome yellow color.  Otherwise it is a prostrate, small-leaved, dark olive green.

It under plants a Blackhaw viburnum trained to a standard and a Cornelian Cherry dogwood in this border and is backed by ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae, ‘Black Lace’ elderberry and ‘Tiger Eye’ sumac.


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As nobody wanted to “pin the tail on the peony” in last week’s Plant Quiz, I thought we would make it a little easier.  This time the quiz will be to identify all the plants in Linda’s vertical garden exhibit.  This should be a no-brainer, as we are all busy planting most of the stuff featured in the photo…right?

Please enter your answers as a comment.  Try to give the botanical as well as the common name.  To achieve advanced Master Gardener status, you may dazzle us all with the variety and how you use these plants in your garden. Linda and Jennie will be the deciding authorities in case of a dispute.

I snapped this photo at the Master Gardener booth at last Sunday’s annual plant sale at the Expo Center.  Linda was showcasing the association by offering her popular vertical gardening series, ably assisted by Diane.

Vertical Garden on Cedar Backdrop

How many of you have tried planting a vertical garden?  I think Linda would like some feedback.  Maybe you have some photos of your creation you would like to share?

The winner can claim the usual bragging rights!


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I am feeling generous –  it’s a Peony!

For those who haven’t read Linda’s recent article on the peonies in her garden – you should!  These queens of the garden truly deserve a place in everyone’s landscape with their fragrant flowers and beautiful centers.

In my comment/reply, I mentioned we had a few peonies in the demogarden. Well, surprise – we have quite a selection, and all are from Reath’s Nursery in the Upper Peninsula!  Your quiz will be to match the peony to the location in the garden.

Wind Chimes Peony

Age of Gold Peony

White Innocence Peony

Raspberry Sorbet Peony

Prairie Moon Peony

Krinkled White Peony

Early Windflower Peony

(1)   Entry Garden;   (2)   Perennial Garden;   (3)  Sign Garden;

(4)   Children’s Garden;  (5)   Memorial Garden;  (6)   Spruce Garden;

(7)   Native Shrub Garden.

I would suggest printing out the sheet and entering your location answers alongside the photos.  This is an excellent way of brushing up on the plants in our demogarden. Jennie has kindly agreed to mediate any disputes.

To make it a little easier, I have named each variety shown in the above photos. Please post your answers as a Comment, e.g. D2 or B6.  There are the usual trick entries – so don’t be fooled!   As an added bonus, identify the tree peony for Advanced MG status.

The winner(s) will have the usual bragging rights of showing their superior knowledge of the plants in our gardens.


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Linda Welch sent in photos of her tree peony specimens. They are stunning! I posted these in “gallery” style. Click on the first photo and you will be able to view each of these as a large image and you can advance to the next photo by clicking on the arrow. These are definitely worth viewing large!

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I am a large perennial shrub or tree growing to 35 ft, and am a member of the Magnoliales order.  My native habitat stretches from the Southeast, through Pennsylvania and the East Coast and parts of the upper Midwest.  I am often found growing in deep fertile bottom lands, as well as hilly upland areas.  My growth pattern is to form a dense thicket of tall slender trees and often provide an understory component in my preferred habitats.

I have large, simple leaves and the largest edible fruit indigenous to the US.  My leaves cluster symetrically at the ends of my branches.  They are wedge shaped at the base and are alternate and spirally arranged.  Being deciduous, my leaves turn a rusty yellow in the fall.  Otherwise they are wedge shaped at the stem, with a grey rusty underneath and a hairy upper surface.

My flowers are quite unusual, in fact I often resemble a maroon Campanula when in bloom.  They are 1-2″ across, rich red-purple or maroon in color…and are produced in spring from April to May just before the leaves appear.  My flowers are composed of three sepals and six petals, arranged in two tiers and are pendulous.

Pollination is somewhat different for me in that the yeasty smell of my flowers attracts more blowflies, fruitflies, carrion beetles than honey bees.  I am reasonably shade tolerant and my leaves, twigs and branches have a slight disagreeable odor when handled.

My fruit has been described as being showy and the main distinguishing factor in giving me my common name.

Please post your answers as a comment.  The usual bragging rights go to the one with the correct answer.

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(second in the Cutting Back series)



Click Here to See the Current Area Map


Joan Otter and Karen Bender met me at the demo gardens today and we worked through very cool breezes with a spatter of snowflakes, on cleaning up the northeast side groundcover area that they have decided to adopt, and pulling a few dozen clumps of garlic mustard here and there.  We discussed a plan for changes but did not want to disturb the iris/violet combination blooming at its peak just now.  Some of the pink daisy mums were dug to move but more are available for adoption as are the remaining plants listed for removal.

