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Show #29/3703
A Magnificent Estate With Equally Magnificent Gardens

Water Gardening
WATER GARDENING has been popular for many years and there are a great number of reasons for that. Not only are these fun and attractive displays to put together but in many cases it opens up a whole new pallet of plants that they can, in some cases, put in the ground. Or they often adapt plants used in the ground for use in the water gardens. Plants such as cannas can be submerged in water. They don't go down deep in the water, just a couple of inches below the surface.
Click here for more info

Selecting A Container
They talk about the CONTAINER one should use for these applications. The most obvious point is it must not have a hole in the bottom. Sealing the bottom of a container can be tricky but a cork and silicon will work. But it's simpler to just buy a container without a hole or to buy a liner.
Click here for more info

Making A Water Garden
To SET UP A WATER GARDEN one needs to know about the water level plants enjoy. For example, water lilies should be placed approximately 10 inches below the water line. The canna is a marginal plant and it should be placed in water just above the soil line. Remember things float in water, bricks don't, thus bricks are helpful in achieving the perfect level to place pots. Another thing to remember is potting mix often has little pieces of perlite.
Click here for more info


Vertical Gardens
Some of the most creative displays Eric has seen the past few years have been VERTICAL GARDENS, especially the ones where typical ground cover plants are utilized. They stand out because one typically will find those plants by looking down, now they're putting them up on a vertical element which makes it easier to enjoy these plants that are often missed in the garden.
Click here for more info

Making A Wreath
Eric and Parker go inside to get more ideas. They're in the conservatory and Parker shows us a WREATH. Jordana is one of the gardeners here and completed a beautiful wreath 6 months ago. It has filled in very well and is ready to hang and will go in the orchid room. It is relatively simple to put together. A frame of any size and shape can be used. It can be flat, the shape of a turtle, one even will see topiary frames.
Click here for more info

Pruning Tips
Eric next puts on his gardening gloves because it's time to do some PRUNING. Since there is a bit of art and science to pruning they walk us through the basics. But, it's not as hard as many think. They address maximizing blooming on woody shrubs. What one wants on a woody shrub is more terminal tips. An azalea, for example, blooms on the tips. The more tips you have the more blooms.
Click here for more info

Growing Tomatoes
Eric believes that the greatest quality of life improvement derived from gardening is GROWING TOMATOES at home. There is a huge difference between tomatoes that are vine ripened compared to tomatoes found in the store that are picked green and shipped. Susan is the vegetable gardener at Biltmore and her emphasis is to simplify. Tomatoes are a good example. Susan will take everything off the lower stem of the tomato.
Click here for more info

Creating A Beautiful Vegetable Display Garden
This is a very EFFECTIVE DISPLAY GARDEN. Parker and his gardeners have done a great job of making this garden a practical, pragmatic garden that produces lots of food yet is still a beautiful space. It has expansive lawn rows which are nicely manicured and some areas with raised beds. There are many different aspects of design throughout this vegetable garden. It was laid out for the guests enjoyment and for guests to see and learn how they grow these plants.
Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

Biltmore Estate and Inn
Stay at Inn on Biltmore Estate | Four-Star Hotel in Asheville, NC

Plant List



29/3703. A Magnificent Estate With Equally Magnificent Gardens

Transcript of Show

In this episode we visit America's largest private estate and tour some of their most impressive gardens and discuss garden design and plant care. The Biltmore Estate and Gardens is truly magnificent, join us as we GardenSMART in North Carolina.

Jean Sexton, the editorial manager at Biltmore Estate and Gardens welcomes the GardenSMART audience. There have most likely been volumes of books written about Biltmore over the years, even so Jean provides some history of this beautiful place. This originally was the private estate of George Vanderbilt. It is Americas largest home and located in Asheville, North Carolina. It was 1st opened to friends and family on Christmas eve in 1895. Today it is open to the public and has been since 1930 meaning for a number of years people have been able to enjoy it and sense the Victorian experience which is preserved to this day. They go to great lengths to keep it much like it was from the beginning.

The gardens, too, are similar and of course undergo seasonal changes. This area of the country has 4 distinct seasons, we're visiting in the early summer and it is a lush green. The gardens have some tropical plantings and some brilliant annual flowers. They have live music with their concert series in the summer and beautiful mums in the fall. The miles of mums seem to correspond with the beautiful colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And as the leaves turn and we move towards Christmas, an amazing time at the Biltmore House, there are lights everywhere, Christmas trees everywhere, it really is the highlight of their year. Winter allows one to see the bones of the landscape. One often doesn't think of winter as a great time for a gardener but it too is a great time to visit. In spring they kick off the season with their annual Festival Of Flowers, which includes about 100,000 blooming tulips across the estate. It's been awhile since Eric has visited, he knows they have an eye for preserving the history of this fantastic place and is anxious to start the tour.

