Sporty Specimens

In the T.V. special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, Linus sagely muses, “There are three things I have learned to never discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” We could add sports team allegiances to that list. In my family, the Chicago Bears were the enemy and the Green Bay Packers our salvation. When my brother did the unthinkable and married a Minnesota Vikings fan, the question wasn’t of religion but of which team the kids would be raised to cheer on. As it turns out, they have two boys, one a Packers fan, one for the Vikings–a house divided.

Baseball wasn’t preached as exuberantly in our house, but my dad was a Cubs fan (especially on days a game was on and there was a waiting list of chores). Dad was ecstatic to see Chicago win the World Series earlier this month. My great-grandmother was surely cheering in the afterlife. However, I had never attended a baseball game until I met my husband (a die-hard, long-suffering Brewers fan) so Miller Park is a special place for us and I became a fan by way of marriage. After the Cubs’ World Series win, a Facebook friend posted that he was “disgusted” by how Brewers fans were cheering for the Cubs and that if it were the Vikings or the Bears at the Super Bowl, Packer fans wouldn’t dream of changing allegiance. With the amount of fallout that ensued, you’d have thought he posted about his preferred political candidate. Let’s face it, our victorious southern neighbors might be the closest Milwaukeeans get to the pennant. Besides, wasn’t the Cubs’ win worth seeing how happy it made Bill Murray?

With Thanksgiving approaching, sports and politics will bring heated discussions and tension to many a turkey dinner. I’m bracing myself for Dad gloating about being a Cubs fan. But just as every family’s Thanksgiving dinner is a little different than their neighbors, such is how sports fans show their support. Some think it best to paint their bodies and stand half-naked in a stadium, daring Mother Nature to inflict frostbite. Others use their home as their canvas- a house near my neighborhood has a front porch painted green and gold for the Packers. I suggest celebrating your chosen team in a less extreme fashion that positively affects resale value. Have you considered plants? Shrubs and perennials that mimic team colors are an environmentally friendly way to wave your fan flag.

Milwaukee Brewers

In the T.V. special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” Linus sagely muses, "There are three things I have learned to never discuss with people: r…

Left: Yellow Flowers on Corneliancherry Dogwood | Right: Blue Flowers on Blue Scilla Bulbs

  • In early spring, show you back the Brew Crew with the yellow flowers of Corneliancherry Dogwood, (Cornus mas) and a skirt of blue scilla bulbs around the base.
  • In May and June, decorate a sunny location with Blue Ice Amsonia (Amsonia x ‘Blue Ice’), Bartzella Yellow Peony (Paeonia (ITOH) ‘Bartzella’), and the white blooms of Nikko Slender Deutzia (Deutzia x ‘Nikko Slender’) to tie everything together.
  • For a shady spot, mix the blue flowers of Jack Frost Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ PP13,859), Fire Island Hosta (Hosta ‘Fire Island’), Blue Cadet Hosta (Hosta ‘Blue Cadet’), Gold Standard Hosta (Hosta fortunei ‘Gold Standard’), and white Deutschland Astilbe (Astilbe ‘Deutschland’) for an extended season of Brewers colors.
  • Blue Clips Bellflower (Campanula carpatica ‘Blue Clips’) and Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea x ‘Moonshine’) pair well in the height of summer.
  • Finish the fall baseball season with Sky Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense) and Fireworks Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’).

Green Bay Packers

St. John’s Wort

Hypericum kalmianum

Technito® Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis ‘Bail John’ PP 15,850

Stella De Oro Daylily

Hypericum kalmianum

  • Since most plants are green, finding ones that have gold blooms is an easy addition: St. Johns Wort (Hypericum kalmianum), Stella De Oro Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Stella De Oro’), and Zagreb Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata  ‘Zagreb’) do double duty.
  • Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) with a green conifer like Technito® Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Bail John’ PP 15,850) is a perfect pairing since the Witchhazel blooms appear just in time for football season.
  • Mix your standard green conifers with golden cousins, like Sea of Gold® Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Sea of Gold’ PP 17,622), Sungold False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera fil. ‘Sungold’), and Sunkist Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Sunkist’).
  • Or you can get literal with the plants. Love Aaron Rodgers? Plant a Fireworks Rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata ‘Fireworks’) aka “Rodger’s Flower” in a shady location. Is Eddie Lacy your favorite? Try Lacey Blue Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Lisslitt’ PP22,845) mixed into the sun perennial garden. Montgomery Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Montgomery’) for offensive player Ty Montgomery. Julius Peppers is an easy one.
  • If you want to commemorate the “greatest World Series ever”, that Common Witchhazel you planted for the Packers can pay tribute to Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel (the shrub’s Latin name is Hamamelis virginiana). The Stella De Oro Daylilies can quietly celebrate Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella. And you can remember pitcher David Ross’s last amazing game with a Buddleia davidii or Butterfly Bush that will bloom for almost the entire baseball season.