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Past Shows:

Show #22/809
Rotary Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin


Bright Reds and Maroons
THIS YEAR THEY'RE WORKING WITH BRIGHT REDS AND MAROONS. Initially there was some concern about these colors but it is working out beautifully. They change colors each year, for example, past themes have included blues and yellows. When they change the color theme they also address hardscape elements, like obelisks and pillars. Some of their pillars are made of PVC. This year they've painted the pillars red and have trailing plants on the top. For a home gardener, changing or emphasizing different color themes is a good idea. It narrows the focus. If one is all over the map with color it can be confusing but by emphasizing certain colors, it narrows the focus. Many people are fearful of hot colors, like reds and yellows but here they're trying to show that the gamut of bright colors can be utilized throughout an annual or perennial garden with great effect.

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English Cottage Garden
JOE AND MARK NEXT VISIT THE ENGLISH GARDEN. Joe wants to know some of the design elements one would find in a typical English garden. One of those elements is the wall, in this case a brick wall surrounds the garden. In English cottage gardens the intent was to emphasize the separation of usage or space. So, the walls were meant to separate the property from, say, a roadway or adjacent use like a livestock field or some other agricultural use. There is no rhyme nor reason to the specific plants that would go in an English Cottage Garden because this type of garden is subjective and personal.

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Fern and Moss Garden Designed in the Japanese Style
THE GUYS NEXT VISIT THE NEWEST SPACE, IT IS THEIR FERN AND MOSS GARDEN and is designed in the Japanese style. If anyone came into this area and were tense this would be the place to unwind. Here they have the sound of running water, they have shade, Moss and the Ferns. This garden is designed to be contemplative. The primary color is green, but they've tried to punctuate that with yellows and a lot of textures from the ferns. The garden space lends itself to just observing and relaxing.

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Reception Garden
JOE AND MARK NEXT VISIT THE RECEPTION GARDEN. This garden is formal in nature, all corners are symmetrical and are defined by a raised stone wall. The setting of the garden is meant to have echoing colors and textures throughout the garden. But the primary features include some hardscaping elements that have a long history in Janesville

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Demonstration Garden
THIS IS THE DEMONSTRATION GARDEN and it has been in existence for 6 years. The flavor this year is 155 varieties of Salvia. In past years they've focused on other specific seasonal plants. They've planted Salocia, Snapdragons, Amaranth, Cannas, etc. They try to display the full gamut of plants while also showing what seasonal plants will offer for the home gardener.

Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

Rotary Botanical Gardens

Mansion Hill Inn



Complete transcript of the show.


