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Show #16/4403. A Garden Oasis In Atlanta

Summary of Show

Edible Plants
One of the hottest trends in gardening, and has been so for some time, is EDIBLE PLANTS. Getting folks more connected with their food and where their food comes from is important. It's thrilling to see the plants, to pick food fresh off the plants is super exciting. This is by far one of the most popular gardens at ABG. People love to come in and ask tons of questions. It is great to show people where their food is coming from, what the plant actually looks like before the vegetables get harvested, even what they look like when they are harvested.
For More Information Click here

Vegetables In Containers
Amanda also has a number of CONTAINERS that are wonderful examples of what can be done if one only has a patio or a back deck. One can still grow vegetables. They are very aware that not everybody in the city has large plots of land where they can grow things. A lot of people are relegated to having pots, thus like to show that one can grow vegetables in those pots. They have a whole array of sizes. Most of the things that are in their pots are bred for, or do really well in pots.
For More Information Click here

Fruity Plants
Eric notices that they have many different, unusual ways of using FRUITY PLANTS in this garden and asks Amanda to talk about some she particularly likes. Some of trees have been espaliered and they have several throughout this garden. Espalier is a French term, which refers to a way of pruning plants. These plants are really well suited for small spaces because they grow flat on a wall.
For More Information Click here

Aquatic Plants
In addition to the vegetables and fruits another thing Eric thinks is especially nice are the AQUATIC PLANTS. He can't say that he has often seen rice growing, yet it is on display right here. It is one of the little bit odder displays in the edible garden. They try to show things that are not traditionally grown in aquatic environments. This year they are growing rice and it is one of the most popular aquatic crops.
For More Information Click here

Annuals
Some of the highest color, highest impact plants that we use in the garden are ANNUALS. And there is almost every imaginable color of flower and foliage type, plus, importantly, they're available in all different sizes, especially in a public display garden like ABG.
For More Information Click here

Bed Prep-Bed Care
Some other gardens may do it more frequently but here they choose to do two, which means the plantings must last their full season. They do a a full BED PREP before each change out. And use a lot of compost, finding that is one of the best ways to keep your soil healthy. Not only are you adding nutrient content to your soil but are also adding all of those good microbes and all the other good stuff to amp your soil up again.
For More Information Click here

Designing With Annuals
Eric wants to know what kind of things should we, as homeowners, keep in mind when DESIGNING WITH ANNUALS? Amanda suggests we think of annuals as kind of the icing on the cake. Look at it this way - This is the pretty, this is where you can really have fun.
For More Information Click here

TROPICAL PLANTS are often an overlooked item when we are doing a garden design. But they are super high impact. When we pick up the giant, dense, lush foliage the effect is fantastic. Amanda reports they love using tropicals here. Sometimes in April, when you are buying them, they might not look like so much but they put on massive amounts of growth as soon as it gets warm.
For More Information Click here

Chihuly Exhibit
Using sculpture in the garden is a great way to create focal points and provide interesting pops of color. The sculpture on display for this wonderful CHIHULY EXHIBIT is just amazing. Eric wants to know more about the artist. What can you tell me about the artist? Amanda thanks Eric. It is an amazing show. Chihuly is the artist. He is based out of Seattle, Washington and has done exhibitions all over the world throughout his career.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Plant List

 

Show #16/4403. A Garden Oasis In Atlanta

Complete Write Up

In this Episode GardenSMART visits a garden oasis nestled in the heart of a bustling city. And in the process get an amazing behind the scenes view of an outstanding sculptural exhibit.

In 1973 a group of civic minded Atlanta residents proposed the idea of a botanical garden for the city. A few short years later their dream became reality. In 1976 the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) was born. The tireless task of converting 30 acres in downtown Atlanta into a world class garden has continued over the next three decades. In the process they have gained national notoriety for their collections and their amazingly well designed gardens today attract over half a million visitors every year.

Just a few of the gardens notable attractions are the Fuqua Orchid Center, Canopy Walk, Parterre Garden and a new restaurant with a James Beard award winning chef. Throughout the year there are many seasonal exhibits that invite visitors to experience the gardens in a whole new way. Today they are spotlighting the work of internationally acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly, who incorporates a kaleidoscope of color into each of his amazing glass sculptures.

