Olbrich Botanical Gardens – Madison Wisconsin

G A R D E N S, Garden Tours, Gravel, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in August, we made a family road trip out of attending the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) conference in Minneapolis, MN. On the drive up to the conference we made a stopover in Chicago at the Lurie Garden (See post HERE), and on the way home we stopped at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI and the Chicago Botanical Garden (I am lucky that the kids still enjoy visiting gardens as a vacation).

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, gravel garden - Madison Wisconsin, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Olbrich was a planned stop on the way home, however after hearing Jeff Epping, the Director of Horticulture at Olbrich, speak at the PPA conference, we left Minneapolis early to ensure we got ample time in the gardens. Our time was a little more compressed than planned with a Midwest storm approaching, but hands down one of the best botanical gardens I have visited.  The 16 acres features amazing rooms that transition you from different spaces almost disorientating your direction and allowing you be in awe of each different experience.

Jeff’s talk at the PPA conference was about the gravel gardens they have installed at Olbrich. The method involves planting hardy plants in a base of 3-5 inches of gravel to fend of weeds and provide a low-water lifelong solution. The plants will grow into soil below the gravel for water and nutrients, and the inches of gravel will prohibit weeds from growing. Overtime the plants will grow to cover the gravel for a dense planting. The requirements of the planting method require attentive watering while the roots mature to the soil level and vigilant removal of plant debris at cutback and while establishing. My first few photos here are of one of the four gravel gardens at Olbrich.

I have known of Olbrich for a few years and it was always on my list of place to visit and I am so happy my travels to me there.  Olbrich is a garden destination that needs to be high on your list.  For a plant nerd, design nerd, or just looking for a stroll in a beautful garden- it will not disappoint.  I hope you enojoy my photo journal!

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The Lurie Garden – Our Great Midwest Road Trip

G A R D E N S, Garden Tours, Gardens, Landscape Design, Piet Oudolf | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in early August I had the great opportunity to speak at the Perennial Plant Association Symposium in Minneapolis.  The event aligned with the last full week of summer for our son and made it the perfect time to make the drive into a family road trip. On the drive to Minneapolis, we stopped at the Lurie Garden in downtown Chicago. Our stop over also aligned with Lollapalooza at neighboring Grant Park, which provided a unique soundtrack to the garden but somehow the garden still was an extremely intimate experience with the crowds just outside its borders.

The Lurie Garden - Our Great Midwest Road Trip, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodThe Lurie Garden - Our Great Midwest Road Trip, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

On the Lurie Garden website is an amazing article by Megan Wade titled Breaking Ground: The Influence of Piet Oudulf’s Perennial Gardens. This article provides great detail on why Piet planting style, the New Perennials Movement and the design of the garden is breaking form within public garden spaces.

The Lurie Garden - Our Great Midwest Road Trip, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodThe Lurie Garden - Our Great Midwest Road Trip, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

To be honest, I am really debating making the 5.5 hour drive again next week for a preview screening of the Piet Oudulf documentary and the Lurie Garden tours with Piet and Shannon Nichol, along with a designer panel. This is a huge FREE event that if you are in the Chicago area (or in my case a five hour drive) it would be amazing to attend. Below are a few of the highlights of the event, but you can register and get more details at the Lurie Garden website HERE.

  • August 30, 5:00 PM Screening of the Piet Oudulf Documentary with a Q&A with the director, Thomas Piper and Piet.
  • August 31,11:00 AM and 2;00 PM- Garden walkabouts with Piet Oudulf and Shannon Nichol.
  • August 31, 6:00 PM, Lurie Garden Design Team Panel, panel and Q&A with the team who designed and planted Lurie Garden: Piet Ouldolf of Humelo, the Netherlands, Shannon Nichol of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farms and Laura Ekasetya, Lurie Garden Head Horticulturist.

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The Lurie Garden - Our Great Midwest Road Trip, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

So those are my “edited” list photos from Lurie garden (I took at least 100). I am lucky the kids enjoy gardens, because there were many more stops along The Great Road trip and from the PPA conference to share next. Stay tuned.

