This week we visit the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll
Island Georgia and learn about plants that thrive in coastal
environments. Many of these plants will thrive anywhere
in the south and make a beautiful addition to our gardens.
Kevin McLean is the head horticulturist at this beautiful
resort. It is difficult to find plants that thrive in heat
and humidity, accordingly Kevin has been careful and creative
in plant selection and the resort is beautiful.
When selecting annuals for coastal areas, or other areas,
heat and humidity must be considered, since both tire out
a lot of plants. The selected plants should reflect the
look of the building.
Faith Chapel has Victorian architecture so Cleome has been
chosen because it too has a victorian look. It will grow
to about 3-4 feet high, it easily reseeds and has a pungent
odor which repels the deer. It can be grown from the coast
of Georgia all the way up to New Hampshire. It is a fast
growing plant and attains fair height early in the season.
Zinnia, Dreamland Mix, provides a lot of intense color.
Their color contrasts nicely with the Cleome. They are fast
growing and may experience problems with Powdery Mildew
in situations with high humidity. Zinnia Linearis, a smaller
leafed variety is available in orange, red or white and
is not susceptible to Powdery Mildew. Since it has a nice
round flat flower, which acts almost like a landing pad,
they attract butterflies, moths, even Humming Birds.
Blue Wonder, acts like a carpet and blooms prolifically
all season. Kevin finds this rare because finding a blue
or rich purple flowering plant that thrives in the heat
is difficult. The purple relates well with the Cleome. Kevin
has used this as a ground cover but it also does well in
containers. It requires no deadheading, very little care
once established, just keep it watered. It is a wonderful
plant for areas with a long growing season.
Another bed has Cannas in the back for height. The Bengal
Tiger Canna has nice variegation in the leaves and a beautiful
orange flower that is so bold it almost overpowers everything
else. Mixed in is Scaveola, Blue Fan Flower, that has cascaded
over the brick walls providing nice structure in the garden.
The blue flower contrast nicely with the orange Cannas.
Angelonia, Angels Face, is similar to a Snapdragon or Salvia,
all have similar growth habits. It has an upright form but
isn't a large plant. It blooms throughout the summer, deadhead
after the spike on the bloom fades and it will come right
back. Kevin has also used a Croton, normally used as a house
plant. Its bold foliage offers a lot of pizzazz and a complimentary
color to purples and oranges. It offers visual weight at
the bottom of the bed to balance the taller plants. Bacopa
works well as a ground cover, comes in white and can also
be used in containers. It is similar to Scaveola, but don't
let it dry out, it likes moist soil. The color scheme is
simple but the textures are very different, from small flowers
moving up to medium flowers of the Angelonia to the large
leaves and flowers of the Cannas. It provides a smooth transition
and gives visual interest in addition to brilliant color.
Some parts of the country have had a wet spring and summer.
With the abundance of water, we're starting to see fungus
problems. One is Powdery Mildew. If you have Zinnias, Phlox
or Roses, even Crepe Myrtles you may notice a white powdery
substance on the top of the leaves. It may look like it
could be brushed off, in reality it is a fungus attacking
especially young leaves, flower buds or new stalks. In cool,
damp, even shady areas it will strike. If you have good
circulation or it is dry you won't see this problem as often.
To solve the problem either clip off the effected parts
or use a general purpose fungicide. You will need to spray
every 10-14 days as long as the symptoms persist. Another
option is to select plant varieties that are naturally resistant
to Powdery Mildew.
Leaf Spot, Entimosporium, is another problem caused by cool,
wet conditions in spring and summer. This is characterized
by red ringed little dots all over the upper and lower parts
of the leaves. If not too severe, the disease is mostly
cosmetic and permanent damage won't occur. If the disease
is particularly bad, if an entire leaf drop occurs, threatening
the plant, apply a general fungicide. Do this every 10-14
days as long as the wet conditions persist. Be careful in
using fungicides if temperatures are over 90 degrees because
leaf burn could occur. Otherwise wait for drier, more arid
conditions and the situation will correct itself.
Most think that if we want annuals in the landscape we need
well drained soil and for most situations that is critical.
Kevin had a wet area that was in a sharp turn in the sidewalk
that everyone was making a shortcut with bicycles and golf
carts. In this wet area he wanted more beauty and wanted
to control traffic so he installed a garden. This garden
has a monochromatic color scheme, lots of whites, with a
tinge of pinks and purples. He wanted a simple scheme, to
bring out the beauty of the bed, yet he wanted it to have
a tropical feel. Kevin didn't want an overpowering garden,
no bright oranges, etc., instead one that was more muted.
In this simple garden, coarse texture is an essential ingredient.
