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Show #28/4902. Gardening Lessons From Kentucky

Background
YEW DELL GARDENS HAS RECENTLY UNDERGONE A BEAUTIFUL RENOVATION. Dr. Paul Cappiello is the Director and provides some background info. Theodore and Martha Lee Kline bought this property which was about 35 acres in 1940 or 1941. At that time it was essentially a big pasture, there was nothing out here. Over the years that they lived and gardened here Theodore was responsible for designing and building their home, the castle, and all the other things that are here today. He also designed and built the gardens and amassed an amazing plant collection. He had a vast network of friends both around the country and the world and he traded plants with those folks which provided the opportunity to bring new plants here. This access to many and varied plants then provided Theodore the ability to determine what plants would work best in this climate.

Click here for more info

Dogwoods
SINCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT DOGWOODS WE START WITH A FEW OF THE SELECTIONS at Yew Dell. Oftentimes we think of only the traditional white Dogwoods, but there are many exciting and diverse colors and flower forms. We're next to a beautiful pink form, a great selection. It is Red Beauty Cornus florida 'Red Beauty.' It was developed by Dr. Elwin Orton from Rutgers University. Paul was fortunate as a student and took a plant propagation course from Dr. Orton who is a wonderful plantsman and a great plant breeder. Red Beauty is one he developed for its saturated, rich color. It has good staying power in the garden, it blooms over a long period of time and is a precocious bloomer. Even as a young plant it provides color in the garden.

Click here for more info

Helleborus
PAUL AND HIS CREW HAVE BEEN WORKING ON HELLEBORUS. They're great plants because they work so well in a wide range of gardens. They're known for flowers that add to the garden in the early season, from January, February, into March, even April. They have evergreen foliage, very few pest problems, the deer don't bother them, once established they're bomb proof plants that people just don't use enough in their gardens. Eric notices a lot of diversity, different flowers and different foliage. Paul especially likes Helleborus foetidus because one doesn't expect to see green flowers in the garden. A couple of seed strains that he likes are Pine Knot strain Helleborus xsternii 'Pine Knot.' The Pine Knot garden hybrids have done well. One of the Ashwood Garden hybrids, Helleborus 'Ashwood Hybrids' have shown excellent vigor, excellent form and good, heavy flower production. They are fantastic.

Click here for more info

Ferns
YEW DELL ALSO HAS A GREAT COLLECTION OF FERNS and there is a great story behind those. Paul loves the cast of characters Yew Dell has attracted from staff and board to volunteers. One of the volunteers in particular is Ralph Archer who's helped with the Fern Collection. He is a local expert in ferns, is incredibly knowledgeable and has a great network across the country of other fern collectors. Ralph has signed on as Volunteer Fern Collection Curator, which means he keeps track of how they perform in the garden and he has done a great job. He comes out, talks to them, measures them and generally just checks how they're performing. They have so much diversity and so many different types. Paul would recommend several Ferns. One is Japanese Painted Ferns Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' and there are many varieties. They're tough plants, perform well, they multiply nicely and they're great bright spots for a dark part of the garden. Another is Ostrich Fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris which is great if one has moisture and a shady spot. Another of his favorites is Japanese Tassel Fern, Polystichum polylepharum. It has bright green, very, very glossy fronds. It's a nice surprise in the garden. Ferns, in general, are great for the shade garden.

Click here for more info


Dwarf Hostas
THEY INHERITED THE COLLECTION OF GREAT LITTLE DWARF HOSTAS. These are great to collect but hard to use in a garden. This is a perfect place because they're elevated allowing one to see them and see all their different features. Here they don't get lost in all the other plants, as they would in a more traditional bed. If these were placed on a flat plane, it would be hard to see the differences from one selection to another but on a vertical plane they're able to tuck them into little pockets in the rocks, they're easy to see and they look fantastic.

