Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Big or Small, Grasses for All

Fall is my favorite time of year for many reasons, but from a landscape perspective, I always love the various colors and textures that ornamental grasses add to the landscape.  There really isn't an ornamental grass I don't like for one reason or another. Whether it is the graceful arching habit and various colors of reliable plumes from Maidengrass, or the great variety of fall colors we get from Switchgrass and Little Bluestem varieties, or the great golden color of most dormant grasses through the winter, grasses are a must in the landscape.

For 2016, Loma Vista is adding more varieties of ornamental grasses to our already great lineup of varieties to give you more options for your customers.

Switchgrasses are probably my favorite ornamental grasses, and with the addition of Thundercloud and Cloud Nine, we now have the large switchgrass category covered! 

Cloud Nine Switchgrass

Cloud Nine is a larger version of Northwind, with its blue-grey wide-blade foliage, and will tower above most ornamental grasses at 8-feet tall at maturity.  Great golden fall and winter color and a loose vase form.

Panicum Thundercloud

Thundercloud, which is a cross between Cloud Nine and Northwind, is similar in stature to Cloud Nine, but has slightly greener foliage than Cloud Nine, tighter upright vase form, resists flopping with wind or rain load, and has a heavier panicle production in the fall for a better show.

Stepping down in size, and to give you more options for smaller ornamental grasses, the new lineup will include Beyond Blue Fescue, Blonde Ambition Grama and Bowles Golden Sedge.

Festuca Beyond Blue
Festuca glauca 'Casca11' otherwise known as Beyond Blue Fescue, is a short 12-18" mounding cool season ornamental grass that is fine-textured with intense steel-blue foliage.  Tolerant of heat, humidity, poor soils and drought, this small grass makes a great groundcover, border mass, mixed planting change of color, or container thriller.  Known as Intense Blue Fescue in Europe.

Carex Bowles Golden
Carex elata 'Aurea' or Bowles Golden Sedge is a cool season variegated grassy foliage plant that is well suited for moist or wet areas in sun or shade.  It will actually take up to 3-inches of standing water, but it will also tolerate slightly drier soils in the shade, making it a widely adaptable selection.  The bright yellow foliage color is best in full sun.  This 24" x 24" grass is great in containers or in the landscape in massings.

Bouteloua Blonde Ambition
Lastly, Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' or Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass is most noticeable in the fall when it is covered with an incredible amount of golden seed heads that are lateral and dance in the wind.  This warm season grass that matures to 12" tall and 32" with the seed heads is very tolerant of dry sites with poor soil and can handle drought where it outperforms most other grasses. It is best used in massings in naturalistic plantings, or as a lawn replacement.

Consider adding these or any of our other ornamental grasses to your spring order.  And for your larger projects that require big numbers of grasses, consider allowing us to contract grow the varieties and quantities you need to ensure you get what you need when you need it to make your project even that much more successful!

Chad Weinand, Business Development, Loma Vista Nursery

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Colorful Attributes

As a child, I remember being fascinated with the leaves changing color in the fall. Then, as I grew older and became more intrigued with plants, I seemed to appreciate more and more plants for their autumn beauty. This season, Loma Vista has further opened my eyes to beautiful fall color. I am discovering that there are so many plants out there that don't get much credit during the rest of the year, but in the fall they make up for it with their colorful attributes. Sometimes we get so caught up in the production of our plants that we see right through them and don't stop to admire them. Here are a few plants I have taken extra notice of this year at the container farm.
Diervilla lonicera 
Diervilla lonicera, or bush honeysuckle, is great if you are looking to naturalize an area or are in need of a drought-tolerant plant. During the majority of the year, this plant doesn't do much to separate itself from the crowd, but this fall color is a really nice addition to any landscape.
  Schizachyrium scoparium The Blues

Little bluestem is another one of my favorites.  Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues' is putting on a show right now at the nursery. The blue-green foliage has changed to fiery red, and the group as a whole makes for a striking sea of autumn color.

Euonymus coloratus
Purple wintercreeper, Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus', is another plant that does very well in the Midwest. While it is a simple green groundcover for most of the year, wintercreeper looks beautiful in the fall with its varying hues of red, green, and purple.

Caryopteris Sunshine Blue

 Sunshine Blue®. This plant has bright yellow foliage year-round and is a late summer and fall bloomer.  The bees were all over this crop as I stopped to take a picture. Sunshine Blue® is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the landscape.  

Proven Winners has a few more introductions that Loma Vista is growing for this upcoming spring.

Diervilla Kodiak Black  

The Kodiak® Series Diervilla is proving to be a vigorous and easy-growing group of plants. Kodiak® Black features dark purple foliage, and Kodiak® Orange shows off its bright orange foliage, especially in spring and fall.

Another new plant to Loma Vista isCephalanthus occidentalis Sugar Shack®, or buttonbush. This native shrub attracts bees, and butterflies with its fragrant white flowers that bloom all summer long.
As nursery and landscape people, we are fortunate to notice more about plants than the average person does. Take advantage of that and be sure to take a moment during your busy fall season to recognize the beauty that this time of year has to offer.