Eric next meets Parker Andes, the Director of Horticulture for Biltmore Estates and Gardens. Eric believes that Parker's office is much nicer than his. Parker admits this is a wonderful place to work. And they are in one of Parker's favorite gardens, the Shrub Garden. Olmsted referred to this garden as either the bramble or the shrubbery garden. And that is what it celebrates, the shrubs and beds mixed with the herbaceous and some trees.

Parker tells us a little about himself. His dad was always gardening. He had dahlias and things like that. As Parker got into landscape he fell in love with shrubs and woody plants. That got him into this profession. Today he's more into management thus doesn't get a lot of chances to get out and put plants in the ground. But he still loves his job and does oversee the gardeners and everything they are doing on this 8,000 acre estate. Eric wonders what goes into the planning of new gardens and what is Parker's philosophy as he is looking at a new bed or changing out between seasons? Parker says it's all about focusing on the design intent of Frederick Olmsted and George Vanderbilt and what they laid out for whatever area they're in. So in the Shrub Garden, for example, things will come and go but they look at the original plans and think what was the design intent, what were they trying to accomplish? Maybe it's long, linear, color, swaths, maybe there are spots of color or of trees or small trees and color that plays off each other. They look at courses and different textures. Again, the original design intent. Eric wonders how they trial new designs or new plants. They do have a trial bed in the Wall Garden where they trial different annual and perennial combinations for color. They have a wonderful display of Tulips in the spring. And they trial tulips in the spring. They trial summer annuals. They put a lot of thought into the beds before they actually put plants in the ground, everything is drawn out, everything compared to the original designs. Eric thinks they've done an outstanding job and is anxious to see more.


WATER GARDENING has been popular for many years and there are a great number of reasons for that. Not only are these fun and attractive displays to put together but in many cases it opens up a whole new pallet of plants that they can, in some cases, put in the ground. Or they often adapt plants used in the ground for use in the water gardens. Plants such as cannas can be submerged in water. They don't go down deep in the water, just a couple of inches below the surface. They do a lot of tropical planters in the summer time, it's part of the exuberance that they try to have in the garden. The gardeners put together wonderful combinations of containers all over the conservatory and outside. The chance to use a container that is filled with water is special. For example, one can put goldfish in it. For a homeowner it makes life easier because they can go on vacation and come back and the plants aren't wilted, it already has water. They talk a little about the type plants that can be used in a water garden. Parker feels the choices are fairly open. We've discussed cannas, but as well plants with flowers that might get a little leaf scorch often will do better in water. House plants like cyperus does well in water, but does need to be slightly submerged. Plants like fiber optic grass, which are hot items today, work well in this environment, it does well in well watered containers, even in water. A favorite of Parker's is purple leafed rice, Red Dragon. It's actually rice and will bloom on its stalk as well as form rice kernels on the bloom stalk. Parker has some Callas in water, as well as water lettuce and water hyacinth. These plants wouldn't do well in a lake, for example, because they're invasive, but in a controlled environment they work great. The water lettuce will just float on top of the water and does wonderfully in a container. Again, it's invasive, especially in the southern parts of the U.S. so keep it in the container, when done with the plant put in in the trash, don't let it out.
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They talk about the CONTAINER one should use for these applications. The most obvious point is it must not have a hole in the bottom. Sealing the bottom of a container can be tricky but a cork and silicon will work. But it's simpler to just buy a container without a hole or to buy a liner. A whiskey barrel or wine barrel cut in half with a plastic liner works well too.
Top


To SET UP A WATER GARDEN one needs to know about the water level plants enjoy. For example, water lilies should be placed approximately 10 inches below the water line. The canna is a marginal plant and it should be placed in water just above the soil line. Remember things float in water, bricks don't, thus bricks are helpful in achieving the perfect level to place pots. Another thing to remember is potting mix often has little pieces of perlite. They float so instead plant water plants in good top soil, plant them in dirt. Water gardens are planted much like a traditional container. It has vertical elements, intermediates and Parker has used water lettuce as a spiller. It will fill in and cover up the entire container, providing shade. The shade helps cut down on evaporation. Goldfish could be added and they will take care of mosquitoes that might lay eggs in the water. Or little mosquito dunks are available as well.
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For more info on water gardening click here.
Water Garden Care Guide