Click here for more info


Rock Garden
WE NEXT LOOK AT THE ROCK GARDEN. Oftentimes when one thinks of a rock garden one thinks of really difficult to grow plants that are Alpine plants. There are some of those here but as well they've mixed in a lot of plants that are great performers in Kentucky. Paul thinks its a good mix and it has been a fun project. This rock garden went through many iterations while Kline was here. With Paul they wanted to bring it back as a garden and try to grow some true Alpines but also create a successful garden that gives the look of an Alpine area. Thus the mixture is about 1/3 Alpine plants, 1/3 plants that are good, tough reliable Kentucky plants that may be dwarf varieties or creeping varieties to add to the Alpine look and about 1/3 of the plants are really plants that they probably shouldn't even be trying to grow here, but they're gardeners and can't resist.

Click here for more info


Serpentine Garden
THEY'RE KNOWN HERE FOR THEIR SERPENTINE GARDEN, it's one of the signature gardens at Yew Dell. It's a beautiful collection of Conifers that's been worked into a really neat creative design that provides a wonderful opportunity to see all the plants and how the textures and colors work together. Paul feels many would plant them out as arboretum plantings which by now would have looked disorganized and not as unified as it does today. Because it is located along the main entrance to the farm and property Kline wanted something that looked more like a garden, more so than an arboretum. He took the great diversity of Connifers and elegantly tied them together with a ribbon of Yews.

Click here for more info


Take Away
PAUL TO TELL US SOME OF THE LESSONS HE'S LEARNED AT YEW DELL. How might we have a design instead of a nursery? Paul thinks Yew Dell is a great example of that. One of the things he likes about this space is it helps people see that one doesn't have to landscape and design everything as one big space. Instead break it up into smaller spaces.

Click here for more info

LINKS:

Yew Dell Gardens

Galt House Hotel and Suites

Complete transcript of the show.

Show #28/4902. Gardening Lessons From Kentucky

In this episode Garden Smart visits Yew Dell Gardens, in Crestwood, Kentucky, the home of Theodore Kline. Many of the new plants in this wonderful garden have resulted from his breeding legacy.

Duane Murner is the Judge, Executive of Oldham County, Kentucky. There is a long, rich tradition in Oldham County. There are 55,000 people in the county, which is located along the banks of the Ohio River. It is adjacent to Louisville and has a nice rural tradition, which has been preserved over many years. Although the horse industry has a presence here, it is only 25 minutes from Louisville. Oldham County is the most affluent county in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and has the best schools. As an example, Duane lives in Oldham Cty., in a house built in 1805 which is on the Historic Register They raise cattle and horses. He feels it's an extraordinary experience to be part of Oldham County. Yew Dell Gardens also has a rich tradition. Because of the legacy of Theodore Kline Yew Dell has become a jewel within a jewel.

YEW DELL GARDENS HAS RECENTLY UNDERGONE A BEAUTIFUL RENOVATION. Dr. Paul Cappiello is the Director and provides some background info. Theodore and Martha Lee Kline bought this property which was about 35 acres in 1940 or 1941. At that time it was essentially a big pasture, there was nothing out here. Over the years that they lived and gardened here Theodore was responsible for designing and building their home, the castle, and all the other things that are here today. He also designed and built the gardens and amassed an amazing plant collection. He had a vast network of friends both around the country and the world and he traded plants with those folks which provided the opportunity to bring new plants here. This access to many and varied plants then provided Theodore the ability to determine what plants would work best in this climate.

Paul has had a long and interesting career in the horticultural industry, although Paul considers it sort of a twisted road. He grew up outside of New York City and went to Rutgers as a landscape architecture student. He eventually did his graduate work at Illinois. It was when he was at Illinois that he learned about the Louisville horticulture area and all the horticulture history in this region. He went to the Univ. of Maine for about 10 years as a teaching assistant and did some plant evaluation work and a little plant breeding as well as teaching classes in horticulture and plant propagation. All this was before he relocated to Kentucky. For the past 5 years he has been at Yew Dell. He came here when the ball was just getting rolling in taking this place and turning it into a public garden.

