A Northern Wisconsin Garden - Winter Greenhouse

A Northern Wisconsin Garden - Winter Greenhouse

Part of Ep. 1701 Places to Visit

Shelley tours the Winter Greenhouse with co-owner Jim Wilson. The Winter Greenhouse specializes in zone 3 plants that are long-lived, long-blooming, low maintenance. Favorite plants include phlox, Monks Head, Tiger Eye sumac, bee balm, coneflowers coreopsis and Veronica. Wilson also points out plants with strong fall color such as geranium and burning bush.

Premiere date: Feb 28, 2009

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Isn't this gorgeous?  We're at Winter Greenhouse about two miles north of Winter, Wisconsin.  And it's called "Winter" for a reason.  We're way up north in Wisconsin.  If you're ever in the area this is a wonderful place to visit.  They sell a wide variety of plants but the display gardens alone are worth the trip.  I'm with the co-owner, Jim Wilson.  Jim, I could spend all afternoon just kind of wandering around and looking at your gardens.  Tell me a little bit about Winter Greenhouse.

Jim:
We started it 25 years ago.  We started growing perennials very soon, or about the same time.  We found we wanted to know how hardy they were.  Customers would ask us how hardy they were.

Shelley:
And what's the zone here?

Jim:
The zone is 3.

Jim:
So that can be minus 40!  So we started these display gardens to show off our plants and also to see what's really hardy.  And for design customers can see what looks good together, as well.

Shelley:
Okay, so criteria are: hardy...

Jim:
Long-lived, long-blooming, low maintenance.

Shelley:
Good, all the things I like.  Let's start out with this.  This phlox is just beautiful.  It's glowing.

Jim:
Garden Phlox is a real hit with people because it has so many bright colors They're long blooming, too.  This one is mildew resistant.  It's Orange Perfection.  That's important for people because mildew can be a problem with phlox.

Shelley:
I've seen phlox that was totally gray from mildew.  All the leaves were disfigured.  This is great and really healthy.  Are we in an older section of your garden?

Jim:
This is one of our oldest sections.  We started this first.

Shelley:
I love the height.  We've almost got a wall of beauty behind us.

Jim:
We try to move from the lower border plant in front moving up to a higher backdrop with shrubs and background to give that depth.

Shelley:
Kind of a wall back there, too.  This is beautiful.

Jim:
That's Monks Head.  It stands tall and doesn't flop too easily.

Shelley:
That's good.  So that makes it a winner.  You've got a red bee balm that really pops.

Jim:
Yes, it's a nice contrast with this sumac here.  That's a Tiger Eye sumac.  The red and the yellow look nice.

Shelley:
You're kind of repeating the yellow.  The eye kind of flows from the front up to the back.

Jim:
Exactly, that's one of the design ideas.
Shelley:
You're doing it.  We've got another bee balm though, a much shorter one.

Jim:
Right, that one is Grand Marshall.  We have different colors: pink, purple, red.  Different sizes makes it interesting.

Shelley:
Again, putting the lower ones up close to the edge and kind of letting it rise up and down.

Jim:
Right, and it repeats the theme.

Shelley:
Now, this is an echinacea in the purple coneflower family but it's not purple.

Jim:
Right, you noticed!  The purple coneflower is very hardy and a real standard in the perennial garden.  We're excited about these and have high hopes with the new colors.  A lot of gorgeous colors.  This one is called Sundown.  We're still trying out the hardiness part of it.

Shelley:
So maybe zone 3 isn't the perfect spot for it.  We'll let you play with it first.  That makes sense.

Jim:
We're working with orange in this part of the garden, too.  We have the orange oriental lilies in the background.  And again, the other one is purple.  The orange and the purple are a nice complement.

Shelley:
They really make each other pop.

Jim:
Here we have some coreopsis, Moonbeam, it's called.

Shelley:
This is great.  This always glows.

Jim:
It's a favorite of mine, too.  This is a Perennial Plant Association winner in 1992.  It's just long-lived, low maintenance, long-blooming.

Shelley:
Just what we need.  I like the way that it goes with the blue.

Jim:
It goes very nicely with blue, that color of yellow.  This blue is a favorite geranium called Rosanne.  It's very tidy.  It doesn't slop over so easily.

Shelley:
So again, low maintenance.

Jim:
And really, an ever-blooming geranium right from the beginning to the end of the season.

Shelley:
I really like it.  Is that another coreopsis there?

Jim:
Yes, it's taller and little darker color.  It's called Zamfir.

Shelley:
It almost looks more like a small shrub compared to this lower growing one.  The contrast is nice.

Jim:
This is nicer in the lower part of the border.  But in the middle, you need something like this.

Shelley:
Something to bring the eyes up again.  I love this Veronica.  What one is this?  This is absolutely beautiful.

Jim:
That's called Eveline.  That's one of our favorites.  It has a nice color.  Veronica is a very tidy plant.  It fits well, and the spires coming up contrast well with the daisies behind it and how it forms.

Shelley:
Do you ever have to stake this?

Jim:
No, it's standing up nicely.

Shelley:
What about maintenance?  We talked low maintenance.  What would you do to keep something like this looking tidy?

Jim:
You can prune them.  They bloom pretty long, but they'll bloom even longer if you prune them what's called deadheading.  When you deadhead, you take an older one and you cut that down, leaving the lateral shoots.

Shelley:
So they'll come back again.

Jim:
That'll keep it blooming longer.

Shelley:
What about the maintenance for the coreopsis?

Jim:
The coreopsis is a similar thing.  They really bloom long and look good.  But they get a little tired.  Then you can just get your shears out and clip them along, like that.  You don't have to worry about exactly where.  Three or four inches and in a couple weeks they'll be blooming fresh again.

Shelley:
Nothing blooms forever.  What do we do as we move into the changing seasons?

Jim:
Right, you have to think about that and how it grows.  This geranium, for instance, we like that because it turns a very nice fall color.

Shelley:
So you get the foliage colors.  Do you have other things planned for fall season?

Jim:
We're thinking about that.  The burning bush is a favorite of many people.  And up there, we have a burning bush.  That's just a gorgeous scarlet red in the fall.  We have plants that bloom in the fall over in that direction.  Taller ones back further and smaller ones.  They're just similar to the bee balm.

Shelley:
Again, keep in mind the four seasons of the year.

Jim:
Always, you want something blooming all the time.  You want a transition all the time, too.  It's fun to try to compose it so it will work.

Shelley:
You've done a great job.

Jim:
Thank you.

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