In this show Garden Smart visits Rotary Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin. Each of their different garden rooms have different international themes. Rotary Gardens is a true find and worthy of showing off to the whole world.
Ed Lyon is the Executive Director and welcomes the Garden Smart audience to what he calls their "hidden gem." It is comprised of 20 acres and was created from what originally was a sand and gravel pit. It began 20 years ago as a Rotary Club project, thus the name although the Rotary Club is no longer involved. Today it is a non profit organization. The gardens have many themes which originated from the international peace and friendship theme of Rotary International. For example, they have a Japanese Garden, even a Scottish Garden, which is unusual, and many other gardens. They also have trial and demonstration gardens and Rotary Gardens is pleased to offer this educational component to both the public and industry. The trial and demonstration gardens feature all kinds of plants that can be utilized in home gardens. As well, they are an All American Selections and Floral Select Display Garden and are pleased to have recently become a display garden for Ball Nursery and their line of roses.
Mark Dwyer is the Director of Horticulture and our guest host for this show. Mark went to the University of Illinois with the intent of obtaining a degree in civil engineering but after several days of calculus and physics decided instead on landscape architecture and received degrees in that as well as urban forestry. Mark's father was a forester and he took Mark and his brothers out to forest preserves and arboretums when young. The kids went kicking and screaming but it must have rubbed off. His first job out of college was in residential landscape design at a garden center which he did for about 2 years. Mark felt a little limited with the choice of plant material so moved on to Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles, Michigan as a grounds horticulturist. It was then he realized he had found a career. Rotary Gardens is special because it is a tremendous community resource and the volunteers and staff make it special because of their appreciation of gardening. Here Mark has a lot of freedom in terms of experimenting with new plants and trials. And, he has a blast doing this.
Joe and Mark start at the front. The color scheme catches one's attention right away. THIS YEAR THEY'RE WORKING WITH BRIGHT REDS AND MAROONS. Initially there was some concern about these colors but it is working out beautifully. They change colors each year, for example, past themes have included blues and yellows. When they change the color theme they also address hardscape elements, like obelisks and pillars. Some of their pillars are made of PVC. This year they've painted the pillars red and have trailing plants on the top. For a home gardener, changing or emphasizing different color themes is a good idea. It narrows the focus. If one is all over the map with color it can be confusing but by emphasizing certain colors, it narrows the focus. Many people are fearful of hot colors, like reds and yellows but here they're trying to show that the gamut of bright colors can be utilized throughout an annual or perennial garden with great effect. When putting a design like this together Mark focuses on arrangements. Foliage is important and can provide both color or texture. It's true, plants have texture. Mark feels a term often overlooked is flower architecture. Flower architecture refers to the actual shape of the flowers. There is so much effort put into timing the blooms and their colors but one should remember different flowers have different shapes and that's an ornamental attribute. For example, flowers might have a trumpet shape or they might have a narrow spire, they could be a flat Daisy or even a little button. The shapes become important particularly when one has a scheme consisting of a primary color, like red. The combination of the flower shapes adds more visual interest.
With the red scheme they've focused on flowers and textures but as well have focused on foliage. They've added subtropical plants specifically for foliage interest. For example, Continue coggygria 'Smoke Bush' Euphorbia was planted specifically for its maroon leaf. It is not to be confused with Woody Smoke Bush which will send out plumes of blooms. This plant is included because of its foliage. Mark has included Tropical Hibiscus, this is a new variety called Hibiscus acetosella 'Haight Ashbury' which is a maroon leaf Hibiscus with hints of and streaks of pink throughout the leaves. They're not concerned about blooms, which are very rare, but instead wanted the subtle pink coloration on a nice sturdy 4 to 5 foot tall tropical. Homeowners could compost them after frost or bring them indoors. Both are options.
Joe wonders about the fertilization program here because everything looks so lush. Mark reports they use Miracle Gro every 3 weeks from June through August with an occasional application of Milorganite which is a granular fertilizer.
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JOE AND MARK NEXT VISIT THE ENGLISH GARDEN. Joe wants to know some of the design elements one would find in a typical English garden. One of those elements is the wall, in this case a brick wall surrounds the garden. In English cottage gardens the intent was to emphasize the separation of usage or space. So, the walls were meant to separate the property from, say, a roadway or adjacent use like a livestock field or some other agricultural use. There is no rhyme nor reason to the specific plants that would go in an English Cottage Garden because this type of garden is subjective and personal. A lot of the plants were hand-me-downs or plants that might have been passed along by friends or family. They could include a hodgepodge of perennials and old fashioned garden annuals. When referring to old fashioned garden annuals in the context of an English cottage garden Alcea 'Hollyhock' has a long history in the garden, in