We have a nice warming trend right now with high temperatures reaching 50 degrees F later in the week! Today was still cold with a bit of snow but at least it isn't bitter out there right now. We had a nice showing of volunteers at the Horticulture Center today. Kathy, Cindy and Kay all worked on preparing more color-coded labels for our seed grown varieties that will go out to growers in the coming weeks. Patrea came in to meet with Janice and me regarding our Heirloom Collection this year which is sizing up to be quite exciting. Dick H. worked on some equipment and we also saw Gary, Mark S. and a couple of others. Big John accomplished myriad projects at the Horticulture Center. I continue to order seeds and prepare for our collections this year as well as the Spring Plant Sale (Mother's day weekend).
I've always enjoyed seeing and utilizing 'Jade Princess' ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum) which has immediate impact in the summer garden as evidenced in all of these photos. This grass is an annual pearl millet and I believe came on the market about 8-9 years ago. There are some maroon leaf varieties out there like 'Purple Majesty', 'Purple Baron' and 'Jester' but these are all taller but certainly have merit as well. 'Jade Princess' tops out at less than 30" tall in bloom (in our climate) and contributes a strong "golden/chartreuse" coloration with bold foliage and the summer inflorescences (flower/seed heads) age from a light pink to a deep burgundy. When in bloom, this millet invites closer inspection and some "tactile engagement." This grass, which shrugs off summer heat, really needs full sun and will thrive in containers or in garden beds with decent soil and ample moisture. Look for 'Jade Princess' ornamental millet at your area garden centers and you can certainly find seed of this selection in numerous catalogs.
nice foliage even before the blooms! (above)
above and below are the early blooms before they extend and darken
Ball Seed Trial Garden (West Chicago, IL)
heavy use of Pennisetum 'Jade Princess' at Cantigny Gardens (Wheaton, IL)