Our guide today is horticulturist Amanda Bennett who has been at ABG for 14 years and oversees all the outdoor gardens. She's a savvy garden designer, a seasoned plants person and a wealth of knowledge about the gardens and plants. Eric is anxious to see what Amanda has in store.

Eric welcomes Amanda back to the show, it is so nice to spend another day with Amanda and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Eric knows Amanda has had an amazing career in horticulture but wants to know more about her background. Amanda welcomes Eric and provides some background info. She grew up on a farm in the eastern part of Georgia and couldn't imagine what she was going to do with her life but knew it wasn't going to be spent inside. So, went to the University of Georgia, landed in horticulture, then after graduating went to the Chicago Botanic Garden for her internship. That was where she came to the conclusion that public gardening was where she wanted to be. From Chicago her official career began at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. And ABG is a great spot, things are always changing. We currently hear jackhammers in the background. They're breaking ground for another garden. Many people think of gardens as kind of static places, here they are most definitely not that. Since 2010 they have opened multiple, new gardens, refreshed multiple gardens and the jackhammers in the background are working on yet another garden, slated to open next year. Amanda never gets bored working here.

Eric wants to know about events going on throughout the year at the garden. Amanda points out behind them, Chihuly In The Garden, is their big event this year. It's an impressive art exhibit. As well, they've renovated the Children's Garden and it will open later this year. Everybody loves the Scarecrow Exhibit, it will be back and better than ever in the Children's Garden. From there they roll straight into Holiday Lights again. All sound exciting but Eric knows Amanda has a ton of plants to show us right now and is anxious to get started.

One of the hottest trends in gardening, and has been so for some time, is EDIBLE PLANTS. Getting folks more connected with their food and where their food comes from is important. It's thrilling to see the plants, to pick food fresh off the plants is super exciting. This is by far one of the most popular gardens at ABG. People love to come in and ask tons of questions. It is great to show people where their food is coming from, what the plant actually looks like before the vegetables get harvested, even what they look like when they are harvested. But this is a dual-purpose garden. It is designed to show visitors what squash looks like, what cantaloupe looks like, but additionally it is elegantly designed. What Amanda is doing is using plants that one doesn't traditionally think of as a plant one might incorporate into a garden design. And she has done a wonderful job of that. Amanda appreciates the compliment. It is highly designed. This is a display garden using vegetables and that is a key point in the design because they really want to highlight how colorful, pretty and structural vegetables can be when in combination with each other. They don't have to be relegated to areas by themselves, and oftentimes when that occurs we tend to not appreciate how beautiful they are. They have the highly designed raised garden spaces where they really play texture and color against each other. But as well they have the row crops that highlight the agricultural background of Georgia. There is so much great texture and color and form with vegetables that often times we don't think about those plants as beautiful or ornamental. But here they have wonderful vegetables like the squash in the back while in the front is purple basil, the globe basil, which means there is dark foliage, combined with spiky leaves. It really is well done.

Amanda also has a number of CONTAINERS that are wonderful examples of what can be done if one only has a patio or a back deck. One can still grow vegetables. They are very aware that not everybody in the city has large plots of land where they can grow things. A lot of people are relegated to having pots, thus like to show that one can grow vegetables in those pots. They have a whole array of sizes. Most of the things that are in their pots are kind of bred for, or do really well in pots. And, one can get a good bit of production from pots. That is because there are so many wonderful dwarf vegetables and plants that do so well in containers. But keep that in mind that when growing in containers, determine which plants are designed for that really tight, compact space. At GardenSMART we know one can get a great vegetable harvest utilizing containers, we've devoted entire GardenSMART shows to outstanding vegetable production in containers. And, it was eye-opening.
Click here to read about one show that dealt with the topic.
GardenSmart Episodes :: Show #8, 2015

Eric notices a wonderful planter with a columnar apple tree. Great presentation and makes a lot of sense. Absolutely, it is much better than planting a tree that is going to want to get twenty feet tall. This will stay really, really tight. Again, they want others to think about designing with containers. Keep in mind questions like - what design can work in this environment, what is going to perform best? But by understanding these issues one can get great results.