How to add Dahlias to Your Garden

Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As peony madness fades with the summer heat, it’s time to hail the beauty of dahlias. Dahlias are an easy addition to any existing garden and offer a large range of colors, petal shapes and sizes to fit your desires.  Also, planting a tuber around the frost free date will provide you with beautiful blooms in July and August, a quick, and bountiful payoff not often common in the garden.  There is a bit of maintenance of digging and storing tubers over the winter in very mild climates like zone 9, but you should have no fear in planting these in your garden and will have a great time selecting the varieties to add.

Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait', Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'- How to add Dahlias to Your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

How to add Dahlias to Your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

 

 

WHERE TO PLANT:

Since you can add tubers to an existing garden, you have lots of options to place dahlias. Look around your home to see if you have any of the locations below that meet the full sun and well-drained soil requirements, if you do then move on to selecting the varieties you want to order!

 

– In a perennial border, or in an existing bed at your home. Looking at the existing foundational plantings around your house, see if there are spaces you can place a few dahlias.  The taller varieties are great in the background or mixed near taller plants, while place some of lower varieties in the front.

How to add Dahlias to Your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This is a client’s front yard perennial bed. It is located behind a boxwood hedge and is filled with a mixture of blue/purple perennials. We have a few containers spaced through the bed to add seasonal color, along with these cafe au lait dahlias.  

 

 

– In a container. Anyone with a front porch, stoop, balcony or patio that gets full sun can do this option.  Use the taller varieties (30-40 inches) as the “thriller” in your container.  Or fill an entire container with the shorter varieties (20-24 inches).

How to add Dahlias to Your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This is a garden created by Deborah Silver from Detroit Garden Works I visited a few years ago with the Association of Professional Landscape Designer (APLD). Deborah added dahlias with other perennial and annual flowers in these large containers. You can also do in smaller container, with 1-2 of each plant variety. 

 

 

– With your Vegetables. Pollinators love dahlias and so will your vegetables. Since you are already in with the vegetables watering, feeding and harvesting, this is an easy location to add some dahlias. You can add these along the edges our outside the fence line. This is a great place for the taller varieties.

How to add Dahlias to Your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here is a client’s vegetable garden which features a pollinator and cutting garden  inside the vegetable garden. To the left of these dahlias there is a swing and the dining table in the center allows the homeowners to enjoy the blooms while they are still in the garden. 

   How to add Dahlias to Your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood  

Here is a harvest of both the dahlias and vegetables from a client’s garden. Fresh food and flowers for dinner is a great combo. 

 

HOW TO PLANT:

The best place to plant is in a location that gets full sun and well-drained soil. Since you are planting these for the blooms, provide lots of organic matter when planting and weekly feeding once buds appear for the best blooms.

 

How to add Dahlias to Your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

SELECTING THE VARIETY:

I mentioned earlier there is a wide variety of distinctive features to dahlias, giving you lots of options in color, petal shape and size to select. Two great sites for selecting which colors, shapes or varieties you like are the following;

The National Dahlia Collection – This site provides you with a vast listing of dahlias that helps you see the options in shapes and colors. Broken down into; ball, cactus, collerette, decorative, dwarf, pompon, semi cactus, waterlily, miscellaneous.  –  https://nationaldahliacollection.co.uk/selecting-dahlias

Floret Flowers – A specialty cut flower grower extraordinaire in the pacific northwest, she is a big fan of dahlias, and shares all favorites with successes and failures in beautiful flowers.

 

 

HOW TO BUY:

Since dahlias are typically planted from tubers, online ordering is very easy and offers a large selection. You will want to time your ordering to get the best selection – think early January to place a preorder for spring shipping. But you can start pre-shopping suppliers now for your selected varieties and confirm when they expect to start taking dahlia orders.

 

If you are a bit more impatient to get blooms this year – you can check at your local garden center to see if they have some established plants growing for you can transplant into your garden. However, at this point it will be slim pickings for the varieties (if any), but worth a try.