Friday, September 28, 2012

What's in a Name?

I just spent three days traveling the mid-west visiting customers old and hopefully new, and loved talking plants and business with all of them. Most were upbeat despite the weather, economy and whatever else business or life throws at them. I even found a customer in Kansas who's numbers were up from last year (there's hope yet).

One of the more astonishing things I came across was a tulip blend called "Red, White and Blue". Who knew there was a blue tulip? There had top be because the picture on the package had a blue tulip. Well as soon as I got back to the office I had to do a search to see for myself since I knew I could sell one, lot's of them if this was true. What did I find? Lot's of things, a company named "The Blue Tulip", a website espousing the virtues of blue dyed tulips for floral designs, but most notably a website/blog with quite a few rather upset consumers who were as excited as I was to see blue tulips in a package but were upset when they found out the color was not even close to true blue.

Yes, I am being rather facetious with the last paragraph as I know that right now there is not a blue tulip, that doesn't mean it can never happen, but only time will tell. Misleading as some of these names are though is something that frosts even me to no end. Creating a package that shows a blue colored tulip REALLY frosts me. One way to bring about real distrust is to try and deceive a consumer with advertising, yes to me even naming something that isn't a reality is deceipt as well. There are times when in the color world there can be differing opinions as in fuscia, mauve and teal. In fact if you do a search on the internet of "Shades of blue" you will find that there are, according to one, 65536 that the eye can see. With at least 52 shades with given names. And if you think there is a pink daffodil, just ask me and I will tell you, it doesn't look pink to me. I'll just leave it at that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Keep it simple!

I often advise both consumers and landscape contractors that when putting together bulb combinations that if you are not sure, to always keep it simple. Here is a great example of the basic tulip colors red, yellow and purple. I happen to think that this simple combination can be the most striking from a distance.

At DeVroomen we named our red, yellow and purple blend "Royal Oxford". We even have it in retail packages this year.

Michigan Ave., Chicago
Simple yet vibrant

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One of My Favorite Tulips

Photo taken in 2007 of T. Princes Irene

Photo taken in 2006
A lot of times people are always asking me "what's new". Each year we are always able to bring on some new variety of tulip or daffodil and don't get me wrong there are a lot of nice new varieties, but I also say let me show you some older varieties that are my favorites. One in particular is the Triumph tulip 'Princes Irene'. This tulip color of orange and I would call wine red, on a dark stem  is fabulous. Excellent color combination within the same flower, bright but very warm and inviting. Later blooming but not too tall about 12" to 15" Here are a couple of my photos, and you might think they were propped but this is a very strong stemmed plant, and should be spaced tightly but not too tight.

Monday, April 16, 2012

First Dwarf Iris Opening Up.

Standard Dwarf Iris 'Quicken'

Iris 'Quicken'
Although a couple of my dwarf Iris have opened a bloom or two this one 'Quicken' opened up the full planting. This photo taken on April 15th. I also have several more that are in good bud stage development. Love the early blooms on these plants, tulips are almost done, peonies still in bud. Great color timing for the garden.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Introduction for Landscape Contractors Tulip 'Giant Orange Sunset'

Giant Orange Sunset bed in Pella, IA

My Daughter Margie

Massive Blooms
We have added to our Fall 2012 Landscape catalog a Gregii tulip called 'Giant Orange Sunset'. My people in Holland claimed that it was the "Worlds Largest Tulip Bloom", hearing this type of thing before I approached this with a degree of skepticism. Well this past Saturday I stopped in at Pella, IA and saw it for myself and I am thrilled to say, "Holland was right" it is the largest tulip flower I have ever seen. It is massive. In searching for it I asked the kind older gentleman in the information booth if he knew where it was and he said, "Not sure, but try the far side of the square because there is a brilliant orange flower over there". Some 20 yards away from it I saw it, brilliant orange and big 6-8" flower heads. I quickly got my camera out and started taking photos, but unfortunately it was cold and starting to rain so I did the best I could, here are a few shots and one with my daughter so you can get an idea of the size.

Also interesting is the reddish mottling on the gray-green leaves, the contrast really makes the orange blooms brighter.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Coincidence, Marketing or Just Great Plants?

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'

The several years now that I have been back in the green industry, I can't help but notice how time and again many people talk about the same plants. Whether it's myself, plants growers, garden experts, garden writers or just plant enthusiasts, we will often gravitate to the same plants. This morning I was reading an article in the Chicago Tribune highlighting the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, where a Chicago Park District floriculturist Neil Gilbert stated "One of the exhibit's fashion-forward plants is Yucca 'Color Guard.' "It looks totally tropical and it has a great spiky form," Other trendsetters include Brunnera "Jack Frost," and the double-flowered, fragrant tulip called 'Foxtrot,' which Gilbert calls a showstopper. "You can't have a spring garden without tulips, and this tulip is exceptional". 

