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Show #11/4311. Ideas From A Great Garden Designer

Summary of Show

Big Cedar Lodge
Tucked deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the ruggedness of BIG CEDAR LODGE will surely inspire curiosity about the native Americans and wildlife that roamed these hills for centuries living in harmony with the land. The original lush 300 acres were purchased in the 1920's when 2 prominent Missourians built lavish country homes on land adjoining the Long Creek arm of the White River, known as Big Cedar Hollow.
For More Information Click here

Alex Smith
ERIC MEETS ALEX SMITH and thanks him for joining us on GardenSMART. Alex is glad to be here. Eric is interested in learning how Alex came by this amazing job at Big Cedar Lodge. This is definitely a job to kill for. It really was amazing how it all happened, Alex was caught by surprise. He is a landscape designer and has a company based in Atlanta, Georgia, although they do a lot of work all over the southeast.
For More Information Click here

Alex's Approach
Eric has found that every designer has a different way they APPROACH A SITE. It's not unlike an artist. They start with a blank canvas. Except in this case Alex had certain pieces of architecture already in place. What is Alex's overarching design principle, how did he begin here? He and his staff take a sort of turnkey approach, they offer hardscape design, planting design, anything that relates to the outside world.
For More Information Click here

Advice For Approaching A Site
Eric wonders what ADVICE Alex might give our viewers who may have a new site or a site that's gotten tired and needs to be refreshed. Alex believes research is important. See what plants do well in your area. As well, take notice of your neighbors plants. Do they look good?
For More Information Click here

Worman House
This is the WORMAN HOUSE and it has a lot of very important architectural and historical significance. Harry Worman owned this property before Johnny Morris bought it. This was Harry's house. Alex always felt it was set up with a more formal planting scheme. It did have a central walkway, which was nice and then sort of a terrace.
For More Information Click here

Lighting
LIGHTING is something we don't often talk about, instead we talk about hardscapes or we talk about plants, but lighting, especially in certain scenarios, is so critical. It can make the difference between something that is good and something that is great. People will be coming and going via the entrance and egress, the nice, soft warm lighting makes it very inviting.
For More Information Click here

Truman House
They next visit the TRUMAN HOUSE. It is different than the spot we just visited. It has a more loose, whimsical feel because it is a very different venue. It is a little coffee shop, again, one of the original pieces of architecture on the property and very charming. The wonderful old patina walls were already here, the picket fence to Alex was just screaming casual, exuberant plantings, much like a cottage garden.
For More Information Click here

Prolong The Growing Season
Eric wants to know how Alex goes about keeping it looking BEAUTIFUL YEAR ROUND, how does he prolong the growing season? Alex has enjoyed working with the growing seasons here, although a little shorter than what he's used to in the south. He does that by thinking about when the space will be used the most, when are people really going to be sitting outside.
For More Information Click here

Window Boxes And Hanging Baskets
The WINDOW BOXES AND HANGING BASKETS are stunning as well. Eric again wants to know what advice Alex might offer our audience about these eye catching plantings. Well it is a different growing environment than having 2 feet of rich soil. One of the most important questions one must ask themselves, and they need to be honest with themselves, is - Are you willing to water them?
For More Information Click here

The Registration Area
This is the REGISTRATION AREA and it is one of the more high impact designs on the property. That is appropriate because anyone that visits the property is going to walk through this area. So what they have done here is create an area that is vibrant, it's very alive, very colorful, very creative. And that was what they were going for here. So they picked plants that would perform and they increased the quantities to create more of an impact.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Big Cedar Lodge
Home - Branson Missouri Resorts | Big Cedar | Branson Missouri Vacation Lodging

Alex Smith Garden Design
About Us - Alex Smith Garden Design, LTD

Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops

Johnny Morris
IGFA | Johnny Morris

Plant List

 

Show #1/3901. Tweaking And Massaging A Unique Landscape

Complete Write Up

Meeting with talented garden designers is a great way to discover new ideas and provide innovative gardening inspiration. In this Episode we visit a number of different gardens and talk about design principles that will allow you to do a better job of garden design at home. A great show from Missouri.

Tucked deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the ruggedness of BIG CEDAR LODGE will surely inspire curiosity about the native Americans and wildlife that roamed these hills for centuries living in harmony with the land. The original lush 300 acres were purchased in the 1920's when 2 prominent Missourians built lavish country homes on land adjoining the Long Creek arm of the White River, known as Big Cedar Hollow. The resort was purchased in 1986 by Bass Pro Shops owner, Johnny Morris. He restored the existing buildings to their original prominence, rigorously committing to renew the natural beauty of Big Cedar Hollow.