gardening and cultivation. The singles were more common centuries ago, simply because Hollyhock doubles are a modern invention. The singles are a real classic and are beautiful. Fragrance is a nice component in the English cottage garden and Lilies are great for this. The Lilies here are hybrids and are called Lilium 'Conca D' Or' Orienper Lilies. They're a combination of Oriental and Trumpet Lilies and are reminiscent of a plant that would have been introduced for color and scent in the summer portion of an English cottage garden. Another plant common in an English garden is Physostegia virginana 'False Dragonhead' Obedient Plant. It has a long history but can be rambunctious. The white blooming plant is a variety called Miss Manners and it tends to stay in a clump, which is a nice asset. They have a nice, large container in this garden. It's a tribute to the Wisconsin dairy industry. It's an old copper cheese vat. In it they've included wonderful tropicals including Colocasia 'Elepaio' Elephant Ear and the common Caladium but the plant along the edge is interesting. It's a new tropical called Brazilian Fireworks. It has wonderful foliage and tropical looking blooms. It will be used side-by-side with Impatiens and Begonias for many years to come. The purple blooms echo the purple Oxalis in a nearby container. Here Mark has a wonderful Oxalis called Charmed Wine which is a fancy Shamrock but the beautiful foliage is augmented by the color of the pot which is another design consideration. Joe likes the design of this English cottage garden, it has a random look with the various flowers but it is balanced off with symmetry, like that in the entrance/exit. There they have an obelisk and containers planted with Carex (Sedge) which is not overly distracting yet is still an interesting plant. They've used a Dead Sedge, so called, because they look dead because of their brown coloration. This variety Carex flagellifora 'Toffee Twist' is a wonderful drooping Sedge that will cascade over a pot and offer wonderful texture all the way till frost. These elements (containers and plants) add a transition to a formal space but before we get there it creates the feeling of an oasis within an oasis. This garden looks and feels good.
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THE GUYS NEXT VISIT THE NEWEST SPACE, IT IS THEIR FERN AND MOSS GARDEN and is designed in the Japanese style. If anyone came into this area and were tense this would be the place to unwind. Here they have the sound of running water, they have shade, Moss and the Ferns. This garden is designed to be contemplative. The primary color is green, but they've tried to punctuate that with yellows and a lot of textures from the ferns. The garden space lends itself to just observing and relaxing. It's a nice contrast to the rest of the garden where they have bright, hot colors which are beautiful but this is beautiful with just 1 color palette. The color palette of Ferns can run the gamut of different colorations. This collection contains 250 varieties from around the world because the area is also utilized for trialing. They have the ferns grouped by region of origin. They have Asiatic Ferns, North American as well as European derivatives. The North American Ferns are lush. Many Ferns are sent to them. Since they're part of a trialing program they're constantly trialing ferns for this climate. For example, they're involved with the Hardy Fern Foundation which is based out of Washington state and they're constantly trialing ferns for them and, again, trying to see what sort of new ferns on the market will thrive in this climate. Mark likes ferns in general but particularly thinks that developments in the Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum' (Japanese painted Ferns) are exciting. A lot of them look alike but there's an exciting new variety called Athyrium niponicum var. pictum 'Apple Court' and it's the first crested Japanese Painted Fern. The ends of the penuals crest out but you also get the great silver sheen with the burgundy stems. It's just gorgeous. Joe also notices plenty of Moss. Many people write us wanting to get rid of their moss. Here they've done a great job of incorporating Moss into the garden and it looks great. This is a collection of native Wisconsin Mosses and they're attempting to show people that Moss is a functional ground cover. It has a long history in gardening, particularly in Japan. Once it's established, it's functional, it's effective, it's very aesthetic. Instead of focusing on removal, encourage Moss. There is a lot of symbolism in a Japanese garden, there's an emphasis on representing nature on a symbolic or smaller scale. There are lot of elements in this garden - rock work, lanterns, bridges, water features, etc., but it is meant as a contemplative garden with a lot of features on which to contemplate. With a Japanese garden green is the primary color, but there is a focus in spring and fall on color. Typically around April and May there is a lot of color, then again in October there is fall color. Form is also important. They do a lot of sheering, shaping, layering of plant material. It's all meticulously maintained. This Japanese garden is designed to represent the hand of man. There is a lot of stonework and there is gravel which has furrows or waves that they constantly rake. This is intended to represent an ocean punctuated by rocks which become islands. It's a symbolic representation and it all works beautifully together.