Eric notices that they have many different, unusual ways of using FRUITY PLANTS in this garden and asks Amanda to talk about some she particularly likes. Some of trees have been espaliered and they have several throughout this garden. Espalier is a French term, which refers to a way of pruning plants. These plants are really well suited for small spaces because they grow flat on a wall. One can get a lot of production in a relatively small space utilizing espalier.

They have lots of different fruiting shrubs that are permanent. They do understand that not everybody can switch their plants out or have the time nor the money to do it, so they have permanent plantings here that help with that. Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, figs, all of these stay year round and produce fruit heftily. As well, they have beautiful fig trees and a pomegranate hedge. They make the garden not only more interesting but in many ways more functional. Not having to worry about a giant swath of soil that has to be completely populated is a nice way of utilizing these plants and make that kind of gardening a little bit easier. It definitely gives people some different ideas and different perspectives on what they can do at home. Think of an edible garden from an ornamental standpoint, give it more structure, add the vertical elements, do those things and they will add to the beauty and productivity.

Amanda also has a green wall. Right now it is kind of a little bit more along the lines of the kitchen companion style garden.They are frequently asked about it. Eric wonders - Would that be a practical thing for me as a home gardener? Amanda feels that it would be for the very ambitious home gardener. Because they do take a little bit more work. It is do-able, you've got to do your homework on it. But if you are not that ambitious it may be better to come see the gardens at ABG, they have it on display all year.

In addition to the vegetables and fruits another thing Eric thinks is especially nice are the AQUATIC PLANTS. He can't say that he has often seen rice growing, yet it is on display right here. It is one of the little bit odder displays in the edible garden. They try to show things that are not traditionally grown in aquatic environments. This year they are growing rice and it is one of the most popular aquatic crops. They have lotus growing in the pond this year and in the past we have done taro and have grown water chestnuts. There is quite a variety of things that grow in water that are edibles. They are fairly low maintenance plants. If you've got standing water one can grow rice fairly easily. If you have a home pond and are looking for something different and quirky to do maybe one of these is the choice for you.

Some of the highest color, highest impact plants that we use in the garden are ANNUALS. And there is almost every imaginable color of flower and foliage type, plus importantly they're available in all different sizes, especially in a public display garden like ABG. Eric wants to know if they are changing these beds out all the time? And what must they keep in mind from the standpoint of keeping the soil healthy and keeping the plants looking great? Amanda admits it is a very planned out process. They do two change-outs a year at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, once around April, then again around October. Some other gardens may do it more frequently but here they choose to do two, which means the plantings must last their full season. They do a a full BED PREP before each change out. And use a lot of compost, finding that is one of the best ways to keep your soil healthy. Not only are you adding nutrient content to your soil but are also adding all of those good microbes and all the other good stuff to amp your soil up again. Native Georgia soil is not terribly bad to start with but does take a little bit of work to make most plants happy and able to grow beautifully.

Eric asks - Between seasons, do they till the annuals in the beds under or are they removed, then composted? And when planting the beds do they add fresh compost? Amanda says they actually do remove all of the plants. Many of them are composted here onsite, they have a big composting program here. Eric certainly notices that these plants look really happy. From a nutritional standpoint what are they doing? Does the compost have everything needed or do they supplement with fertilizer? They do a little bit of both. For the permanent plants they find that compost is enough, it adds nutritional value as well as adding good microbes back into the soil. But for annuals it takes a little bit more. In the summer when you get that real hot heat and in the winter some very cold temperatures it takes a little bit more to get them over those humps so they utilize a combination of slow release fertilizer as well as a regularly scheduled liquid fertilizer.

Every time Eric visits the garden all of the beds look really, really well grown in. It is very rare that he would show up and, and say oh, maybe that was just planted last week. He's assuming they are starting with a larger plant in this setting. Amanda thanks him, they are and that's the effect they go for. They work with a lot of great local and regional growers to get a little bit bigger sized plants than most people might grow. They must have that instant impact, they don't want it to look like it was just freshly planted. When their guests come in it's got to look good. But, for the plants that are a little harder to find or harder to get bigger sizes they grow those plants themselves. But they have great relationships with growers. And that helps.

