In early February, our office closed for three days as we attended the annual Illinois Landscape Contractor Association’s trade show, iLandscape. Informational sessions and a bustling showroom gave each of us fresh ideas on design, construction, professionalism and more. We want to share with you 6 interesting things we learned at iLandscape.

1) New plants are continuously being discovered and developed. Some of the new introductions are:

Clockwise from top left: Summer Ruffle Hibiscus; Tiny Tuff Stuff Hydrangea; Invincibelle Wee White Hydrangea; At Last Rose.

Summer Ruffle Hibiscus– from Bailey’s Nurseries. A flowering shrub with variegated leaves and lavender flowers, 3-4 feet tall. Full sun.

Tiny Tuff Stuff Hydrangea– from Proven Winners. A miniature hydrangea with blue to pink flowers, only 2 feet tall. Part sun to full sun.

Invincibelle Wee White Hydrangea– from Proven Winners. Another small hydrangea with white flowers, growing only 1-2 feet tall. Part sun to full sun.

At Last Shrub Rose– fragrant flowers and disease-free, 3 feet tall. Full sun.

2) New LED lighting fixtures that caught our attention are all from Dauer Manufacturing:

Clockwise from top left: Tortuga Torch Path Light; Deco Drive Silhouette Bollard ,; Everglades Dual-Source Fixture; Omni Half-Cut Path Light.

Tortuga Torch Path Light– The fixture combines a path light with a tiki torch to add a fire element to the garden. Available 10-, 18- and 60-inch stem options.

Silhouette Bollard– Numerous bollard designs in varying heights cast beautiful shadows on the ground. Pictured is Deco Drive Bollard.

Everglades Dual-Source Fixture– Two fixtures in one! It can be used as a path light, uplight, wall washer, or a combination.

Omni Half-Cut Path Light– When installed near a wall, the fixture acts as a path light and a wall wash due to the cutout hat.

3) There’s a preconceived notion that landscape and turf maintenance have a significantly negative environmental impact due to runoff from fertilizers and chemicals.

Image credit: Doug Solat, Ph. D.

According to presenter Doug Solat, Ph. D, Dept. of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, landscape maintenance contributes less than 1% to runoff, globally. The big contributors to runoff are construction sites and agriculture. Additionally, he states maintained turf in urban areas is often better for the environment than unmaintained turf.

4) Piet Oudolf, world-renowned garden designer, plant expert and author gave us insight to his modest upbringing, full of landscaping experimentation and learning.

He stated that the gardener needs to allow the garden to change over time because change is natural. When we design and install a landscape, it will look completely different in 1 year, 3 years, 10 years, and 20 years. Certain plants die while others flourish. Oudolf encouraged us, and we encourage you, to embrace your ever-changing garden.

5) Roy Diblik, a recognized perennial plant expert and grower, designer, speaker and author, spoke about 16 perennials that changed his life forever.

He encouraged us to look for beautiful combinations of plants when designing. Even combinations of the same plant but different varieties, such as Salvia ‘May Night’ and Salvia ‘East Friesland’, add depth to the color palate of the design. He quoted a friend in saying, “That which is loved is beautiful; that which is beautiful is loved.”

A winter view of Lurie Garden at Millennium Park. Piet Oudolf and Roy Diblik designed this garden masterpiece.

6) Since 1998, contractors worldwide have built so many paved surfaces. The amount is equivalent to an 8 ft. wide walkway to the moon! 

Image credit: Jay Krech.

This is according to the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, shared by presenter Jay Krech of SEK Surebond.

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