Paul is also an author of a great book on Dogwoods. Many think Paul is making it up but the first tree he planted as a little kid was a Dogwood. He dug it out of the woods behind his home in New York and transplanted it. Eric feels it is a fantastic book, a collection of all the different selections of Dogwoods. But it is also a very accessible work. It easily and effectively communicates the information in a format that is understandable to the average gardener. The book was a joint effort with Don Shadow who is a living legend in the world of horticulture. To Paul it was a great project and a great opportunity. It was a great project for a number of reasons. First, working with Don Shadow, a legend in the business, was great. Don knows more about Dogwoods than anybody Paul knows plus he has lived the experience. He grew up during the heyday of the development of many new varieties and he's incredibly knowledgeable. Paul also wanted to be involved with the project because it was a great chance to tell the many stories behind Dogwoods as well as highlight the characters that make up the gardening and nursery industry and how they worked and developed the new varieties and the background stories. To Paul it is sort of garden sociology. To him that information is what makes gardening, gardening, rather than just dropping a bunch of plants into the ground. It's what makes people connect with the garden and their plants.

Top

Dogwoods SINCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT DOGWOODS WE START WITH A FEW OF THE SELECTIONS at Yew Dell. Oftentimes we think of only the traditional white Dogwoods, but there are many exciting and diverse colors and flower forms. We're next to a beautiful pink form, a great selection. It is Red Beauty Cornus florida 'Red Beauty.' It was developed by Dr. Elwin Orton from Rutgers University. Paul was fortunate as a student and took a plant propagation course from Dr. Orton who is a wonderful plantsman and a great plant breeder. Red Beauty is one he developed for its saturated, rich color. It has good staying power in the garden, it blooms over a long period of time and is a precocious bloomer. Even as a young plant it provides color in the garden.

There is a lot of confusion about the actual flower color of a Dogwood. Paul will de-mystify that for us. The true flowers are either yellow or green. The flowers are actually in the enter of the display. What most people typically think of as the flowers are actually just the protective bracts that are either white or pink. Thus the correct answer is yellow or green.

There is a lot of diversity in the foliage on Dogwoods. Generally we think of the flat green, kind of rounded leaves but there are some beautiful variegated and gold leaf selections. One is cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes.' It was the 2006 recipient of the Theodore Kline Award. The Kline Awards started a number of years ago to help promote superior plants for the garden, plants that would work well for gardeners. The committee doesn't look for the oddest or the rarest or the strangest, but rather plants that will work well for people and give people good options in the garden for different forms and different foliage and flower types. Wolf Eyes was a great selection because in addition to the wonderful flowers that one typically has on Cornus kousa, these add great foliage. Paul loves to look at plants and use plants in the garden that have great foliage because they add interest all season long. Flowers are great, but he refers to them as the "sneeze" in the landscape. They're mighty impressive, but gone in hurry. But foliage is there all summer long. Wolf Eyes has great variegated creamy white and green foliage, it lasts all summer, works well either in shade or a fair amount of sun. Thus it's a good selection. It adds a stunning splash of color.

Cornus alterniforlia "Gold Bullion' is a little different than most Dogwoods because the leaves are born alternating on the stem, rather than in pairs. It's a great naturalizing plant for the edge of the woodland and a little shady light. Gold Bullion is a brand new selection that has bright chartreuse, yellow, green leaves. The siting is important. It needs to be in just the right amount of shade. If placed there it's very vigorous, has fabulous layered branching and brings beautiful texture to the garden.

Cornus angustata Empress of China is one of Eric's favorites. It's an evergreen Dogwood, which isn't seen much in this part of the world. It's closely related to the Cornus kousa, so it blooms later than the native Cornus florida. It has typical blooms of Cornus kousa but the leaves hold on through much of the winter, especially in southern zones. It's one of the most heavily blooming Dogwoods. When in full bloom it has a massive cascade of white and the nice dark leathery leaves provide a nice foil to the flowers. It's evergreen and it blooms its heart out. It's hard to beat.

Yew Dell has had many changes the past few years. This place was literally a day or two from the bulldozer before the Garden Conservancy, a group dedicated to preserving America's exceptional gardens stepped in. It is 1 of 13 American gardens designated Partnership Gardens. Combine that with the fact that Yew Dell has some 400 plus volunteers that do everything from pulling vines out of trees, to moving plants and reclaiming the grounds garden by garden. It's an amazing story of the community getting behind something that's a really special piece of local lore and helping turn it into an amazing place.

