Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 GardenTrends

Common Milkweed flowers - covered with insects.
Are you a garden rebel, opportunist, traditionalist, rule maker or rule breaker?  The predictions are out for 2016’s garden trends.

Plantsman, lecturer, and writer, Andy Mcindoe, lists 2016 trends:

1.    Anything to do with bees. Single flowered varieties for bees & butterflies.
2.    Wildlife planting.
3.    Mixing flowers & vegetables in borders.
4.    Replacing annuals with low maintenance perennials.
5.    Using seeds more than nursery plants.
6.    Less use of chemicals & more organic.
7.    Using alternatives to perfect green lawns.

More gardening trends are developing towards protecting the environment.

Hot bright colors will be promoted including rich blues, purples, red, orange and dark green foliage.  If you’re into your pastel stage, they may be a bit harder to find.

One “new” trend is using old familiar (grandparents’ era) perennials, shrubs and trees but bred with new colors, hardiness and disease resistance.
Daylily "Orange Vols"

Another example of “What’s old is new” is the big resurgence of orange daylilies.  Once shunned by the public (and therefore breeders) because it was too similar to the ditch lily, Hemerocallis Orange Tawny.  Today, orange daylilies are the hot introductions.

The seed and plant producers are catering to the “foodie ” trend by offering more, better and healthier options for your vegetable gardens.

The “Garden Media Group” predicts on-line devices will become more important to gardeners bringing in younger generations.  Education, media and retailers are using web applications to help us experience the great outdoors.  If a fruit, vegetable or the beauty in your yard can be tied to the “outdoor lifestyle experience” it will be a better sell – making it a trend.   

The G.M.G. appeals to the younger consumers by helping them view the outdoors as something they can control and make their own.  They don’t care what it costs (high or low) only if it validates their intellect, taste and lifestyle.  What does this mean in trending?  It means you can expect to see the growers and marketers offering products that meet these requirements.

It’s already happening and perhaps you didn’t realize what was driving these trends.  Examples: 

·      Growing hops for backyard brewing.
·      Vegetables & fruits used for natural dyes.
·      LEDs as design features.
·      Outdoors as a destination or as another room.
·      Plants purchased for function as well as beauty.
·      More awareness for the health; safety of children & pets among plants.
·      Drought tolerant plants.
·      Accepting the look of a chemical free environment.
·      The DIY movement.
·      Outdoor furnaces, windmills, solar; food preservation.
·      And the mother of all marketing statements, “Being in sync with nature is the first step in a healthy, rewarding life.”

My friend's, Mary, garden of wild control.
As with most trends, what’s old is new again.  Only this time old is being brought to you over the web.  Called “naTECHure”, it’s a hot trend blending technology and nature. Balance this with an awareness that much of what you read on trends means you are being marketed to by someone who wants to sell you something.

And the flip side with Mcindoe’s comment: “Fashion in gardening is a fallacy because people will buy their favorites and it’s wildly influenced by what’s in production.”  …And then there’s that! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moon Gardens - Again

I wrote about Moon Gardens on June 23, 2011 "Dusting of Silver" my 73rd article for the Galva News.  Today I'll visit the subject again because during February all northern gardeners are busy dreaming of all garden things possible.

Developing a "Moon Garden" takes planning.  Without planning, it can be an uninteresting spot in the yard.  With planning, it can be awesome.

Moon Gardens are for those warm summer nights so your plan needs to put it where you can sit peacefully in the dark, without insects and close enough to smell all the wonderful scents.
Three moon garden suggestions-top to bottom:
Veronica virginicum, hydrangea Annabelle
and Artemesia.  (Full sun.)  
An added benefit would be where it will show even from a window or two.

Ideally it needs a dark backdrop such as evergreens, a dense woods, a dark building, a tall fence - you get the idea.  Something like the backdrop for a play or an oil painting. It's even possible to use a row of potted plants if your options are limited.
Hosta Whitefeather (Full shade)
Assess if your new Moon Garden is a full shade, partial shade, partial sun or full sun garden - OR - a combo of several.  BUT:  for a Moon Garden to reflect light at night it must have a light source.  Either the moon light must shine on it, a security light, a spot light, yard light, candle/lanterns or solar lights.  Not full blown daylight bright but enough to make it glow.  
A Gardenia in a pot (so it can come inside
in the winter.)  (Strongly fragrant
Next I like to use a good old fashioned method of planning my garden:  large drawing paper and pencil.  Computer drawing works but there's something about hard copy, shading with a pencil and a good eraser that helps my creative juices flow.

Hyacinths (A highly fragrant spring flowering bulb.)
 By planting spring flowering bulbs in the 2nd or 3rd row back, the summer foliage will cover the  spring plants.   White tulips and daffodils are a beautiful beginning.
On a day when the windchill isn't crazy cold, take a measuring tape and get an estimate on the size of your garden.  While doing this, remember the physical labor to start a new bed and size accordingly.
Daylily "Dad's Best White".  (Full sun.)
Once you have the final dimensions and shape, lay it out on your paper.
Start with the dark backdrop.  Is it already there or do you need to erect or plant first?
     Do you want the garden with straight edges or curved?
     Will it set within a corner?
Then start layers by height ending with short in the front.
It's a perfect place to sit some white hardscapes such as statues, water features and etc.

