Friday, May 28, 2010

Hosta 'Fire Island'

As we were preparing our 2011 perennial introduction presentation, Guus Boon, our mail order salesman in Holland noticed a particularly striking Hosta in our Holland nursery and brought it to our attention. Hosta 'Fire Island', has intense yellow leaves with red petioles which extend into the leaf. Breathtaking Hosta when fully mature. One of the best yellow, red stem Hostas out there, according to most Hosta sites. Height is 16 inches with a 28 inch spread. Lavender flowers on 21 inch scape's. Growers if your interested we do have some on our Portland availability, see When something jumps out at a guy that practically lives in perennial fields, imagine how the every day gardener will feel. If any of you out their are familiar with this Hosta please comment on it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Perennial Introductions for Spring 2011

Tomorrow starts the series of new introduction meetings for DeVroomen. Always an exciting time for us because it's starts us onto a new season, with exciting new products and offerings. I can't show you the whole line of course, but here's a sneak peak at a new Dicentra spectabilis, it has dark green leaves with pink/reddish flowers on dark flower stalks. It's called Dicentra 'Valentine', it's a spectabilis so it can get up to 32" tall, I like it. Gardener's look for these at your favorite Garden Center, growers can email me for more information,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wisteria 'Amethyst Falls'

I just had to show you my Wisteria, because it looks so cool and brings back wonderful memories of recent trips to Europe. Seeing all the beautiful Wisteria growing so freely in places like Holland and France, I had to put one in my yard. I purchased a plant in 2009 that was probably 2 to 3 feet tall from my friends (and great customer) Bill and Matt at Hawthorn Gardens. It not only survived the winter but bloomed magnificently and is trailing this fence to where I think it will be 5 or 6 feet across by next year. I would recommend this plant to anyone, but check to make sure the one you pick is hardy in your area.  The second and third photo were taken in Alsace, France. What a magnificent place to visit.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Echinacea 'pica bella'

This particular echinacea has been getting a lot of positive press the last couple of years, with some well respected plant people singing its praises. Well I planted in the garden in summer 2008 from a one gallon, to see what all the hype was. 'Pica bella' has deep pink petals and the flowers are quilled, or rolled up, which gives the flowers a starlike look. Kevin McGowen, from Midwest Groundcovers, is a big fan and likes the contrast of the dark stems on this 30" tall variety. The photos here are a series of shots that really show how long this plant blooms, it started blooming in late June, early July and bloomed all the way to frost. Individual flowers lasted a long time. The top photo was taken July 19, 2009 the middle August 4th and the bottom August 23rd. I was thrilled with the size and length of bloom. Overwintering is not a problem in my zone 5 yard, in fact it is the stongest growing echinacea in the garden today, May 18th, it is appr. 12" tall already. Yes, that's a 'tiki torch' trying to compete behind it. I will let you know how that does this season, it's alive at least.

Check out Midwest Groundcovers' blog moderated by Kevin McGowen, at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tulip 'Foxtrot'

While visiting Nelis' Dutch Village in Holland Michigan two weekends ago, they had planted one of our new introductions for 2010 tulipa 'Foxtrot'. 'Foxtrot' is a double early variety that, as you can see, is beautiful. This bed caught my eye from a distance with its large flower heads and brilliant colors.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Allium 'Purple Sensation'

It's now time for Allium to start popping up all over. My 'purple sensation' are in full bloom, while 'globemaster', 'giganteum', 'christophii' and 'shubertii' (my wife's favorite) still have a week or two to go. When I speak at garden centers I like to point out how allium fill such a void for color in the garden, the spring bloomers are almost all done and the summer blooms have not yet begun. These pictures I took in spring 2008, at Winter Greenhouse in Winter, Wisconsin. They were everywhere! Definitely worth the trip if your going that way, or even if your not.

On Sept. 18, I will be speaking at Shady Acres Nursery in New Berlin WI., and I will be focusing on allium, all of the above mentioned and a whole lot more. If your anywhere near Shady Acres this weekend, check out the leucojum in their gardens, they are huge.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hosta Majesty (Garbe 1999)

Today I wanted to show you how good my Hosta Majesty looks, this plant is 2-3 years old in my garden. I first came to appreciate this plant when the former Salesman and my personal Hosta Guru, Dick Garbe, brought a container (pictured) to a sales meeting a few years ago. Since then it has been the topic of many conversations with growers and internet garden sites. It is very similiar in color to Hosta Liberty, both of which are sports of the popular 'Sagae' variety. Click on the title, it is a link to an interesting Garden Blog with differing opinions about these varieties as to which is the best, I think Majesty might be the favorite.
Let me know your thoughts and opinions, please.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tree Peonies in slight shade

Like I said earlier, the pink and yellow tree peonies would be blooming this week. They are in a slighly more shaded and cooler spot in the yard. I will be showing a layout of my yard at a later date, I have come to realize that I have 3 distinct growing areas within my yard that all react differently through the season. It is interesting how the same plants act differently in each area. Look for that to come soon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tulip Bulbs and their ability, or lack thereof, to perennialise.