Brooke Stamm, Production Coordinator, Loma Vista Nursery

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tree Lined Streets

 out for a walk
Evening walks around my neighborhood with the dogs are not as serene as they once were. We live in one of the thousands of suburban neighborhoods that have the ever popular ash trees lining our aging neighborhood streets. I have watched all summer as the streets suffer from the devastating emerald ash bore infestation. Thick lush shade has been replaced by decayed thinning trees. In our city, the local government estimates that 23 percent of the street trees are ash. This number is considered very low as it does not take into account parks, trails or private property. We will soon be one of the victims. Our once shady landscape will soon have the baron look of new construction. The back patio that I spend warm evenings basking in the shade of a 30 year old ash are coming to a close. It was more dappled than full shade this summer. Even though the city has decided not to treat the ash trees against the emerald ash borer they are willing to bear the brunt of the removal cost for trees within 11 feet of the curb. There are plans to replant, however I am more than sure the cost will out way the funds available.
 going, going, gone
Forced to come to realization that removal is inevitable, I am becoming more comfortable with the thought of a new planting. It doesn't hurt that we have truckloads of container trees arriving at Loma Vista in Olathe and Manuel is preparing to dig fall trees in Baldwin. Traffic has picked up to a swarm here in the nursery. How can you resist the temptation to plant when everyone else is?  New varieties and some old favorites have me thinking about replacements. There are so many options.  State Street Maple has a beautiful shape and drought tolerance. Fall Fiesta, Green Mountain Sugar and Pacific Sunset Maple are great options as well. In an attempt to never run into a total loss of vegetation again I plan to diversify my planting. A few Royal Raindrops crabs around the patio for color and interest may not bring much shade but they will screen the neighbors and add to the anticipation of spring.  In the front yard, the State Street Maple will lure fall in with its yellowing foliage.
 street trees
We hope to take advantage of this fall planting time while the soil is easy to dig. The weather is comfortable enough to enjoy the process. Weeds are beginning to decline. Most disease and pests are less active and therefore less of a threat to tender vegetation. Once the leaves do fall there is still time for roots to grow as long as the soil temperature remains above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Perhaps this renewed optimism will bring the much needed excitement necessary to get over the loss of shade.

By Renee Yankovich, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Falling for Fall

Ever since I was a child my favorite season was fall (I'm not an autumn guy).  My love affair probably started because I have a birthday around Halloween and those were always two anticipated and enjoyable days for most kids.  There were also a lot of other fun fall rituals as a child, begging my parents to get Royals playoff tickets (at least in the late 80's/early 90's - they never made it though), it was the primary soccer playing season, school got passed the lame review stage and to the point I could show off my mad math skills (although I seemed to be one of the only students to care about that), going to high school football games with friends and wearing my newest Iowa State (my first love until I went to Kansas State) sweatshirts as it got cool outside.

out for walk 
There were some special falls in my younger years: begging my parents to take me to as many Royals games as possible to see George Brett chasing 3,000 hits and hoping to be there the moment he did (I was at the entire home stand after he returned from California to see hits 3,001-3,005) and begging my parents to take me to see as many Royals games as possible in 1993 before George Brett retired (I was at his final home stand).

As I got older I did hit a bit of an autumn lull; baseball got a little more depressing, the Chiefs got a little more interesting but depressing in their own right (I am not even referring to their last two games), birthdays started getting a little more discouraging (the actual days weren't just what they signified) and fall seemed to become the thing that was barely there to get us from summer to Christmas. 

time for a break
That lull did not last long though. I started to mature and had some very impactful falls; the primary courting of my beautiful bride, Heather, was through the fall eight years ago.  And, a few years later my son, Harper, really became alert to his dad being more than just a transportation device to take him to his mom when he needed something.  Fall seemed to become the time when we slowed down just a little to spend more time with family and friends that the busyness of the summer seem to separate us from.  Then last fall (much less important than the prior sentences in the paragraph - just to be clear) I was brought back to the excitement I had as a child with the Royals' postseason run.  My childhood romance with the Royals and baseball was back and in a huge way and it was not just me; our city passionately united around a bunch of boys we watched grow into men as the season worn on.  There were some differences.  Rather than begging my parents for tickets, I asked them to watch Harper while Heather and I went to a few games. As exciting as each game was, there was still work the next day and having a more mature outlook on the games, I could fully enjoy the experience.
Let's Go Royals!

As I have reflected on why I still love the fall so much - the crisp morning air, wearing sweaters (remember I am getting older so not as many sweatshirts), the lovely colors that the trees give us just before they drop their leaves, the smell of bonfires off in the distance or the end of allergy season after the first hard frost - are all great but it is none of those things. I believe these days it is about opportunity.  In early October we still have the opportunity to re-direct the current year if we do not like where it is heading.  Even if the current year seems like a throw away we are close enough to see the next and the opportunity a fresh slate brings.  So finish this year strong and enjoy all that fall has to offer along the way.