Its been another interesting year for growing plants in Wisconsin. Last year was very cool and we never really got to enjoy warm season plants. This year the season started out cool and rainy as usual with no warm spring weather to perk us up and out of our winter doldrums. Suddenly though it got quite warm in June and with adequate rain plants (and weeds and mosquitoes) grew like gangbusters! I began harvesting tomatoes by mid July this year and it seems like everything is about 2 weeks ahead of previous years. Now here we are in the dog days of August. The Japanese beetle have laid eggs in the turf and gone away. The consistent rains have caused the turfgrass to stay green all summer and mine has not gone dormant. As nice as the gras looks it bodes poorly for Japanese beetles next year. I’m sure there are a million beetle larvae nestled down in that lovely lush grass.
The Commercial Flower Growers of WI and several other groups support the trial gardens at the UW Madison Research Farm in Verona. I visited the farm on Aug 6 to see new plants. This is a good time to evaluate plants and see what has survived the heat and humdity of a Wisconsin summer. I know I’m watching a few things crash in my yard right now – petunias, geraniums. I’ll show pictures of a few of the best here
The new big thing – black petunias – did not fair so well. Phantom, Pinstripe abd Black VelvetThese looked great in my yard and containers early in the season but are now starting to get that stretched summer petunia look that makes me want to hack them back to start over. The only petunia that really kept its shape and bloom power seemed to be white ‘Picnic’, a small flowered groundcover type.