Growing media

Culture, hybridization and growing media generally go hand in hand but they do represent different aspects when it comes to the ability to perennialise.

Culture is the consideration of relating today’s current tulip bulbs to the original varieties and where they were discovered. Most of the tulip bulbs available commercially come from Holland, where growers have been cultivating them for hundreds of years, but tulips are not native to this part of the world. So where do tulips grow wild? Turkey is the most common answer, but also the rocky hills and mountains of western and central Asia.

Hybridization is human/natures, modification of species tulips to produce different features, color or size. The tulips in parks and homes today are far removed from their wild ancestors. Each time a plant is hybridized it can remove some of the plants natural vigor or ability to sustain itself. The picture is of Tulip Ice Cream, I've seen these online for as much as $7.00 a bulb retail. Talk about a hybrid. Very cool though.

Growing media is simple to understand. The best way to grow a healthy, thriving plant in cultivation is to find out where it comes from and try and mimic the conditions it grows under in the wild. In a tulips case, the original conditions are a rocky sandy soil. The growing conditions in Holland are ideal for the purpose of cultivating tulips since most of the soil consists of a sandy mixture. Unlike areas of the Midwestern United states where the soil content has a high degree of silt and/or clay, a very non-porous constrictive substrate. This growing media does not allow the bulb to expand, thus as a bulb season progresses and the main bulb reduces in size by as much as 75%, it is restricted from even getting back to it’s original size and shape like nature intended, therefore each year after the first it becomes weaker and weaker. Replacing the media with a more conducive mixture is extremely cost prohibitive and unsustainable.

All three of these factors are solid reasons for reduction in a tulip bulb’s ability to perennialise, yet there are many more factors that work against this in a commercially maintained environment. Taking into consideration that soils can be upset by weed prevention, plant replacement, utility workers, domesticated as well as wild animals. A Contractors or homeowners ability to maintain an attractive and acceptable perennial bulb display is extremely difficult.

For more information on Species Tulips see me on Sept. 4, 2010 at Northwind Perennials in Burlington Wisc. where I will be giving a presentation on them.

Thank You.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Honoring Maggie Daley with Tulipa 'Maggie Daley

DeVroomen had the honor of naming a beautiful pink lily flowering tulip after Chicago's First Lady, Maggie Daley. 5000 of the bulbs were planted in three locations on Michigan Ave. last fall. Fortunately they are of a late blooming variety so the warm spring did not push them like other varieties had. An event was held on Michigan Ave. on Thursday the 6th, WGN TV news coverage of this can be seen by clicking here . The pictures were taken by me Wednesday on Michigan Ave.

Tree Peony at Wisely Gardens

Still learning this Blog thing, bear with me.

I found the photos I took at Wisely back in Spring of 2007 of the tree peony. I am not sure of the variety but it is clearly a smaller flower. The size, as you can see, of the plant is tremendous. That's Eric beside the plant.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tree Peonies are blooming

This is when I know Spring is really here, when these babies pop open it is truly spectacular. The bloom heads are easily 6 inches across, and the plants are loaded as you can see. I have red and Purple blooming now since they are in sunnier locations. I have a yellow and a pink in more of a shaded spot, I expect them to open by next week. These plants are extremely hardy and easy to maintain. Eye popping colors and size. The red plant was probably planted three years ago and the purple 2 years ago. I saw a tree peony in Wisely Gardens in England that was easily 6 feet tall. The bloom petals are papery thin thus making the blooms short lived. This does not preclude these from being great plants.

Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign'

I want to begin by talking about some great plants that are growing in my garden. I trial many different things, mostly to see if they survive, if they can do that I look for characteristics that make them a bad, good or great plant. Sorry this wasn't one of my best photos, it's been pretty windy.

This plant is 2 years old now and it has been blooming for weeks. It is in deep shade, has a wonderful blue color which contrasts very nicely against the solid green leaves. I have it in a garden with 2 or 3 varieties of blue and white flowering Brunnera, it really warms up that spot. I would say this is a great plant for anyones garden.