Eric wants to know what kind of things should we, as homeowners, keep in mind when DESIGNING WITH ANNUALS? Amanda suggests we think of annuals as kind of the icing on the cake. Look at it this way - This is the pretty, this is where you can really have fun. Do different stuff, try different combinations and get very colorful. If you have the garden space and you want annuals that are real close-up, if you are going to be spending a little bit more intimate up close time sitting next to them or meandering next to them, then small flowers, even dainty flowers may be a good choice. But if you have big expanses or you are going to see the plants from afar utilize big blocks of color. The basic principles of contrast and color always applies. Amanda doesn't really like to see tall plants next to really short plants. That's a little to abrupt so they try for a succession of heights. And what would Amanda recommend from a color standpoint? In the past Eric has done annual plantings in his garden. Sometimes it's great and other times it is pretty garish. Amanda acknowledges that Eric is not the only one. They can do that here as well. But to avoid that they evaluate their annuals every year to see which are successes and which ones need a little more work. They look at it every year to see how well the color reads, how true the color is and to determine if the plant has truly lasted the whole season. They really don't switch a lot of stuff out mid-season, they really want it to last from April to October, thus have some tried and true plants that consistently perform well. And they pay attention to how the colors work next to each other. Just take a step back, make a determination if you think it looks attractive. That's what's most important.

TROPICAL PLANTS are often an overlooked item when we are doing a garden design. But they are super high impact. When we pick up the giant, dense, lush foliage the effect is fantastic. Amanda reports they love using tropicals here. Sometimes in April, when you are buying them, they might not look like so much but they put on massive amounts of growth as soon as it gets warm. Amanda tells people all the time - don't be afraid to shop your indoor plant section. They do just fine in Atlanta in the outdoors. And, those plants, at the end of the season, can then be brought inside. A lot of indoor plants do fantastically outdoors during the summer, then in the winter season turn them right back into house plants. Eric wants to know what are some of Amanda's favorite tropicals? Elephant ears, for sure. They have all different shapes, sizes and colors. They are the easiest way to get big, impactful color. They may look small when you first put them in but they pick up and grow quickly when it gets hot. Her next favorite is probably the shrimp plant. You see it in Florida a lot. It can even be hedged in Florida. But here they let it go, it has beautiful, yellow spikes of color on it. One can't match it, can't beat it anywhere. Some of the best foliage plants, many we consider as annuals, are in fact tropicals. Coleus is an example. Amanda grew up planting coleus. They use them all over the place here. A lot of people know that plant. But look around your garden center, consider indoor plants for outside, plants you might not think to plant outdoors, then pair those with some more typical outdoors plants.

Using sculpture in the garden is a great way to create focal points and provide interesting pops of color. The sculpture on display for this wonderful CHIHULY EXHIBIT is just amazing. Eric wants to know more about the artist. What can you tell me about the artist? Amanda thanks Eric. It is an amazing show. Chihuly is the artist. He is based out of Seattle, Washington and has done exhibitions all over the world throughout his career. So many of these are designed to look like plants. He takes his inspiration from nature although he expressly doesn't name them after plants They don't have signs with a lot of the sculptures because as a true artist he wants people to interpret them. Eric really loves the exciting colors, many of the colors we don't find occurring naturally. The plant pallets are interspersed with the sculpture, the juxtaposition is really, strong and designed, and it is amazing. The total picture is what makes it so meaningful, it's not just the sculpture, the whole landscape surrounding the sculpture makes the complete package. It is the whole experience that people are coming to see. So around many of the Chihuly pieces are annual beds that were designed in conjunction with the pieces. The sculpture behind them, for instance, settled in and worked so well with the plantings around it that nothing additional was needed.

Eric wants to know - How are these pieces put together? They look very intricate. They are. What a lot of people don't realize is that all of the sculptures are made up of individual pieces of glass. For example the sunbursts - all of those are individual pieces that the team comes in and puts together. It takes different lengths of time to put them together but on average it takes two or three days to put each sculpture together. It's quite a production.