I gave you some white flower suggestions in the 2011 article.  I've included some new ones plus some Pinterest moon gardens.  And don't be afraid of adding pots of annuals to beef up the flower power:  Nicotiana (fragrant), petunias, mums, marigolds, geraniums, cosmos and dahlia are just a few.

I'll save "Moon Gates" for another article.   Meanwhile, feel free to put a Moon Garden on your dream list and maybe it will be come a reality.
The very fragrant "Moon Flower" is a must.

Friday, February 5, 2016

And the Champion Is:

Alley of arborvitae at the Bishop Hill Cemetery
Lisa Hammer wrote an article published in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus on January 19, 2016.   It talked about the row of 26-arborvitae in the Bishop Hill Cemetery.  Our own (yes, we do call him OUR OWN) forester, Shane Kaiser, was quoted regarding the Illinois “Champion arborvitae” in the Bishop Hill cemetery.

Like Shane, I don’t intend to tell the governing body of Bishop Hill how to run their business.  I do hope they don’t have to take the row of arborvitae nor the champion down.  I also do know sometimes the only choices are bad and worse. 
Other arborvitae in the Bishop Hill Cemetery

Leaving them to sort out their tree problems, I’ll move on to the topic of championship trees.

According to American Forests, as of 2015, Illinois had the following species of National Champion trees:

1.    Kansas hawthorn (Crataegus coccinioides) found in DuPage County.
2.    Scarlet hawthorn (Crataegus coccinea) found in Lisle County.
3.    Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) also in DuPage County.
4.    Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) found in Anna County.
5.    Jujube common (Ziziphus jujube) found in Lisle County. 
6.    Texas red oak (Quercus texana) found at the Morton Arboretum.
Champion in 2009 - Black Maple in Kewanee IL

The exciting news is Henry County has three State of Illinois champions.  They are (as of 2013):

River birch (Betula Nigra) located on private property in Cambridge.  The nominator for all three state champions is my very own James Ream.  (Yes, I call him MY OWN because Jim worked with me at Illinois Power in Kewanee (now Ameren) as a journeyman forester.)  The circumference is 10.2 feet, height is over 61 feet and spread is 84 feet. 

Northern catalpa or hardy catalpa (Catalpa speciosa.) It’s on private property in Kewanee. It’s over 84-foot tall, circumference of 18.4 feet and a spread of 61 feet.  Dang.

Northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentailis.)  This is the one located in the Bishop Hill Cemetery. Circumference is 10.1 feet, height 44 feet and spread is 25 feet.  Double dang.
Damaged former Champion, rural Galva IL
When this is in full leaf, it is stunning.
There’s a former champion at 20942 N 400 Ave. Galva IL.  Located on private property, this beautiful tree is damaged.  I respect the owners because they’ve faithfully supported its magnificent and graceful branches instead of giving up because of damage.  NEW NOTE:  My garden friend, Kathy Huffman tells me this is a Butternut tree.  THANKS KATHY!  It’s worth a drive summer or winter because it is so very awesome. 
20942 - showing tree damage.  
Check out the web site at  It’s the organization that started the big tree register back in 1940.  And if you’re a tree nut – pun intended – then you’ll love this site along with the sub-culture of “big tree hunters”.  Their National Big Tree Program is “a testament to American Forests’ legacy of leadership in recognizing the beauty and critical ecosystem services provided by our biggest and oldest trees.”
Champion White Oak in Putnam County IL

Championship trees can be located any place trees grow such as forests, back yards, sidewalk strips and parks.  Most of the champions on private property were discovered/nominated by someone other than the owner.

If you’d like to become a big tree hunter, check out the American Forests web page for help.  Or if you like to visit State and National champions, the America Forest and the University of Illinois lists both have GPS coordinates. 

A cautionary note:  It’s against the law to damage any of these trees and to trespass on private property.  On public property, you may hug the tree, take pictures and admire.  You may not climb, carve your initials or be stupid.  On private property, you can drive by, take pictures from the roadway and know you’re seeing a true Champion.  You may not set foot on private property without permission, take pictures of their personal property or annoy them beyond tolerance.  If you feel the burning need to get closer, knock on their door and ask permission first.  And you may not pick off leaves, fruit or break off branches for mementoes.  If they are laying on the ground on public property or if you have an owner’s permission, you may gather off the ground. 

Many public grounds have duel uses and those should also be respected.  The Bishop Hill Cemetery is a sacred place to families who have kin buried there or to those who are respectful of the history.  For those who want information about the cemetery, requests may be made directly to the Village Clerk at 309-927-3583.  Their web site will also point out the many attractions available and when they’re open.
Bishop Hill Cemetery Avenue of Arborvitae with my
Granddaughter, Katherine

FYI:  I did notice it was difficult to get a current listing of what trees were Championship.  I expect it’s due to bigger ones being found and some old ones coming down or are severely damaged.  It speaks to the need to get out and see these beauties sooner rather than later.  Later may be too late.