GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2002 show14
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Show #14

This 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.

Bruce 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.

Link: Biltmore Estate


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By Kimberly Toscano, Encore Azaleas, Photographs courtesy of Encore Azaleas

When moving into a new home it is always tempting to start planting as soon as possible. But, before digging into planting take some time to get to know the landscape and develop a plan for success. For an informative article on the topic, click here.


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