In this Episode we spend the day with Alex Smith who is an award winning designer with the unique combination of artistic talent, horticultural knowledge and a passion for amazing garden design. Alex worked with renowned garden designer, Ryan Gainey, for 8 years as well as spending 2 summers in England working under the tutelage of Rosemary Verey. He opened his own company in 1999 and has been designing, installing and maintaining amazing gardens ever since. Today he will be taking us behind the scenes of what is perhaps his most ambitious project, Big Cedar Lodge.

ERIC MEETS ALEX SMITH and thanks him for joining us on GardenSMART. Alex is glad to be here. Eric is interested in learning how Alex came by this amazing job at Big Cedar Lodge. This is definitely a job to kill for. It really was amazing how it all happened, Alex was caught by surprise. He is a landscape designer and has a company based in Atlanta, Georgia, although they do a lot of work all over the southeast. He was completing a project in south Georgia one day and was just kind of hanging out when he got an email that said their boss is the CEO of a major wilderness resort in the midwest and would love to talk about Alex's work. Alex wasn't sure what to make of the email and kind of disregarded it as maybe spam or something. But when he got back to Atlanta he did some research and realized who it was. It was Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops. Alex loves to fish and loves their stores so he overcame his disbelief, realized it wasn't a joke and was excited to make contact. He contacted some ladies in Johnny's office, they arranged a flight and he met with Johnny. The 2 hit it off from the get go, and they rode around the property and looked at some of the landscaping. Their 1st meeting coincided with the season where they collect morel mushrooms. Johnny loves to do that and had been out that day and collected quite a few. So the 1st night they met, Johnny took Alex home for a lovely dinner with his wife Jeanie and some fantastic morel mushrooms. One of the things he remembers the most about the evening was as Johnny and Alex were walking through the door Johnny said to Jeanie - "You are really going to like this guy." That meant a lot to Alex, it made him feel very good.

There was a landscape in place here and as landscapes go it had just gotten a little tired, it needed a new set of eyes. Alex realized that this place had always been known for beautiful horticulture, the natural scenery is off the charts, the architecture is wonderful and there is a lot of history. He thinks Johnny just wanted a new set of eyes and had been intrigued by some work Alex had done in Highlands, North Carolina. Johnny asked him to take a look and tell him what he would like to do. It took Alex a little time to get his arms around all of the different things they were talking about. But Alex felt he could start at Big Cedar by tweaking and massaging, rather than initially making wholesale changes. He started the process by creating pamphlets and booklets of photos of plant material that he thought would work and combinations that he had used in the past. He kind of inundated Johnny with information. Johnny put his trust in Alex and let him go for it.

Eric has found that every designer has a different way they APPROACH A SITE. It's not unlike an artist. They start with a blank canvas. Except in this case Alex had certain pieces of architecture already in place. What is Alex's overarching design principle, how did he begin here? He and his staff take a sort of turnkey approach, they offer hardscape design, planting design, anything that relates to the outside world. So as they take on a project or are interviewing the client or visa versa they often times look at the architecture for precedent. They always try to create designs that are appropriate to the place, to the architecture and of course what the client is asking them to do. That is 1st and foremost. There are a lot of variables after that that come into play.

There were things here he liked and some he didn't like so much. Alex tried to keep an open mind. After spending just a little time here he realized that this property was going to afford him the possibility of using plant material he wasn't able to use further south. Here things can grow in cool nights, they have a lengthier dormant period, plus it gets really cold here in the winter. Alex did some research and then pushed his boundaries a little which was fun and continues to be fun. Alex sort of inventoried everything that was planned and things that were sort of random. He was given the charge to take things out that didn't seem to fit. So they have done quite a bit of removal and reorganization, some transplanting but the overall theme, since this is a resort, is - color - it's about the guest experience. So they wanted to provide that but additionally he didn't want to burden the staff with a lot of annuals that they had to put in every year. And many of the annuals were not doing all that well, so he introduced a lot of herbaceous plants, as well as perennials and woody shrubs to create more of the backdrop or bones of the garden.

Eric wonders what ADVICE Alex might give our viewers who may have a new site or a site that's gotten tired and needs to be refreshed. Alex believes research is important. See what plants do well in your area. As well, take notice of your neighbors plants. Do they look good? There is a reason they look good. Part of Alex's philosophy addresses what is attractive, but he also wants to make sure the plants he puts in will thrive. So, observe and take note of what does well around you. But also avoid drifts of 1 which is a common problem. Gardeners will see something in the nursery they like, then buy 1 of them, so they end up with drifts of 1 all over their garden. It tends to look very unorganized.

