Friday, October 22, 2010


Just wanted to send out a quick note that I have been unable to post any new blogs recently because our bulb season has been so busy. I am thrilled to say that our bulb season this year has been fantastic. I think many of the clients that cut back last year realized how important spring color is to their world. I was speaking with a buyer yesterday and he explained how one of his customers was disappointed with his beds after he reduced the number of bulbs he planted in each bed. "Don't ever let me do that again" he told this buyer. I can't wait until next Spring to see all the color. Scilla siberica has been hot this year, look for the bright blue landscapes next spring. 

As a side note I came across a wonderful blog site with great personal development tips that I thought I would share with you all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Alliums Gaining Garden Momentum

Allium chistophii
Allium giganteum flower head

One great plant whose time has truly come is our favorite of the onion family (Alliaceae), the Allium or ornamental onion. The last few years, but more significantly this year, has shown a dramatic increase in landscape architects, contractors and individual home owners choosing to plant alliums. Not surprising since they have proven to be spectacular attention getters when they bloom in late spring into early summer. I often explain in my bulb talks how they fill a need for color in the garden from May to June, when the early spring bloomers are finished and the summer bloomers have barely started. The individual strength and stature of the taller varieties is amazing. Four foot tall plants that can take a 30-40 mph wind and not break in half. They have proven their value since some of the more hybridized varieties can be a little pricey. Perhaps because of their ability to return year after year with equal vigor, not to mention their ability to perform even after the flower has dried. One Garden Center even had someone go out and spray paint the dried flower heads, causing quite a stir. Everyone wanted to know what those brightly colored flowers were. Here are a few pictures from my garden of allium christophii and giganteum.
giganteum and christophii

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gourds Gone Crazy

While visiting one of my customers, Mini Earth Greenhouse, this week I was floored by his display of highly unusual gourds. I never knew there were so many kinds. I knew there were some that grew unusually large, but the shapes and color variations that these things come in was amazing. Here I have a few pictures of his displays. See if you can tell which is the Swan Gourd (it shouldn't be that hard). Would you believe there is actually a national gourd society and an Illinois gourd society Phew... I resisted doing a gourd joke, it was hard but I did it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Blends for Landscape Architects and Contractors

DeVroomen has added several new blends to their Contractor Program in 2010, one of which "Jimmy Frills" I have highlighted in a previous blog, but I now want to show you some of the other blends that are new for us this year.

From top to bottom:
"Heather's Favorite"
"Royal Oxford"
"Golden Royal"

As you can see purple has been a dominant theme through most of these blends, it balances off the color schemes quite nicely. A darker base color sets off the more brilliant oranges, reds and yellows, making them stand out more.

In the last couple years we have named an introduction after the person who either designed the blend or brought a good one to our attention, this year it was "Heathers Favorite". We would like to continue to do this and would ask for your participation by notifying us of what you might have designed,  or what you think would make a good blend. It is certainly not restricted to just tulips.

Contact: email

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New 2010 Blend 'Jimmy Frills'

This blend is a new Fall 2010 introduction for DeVroomen, we call it 'Jimmy Frills'. Made up of a fringed tulip called 'Fancy Frills' and a triumph tulip called 'Jimmy'. The combination of pink and orange just glows in the sunlight, plus the slight reddish hue in the 'Jimmy' along with the whiteish base of the 'Fancy Frills' really adds to the depth of this blend. This photo has not been retouched at all, it's exactly the way it looked.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Epimedium the Overlooked Ground Cover

I don't think there is a more overlooked plant in our landscapes than the Epimedium. This plant tolerates shade, as well as moist conditions and handles tree roots quite well. If your sick of only being able to plant Hosta's in these spots, plant some Epimedium. Many more varieties are coming available with brighter flower colors and more flowers. Traditionally these flowers hang downward and sometimes are only slightly above the foliage, but many new varieties are holding the flowers high above the foliage with multi-colored blooms. The foliage also has some color characteristics from a rust red color to a yellowish hue. Although slow to establish they are marvelous plants once they do so, and will persist for many years.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Royal Garden Party and Wisely

Still one of my favorite blends in our Fall Blend program, Royal Garden party was introduced in Fall 2008. One reason I am so partial to it is where I first saw it, the Royal Horticultural Garden Wisley in Surry England, UK. Among all the beautiful sights, this blend caught my eye from about 50 yards away (or should I say meters). The striking orange and purpley color combo of the double tulip 'Orange Princess' and the tall singular tulip 'Blue Ribbon' is set off even further by the unusual blue gray foliage of the 'Orange Princess'. I have included a few photos that I took back in spring of 2007. I also wish I coud have gone back in a few weeks to see the Gunnera all grown out, that must have been a sight. I should have taken a picture of the "Bangers and Mash", talk about comfort food, if you're ever there don't pass them up.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

One Great Blooming Daylily

Well, it's July 31, 2010 and this picture is the very last bloom on my daylily 'Cherry Cheeks' and if that alone doesn't tell you what a phenomenal variety this is, I don't know what else to say. This plant bloomed for at least 5 weeks. This along with it's flower color and size puts it at the top as far as I am concerned.

Trialing Echinaceas

I am trialing some of the new AB cultivars, echinaceas for overwintering, bud count and color. I am planting E. 'hot papaya', E. 'meringue' and E. 'pink double delight' to see if all are equally as good as E. 'coconut lime' in strength and vigor. I will also do a comparison between 'coconut lime' and 'meringue' for color. If anyone has any comments or info. on these varieties already, please share them.

