Staff Picks 8/27

Monday, August 27th, 2018 at 6:33 pm

As fall approaches it gets harder to source quality material. In an effort to keep you in the loop and introduce you to new material, we’re introducing Staff Picks – A short weekly to biweekly list of plants we love!

Brian Dulian – Cornus  kousa ‘Radiant Rose’ 1 3/4″ (Radiant Rose Dogwood)

brian_dulian– “Great form, great fruit” (Indianapolis)

This flowering dogwood has reddish new growth in spring with spectacular “flowers” composed of 4 bright pink sepals. You can tell by the amount of fruit on these single stem trees that flowers are abundant! The fruit is such a stunning red that it acts as a secondary ornamental feature. Trees mature to about 20 feet tall and wide and are very cold hardy.



Mike Kwiatek – Andropogon gerardii ‘Blackhawks’ (Blackhawks Big Bluestem)

michael_kwiatek – “It brings the drama! […] Once it colored up in July, I was in love. Photos don’t do it justice.” (Chicago)

Bred in Illinois, this native prairie grass brings intense contrast to a sunny areas. Emerging green, it soon adopts shades of purple in its leaves before becoming almost entirely purple and black with some red hues. The turkey foot-like flower heads even are dramatic shades of purple, standing at 5 feet in height and providing excellent contrast in the back of the garden bed.



Alex Head – Hydrangea paniculata ‘SMHPLQF’ #5 (Little Quick Fire Hydrangea)

alex_head – “24”+ across! One of the first Hydrangea to flower (and first to fade to pink). Compact habit makes it very versatile. Pest free… What’s not to like?!” (Prairie View)

Alex says it all, Little Quick Fire blooms early and maxes out at 5′ tall and wide, but can easily be maintained at a smaller size. Large cones of white flowers emerge in early to mid summer and quickly turn a beautiful deep pink. Flowers can be dried and used in dried arrangements or left on the plant for winter interest!

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Brian Henning – Euonymus alatus 72″ (Burning Bush)

brian_henning “Monsters! Bright red fall color, that’s why I like them.” (Bolingbrook)

The bright red fall color of burning bush is hard to beat. While it may seem early for burning bush to be in color, it’s not unusual for ball and burlap trees and shrubs to begin developing color early. Even once the foliage falls, the attractive corky bark provides additional interest which continues into winter, holding snow for an eye catching display. Great as a hedge or a specimen.


Zach Sargent – Taxodium distichum 2 1/2 to 4 1/2″ (Bald Cypress)

zack_sargent– “I like Taxodium because they’re versatile. They tolerate wet feet and urban conditions and the foliage is light and feathery, which isn’t very common. Varieties like Skyward also provide some of that versatility with it’s unique habit” (Salem Lake Farm)

Growing up to 70′ at maturity, while maintaining an excellent pyramidal shape, Taxodium is a fantastic specimen tree. Cultivars produced in the last few decades have given rise to a broader selection of plants with shorter statures, unique habits, and improved aesthetic characteristics. Taxodium look like conifers from a distance, but lose their leaves in winter. Try ‘Skyward’ for a more columnar habit or ‘Shawnee Brave’ for a more uniform look!


With many more great looking plants in our yard, it’s hard to name them all. Come back next week for a new list of staff picks!



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