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JOE AND MARK NEXT VISIT THE RECEPTION GARDEN. This garden is formal in nature, all corners are symmetrical and are defined by a raised stone wall. The setting of the garden is meant to have echoing colors and textures throughout the garden. But the primary features include some hardscaping elements that have a long history in Janesville. For example, the archway is from the old Parker Pen World headquarters but now leads down to the Sunken Garden. As well there is a Druid sculpture which was on the old House of Mercy which has become Mercy Hospital in Janesville. It's a 100 year old statue that has a long history in this community. Joe thinks it's really nice to recycle important art pieces, very meaningful. The stone wall itself is meant to be all accessible - whether volunteers, visitors or wheelchair bound they can actually get close to the edge. The taller walls or living walls that define the garden are referred to as their "living fence." These include Juniperus chinensis 'Fairview' (Chinese Junipers) as well as Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae). They shear these 2 times a year to create the fence. And they are very effective in terms of separating the space, keeping this area secluded and quiet. One wouldn't immediately know that on the other side is the parking lot, we could be in the back of the garden. Mark has done a great job throughout the garden with color themes and this one has its own theme which lends itself to a feeling of coolness. And, that was by design. The Reception Garden has historically had a white, silver and blue theme which help create a feel of coolness. Whites and blues are a great color combination but are particularly visual at dusk. The intent here was to create interest as the sun starts to set. It works well here and the feel of coolness is especially needed because the hard surface, asphalt, has a lot of reflective heat. Mark says asphalt may not be the best ground paving for a garden space, it has created a sort of heat island and urban effect. The silvers can tolerate a lot of heat and the plants selected will take the heat while offering that feeling of coolness. One of Joe's favorite plants is Cynara cardunculus L. (Caredoon). It is a relative of the Artichoke and has distinctive structure and texture. It grows from a small plant when planted in the spring to 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide and has beautiful, rugged looking silver leaves. If allowed to go to flower it has a neon purple bloom on top of a tall spike. It's very interesting and has great architectural appeal. Mark has underplanted with with Petunia x hybrida and Dichondra argentea Dichondra Silver Falls which has beautiful silver foliage. It is not necessarily new, it's been out several years but very effective as a trailer. Whether in hanging baskets, ground cover or even softening a wall it works great. We often talk about softness and texture, but when doing so we're normally referring to visual texture. But there is also tactile or touching texture. For example, Salvia funereal (Woolly Sage) has beautiful, very soft silvery leaves that are reminiscent of Lamb's Ear. The kids love to touch it.
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The guys move on to another area. Joe thinks it looks like they're standing in a sea of Salvia di vinorum. THIS IS THE DEMONSTRATION GARDEN and it has been in existence for 6 years. The flavor this year is 155 varieties of Salvia. In past years they've focused on other specific seasonal plants. They've planted Salocia, Snapdragons, Amaranth, Cannas, etc. They try to display the full gamut of plants while also showing what seasonal plants will offer for the home gardener. The Demonstration Gardens exist number one because they're beautiful for the public to enjoy and perhaps decide on several they might want to grow the next year. The second reason is for professional or academic audiences, those folks that might want to see some of the horticultural differences in the plants. The third reason is self-serving for Rotary Gardens, Mark and his team want to see the best of the best and incorporate those into future schemes. There are hundreds of varieties available. In the winter they order every available variety they can because this is an extensive collection. To establish a collection like this they must order from over 40 different seed vendors both domestically and overseas.
Joe and Mark visit another Demonstration Garden and it too has a lot of color. This is the All American Selections Demonstration Garden. This is 1 of 175 display gardens in the country for All American Selections and the intent was to display award winning seasonal plants. All American selections has been around since the 1930's promoting both seasonals as well as vegetables. The intent with this display was to take some of the guesswork out and show people some award winning seasonals that can be grown successfully at home. All American Selections are and have been trialed from coast to coast north and south. Pretty much where ever you live you can be assured the All American Selections plants in your area will do well in your garden. These plants are available in the market place and there are more things coming up.
The message Mark would like to leave us with is that we should know the plant before it goes into the ground. So many of us are plant-plunkers. We put the plants in the ground and don't know what they need. We have expectations of the plants but they have expectations of us. There is always a push to put out new plant material. What's new out there? New is good in some respects but always remember that a new plant isn't always good and a good plant isn't always new. That's important to know. By knowing your plant you can take a lot of gardening problems away. And, providing proper care is paramount.
Joe thinks that is great advice and thanks Mark for his time today. This is a beautiful garden and Mark has been a wonderful guide.
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LINKS:

Rotary Botanical Gardens

Mansion Hill Inn


   
 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

By Espoma, Photograph courtesy of Espoma

Perhaps you garden because you love growing your own produce or take pride in your prize-winning roses. Or maybe you just love playing in the dirt. Whatever the reason, soil plays a big part in how healthy your garden is. Before planting any more spring or summer crops, give your soil a checkup and perform a soil test. Read more...


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