Saturday, October 15, 2011

Garden Writers Workshop

I was lucky enough to be invited to the fifth annual Garden Writers Workshop at Midwest Groundcovers located in St. Charles, Illinois  They are an industry leader in the propagation, growing and wholesale distribution of nursery stock and deliver all over the Midwest.

It was a beautiful day and we began with a presentation on native plants and how important they are to our environment.  We saw how a formal garden can easily incorporate natives without looking unkempt or wild.

Another presentation was on Butterfly Habitats and no matter how much we thought we knew about butterflies we learned much more!

As we walked out on the patio to begin our tour of the gardens this field of grass greeted us.  I was so impressed by the glory of it I didn't ask the variety of this grass in the distance. 

Sunjoy Gold Pillar Barberry
Our guide loved this variety because it contains all of the fall colors.

Sporobolus heterolepis Tara
More upright than Prairie Dropseed

Blue Heaven Little Bluestem

I know many of us have read Piet Oudolf's books and seen photos of his gardens.  But, I have to tell you that after reading his design book over and over it all came to life and understanding when we walked over to see his gardens.

If one has learned anything from studying the Piet Oudolf gardens is that you cannot look at them and see a patterned or programmed design.  However, there is repetition but it is so subtle it looks like this garden occurred naturally.

We are seeing this garden in the fall, not at its peak but always interesting.  Piet came in this year and decided which plants should be removed and replaced with more appropriate varieties.  I loved this because don't we all do this when something is not working.  He is big on getting rid of plantings which become invasive.

Calamagrastis brachytricha
This is a feather reed grass like Karl Foerster, will tolerate some shade.  This grass is repeated in the background of the Piet Oudolf garden

Aster October Skies

Calamintha nepeta

Amsonia Hubrichtii

As we walked over to the island area the blazing red of the sumac caught my eye.  I had not seen this variety before.

Rhus Prairie Flame

Viburnum  Redwing

Aronia Iroquois Beauty

We walked on to a large stretch of hydrangeas with their fall color and characteristics on display.  I must say that the Limelight Hydrangea was the most beautiful and pleasing

This Limelight Hydrangea which has been out in an open field is much more tan than mine.

This grass was introduced to us as Miscanthus Little Kitten, but I wonder if it isn't Adagio, seemed much too big to be Little Kitten.  Oh well I guess I will find out because I have Little Kitten in my front garden!

Sedum Jaws

Sedum Mr. Goodbud

Viburnum Nudum

Molina Poul Pederson
Molina grasses are often overlooked as being too sparse but they are wonderful grasses to plant as "see through" grasses that add a floating feeling to the garden.

A beautiful planting of Rozanne Geranium

This is Allium Summer Peekaboo which will be introduced in 2014.  You are not seeing the flower at this time of year but you can see how compact it is and blooms later than many other alliums.

This is a Veronia that has no immediate plans for introduction because it is so slow to propogate.

These were our gifts as we left, Panicum Northwind, Maidenhair Fern and Anemone .

It was a wonderful day, wonderful tours, presentations, lunch and a great appreciation for garden writers and bloggers.  It was such fun to meet some of the Chicago area writers whom I had only known by name.

Thanks Midwest Groundcovers!

***Header is Prairie Dropseed