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Paul VanOteghem

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Which is better Ilex 'Red Sprite' or Ilex Berry Poppins™ (comparison)

Posted by Paul VanOteghem

Ilex ‘Red Sprite vs. Ilex ‘Berry Poppins’

Ilex verticillata, a.k.a. Winterberry is an excellent plant species and in my opinion, way underused.   It is a great choice for the Midwest with a hardiness rating of zones 3-9.  As it is a deciduous Holly, it offers exceptional seasonal interest in the fall and winter after it drops its
leaves, with its persistent bright colored fruit that ripens in late August – September.  The fruit hangs on into mid-winter or even later depending on temperatures and bird populations.  There have been selections made which offer fruit colors ranging from yellow to orange to the typical red.  Winterberry fruit is very beautiful against a backdrop of snow.   The fruit-laden branches are also very desirable for winter cut arrangements. Winterberry lends itself well to mass
planting; is easy to grow; tolerant of full sun or partial shade (better fruit set in full sun); adaptable to a wide variety of soils ranging from light to heavy soils and will thrive in wet areas as well.   The plant can become chlorotic in high pH soils.

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Tags: Plants, Branded Plants, Shrubs

Weigela Shining Sensation vs. Weigela Rainbow Sensation (comparison)

Posted by Paul VanOteghem

Comparison of Wegela Shining Sensation vs Weigela Rainbow Sensation

Having been used in North America supposedly since colonial times, one might think the last thing we need is another Weigela… Right?    

The old-fashioned Weigela florida or Cardinal shrub has long been a staple in many gardens.  Prized for its floriferous nature, breeders have been messing with this plant for a long time.  Modern era efforts have brought us hardy varieties out of Canada with the Dance series featuring varieties such as ‘Rumba’, ‘Minuet’, ‘Polka’, and several others.  The Proven Winner Wine series brought a collection of different leaf colors and different sizes.  Among that series are ‘Wine and Roses’, ‘Fine Wine’, ‘Midnight Wine’ and most recently ‘Spilled Wine’.  PW has also introduced a line of rebloomers named the Sonic Bloom series.  This is by no means an exhaustive list with reportedly more than 200 cultivars to choose from with hardiness ranges from zones 4-10. 

Well I’m here to tell you to make room for two more! 

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Tags: Plants, Branded Plants, Shrubs

First Editions Hypericum (Review)

Posted by Paul VanOteghem

First Editions Hypericum

Hypericum…an old plant with nearly 400 species in the genus and touted since the 1600’s for its medicinal benefits.  All that is very interesting, but I really don’t care.  What I do care about is growing plants that sell, and I really think the First Editions offering of Hypericum is going to be a big seller.  While it just entered our production pipeline late in the 2012 growing season, and I personally haven’t “finished” any plants yet, I have seen them elsewhere, and they are hot.  Not only does it have the showy bright yellow bloom in the spring, but clean dark green foliage serves as an excellent backdrop to the spectacular fruit show in the fall.  The first time I saw them I thought they had the same showy effect of an ornamental pepper, and in some cases I could see them being used as a fall color replacement for mums.  Used singularly or en masse in the landscape, or as a cut in floral arrangements, I believe they will really make a splash.  Listed as being hardy in zones 5-9 and sporting a compact habit with a height of 30-36” and a width of 24-30”, they strike me as being a group of plants with a lot of potential in a lot of places.  Shown below is the array of striking colors and their description straight from First Editions catalog.  

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Tags: Plants, Branded Plants, Shrubs

Echinacea - Sombrero Series (Review/Ratings)

Posted by Paul VanOteghem

Echinacea New SombreroSeries

Echinacea x. purpurea

Echinacea has a long history of medicinal uses some of which are purported to be: an antidote for venomous bites; headache remedy; mumps treatment; cold remedy; arthritis treatment; pain reliever; indigestion; tumors; malaria; and last but not least, a hemorrhoid treatment. While most of these old uses of Echinacea are no longer commonplace, Echinacea has once again become popular for the treatment of a variety of medical conditions including several skin diseases and boosting one's immune system. While all of these health benefits are important (particularly the control of that "painful burning itch"), that is not the purpose of this blog. I want to talk to you about three new perennial varieties to Home Nursery and their place in your garden.

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Tags: Plants, Perennials

Preparing The Nursery For Winter

Posted by Paul VanOteghem

Preparing the nursery for winter

Winter preparation at Home Nursery is not a one-time event, but rather a year long process.  With container production, many of the activities and decisions of the year must be completed with a forward-looking thought of winter.  There is nothing more disheartening than to produce a beautiful crop through the growing season only to lose it or have it damaged during the winter.  Much can be done to protect crops from winter damage through careful planning throughout the year.

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Tags: Local, General, Winter

Container Grown Trees vs. B&B Trees

Posted by Paul VanOteghem

There are several considerations when choosing which type of tree to plant, either a container-grown or field-grown a.k.a. B&B (ball & burlap).  Prior to the advent of container-grown trees, B&B was the only option and still continues to be very popular.  Not that many years ago the availability of container-grown trees was very limited.  That is no longer true.  The popularity of this form has grown for several reasons.    Neither form is necessarily better than the other, just different.  The following is a discussion of various issues to be considered when selecting a shade or ornamental tree. 

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Tags: Plants, Trees

Summer Flowering Shrub Review: Physocarpus (Ninebark)

Posted by Paul VanOteghem

A Grower’s Perspective:                                                                   

Back in the dark ages when I was a Hort student at the University of Illinois, I remember taking plant walks with my woody ornamentals class, and I recall looking at many species and thinking, why would anybody plant one of these in their yard?  At that time, Physocarpus (Ninebark) fell into that category for me.  It was a rather unkempt, ratty looking shrub with no redeeming ornamental characteristics other than some exfoliating bark.  Woohoo!.  That can no longer be said.  The following are reviews of two shrub introductions which are some of the best flowering shrubs and deserve your attention.

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Tags: Plants, Shrubs