As a designer Alex has quite a challenge here. Many gardeners are looking at just 1 site and trying to decide what they need to do. In this case there are multiple, different venues and sites that all have slightly different personalities. As a designer Alex must look at the space and then decide how to best accent the architecture or to showcase the personality of that place.

The next area the guys visit is particularly unusual because it is transitioning from 1 purpose into a new purpose. And, the challenge here was to format the personality of this garden or this landscape to meet its new purpose. From the beginning Alex realized this area is unique and exciting although he has just gotten to it recently. Previously this was the most formal of the restaurants at Big Cedar Lodge. This is the WORMAN HOUSE and it has a lot of very important architectural and historical significance. Harry Worman owned this property before Johnny Morris bought it. This was Harry's house. Alex always felt it was set up with a more formal planting scheme. It did have a central walkway, which was nice and then sort of a terrace. The walkway led one into the restaurant. Along the walkway were a series of Tike torches which created a nice ambiance at night but they did create a problem because they would drip oil into the beds which contaminated the flower beds. So he did something bold, he knew he wanted to do it all along but took his time since Johnny is not really keen on formality. Alex has been working with Johnny's wife, Jeanie, who is responsible for a lot of the look here. She and Alex have a lot of fun talking about different ideas. He told her he had an idea to add more structure to the Worman House and she said go for it. So they took out the Tike torches, widened the bed on the left to create a sense of symmetry, making the beds the same, and as well added a vertical element with the crepe myrtles which are brand new. Ultimately this will create a tunnel that one will walk underneath which will be a really nice element. Then they added the benches which are nice. They are cast cement meant to look like old twigs which is an old garden idea. They added the American boxwoods which is very bold. Jeanie wanted to make sure they provided plenty of space on both sides of the walkway because this is now a special events facility for weddings and dinners. So now the bride and groom, for instance, would have plenty of room to walk by when leaving allowing people room to flank the walkway and wish the newlyweds well. When they introduced the new look to Johnny he loved it, Jeanie loves it and they have gotten some very positive feedback on the new look. They have kept some of the old, fun part, the herbaceous plants and annuals that lead one in but added to the area. It has always been comfortable, they have preserved that and added a little touch of formality, which it needs. The scheme should withstand the test of time. Eric likes what they've done to the bones of this design. Adding evergreens was important. This space is being used year round so if the plantings were mostly herbaceous perennials, or annuals this space wouldn't look as good in December or January. By adding the boxwoods and the wonderful vertical elements of the Crepe Myrtles there is great architectural interest in the winter even when the leaves and flowers are gone.

LIGHTING is something we don't often talk about, instead we talk about hardscapes or we talk about plants, but lighting, especially in certain scenarios, is so critical. It can make the difference between something that is good and something that is great. People will be coming and going via the entrance and egress, the nice, soft warm lighting makes it very inviting. For the lighting Alex brought in a friend and colleague from Atlanta that does a wonderful job with lighting. They up-lit the crepe myrtles and it has a wonderful, soft effect. They always take the approach with lighting that less is more and that's what they've done here. It really is beautiful at night. Eric imagines the shadows on the bark of these crepe myrtles being something really special and beautiful.

They next visit the TRUMAN HOUSE. It is different than the spot we just visited. It has a more loose, whimsical feel because it is a very different venue. It is a little coffee shop, again, one of the original pieces of architecture on the property and very charming. The wonderful old patina walls were already here, the picket fence to Alex was just screaming casual, exuberant plantings, much like a cottage garden. So they have just come in here and added some woody shrubs to provide a little more structure as discussed earlier. And they added a form of native hydrangea, Hills Of Snow. It is nice. And, they've added some tree peonies which are really beautiful when in bloom and some native Virginia Sweetspire, then a lot of ferns. Really just a lot of things that provide color throughout the season when people are really enjoying this space. People come here everyday to get coffee, to get breakfast, or a wonderful lunch, it's just a nice place to sit under the umbrellas. One feels they are sitting in a garden, it has a very English feel. And since cottage gardening is Eric's favorite gardening he likes this space, it's what he does at his home. He likes the free spirited nature of the design and the way Alex has incorporated woody ornamentals and some of his favorite perennials. The juxtaposition of the bluish-green foliage with the deep purples is great touch. There will be color here throughout multiple seasons. Eric can envision an incredible spring, then into summer and even early fall.