Eric is also interested in seeing and talking about the plant evaluations at Yew Dell. At Yew Dell they're always looking at a number of different plants and groups of plants, trying to figure out which ones are the best for this region by looking at performance, flower, form, etc. They do look at a wide range of plants. Here they pick out a particular species or a particular genus, then try to bring in as many varieties as can be found around the planet, plant them in the garden and see how they do. One of the things they do differently from others is all of the trialing is done right in the gardens, rather than performing the trials in the back forty, behind a fence. Thus visitors see the good the bad and the ugly.

Top

Helleborus PAUL AND HIS CREW HAVE BEEN WORKING ON HELLEBORUS. They're great plants because they work so well in a wide range of gardens. They're known for flowers that add to the garden in the early season, from January, February, into March, even April. They have evergreen foliage, very few pest problems, the deer don't bother them, once established they're bomb proof plants that people just don't use enough in their gardens. Eric notices a lot of diversity, different flowers and different foliage. Paul especially likes Helleborus foetidus because one doesn't expect to see green flowers in the garden. A couple of seed strains that he likes are Pine Knot strain Helleborus xsternii 'Pine Knot.' The Pine Knot garden hybrids have done well. One of the Ashwood Garden hybrids, Helleborus 'Ashwood Hybrids' have shown excellent vigor, excellent form and good, heavy flower production. They are fantastic.
Top

Ferns YEW DELL ALSO HAS A GREAT COLLECTION OF FERNS and there is a great story behind those. Paul loves the cast of characters Yew Dell has attracted from staff and board to volunteers. One of the volunteers in particular is Ralph Archer who's helped with the Fern Collection. He is a local expert in ferns, is incredibly knowledgeable and has a great network across the country of other fern collectors. Ralph has signed on as Volunteer Fern Collection Curator, which means he keeps track of how they perform in the garden and he has done a great job. He comes out, talks to them, measures them and generally just checks how they're performing. They have so much diversity and so many different types. Paul would recommend several Ferns. One is Japanese Painted Ferns Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' and there are many varieties. They're tough plants, perform well, they multiply nicely and they're great bright spots for a dark part of the garden. Another is Ostrich Fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris which is great if one has moisture and a shady spot. Another of his favorites is Japanese Tassel Fern, Polystichum polylepharum. It has bright green, very, very glossy fronds. It's a nice surprise in the garden. Ferns, in general, are great for the shade garden.
Top

Dwarf Hostas Eric likes the diversity in this garden and sees a spot that has one of the most wonderful planting solutions he's seen. This was an area that was completely overgrown. They didn't even know all the stones were here.THEY INHERITED THE COLLECTION OF GREAT LITTLE DWARF HOSTAS. These are great to collect but hard to use in a garden. This is a perfect place because they're elevated allowing one to see them and see all their different features. Here they don't get lost in all the other plants, as they would in a more traditional bed. If these were placed on a flat plane, it would be hard to see the differences from one selection to another but on a vertical plane they're able to tuck them into little pockets in the rocks, they're easy to see and they look fantastic.
Eric notices the little copper labels and likes their look. Paul says they stumbled upon them. Local gardeners were using them and they're commonly available. They're simple wire markers, they then use a little label maker that makes a clear ribbon or black print. It lasts 4 or 5 years, they're easy to read and they don't overpower the plants because they're so small. They're elegant, very easy to read, really nice.
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Rock Garden WE NEXT LOOK AT THE ROCK GARDEN. Oftentimes when one thinks of a rock garden one thinks of really difficult to grow plants that are Alpine plants. There are some of those here but as well they've mixed in a lot of plants that are great performers in Kentucky. Paul thinks its a good mix and it has been a fun project. This rock garden went through many iterations while Kline was here. With Paul they wanted to bring it back as a garden and try to grow some true Alpines but also create a successful garden that gives the look of an Alpine area. Thus the mixture is about 1/3 Alpine plants, 1/3 plants that are good, tough reliable Kentucky plants that may be dwarf varieties or creeping varieties to add to the Alpine look and about 1/3 of the plants are really plants that they probably shouldn't even be trying to grow here, but they're gardeners and can't resist. Thus the little Lewisia cotelydon and things like that that are plants that are not well adapted here. To do this they've dug out all the wonderful heavy Kentucky clay that existed between all the rocks and replaced it with a very well-drained mix, allowing these plants to have a fighting chance to try to perform well here. We look at some of the selections in this garden. Paeonia tennuifolia 'Rubra Flora Plena' is a little sweetie. Paul loves it because they're not only beautiful in flower but have great foliage through the summer. It has a nice lacy texture. The little dwarf Epimedium diphyllum is in flower now. It's a super little creeper, spreads slowly but its a good dependable performer and one that Paul thinks adds to the whole rock garden feel. They've tried a couple of Daphnes, variegated Daphne x burkwoodii 'Carol Mackey' which is a great plant. It can be a little temperamental at times, but seems to be doing quite well here. The Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Fringe Petals' is beautiful, it has early, heavily pubescent, little flowerscapes and it too is super in this garden.

