Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Proven Winners® ColorChoice®: Supporting Sponsor of the Madison Fling

Let’s hear it for Proven Winners® ColorChoice® flowering shrubs, a 2020 Fling Bloom-Level Sponsor!

Best known for their outstanding hydrangeas that are packed with bigger blooms, held up on strong, supportive stems, it’s no wonder Proven Winners ColorChoice varieties like ‘Limelight’, Incrediball® and Invincibelle® Spirit II have become household names.

Proven Winners ColorChoice offers over 35 hydrangea varieties, from smooth hydrangeas, to bigleaf and mountain hydrangeas, to panicle and oak leaf hydrangeas. Their 2020 Hydrangea of the YearInvincibelle® Ruby Hydrangea arborescens is a standout. It has rich, red blooms that appear all summer and it’s super hardy, in USDA zones 3 to 8.

The dark burgundy red flower buds of Invincibelle® Ruby open to a two-toned combination of bright ruby red and silvery pink. The foliage is extra dark and stems are strong, making this new hydrangea a gem in any garden. It’s also a strong rebloomer that will be an excellent addition to any garden. Like other smooth hydrangeas, it flowers on new growth, so it blooms every year without fail.

Year after year, nurseries big and small look to Proven Winners ColorChoice for new shrub introductions that perform better, and Proven Winners ColorChoice looks to garden communicators of all types, like the flingers, to spread the word about their experiences with these new plants. This expert advice helps consumers make informed choices about what they grow, and helps our network of growers and garden centers experience greater sales success.

“Not Just New, Better” means growers, garden centers, landscapers and home gardeners will all feel like winners when they choose Proven Winners plants, a brand synonymous with quality and consistency.

Find them online:
   Website: provenwinners-shrubs.com
   Facebook: PWCC - facebook.com/pwcolorchoice/ and Garden PR - facebook.com/NatalieGardenPR/
   Twitter: PWCC - twitter.com/Spring_Meadow also Garden PR - twitter.com/GardenPR_PW
   Instagram: instagram.com/pwcolorchoice/
   You Tube: bit.ly/ColorChoiceVideos

*** The Garden Bloggers Fling is a non-profit organization; we’d be nowhere without our generous sponsors! Please let them know how much they mean to us—big "thank-yous" to each and every one! ***

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Friday's Private Gardens Feature Pathways, Ponds, and Prairies

Linda and Phil Grosz's pond
[Note: Dates have been changed for the 2022 Fling. Gardens may vary slightly.]

We’re thrilled to share some amazing private gardens at the 2020 Fling! Three days aren’t enough to tour every noteworthy garden in the Madison area, but we did our best to cover three general areas:

  • Friday, June 24, we’ll start on the far west and southwest sides of Madison—touring Middleton and Fitchburg gardens;

  • Saturday, June 25, we’ll move a little closer in to the city of Madison; and

  • Sunday, June 26, we’ll venture to the east side of Madison and Monona, then southeast to the small city of Stoughton.

Friday’s gardens present a pleasant mix of gardening styles and types—from edibles to ornamentals, prairies to woodlands, pathways to ponds, and everything in between.

Rita Thomas began gardening at her Fitchburg garden 35 years ago. “I knew nothing about plants or garden design,” she admits. The garden grew and changed as she learned. Rita describes herself as “a plant collector, seeking out the unusual, the best of the species, or the latest introductions. My major interests have been native woodland plants, daylilies, and irises.”

Rita has an extensive collection of daylilies. Her most recent interests are herbaceous and tree peonies: She recently added 20 new tree and 15 herbaceous peonies to the garden. About 14 of her tree peony grafts and many peony seedlings can be found in her nursery beds. “The garden has been my retreat, my laboratory, and my playground,” she describes. “Tending my garden rejuvenates my spirit and my physical body. I welcome all guests to share in my joy.”

