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


Tina said...

It was nice meeting you at MG!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

It was great to meet you also. I finally found your blog, had the wrong name, great post on sedum!


Karen said...

Eileen, what a wonderful workshop this was! I loved seeing Piet Oudolf's garden and the way all the plants worked together. I have such an admiration for grasses even though it took me awhile to warm up to them. Nothing can rival them for grace and interest.

I also enjoyed your previous post on your fall garden. The cabbages and pansies are amazingly colorful and the gerbera daisy almost looks fake, it's so perfect. Always a joy to visit your blog.

garden girl said...

Looks like a wonderful day Eileen! I love Piet Oudolf's naturalistic design style and heavy use of natives. He makes it easy to see how beautiful in all seasons a native garden can be.

Larry said...

It does sound like a wonderful experience... congratulations on getting this opportunity... very interesting post! Larry

Rosie@leavesnbloom said...

Stunning photos Eileen. Piet Oudolf is so inspiring and he's probably my favourite garden designer. I think autumn is the best time to view his gardens considering his style of planting and my love for grasses.

I agree about the bayberry - I've quite a few and they have great autumn colour.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Eileen that was a wonderful tour ! I so love the grasses .. and I think that one is not Little kitten either .. I just planted Adagio this late summer so it sort of looks like that ? I love the RED of the viburnum ! it is beautiful as are the rest of the plants but there is something about blazing red that catches your attention .. my ivy is one of those amazing blazing Autumn plants! LOL
Joy : )

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Karen,

It really helped understand his philosophy seeing his gardens up close. You could easily copy this design with the amount of property you have. I am afraid I would not do it justice with my small plot.


Diana LaMarre said...

Hi Eileen,
It sounds like a wonderful day spent learning. I am just beginning to discover grasses. Now I want to find Piet Oudolf's book.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi GG,

I really enjoyed seeing his gardening ideas in a smaller place than the Lurie garden. It looked like something a homeowner could master.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Larry,

It was great to be with a variety of people with gardening and writing as a focus.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Rosy,

I haven't had Barberry since my last home. Maybe, I should look at some of the green and yellow, had red before.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Joy,

I am really partial to viburnums especially when the fall leaves turn red.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Zoey,

The book I have is called Designing With Plants by Piet Oudolf with Noel Kingsbury. I have read it several times, but seeing it in reality makes it look easier to execute.


scottweberpdx said...

I'm so jealous of your see an Oudolf garden must certainly always be a all those grasses...I think I've just found my next LIttle Bluestem in 'Blue Heaven'!

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

Hi Eileen, I consider myself more a photographer than a writer, but it would be great to be a part of an organization that runs interesting events like this. The cultivars you saw are all so interesting and seeing a Piet Oudolf garden must have been a great treat.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Scott,

We are lucky enough to have two Oudolf gardens that I know of in our area, one in downtown Chicago at the Lurie gardens and one in St. Charles, Illinois.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Jennifer,

I belong the The Garden Writers Association and because of this I do get invites to various activities. There were some great photographers at this even also and we were encouraged to take lots of photos,


Lona said...

How beautiful the leaves are on the viburnum Red Wing.Great fall colors on it.
What a fun workshop Eileen. Some wonderful take home plantings too.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Lona,

I am looking at that Redwing Viburnum also, looks pretty compact and beautiful maple shaped leaves.


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