Pictured are 'meringue' top, and an early bloom of 'hot papaya' on bottom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A visit to Northwind Perennial Farm

I stopped by one of my favorite places to visit last Friday, Northwind Perennial Farm. If you've never been to this unique location in Burlington Wisconsin, it's well worth the trip. Their plant selection although eclectic, is definitely designed to fit Roy Diblik's "Know Maintenance" style of gardening. One thing I loved about my visit was seeing all the Allium 'summer beauty' starting to bloom. Roy uses this great plant a lot due to it's bloom time, hardiness and compact clump forming habit. I also was able to take a picture of Allium pulchellum (bottom photo). Friday being July 16th you get a great idea of when these allium are blooming in the garden. I point out the importance of allium in bloom time whenever I talk about allium's.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daylilies: Re-bloomers vs. Great Bloomers

Continuing on an earlier blog about day lilies ( see: Variety is the "Spice of Life" June 5, 2010) and their bloom characteristics. It is often discussed what makes a good day lily, whether the ever blooming characteristics of 'Stella d'oro' or the re-bloomers like 'Pardon me' or is it a large flower head. What I personally have found to be most important is "Bud Count", how many flower buds are produced on each stem. One has to be very diligent with dead heading day lilies to consistently get good bud counts. Although I have not trialed hundreds of day lilies I have found one variety that has an extremely high bud count, with as many as fifteen buds at a time on one stem. This variety is Hemerocallis 'Cherry Cheeks'. With amazing color, big flowers and great bud count this one's a winner. 'Cheery Cheeks has been blooming for a couple weeks now and is still blooming on July 13th when these photos were taken. The position of the sun did not help the color in these photos, my earlier blog has a better photo to see good color.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Echinacea 'coconut lime'

This Echinacea is part of the "Cone-fection Series" bred by a man by the name of Arie Blom. Coconut Lime has overwintered wonderfully for the past three years, it is a strong bloomer with lots of bloom heads (see picture) on each plant. The flower starts out rather flat but slowly begins to form a unique pom-pom type cone. which lasts a long time. My plant started to bloom a week or two ago and will continue to bloom all the way to first frost. The picture to the right I actualy took last year on July 20th. This variety has white petals with a white to slightly greenish cone at the center. One extremely nice characteristic is that the white flower stays clean throughout the bloom, no brown splotches. One customer from Peoria Il. asked if I had heard of any issues with this reverting back to non-double heritage and I can safely say that no I have not heard of or had that experience. It certainly would have in my garden by now if it does. Some people feel that these stray too far away from the typical coneflower, I would appreciate anyones comments.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Old Favorite's Do Not Disappoint

It's July 4th weekend and the garden is coming alive with color and blooms. A few of my favorites that have been in the garden for 3 or 4 years just keep performing well. Two in particular are my Stachys (Betony for the layman), Stachys 'hummelo' (top) and 'minima' (bottom) are up, colorful and strong as ever. Both photo's are from my garden, although the 'minima' looks like a catalog shot, that's how perfect it grows.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Echinacea 'Art's Pride

I've been wanting to post this since last week but major computer failure prevented me from doing so. My first and most favorite echinacea to bloom has once again opened it's lovely orange cones. Orange Meadowbrite Coneflower Echinacea 'Art's Pride' is not your typical "Garden Center" plant as it is tall, lanky and sometimes floppy, but I tell people that you can spot the color from across the garden it is so bright. It is a must have for Echinacea lovers. 

The following is a description from the Missouri Botanical Garden website "Echinacea Orange Meadowbrite grows to 2-3’ tall on rigid stems. It features fragrant, daisy-like coneflowers (to 5” diameter) with orange to coppery-orange rays and large, pin cushion-like, dark brown central cones. Flowers bloom from June to August with some sporadic later bloom." Art’s Pride’ is a coneflower that has no purple on it. It is noted for having distinctive orange ray flowers, a sweet orange-spiced tea fragrance and semi-glossy dark green leaves. ‘Art’s Pride’ is a product of a breeding program conducted at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Parents for this variety were Echinacea purpurea ‘Alba’ (female) and Echinacea paradoxa (male). It typically grows to 2-3’ tall on rigid stems. It features fragrant, daisy-like coneflowers (to 5” diameter) with orange to coppery-orange rays and large, pin cushion-like, dark brown central cones. Flowers bloom from June to August with some sporadic later bloom."

The first photo is an early stage bloom with the in the later stages, but they hold there color better than some of the newer varieties on the market

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Variety is the "Spice of Life"

So we were having a party for my daughter Molly's birthday, and on this wonderful 93 degree 80% humidity May 29th my niece asked me if I could get her some 'Stella D'Oro' daylilies. I said yes of course, but "why do you want those" I asked, "those are the kind you see in every shopping center parking lot or every industrial complex, and other than the fact that they bloom for a long time the flower isn't that spectacular". Upon hearing that they bloom a long time she said, "that's the one for me". Now I'm sure I'm paraphrasing to some extent but all this made me think, what's more important in a yard or garden consistency or variety? I learned a long time ago as a salesman that my personal likes and dislikes do not mean that everyone should feel the same, but I'm definitely a "variety" kind of guy. Especially when it comes to daylilies. There are so many amazing colors, types, sizes and shapes it's a variety kind of guy's favorite flower. I could go on for quite some time on this so I think I will make this a continuing discussion. I did realize that I really don't have enough daylily photos, but here are a few good ones I took.
This last photo is one I took a few years ago at Hornbaker Gardens in Princeton, Illinois. Every year they have both an iris and a daylily season in which you can see the plants blooming in the field and purchase them. You may have to wait a little bit before picking them up since that may not be the most beneficial time to dig them, but what fun to see them all blooming. Hornbaker Gardens will be having an open House this next weekend, June 10, 11 and 12. It's about a 2 hour drive from Chicago, but well worth making a day of it. It's just past the Ottawa area which is also a pretty cool spot to visit. Click on the links for web information.

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.