Eric wants to know how Alex goes about keeping it looking BEAUTIFUL YEAR ROUND, how does he prolong the growing season? Alex has enjoyed working with the growing seasons here, although a little shorter than what he's used to in the south. He does that by thinking about when the space will be used the most, when are people really going to be sitting outside. So, he tends to lean towards things that bloom in the summer. Things like day lilies and daisies, those type plantings. A trick he likes is incorporating a lot of bi-annuals so they plant tons of Foxgloves throughout the property. Everyone loves them and they do make one feel they are in an English garden. It's a simple way to do it. They treat them as annuals but they are bi-annuals. They start out the show in the spring, then you get to the day lilies, those type of herbaceous plants that carry through summer, then as summer kind of winds down they may add a few fall type plants to extend the color into fall, but at that point and time things are turning, the leaves are turning, there are other things to view. Then you're more into the bigger picture and not concerned so much about the flowers. Eric thinks Alex has done a great job of extending the season and adding different views throughout the year.

The WINDOW BOXES AND HANGING BASKETS are stunning as well. Eric again wants to know what advice Alex might offer our audience about these eye catching plantings. Well it is a different growing environment than having 2 feet of rich soil. One of the most important questions one must ask themselves, and they need to be honest with themselves, is - Are you willing to water them? Because the soil isn't that deep they do require more of a commitment to water frequently. When putting a window box together it's important to build them with as much soil as they can handle without it being too heavy. That's the engineering aspect. Today many garden centers, even the big box stores will have 10 inch hanging baskets that are ready to go. One option is buy several of those, take the hanger part off and plant them together. By doing this you will have an instant effect. In some window boxes they did that and it has worked out beautifully, and they've held their own. Alex thinks garden centers are a great place to pick up ideas. Also, instead of 4 inch plants Alex thinks it worthwhile to start out with bigger plants, then sort of weave them together as you work them in.

Eric likes the fact that Alex has done a great job with the vertical elements in these window boxes, the Veronica and geranium look great. Alex thinks window boxes should feel very full and exuberant and a great way to do that is by giving it height. Height is important. For trailing elements he has used petunias, verbena and calibrachoa and they look fantastic too. Often when thinking about window boxes we think about the trailing, cascading or spilling elements. But consider height as well, it is important. And don't compromise on the number of plants in a window box.

The guys move to the next area. This is the REGISTRATION AREA and it is one of the more high impact designs on the property. That is appropriate because anyone that visits the property is going to walk through this area. So what they have done here is create an area that is vibrant, it's very alive, very colorful, very creative. And that was what they were going for here. So they picked plants that would perform and they increased the quantities to create more of an impact. Alex likes this aspect of the job. They design it, lay it out, then just let the plants and mother nature take over.

They have come up with some fun, sort of unexpected combinations. There is a hydrangea that is rather young, meaning it will grow larger, but right now there is a Daisy growing completely through it. It is almost like a living cut flower arrangement in this border. He's also added some fun touches. Alex found an old sculpture of a cast cement sort of hound dog. Where he was previously placed he seemed sort of lost, Alex pulled him forward, planted around it appropriately so now he feels like he's in the garden, like he's a part of the garden. The experience at Big Cedar Lodge is like that, little details throughout that once you notice seem so special. It makes it fun.

And designs like these are a great place to use plants that may be a little more aggressive. Alex has created long bluffs with plants that will grow and fill in the space quickly. Sea Oats are an example. They aren't appropriate for every setting but if we want really high impact drifts these can be great plant choices.

Eric thanks Alex for spending time with GardenSMART. Alex brought home the idea that every space we garden is a little different and sometimes the objectives of those spaces is different. Whether it's the plant material or the personality we are trying to inject into that garden, each garden presents a challenge. We picked up some great tips on how to get the most out of the plants we use and also how to inject little pieces of our design personality into every garden space. Thanks Alex, your gardening knowledge and design sensibilities are exceptional. We learned a lot. And, it was fun, a lot of fun. Great, beautiful location, super time.

 

 

LINKS:

Big Cedar Lodge
Home - Branson Missouri Resorts | Big Cedar | Branson Missouri Vacation Lodging

Alex Smith Garden Design
About Us - Alex Smith Garden Design, LTD

Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops

Johnny Morris
IGFA | Johnny Morris

Plant List

 

 
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JAPANESE BEETLE FACTS

By Bayer Advanced

In early summer, little beetles with big appetites make their annual appearance. Whether your landscape passion is a perfect lawn or pretty ornamentals, Japanese beetles are probably not one of your favorite insects. Discover some interesting - and helpful - tidbits about this lawn and garden nemesis. Read more...


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