Chihuly doesn't often repeat exhibitions in the same location. This is the second Chihuly at Atlanta Botanic Gardens. And, it is different this time versus when he was here a few years ago. They feel incredibly privileged that he agreed to come back to ABG because that is not something that he does regularly. But he did see how much the garden has changed since he was here last time and quite possibly for that reason agreed to put together a very different show. Visitors will notice that previously there were a lot more multi-colored pieces, a lot more chandelier types is the term that he uses. This go around is a little bit different, he uses a bit more monochromatic pieces, big scale pieces throughout the garden. There are over 20 displays throughout the garden and 2 permanent ones that remain from the show last time.

Because there are so many different displays in the garden, it would take the better part of a day to see them all, Eric would like for Amanda to describe several for us, to take us on a walking tour. She gladly does so. The piece behind them is the very first piece one encounters upon entering the garden. It is stunning and looks very different at night. So Amanda encourages guests who like this kind of art or think they may want to come visit to consider seeing it at night as well as during the day because many pieces look totally different at night. Anywhere you turn in the garden there is probably a piece of Chihuly not too far. Just make sure you have enough time to come and see it all, make sure you have enough leisurely time. Don't come and do the checklist of seeing them all, they are really meant to be experienced and the gardens around them are meant to be experienced. Back to the tour, as one moves down into the woodlands there is a huge installation of beautiful, lavender type spikes. That garden is very shady, kind of a little bit downplayed. But that piece of art just brings a whole other element of color and light to that garden. Then, just beyond that is a twenty foot neon tower. It is breathtaking and has a linear pool that it reflects into. It is probably one of the most photographed pieces here. Another is the piece down towards the woods. Then if you go back up, one of Amanda's all time favorite pieces, the earth goddess, is also displayed. She has been planted this year with colors that compliment all of the Chihuly pieces around her and those are floating in boats. But again, a totally different look from the rest of the woodlands. Coming over into the display side of the garden are two Chihuly pieces that were donated from the last show. One of them is in the visitors center and then one is in the parterre garden, blue and white is its name. Amanda affectionately refers to all of them by their personal names. But go through that garden, there are more big sunbursts, one can tell that Chihuly was really inspired by a puffball or the sun or something else in nature. They add so much to that side of the garden. In the Conservatory and the Orchid Center are some of the smaller pieces. Most think of him doing these incredibly large sculptures but these are only about two or three feet tall. They have more of his neon pieces on the inside. Probably one of Amanda's favorite pieces is a repeat from the last show. It's the only repeat from the last show. The beautiful cranes really match the fountain and the mosaic that goes around it. It is a little bit understated but very elegant.

Eric wants to know what is the process for determining where each sculpture is going to go? It certainly doesn't look random, rather very intentional and very thoughtful. Site selection is done by their team, which is incredibly nice to work with. The difference in the garden from last time they visited versus this time was really what, what caused Chihuly to agree to come back a second time. It is a totally different garden than last time.They have added so many new garden spaces. They were really inspired. Their team comes in and selects the sites. They do repeat some pieces from previous shows but then have some pieces that were blown and put together just for this show.

Eric wonders - Because sculpture is such an impactful element in the garden and not everybody is going to be able to have a Chihuly in their garden because they don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to install a Chihuly, what would Amanda recommend for a typical home garden? Amanda thinks that is a good question. Most of us may have an urn or a favorite sculpture, even a bench that you might want to highlight in your garden. Those would all be a great way to add a little bit of interest to your garden. Use plants to either color compliment or color contrast with the object that you are trying to highlight. This is a great way to add interest to the garden.

Eric thanks Amanda for spending the day with us. We had a wonderful time, the gardens are beautiful, the Chihuly exhibit is outstanding. Amanda thanks Eric, it was nice to see everyone again.

LINKS:

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Plant List

 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

REJUVENATE YOUR GARDEN WITH FRESH SUMMER COLOR

By Kerry Meyer for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Summer is the perfect time to gather friends and family together for a backyard barbeque and a game of horseshoes. Now if there was only something you could do about the hole in the garden where the dog buried his bone, the kids trampled the petunias, or that great spring plant suddenly gave up its will to live… Or maybe you’d like to freshen up the containers by your front entryway. If you are like many people, you might assume that since the heat of summer has settled in, you will just have to live with what you have.
Read more...


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