In between plants with coarse texture are plants with medium
or fine textures. They give the garden a lot of boldness
and pizzazz. Without the coarse texture this garden would
blend in with the grass. In the back is what many might
consider Purple Corn Plant, it's actually a new Millet called
Millet Purple Majesty. It has dark foliage, with a large
seed head, that encourages birds to visit. Kevin has also
planted Papyrus a great plant for wet areas. This plant
could actually be submersed in water but will do well in
drier conditions. It could be propagated by taking the seed
head or top off, then putting it in the ground and it will
root from the top head, it roots easily. It's cold hardy
down to about 10 degrees. Kevin has mixed annuals and perennials.
Mexican Petunia, Ruellia is a nice purple flower that contrasts
against the white. It does well in the sun or partial shade.
It tolerates dry soil or moist soil and will grow to 3-4
feet tall. Once grown it overseeds (will drop seeds) so
new plants will pop up everywhere. If you don't want the
plant after this stage you will need to pull all new plants
as they come up. It is a nice, strong purple and adds a
lot of depth. In the front Kevin has used Calladium. It
is a nice plant for shaded areas, has a striking foliage
and comes in many different colors. It has little shades
of pink in the plant, not just a pure white. The green is
nicely variegated, providing a lush green feel. By putting
coarse textures in the front and fine textures in the back
one creates a feeling of depth or more volume.
This week Georgia visits with Susan Emmitsberger who takes
us on a tour of her border garden that overlooks the harbor.
At one point there was just a sea wall, then the grass.
Susan wanted something that would enhance the view from
the house. It is a beautiful view but she loves flowers,
has an extensive bulb garden in the spring and likes to
have as many blooms as possible throughout the season. In
the spring her garden blooms a little later than most in
the area but stays warmer in the fall because of the air
coming off the water and harbor. Susan has planned a succession
of blooms - early perennials, mid-perennials and later perennials.
The bulb garden is first, then the Terra Rosa Clematis,
her first blooming perennial. She has a purple variety that
blooms later but she found that deeper colors are fine when
up close but if enjoyed from a distance brighter colors
are more easily seen. Perennials often have a life of their
own, they spread. If they do this take them out and share
with a friend or relative. Susan likes to add annuals to
her perennials because in certain times of the year there
will be bald spots. If you incorporate annuals it will fill
those spots in. This can be accomplished by planting the
annuals or by placing containers with annuals in the bald
spots. This adds color and fills empty spots throughout
Kevin shows us a beautiful combination of Annuals and Perennials.
Cosmos, Cosmo Sonata Mix, is a wonderful flower, has beautiful
colors, it overseeds and is a wonderful flower for wild
flower mixes. You often see them between roads and highways.
It is an annual and will reseed. In the background is Peraskia
or Russian Sage. It is a lighter bluish purple, can tolerate
drought conditions and can tolerate heat and cold. It is
a little wispy, has an open airy look that combines well
with the Cosmos and at the same time the foliage is almost
fern-like, replicating the foliage of the Cosmos. Deer don't
seem to bother this plant and it has no real insect problems.
It is a great all-round plant that works well in a perennial
border. When using low intensity plants they are best used
in the back, use high intensity plants, those with strong
hues, in the front. This will make a more stunning garden.
Use a complimentary color scheme - colors on the opposite
end of the color wheel. Two of the most famous opposite
colors are red and green. Kevin has utilized these colors
in a spectacular garden. He has used Chartreuse Sweet Potato
Vine, Ipomea, the variety Margarite. This is related to
the sweet potato, the root is edible. He has used another
Ipomea, another Sweet Potato Vine, this one Pink Frost or
Tricolor. If you plant the root the next year you won't
get the same variegation. You have the same form, the same
texture, but colors on the opposite end of the color wheel
make a stunning statement.
Celosia Plumosa, New Look Celosia, is a great plant that
has a bloom that is almost fire like or flame like. It works
well as a dried flower. It can tolerate dry soil and is
tough in terms of heat tolerance. It works well in an asphalt
situation, a very hot area. Celosia has a leaf that is not
only green but a burgundy as well. It goes well with the
Pink Frost Sweet Potato Vine and adds formality to the bed.
The darker, deeper valued colors are in the back and the
lighter or higher valued colors are in the front. It gives
the bed more depth and is eye catching. This bed is lush,
very durable and very heat tolerant.
Agapanthus, Lily of the Nile, is a beautiful plant. They
will grow to 3-4 feet high with the bloom spikes adding
another 18 inches to the height. It is evergreen and the
deer seem to love this plant. The bloom looks like fireworks
and comes in colors of blue and white. To make sure you
get just the right color buy the plant when in bloom. With
these Kevin has used Zinnias, Dreamland Mix. The blue mixes
well with the oranges, pinks and yellows, another complimentary
color scheme. Kevin has also used Portulaca, Portulaca Yubi,
it is a great plant, drought tolerant and comes in yellow,
white and hot pink. When sheared it will rapidly grow back.
Dr. Rick thanks Kevin for showing us these beautiful gardens.
They're great for any part of the country but are particularly
good for coastal areas. They're heat tolerant, drought tolerant
and can handle a lot of humidity.
By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist,
Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms
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