What Exactly Does a Landscaper Do All Winter Long in Illinois?

I am asked this question countless times between last project in December before Avant-Gardenscapes winds down for the winter months and our first project in March when we gear up for the growing season. My standard answers are things like organize the office, review the previous season, paperwork, research, attend seminars, try not to drive my husband Andrew crazy, etc. However there is much more going on behind the scenes that allows me to temporarily forget about the white winter tundra of Illinois and dream of the gardens to come. I try not to make people envious about how much fun I am having preparing for the spring!

Although January can feel quite barren outside, my computer screen flashes vibrant images of new colorful plants and flowers for the season. And I eagerly await the mail each day to see what nursery catalog will land on my desk next with all kinds of new possibilities. As many of you know, gardens are like ongoing conversations, never really completed but waiting to be continued on another day. If the pause in winter seems too long for your attention span, allow yourself to dream about what’s next. Taking the time to plan your next landscaping project before planting gets into full swing will allow you to have a more thoughtful conversation all spring and summer.

Andrew and I recently attended lunch with Lynn Pries from Montale Gardens, my favorite local wholesale plant nursery, to discuss new and exciting crops out this season. First up, hydrangeas! This is one of my favorite plants of all time and therefore I am excited to divulge the newest of the new.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Lime’

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Lime’ is a sport of the ever popular ‘Limelight’ hydrangea. This dwarf shrub reaching 3’-5’ has the same great flowers and coloration of its predecessor but in a smaller package. It boasts panicle blooms of soft green that turn pink and then burgundy in the fall. This will go great in smaller mixed sun and part sun gardens.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bombshell’

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bombshell’ is being called ‘a garden breakthrough’ because of its dwarf habit. It reaches a mounded height of 36” and a width of 36”and requires part sun. It also claims to have more flowers than any other paniculata types and blooms from early summer until frost. I think it will be a nice alternative to the temperamental blooms of ‘Endless Summer’.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball”

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball” produces huge flowers with measurements as large as 12” across. The blooms open green, mature to white, and return to green at the end of their life cycle. It is similar to Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ in size growing 4’-6’ tall and will take part sun to sun. I hope the hype is true and the sturdy stems can support these enormous flowers.

I gleefully extend the performance challenge to these new kids on the block and will be pleasantly surprised if they become bigger favorites than Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ and ‘Pinky Winky’. Let’s get planting!

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’


Pinky Winky

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball


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