Top

Serpentine Garden THEY'RE KNOWN HERE FOR THEIR SERPENTINE GARDEN, it's one of the signature gardens at Yew Dell. It's a beautiful collection of Conifers that's been worked into a really neat creative design that provides a wonderful opportunity to see all the plants and how the textures and colors work together. Paul feels many would plant them out as arboretum plantings which by now would have looked disorganized and not as unified as it does today. Because it is located along the main entrance to the farm and property Kline wanted something that looked more like a garden, more so than an arboretum. He took the great diversity of Connifers and elegantly tied them together with a ribbon of Yews. It's a bit of insight into the pragmatic side of Kline because he undoubtedly had fields of Yews and it made business sense to use those. This garden allows us to see what proper scale planting looks like in a garden that's now 30 or more years of age. Many of us would have planted these much closer together, but Theodore spaced them apart, he gave them room to grow. Thus one can see the natural form of these plants. The Yews are a unifying theme through this garden and one really gets to see the natural form of these plants. There is rich blue foliage next to bright golds, there is columnar, dwarf, weeping, just incredible diversity. It's hard for Paul to select a favorite because there are many great choices. The Dwarf White Pine, Pinus strobes, is great. It has beautiful soft, bluish, green texture and is a great scale plant for gardens. It doesn't tower over the other plants like a Straight White Pine would, because the Straight White Pine can grow to more than 100 feet tall and can eat small gardens. The Silver Whispers Pinus cembra 'Silver Whispers' is a very nice upright columnar form, very deep, rich color and, again, not a tree that will grow 90 feet tall. This will grow to 35 feet tall and works nicely. For different texture at the end of the garden the Tsuga canadensis "Weeping Canadian Hemlock" are beautifully graceful. They add a nice texture to the overall garden and can be used in many different ways.

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Take Away Eric thanks Paul for the tour, he knows there is much to see but wonders if Paul could provide some thoughts on gardening and how we might make our own gardens at home better. HE ASKS PAUL TO TELL US SOME OF THE LESSONS HE'S LEARNED AT YEW DELL. How might we have a design instead of a nursery? Paul thinks Yew Dell is a great example of that. One of the things he likes about this space is it helps people see that one doesn't have to landscape and design everything as one big space. Instead break it up into smaller spaces. Number one, this approach makes the space not as overwhelming, number two it provides an opportunity for different approaches in designing all the spaces in the garden. Eric feels they have done that well in this garden. All of the gardens provide a focal point for people's eyes to be drawn into the garden. As one goes out of one garden they are then looking towards the upcoming focal points as they're going to the next garden. An example would be the allay of Hollies or the Yew espaliered on a wall, all really draw the eye into the garden and provide focal points. As well they have borrowed views out beyond the property. Here they look into the countryside, which is a nice thing to be able to do when designing a garden. Moving through the garden with color repetition is a great idea. The all gold Hakonechola macra Variegated Hakone Grass in the wall garden repeats the gold of the little honey Hydrangea quercifolia 'Oak Leaf' Hydrangea. This is a great way to keep motion in the garden so one doesn't look at something and see it all at once. They have come up with many different, fascinating solutions like the Hostas planted on the little rock embankment, which is a wonderful way of displaying those kinds of plants. Theodore was the driving force in much of this. An overriding theme is don't fight the site, work with what you have, take advantage of the opportunities that are present.

Eric thanks Paul. It's been a wonderful experience, we've truly enjoyed Yew Dell Gardens.

Top

LINKS:

Yew Dell Gardens

Galt House Hotel and Suites


   
 
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