week we visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
Biltmore Estate was built in 1895, the home of George Washington
Vanderbilt, and was originally around 125,000 acres. Today
it encompasses about 8,000 acres. The landscape was designed
by Frederick Law Olmsted, the house and surrounding structures
were designed by Richard Morris Hunt.
Ballard, Gardens Manager at Biltmore, will give us tips
on planting your own container. First, know your container,
the size, where it will be located, etc. Bruce uses a 34"
terra cotta pot, it is large so he uses large specimen plants
such as an Arica Palm. Fill the container to a level that
will allow the plant to sit just below the lip of the pot.
Next he places the under plantings, Coleus, Begonias, Persian
shield, Caladiums and Spinach. He adds plants that will
drape down over the side of the pot such as English Ivy
and Sweet Potato Vine. There are no rules about what to
plant in a container, plant what you thinks is pretty and
pay attention to where the container will be located, it
isn't even necessary to make sure colors match. Using a
variety of plants creates a garden effect and interest.
Different textures adds interest as well. Also know something
about the plants you will put in the container, how tall
will they grow, etc. When placing the plants into the container,
slightly break up the root ball. Leave small pockets between
plants so you can fill in with smaller plants. The Ivy will
grow down the side, the Persian Shield can grow rather large
and will require pinching so we'll use it as a side piece.
The Begonia will add foliage texture and color throughout
the season. Bruce uses the Ivy to fill the smaller available
pockets in the pot and because it adds texture and color.
He places it at the edge of the container which will provide
an immediate draping effect. Purple Wave Petunias are added
for color. Once all the plants are placed, Bruce top dresses
around all the plants in the container with a slow release,
6 month, triple 14, fertilizer. He will also fertilize them
each week with a liquid soluble fertilizer, most likely
a 20-20-20 or 15-16-17. You could use this fertilizer every
other week but saturate the container each time you water,
particularly after planting. The plants will have some shock
because we broke up their roots and they're in a new environment.
The through watering should help. Weekly grooming, if not
daily grooming to remove dying leaves, deadheading, pinching
growth will help keep the plants low and bushy.
Parker Andes, Director of Horticulture at Biltmore Estate,
offers advice on trees, what to look for when purchasing,
what to do after purchase and planting and how to care for
that tree. He shows us a Burr Oak, when they purchased the
tree they wanted one with a single, strong stem with no
damage. In the nursery go around all sides of the tree and
inspect for any damage or anything unusual. This tree in
80 years will be 80 feet tall, so it probably isn't something
ideal for a yard. Other trees that might work for a homeowner
would be Carolina Silver Bells or Dogwood, something smaller
and on a scale with your house. Always consider potential
size and shape and location and the work or maintenance
required for each tree, will they drop leaves, etc. The
Bald Cypress is one of Parker's favorites. It likes a wet
area and will be large when fully grown which blends well
with the park-like setting. It is not a tree that should
be planted next to a swimming pool or patio because it is
a deciduous tree, although it looks like an Evergreen. It
will drop its' needles creating problems in a swimming pool
for example. Several things happened when planting this
tree. Several branches were broken and the top was broken.
To keep the tree from developing 2 or 3 leaders that go
up, since we want just 1 central leader he puts a stake,
he uses Bamboo, up the trunk. He then chooses a flexible
branch near the top and attaches that leader to the stake
and holds it straight up. This will fool the tree into thinking
it has one central leader. He uses a pair of pruners to
remove the broken section. Don't leave the stake in the
tree for more than one growing season. With twine he loosely
loops the Bamboo to the tree trunk. The Bamboo will rot,
if forgotten. The tree should now be fooled into thinking
that there is one central leader. Parker also trims all
dead branches from the tree as well as branches that may
in the future be too close to another branch.
Carolina Silver Bell is a smaller tree that brings the eye
up to larger trees. This tree has a white flower in spring,
great bark for winter, grows to about 30-40 feet tall, is
fairly clean and has good fall color. Parker notices one
branch others might not worry about but it bothers him.
This branch goes against the grain of the tree, it is growing
back towards the trunk of the tree. He removes this branch
with lobbing shears in two cuts. The first is about an inch
or so from the trunk, this removes weight from the branch
making the second cut neat and clean and doesn't allow stripping
and pulling off of the bark. He then focuses on the branch
bark collar, the swelling area where the branch connects
with the trunk or a larger branch.
Proper tools always make any job easier. He uses a bypass
pruner, the handle rolls, that takes pressure off the hand.
It's called bypass because the blade goes past the anvil.
Like a pair of scissors only one side has a beveled edge.
He likes a small hand saw with a curved blade. It has 8-10
teeth per inch, for finer cuts get one with 12-16 teeth
per inch. A pole pruner bends at different angles, it can
be elongated and has grippers at the end to catch and hold
the limb just cut. With all these tools make sure the safeties
are working, keep them lubricated, clean and sharp.
Darien Ball shows us a container garden planted in an urn
that dates to 1896. In it they've planted a Sago Palm, a
tri colored Sweet Potato Vine, New Guinea Impatients, Blue
Daisy Volvuses, Blue Delphenia White Blue New Wave Petunias
and an unusual Caladium. To soften the boldness of the pot
he's used Pink Angelonia and unusual Butter Cutter Coleus.
They also have a container within a container. They have
taken a basic metal hanging basket and attached it to an
iron rod, then sunk the rod into 6 inches of concrete for
stability, then set it inside another pot, filled it and
planted it. This set up controls traffic flow and provides
a barrier between an eating area and the pathway.
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