Some of the most creative displays Eric has seen the past few years have been VERTICAL GARDENS, especially the ones where typical ground cover plants are utilized. They stand out because one typically will find those plants by looking down, now they're putting them up on a vertical element which makes it easier to enjoy these plants that are often missed in the garden. They've been gardening at Biltmore for 100 years and have wonderful espalier of fruit trees and different ornamentals and of course vines growing up a wall. People have been doing that type thing for a long time. But the latest and greatest thing in the horticulture industry is vertical gardens. Simply put, it is often a column stuck in a flower pot. Sedums can create great textures and colors. Parker shows us several wooden structures. They have a wooden frame, fill the frame with garden soil, it has a watering tube that comes up through the middle, then pack the outside with sphagnum moss with chicken wire coating it, then plug the plants through the chicken wire, through the sphagnum moss, so the roots get into the soil. Water it from the top, fill it to the top with water, the water goes down through the tube and it makes watering fairly easy. They are fairly maintenance free and very visual. And, can have a big impact.
Top


Eric and Parker go inside to get more ideas. They're in the conservatory and Parker shows us a WREATH. Jordana is one of the gardeners here and completed a beautiful wreath 6 months ago. It has filled in very well and is ready to hang and will go in the orchid room. It is relatively simple to put together. A frame of any size and shape can be used. It can be flat, the shape of a turtle, one even will see topiary frames. They use unmilled sphagnum moss, squeeze it real tight, pack it into the frames as tightly as you can, you can't pack it too tight, they use a screwdriver because it works better than a dibble, make a nice hole and put in the plant. Parker is using hens and chicks and aloes. Push them in making sure there is good contact between the sphagnum and the root ball. Parker also likes to use Bromeliads and cryptanthus or earth star. If you have 10 of this and 20 of that, kind of work 10 around in a nice pattern, then work 20 around, that way you don't worry about running out. He may need to go back and take some out and rework them in but leave the wreath flat, water it really well about once a week, more if it's really hot and dry for a couple of months until things are rooted in well, then hang it up. Hang it vertically. The frames are easy to find, big box stores carry them, certainly most garden centers. Pretty much any kind of plant that grows slowly will work, but that is the key. Some plants will grow in more rapidly but if you're going the multi plant route you want to find plants that grow at the same speed. So little hens and chicks, bromeliads, cryptanthus, aloes are are great for this application. Plants with color or variegation can add depth to the design.
Top


Eric next puts on his gardening gloves because it's time to do some PRUNING. Since there is a bit of art and science to pruning they walk us through the basics. But, it's not as hard as many think. They address maximizing blooming on woody shrubs. What one wants on a woody shrub is more terminal tips. An azalea, for example, blooms on the tips. The more tips you have the more blooms. There are different ways to best prune a plant. Oftentimes to completely rejuvenate a plant if it has gotten leggy one might just cut them down 3 or 4 inches. Or, one might go through and "depth prune" which involves taking a longer stem and cutting it down inside the plant. When doing this, look for pencil sized wood, inside the canopy of the plant. Azaleas have a lot of adventitious root buds up and down the stems. So if working on stems that are pretty much any size but especially pencil sized or smaller and there are a lot of shoots coming off them for next year cut some of those out. By cutting in to the pencil sized wood you will get 5 or 6 additional shoots and a lot more flowers. And by tipping out these plants they will be a lot stronger.
Top


Eric believes that the greatest quality of life improvement derived from gardening is GROWING TOMATOES at home. There is a huge difference between tomatoes that are vine ripened compared to tomatoes found in the store that are picked green and shipped. Susan is the vegetable gardener at Biltmore and her emphasis is to simplify. Tomatoes are a good example. Susan will take everything off the lower stem of the tomato. She has a bamboo trellis with a simple piece of twine running down next to the plant leaving enough looseness so the plant can move around. As the plant grows simply twist the growing portion around the central leader leaving the fruit clusters. If the wind blows it will stay nice and strong and will grow to the top of the trellis. And the fruit will be right there to pick off. This method makes it easy to grow, doesn't involve any type of tape and makes it easy to harvest.
Top


This is a very EFFECTIVE DISPLAY GARDEN. Parker and his gardeners have done a great job of making this garden a practical, pragmatic garden that produces lots of food yet is still a beautiful space. It has expansive lawn rows which are nicely manicured and some areas with raised beds. There are many different aspects of design throughout this vegetable garden. It was laid out for the guests enjoyment and for guests to see and learn how they grow these plants. The herb beds are all curvilinear thus a little more design oriented, there are height differences and a lot of grass. They do have a production garden for their restaurants where they produce plants, lettuce, things like that for their restaurants on the Estate but it is a separate area. The goal is to inspire Biltmore visitors to go home and enjoy the pleasure of taking part in growing their own food.

Our time has come to a close. Eric thanks Parker for spending time with us and for sharing his wisdom. The Biltmore Estate and Gardens is magnificent.
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LINKS:

Biltmore Estate and Inn
Stay at Inn on Biltmore Estate | Four-Star Hotel in Asheville, NC

Plant List


   
   
 
   
   
   
   
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