Author Archives: VZ staff

It’s not always about the flowers.

I love flowers but in our gardens they are fleeting and demand more maintenance.  Perennials come in stages, flowering shrubs and trees flower for such a short time and annuals add a pop of color but need to be replaced every year.  But what we do see all year long is the foliage; this is where color and texture can really break up the monotony of green!

There are some great plants that are available purely for their foliage (the flowers are secondary).  The change of color, from either a nice deep burgundy or bright chartreuse, can easily break up the wall of green in most planting beds. Don’t forget about textures as well.  Leaves of all the same size and shape bleed together; but adding different shapes and sizes of leaves will break up the border.

There are a great number of plants that use their foliage as their selling point, from perennials to trees and shrubs.  Here are a just a few great additions to the garden.

weigela rubidor soft and hard textures heuchera palace purple
heliopsis loraine sunshine cornus kousa wolf eyes eupatorium chocolate
japanese maple heuchera caramel play with texture
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Happy 4th of July!

Have a safe and happy 4th!


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Emerald Ash Borer

The devastation of the emerald ash borer is more apparent than ever. Do you have an ash tree in your landscape? Is it slowly declining? Then you more than likely have a tree that was affected by the borer. How can you tell?

• The adult beetle will create a “D” shaped hole in the bark of the tree. Once the larvae emerge you may also see increased woodpecker damage as they like to feed on the larvae.

• Dieback usually begins in the top one-third of the canopy and progresses down the tree until it is bare.

• You may also notice epicormis shoots, these are the sprouts (suckers) that grow from the roots and trunk of the tree. The leaves of these shoots are often larger than normal.

What now? Well once the tree has been affected by the beetle it’s pretty much too late. You will need to have the tree removed. This is best done by a professional as there are strict regulations on what to do with the tree.

When planning your landscape be sure to plant a variety of trees of different species. This allows for biodiversity and a number of habitats for wildlife. If we plant a monoculture of plants you will see what can happen when a disease or insect becomes a problem (such as dutch elm disease and now emerald ash borer).

emerald ash borer damage (1)

An entire street lined with Ash now destroyed by the borer.

emerald ash borer d hole

Typical borer “D” shaped holes.

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In Bloom…

Lupine (1)

gaillardia (2)

amsonia blue star (1)

achillea moonshine (10)

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Hear David Van Zelst speak…

when: June 14 at 12:30 and 1:30

where: 681 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka

David will be speaking on the use of social media/pinterest and it’s influence on the design process and about organic influenced gardening.  Copies of his book “Transformation: Ideas for the Midwestern Landscape” will be available for purchase, proceeds of sales will go to


RSVP to Linda Martin
Call 847-275-7253 or Email [email protected]


Van Zelst, Inc.

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The birds and the bees and butterflies too!

nestCommuning with nature is a great way to spend the evening after a long day of hard work and relax. The best gardens are those that are wildlife friendly! Here are a few tips to make your landscape a more welcoming environment. Birds of all species need various nesting sites. It’s good to have a variety of trees, shrubs and evergreens. Even an old dead tree can fit into your landscape to invite woodpeckers and nuthatches to nest. Butterflies need nectar sources, host sources (for the caterpillars) and shelter. And all living beings need water, a great way to attract more wildlife is to include a water source.

Here’s small list of plants to entice the birds, bees and butterflies!

Trees and shrubs for birds:
Serviceberry (amelanchier)-the birds love to gobble up the berries in the spring!
Hawthorn (crataegus)-great protective tree for nesting and produces berries for a food source.
Colorado Spruce or Norway Spruce (picea)-A great protective nesting site for birds (as with most other evergreens).
Red/Black Chokeberry (aronia)-another great food source for birds.

Butterfly garden plants:
Yarrow (achillea)
Columbine (aquilegia)
False Indigo (baptisia)
Butterfly Bush (buddleia)
Tickseed (coreopsis)
Coneflowers (echinacea)
Bee Balm (monarda)
Goldenrod (solidago)

A small pond or fountain makes a great open water source.

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Today we Remember…

What this day means.

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The start of a long weekend…

For most people this weekend signifies the official start of summer!

The weather looks like it’s going to be a beautiful weekend to enjoy the outdoors. And summer means…pools!

A swimming pool can be the social centerpiece for the season with your friends and family. A pool doesn’t just have to be surrounded by a concrete pad. Design your backyard retreat to be an extension of your home. Using natural stone, colorful annual displays and creative landscaping will help to soften the harsh lines of swimming pool equipment and welcoming your guests to enjoy the environment.

A private get away.

Living outdoors.

The sounds of nature.

A welcome respite.

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In Bloom…

With such a long winter it’s nice to see the plants starting to bloom…




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Why not give mom flowers all year long!

It’s time for mother’s day and one of the busiest days at a florist shop.  But if you are an avid gardener you can easily create your own floral arrangements from home.  This time of year, early spring, there are a plethora of bulbs that make great color displays in the home.  As soon as the temperatures rise we’ll see a flush of landscape plants blooming (perfect for snipping a few blooms and buds).

Flowers to plant in your garden for harvest of fresh flowers year round:

Early spring:

Just about any spring bulb makes a good cut flower! Tulips, narcissus (daffodils), hyacinths and even tiny muscari can make a lovely little nosegay.

And don’t forget those early blooming branches; they make a great statement alone or with a mix of flowers.  You can even force them to bloom by cutting them and then bringing them inside and putting them in water.  Try Forsythia or Malus (crabapple).

Late spring into summer:

Peonies!  Who doesn’t love a peony! There’s also Achillea (yarrow), Echinacea (cone flowers), Astilbe, Rudbeckia (black eyed susans), tall garden Phlox, Iris, Veronica, Liatris (blazing star), Lily of the valley and the list goes on.  Oh and don’t forget a branch or two of sweet smelling Lilacs!

Late summer into Fall:

You might not think there would be much late in the year but there are lots of plants still blooming until frost, as well as a few fall bloomers.  Try out Mums, Anemones, Solidago (goldenrod), Roses (and rose hips), and even grasses make a great addition to the vase! Fill out your vase with bunches of late blooming hydrangea! And for a bit of height and fall color, clip a branch of a Japanese maple or any brightly color fall leaved tree!

Also don’t forget to supplement your landscape with an abundance of annuals!  Many of which also make great cut flowers!

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