Although I am not a big fan of Yucca's (can't get the darn things out of my mother-in-laws garden), I wholeheartedly agree with his other two suggestions. A few years ago the great plantsman, writer and educator Allen Armitage said to me that Brunnera 'Jack Frost' was the most popular Brunnera on the market. I have Brunnera 'Mr. Morse', Brunnera 'King's Ransom' and 'Jack Frost' in my garden and of the three 'Jack Frost' is the strongest and best looking. I do like the 'Mr. Morse' for it's white flower, but it's foliage is not quite as silvery as 'JF'. 'King's Ransom', although a sport of 'JF', hasn't shown the strength in my garden as the others. All three are close to each other in the same shaded bed.

I first saw Tulip 'Foxtrot' at "Nelis' Dutch Village" in Holland, MI. I loved it from the minute I saw it. Although tulip 'Angelique' (said to be one of the world's most popular tulips) is similiar, 'Foxtrot' is an early double where 'Angelique' is a late bloomer and 'Foxtrot has richer more vibrant colors.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Hardy Little Plant With Powerful Color

It'a related to the plants we all know as 'Lamb's Eras' but it's not like it at all. It's botanical name is
Stachys minima more commonly known as Dwarf Betony. Wikipedia states " The distribution of the genus covers Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and North America. Common names include heal-all, self-heal, woundwort, betony, lamb's ears, and hedgenettle. Wood betony, Stachys officinalis, was the most important medicinal herb to the Anglo-Saxons of early medieval Great Britain."

I first became aware of this plant when my friend Dave Meyer gave me one while visiting him, and when it bloomed, was I impressed. I've always thought highly of Stachys Hummelo and this is very similiar in habit only in about the third of it's size. The flower color is a little lighter in color but it stands up like Hummelo and covers the plant. I had it planted next to a Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' in partial shade and the color combinations were striking. The deep flower color and light yellowish green leaves of the Tradescantia and the deep green leaves and lilacy purple color of the Stachys flowers were very complimentary. I have divided it several times at different times of the year and it just keeps on growing. I took these photo's at the Midwest Groundcovers trial garden several years ago.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not Your Normal Tulip, Tulip 'tarda'

Bed of Tulip 'tarda'

Tulip 'tarda'
Unlike most of the tulips we have come to know and love, Tulip 'tarda' has a smaller star shaped flower and a more ground cover type of habit. Yellow and white flowers that bloom in early to mid spring cover the ground. They are also great perennials, planted in a spot with decent drainage they will come back and spread for many years. If you've ever heard me speak, you know I like to plant these informally in small bunches here and there throughout the garden. Preferably in a spot close to a walkway or entrance. Try tulip 'tarda' you will like them.

After posting this I received an email from Guus, he pointed out another nice characteristic of this plant. The seedpods are very showy and unique. I love when there's more to a plant than you think. Thanks Guus.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Sneezeweed" Really?

'Sahin's Early Flowerer'

One of my favorite plants in any garden is Helenium, or more commonly known as sneezeweed. Looking a bit like miniature sunflowers, heleniums, or sneezeweed, are bright and cheerful perennials in shades of gold, rust, orange, and red. The name sneezeweed was given because the leaves were once commonly used to make snuff.

One variety I have pictured here, called 'Sahin's Early Flowerer', was given the Award of Garden Merit in 2001 by the Royal Horticultural Society. It grows to a height of about 36", its flowers are a blend of deep red, to yellow and gold, with a brown and yellow cone. If you watch the cone through the bloom it too will slowly open up and change color. They are deer resistant, have a long bloom time and are native plants. I love these color combinations when they bloom from midsummer to fall. Other varieties can flower with stronger reds like 'Red Army' to a double yellow called 'Double Trouble'. I took these the  'Sahin's Early Flowerer'  photos a few years ago in the Chicago Botanic Garden trial garden on July 24th. The 'Wyndley' was from my yard taken on June 27th. As you can see the 'Wyndley' has more yellow with just a hint of red.
'Sahin's Early Flowerer'

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Summer Snowflake" Leucojum aestivum ssp. aestivum

Many folks came up to our booth at the latest Midam trade show and asked about this plant because Tony LoBello, Design Director, Mariani Landscape spoke very highly of it in his lecture "The Tantalizing 25: Plants you Must Have in the garden, Part II". Tony speaking with Roy Diblik, Designer, Plantsman and Co-owner of Northwind Perennial Farm made a lasting impression on all the members, gardeners and students who attended.

Leucojum aestivum ssp. aestivum or more commonly known as "The Summer Snowflake". An English native dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, it is related to Galanthus nivalis. This great naturalizer has umbels of pendant, bell-shaped, white flowers with distinctive green tips and grass-like, strappy foliage. More moisture tolerant than other flower bulbs, it performs well near ponds or streams (but not submerged). Plus, it is rodent-proof.

And YES, these bulbs are planted in the Fall for spring bloom. Although the common name is "Summer Snowflake", they bloom mid to late Spring. Tuck them in next to rocks or walkways for a more naturalized look.