The groundcover areas frame the entrance to the building, so they are very noticeable. They get only morning sun, and due to the overhang, very little rain in summer, so the plants growing there are very drought-tolerant. Still, few survive right next to the building. Another stressor is the salt from the sidewalk and parking lot applications.  Since about 1995, we have removed more than half the old overgrown and badly pruned junipers from the area and tried to keep the remaining ones pruned regularly and well. Since those hardy shrubs thrive, cover ground and provide winter interest, we should hesitate to remove the last few.  Some of the groundcover plants thrive as well, crowding weeds out of their areas and requiring little maintenance. Lately we have tried to let them fill their spots and decrease the higher-maintenance plants.  2011 was the first year we have mulched those beds because our goal was to cover the ground with living groundcovers.  Realistically, it is too dry and difficult an area to do that well, particularly along the building.  Mulched spaces between the remaining groups will conserve water and moisture and avoid the weedy look.

On the other hand, a coarse mulch of wood chips makes some of the groundcovers more difficult to maintain by shearing them back after flowering, which they need badly, so those should be eliminated.  Maintaining some of the perennial groundcovers where tulips and daffodils are planted will help camouflage the bulb foliage as it dies back.

Plants to be removed from this area in 2012: mother-of-thyme, lamb’s ears, blue fescue, silver mint.

Plants to divide and replant in a different spot; dwarf iris and violets, Herman’s Pride false lamium, coralbells, Korean mums.  The Andorra juniper was pruned rigorously and if it doesn’t improve in appearance, it may be removed.

Plants to be added; perhaps the dwarf reblooming yellow iris and ‘Happy Returns’ daylilies from the rain garden; try some “hens and chicks” along the building wall near the container.

Maintenance: Deadhead lungwort and bergenia by May 1. Moved plants are likely to need occasional watering in summer.  More mulch may be needed after plants are removed.


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Wow, do we have a great FotoFriday ths week! We have a series of photos from Mary Ellen showing the progression of a neighborhood garden she designed. Mary Ellen writes:

Experimenting with annuals can be great fun. I test different annuals each year when planting large in-ground or small container designs. Sometimes I begin with the design or pattern, then decide on the annuals. Other times I choose the annuals then figure out the design. The Star Garden, installed in a common space in my neighborhood a few years ago, began with the pattern. Then I chose annuals with varying heights, colors, textures, and long bloom time. In a public space where access to water is limited I try to use heat and drought tolerant plants. For this pattern I used purple salvia, pink geranium, and white wax begonia.

Site preparation and pattern layout

Three weeks after planting

Seven weeks after planting


Linda submitted photos and information about Ixora coccinea (common names – Jungle Geranium, Flame of the Woods, and Jungle Flame). She writes:

This is a flowering plant from Southern India.   It is often seen in Florida used as decorative shrubs and hedges. The leaves are glossy and leathery.  There are many varieties of this plant (about 500) and comes in various colors of yellow, pink and orange.  It’s now in bloom.  I love the clusters of small tubular flowers.  I keep it in my master bathroom where there is bright light and a heated floor.  It does make a great house plant in a container.  It will usually bloom from November and often it continues to bloom until February.  I’ve had it now for about four years and it never has let me down.  It always gives me a boost when everything else is fading.  These’s a bit of maintenance during the flowering time when the individual flowers begin to fall; but it’s well worth it.

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It’s been a rough week. All things technological still hate me, and I’m posting from my husband’s computer since mine is STILL in the shop. To top the week’s bad luck with technology, my brand new Ferrari-like camera finally got delivered – defective. To content myself with some serenity-inspiring photos I went to my husband’s archives. I chose these because they all have a Zen-like quality to me. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

Photo credit Tom Morrison

Photo credit Tom Morrison

Photo credit Tom Morrison



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Linda sends her submissions along with an idea for helping MCMGA painlessly. Linda writes: Foxtail Lilies are a favorite of mine.  Currently I only have yellow.  However I just purchased: Eremurus – Foxtail Lily, Desert Candle- Pink.  I got them from bloomingbulb.com, along with a few others.  This order was one of the best looking set of bulbs  I’ve ever gotten in mail order or from on-line.  The other thing that made me happy is that they shipped from Benton Harbor, Michigan.  To top off everything, Blooming Blub donated 9% of my order to MCMGA thru GoodShop.  A Win-Win for sure! For sure I will be ordering the other colors that were currently out of stock soon.

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We have some lovely autumn pictures this week! Frank submitted a flaming ‘living bouquet’ entitled, “Woodlot scene in Fall Colors”.

Woodlot Scene in Fall Colors

Linda submitted two photos of her sedum. As much as I love sedum, it’s always a little bittersweet for me when they bloom because I know the end of nice weather is upon us.


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