Baptisia 'Twilight Prairieblues'

bap twilight_prairiebluesLet's get back to our agricultural roots!

In the 18th century, Baptisia or False Indigo was one of the first United States exported crops. Baptisia australis continues to be a steller performer in the United States, and was marked by the Perennial Plant Association as the Perennial Plant of the Year in 2010. Baptisia is suitable for a large range of locations, planting environments, as well as its low maintenance requirements, and multi-seasonal beauty.

Baptisia 'Twilite Prairieblues' is a cross between B. australis and B. sphaerocarpa. 'Twilite Prairieblues' is one of the recent introductions from the Chicagoland Grows program from the Chicago Botanic Gardens: "An innovative plant introduction program developed to promote the use of new plant cultivars that are well adapted to the growing conditions of the Upper Midwest. While regional in focus, the program's plants can be grown successfully in all zone appropriate regions of North America, Europe, and the world."


Heuchera 'Circus'

heu circus"Come one come all to the greatest show on earth!"

There is a new circus in town! Leading the way, is Heuchera 'Circus'. 'Circus' is a villosa type that's circling the show ring with 'Caramel', 'Mocha', 'Pistache', 'Tiramisu', and many others.

What's a villosa type you ask?

Villosa types are bred with another type of Heuchera that are more adaptable to heat and humid conditions. These are types that are more robust. They can take sun to shade, and a variety of soil types and conditions. They are native to the south eastern areas of the United States. It's been my experience that they do not like to be in dry conditions before they are well established.


Tiarella cordifolia

tia brandywineFrom Mississippi to Nova Scotia, and Minnesota to Maine, Tiarella cordifolia has a very large native range in North America. This makes Tiarella very adaptable, and it's hardy from Zones 3-8. Now that's a wow factor. Right now, our benches are brimming with excellent cultivars of Tiarella cordifolia.

I'd like to highlight "The River Series" bred by our friend, Sinclair Adams. These runner types were named after Eastern Pennsylvania's rivers, 'Susquehanna', 'Lehigh', 'Delaware', 'Octoraro', and the 'Brandywine'. Sinclair says,"In using native names for these fine native plants,we hope these river choices increase public awareness about regional and global water concerns."

Another excellent running type of Tiarella that we offer is 'Running Tapestry'. Some of the clump forming cultivars are 'Oakleaf', 'Dark Star', and wherryi. Each of these cultivars have a unique foliage pattern and interesting dark veins.


Astilbes, A Genus of Luster

ast bonnGeorge Arends had passion. So much so, he spent his life breeding Astilbes, Bergenia, Sedum, Phlox, and Campanula. He lived from 1862-1952, and was originally from Ronsdorf, Germany. Arends took Astilbes (translated in Latin, "lacks luster"), and showed the world one big Genus of luster.

This year, we are highlighting the variety 'Bonn'. Astilbe 'Bonn' grows 2 to 4 feet tall, and produces hot pink- some say carmine pink blooms. Its bold green foliage is great for a groundcover. They also may be used for dried flowers, or for tucking them into the Christmas tree for natural ornaments.

So many Astilbes are named after a major city in Germany ('Deutschland'). German towns, 'Koblenz, and 'Bremen' are excellent varieties. Add some music like 'Irrlicht' from Franz Schubert's 'Winterreise', or the contemporary version from Klaus Schulze. Add wonderful people like 'Hennie Graafland', who was a very hard worker from the nursery where the Astilbe 'Vision' series was bred.



dic goldheartAlthough Dicentra doesn't sound quite as romantic as Bleeding Heart, this genus contains some of our most romantic shade flowers. This is not a short term relationship! Once established, Dicentras can stick around for generations. You may have even seen them in your grandparent's garden. It's an old standby for a hardy and beautiful shade perennial.

Between their longevity, and the fact that they can survive happily in Zones 3-8, chances are that you've seen Dicentra before. In the spring, they can be hard to miss with their flower forming a perfect heart, and a single drop falling from the bottom. Almost every garden has a section of shade or woodland, with evenly moist soil and good air flow that allows Dicentra to thrive.

The genus Dicentra is divided into two main groups - spectabilis, and eximia. The spectabilis (latin for 'showy') are the most common in the garden and the one that you probably picture when you hear 'bleeding heart'. Native to eastern Asia, spectabilis is a bigger plant. Despite it's Asian origins, it has been much loved and planted in western gardens since the 1840's.


Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'

RUD Goldsturm 0001It's nothing to strum about a storm! Not a guitar. A golden storm of Black-eyed Susan blooms!

Rudbeckia is an honor to grow. Linnaeus, who named so many of our plants, had a teacher named Olaf Rudbeck. As Linnaeus was finding this native golden blooming prairie plant, something sparked him to name this genus Rudbeckia, in honor of his teacher. No doubt it was because of the beauty, depth, and diversity of the genus.

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' was found in 1937 by Heinrich Hagemann, at Gebrueder Schuetz's Nursery in the Czech Republic. Traveling the Atlantic to Europe, through two World Wars, it has stood the test of time. 'Goldsturm' was named the Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association in 1999. This Rudbeckia came to the U.S. in 1949, and was named 'Goldsturm', meaning gold storm in German. For decades now, it's hands down one of the most used massed planting perennials.