Cherith Bruckner’s shady gardens are woven throughout wonderful hickories, oaks, and black walnuts on a corner lot. “The gardens have taken shape gradually over the past 20+ years—from our first efforts of pulling blackcap raspberry brambles and weeds to what has grown into a passion to enhance the woodland setting,” she says. “A lot of ‘terraforming’ played a role in creating a ‘natural’ setting for a water feature that includes a stream, a waterfall, and a pond.”

Over any one of three bridges lie plants and structures, crags and crevices that hold countless surprises and rewards. Vignettes of many shade-loving perennials and shrubs continue to evolve along the woodland paths and water elements. Gardens in the front provide a home for more sun-loving shrubs and perennials, including irises, lilies, and daylilies.

Betsy True and Danny Aerts describe their one-acre property as “the functional yard. We’ve been gradually improving it with garden, orchard, and woodland settings. A large, fenced vegetable garden occupies the main center.” They are “serious about vegetables—using  market garden techniques, raised beds, rotation, elevated bins, and containers.”

Pears, quince, espaliered apples, and various small fruits are distributed around the garden. There are chickens at one end of the yard and bees at the other. A prairie covers the side yard, and a pond lies just off the sun porch on the other side. “There are many diverse micro-environments,” explains Betsy. “We landscape with an eye for insect nutrition and habitat, extended bloom for the bees, habitat for small animals, and edibles for the house. It’s a work in progress and a joy to keep improving and trying new things.”

Linda and Phil Grosz built their home 22 years ago. Our goal was to transform our large, vacant lot into a beautiful, tranquil, and wildlife-friendly environment,” describes LindaOur first project was planting an acre of native prairie.

Grown entirely from seed, the prairie soon surrounded the yard with an abundant and colorful mix of wildflowers and grasses. A stream cascading into a large pond was the next landscape feature they installed, and it has become the focal point of the back yard and a magnet for visiting birds. Over the years, we’ve added thousands of spring bulbs and perennials, large shade and hosta gardens, as well as a rock garden, herb and vegetable gardens, and a new miniature garden, she says. We’ve also assembled a diverse collection of conifers, Japanese maples, and garden art. Join us on the back deck, and enjoy the view of our pond, prairie, and the adjacent golf course.

Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for overviews of the other private and public gardens to be featured as part of the 2022 Fling. (Note: This schedule may change; we will keep you updated here and on the Fling Facebook page.)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Allen Centennial Garden: A Small Gem in the Heart of Madison

We've talked about the 2020 Fling hotel, transportation, food, and fun things to do. Now let's take a look at the gardens, shall we? Let's start with the last one on the schedule: We'll be visiting the Allen Centennial Garden on Sunday afternoon, June 21, and you won't want to miss it! Described as the "artful living laboratory" of UW-Madison's Horticulture Department, Allen Centennial is a public botanical garden, open year-round, dawn to dusk.

Located on a cozy 2.5 acres surrounding the historic Dean's Residence, the gardens were designed to complement the home and its existing plantings. A substantial gift from a former UW faculty member, Ethel Allen, meant she was instrumental in providing support for the early phases of garden construction. Her husband, Dr. Oscar Allen, was a professor at the university for nearly three decades. The couple co-authored what is considered the "encyclopedia" of the role of legumes in nitrogen fixation.

Naming the gardens after the Allens in 1989 coincided with the commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of the university's Department of Horticulture, hence the garden's full name of Allen Centennial Garden. The garden is built around a stately Victorian gothic house, which was one of the first buildings on the agricultural campus and served as home for the first four deans.

Allen Centennial is a "comfortable" garden: It has plenty of magical nooks and crannies to explore, but it's compact and not sprawling. It's divided into 14 distinct areas—from English cottage gardens, to an iris meadow, to a Japanese garden, and a Wisconsin woodland garden. The property serves as an outdoor classroom for UW-Madison students and surrounding communities, providing learning opportunities for visitors of all ages.

Imagine this picturesque spot as a comfy, peaceful venue for the close of the 2020 Fling. Hopefully, it will be a mild, calm summer afternoon/early evening. Our ending surprise send-off will add an extra touch of whimsy to a beautiful place to share with gardening friends.

Photos courtesy Allen Centennial Garden