GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2004 show5
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Show #5

On this show we visit Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, Georgia. Barnsley is a large, beautiful resort encompassing over 1,000 acres. It is rich in history as well as plant material. There are woodland trails, a beautiful resort and many things to do.

This garden was designed by Andrew Jackson Downing, the father of landscape design. He was the driving force in this field during the 1840's and 1850's. The main characteristics of an Andrew Jackson Downing landscape would be the wonderful mixture of formal and informal, a combination of formal gardening and the picturesque.

His influence is apparent in the Azalea walk we visit today. It meanders slowly through the pleasure grounds that surround the gardens. Here one finds a beautiful canopy of mature trees, then native Azaleas and interesting under plantings. It provides a three tiered effect, something down low, something in the middle and something up high. It has a lovely variety of indigenous plants that would have been taken from the area and massed and concentrated along either side of the walkway. They are set in fairly informal beds with wavy edges, the paths are twisty and serpentine. It creates a path that is intriguing and entices one to explore further. There are no plants planted in straight lines, rather everything mimics or tries to mimic mother nature. The paths harmonize with the surrounding hills and hollows as do the surrounding plants.

Robert shows us some of his springtime favorites. Rhododendron Austrinum, Florida Azalea is one of the first Azaleas to flower in the year, it has a wonderful scent and blends beautifully with the Irises growing under the tree. These represent what one might consider a happy accident, where one plant compliments or contrasts with another. In this case the blue-green foliage of the Iris Palada against the more traditional green and rounded leaves of the Azalea is stunning. As well, the flowers of both contrast with each other and also make a stunning statement. The forms and colors are dramatically different, yet at the same time there is a sense of harmony between the two. There is a contrast because colors are at opposite ends of the color spectrum, yet a sense of harmony. Robert believes that the native Azalea is a perfect compliment to Irises rather than the more showy, in-your-face strident colors of the modern hybrids. In informal woodland settings natives tend to work better.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas are all part of the Rhododendron family. All Azaleas are Rhododendron "something." The most apparent difference can be found in the flower. The Azalea flower has five stamens, the Rhododendron generally has ten. Also the flower shape in an Azalea is more trumpet shaped, whereas the Rhododendron flower is bell shaped.

Another Azalea favorite of Roberts' is the Piedmont Azalea, the Pinkster, Rhododendron Canescens. It originates in the Piedmont region, the lower levels of the Appalachian Hills. Another favorite is the Oconee Azalea, Rhododendron Flammeum. It isn't fragrant but has wonderful big and full red or orange flowers. Later in the year blooms the Flame Azalea, which is valuable because it flowers in July and August when there isn't typically a lot of color. It extends the Azalea blooming season through high summer. Thus, one could have Azaleas blooming from early spring through mid summer.

We next discover an area called Robin Hill Azalea Walk. These Azaleas are all hybrids, all part of the Robin Hill Azalea Group. Hybrid means that the parents are different from one another. Hopefully the offspring will have a better quality or will have something special. With Azaleas a hybrid is easy to produce, there are probably tens of thousands of named varieties of Azaleas. The difficult part is getting the same plant twice. Along this walk there are some intense colors next to each other, magenta then a white then a Salmon, all beautiful Azaleas. Many would consider these to clash in terms of color association. This represents a modern trend in gardening, to have deliberately clashing colors. The two have intense colors but in order to soften it a little the white is placed in the middle. Cream or white between two very strong colors tends to blend strong colors and combinations then work better. Robert thinks Andrew Jackson Downing would have used hybrids if they would have been available in his time, they would have appealed to him as much as they do to us today.

Azaleas are relatively care free. To ensure they look their best they require adequate moisture. Make sure the roots in particular get plenty of water especially during the first year or so. Mulch is important, two or three inches of horticultural mulch like straw or pine bark will help protect their roots, which grow close to the top of the soil. They don't need to be pruned. If you want to shape or remove dead wood, wait until after they bloom. By doing it at this time the dead wood is easily identified and there is no worry about cutting off flower buds. Rather than shearing, remove entire branches. This will provide a more natural appearance. They can tolerate heavy pruning. But don't do too much to them, careful neglect is all they need.

We next look at some new plants.

First is a new Hydrangea, Hydrangea Macrophylla, "Endless Summer." It is different because it blooms more than once during the entire season. Typically mop heads, Hydrangeas with large flowers, bloom early spring and that's it. They're pretty and attractive the rest of the year but no more blooms. This plant was found in Minnesota and can tolerate cold weather, which is unusual for Hydrangeas. It likes filtered light, a little moisture, in fact during the first year it's a good idea to water it deeply enabling the roots top grow deep into the soil. It will have blue flowers if there is a bit of aluminum in the soil, if not it will turn pink. It grows to about 3-5 feet tall.

Nandina "Sienna Sunrise" is new and different. It's reminiscent of a sunset the top is fiery red, maroon, yellow, even orange. It grows to 3-5 feet tall. It's more compact than a typical Nandina but will help show off an area that you want to accent. Occasionally it will produce little white flowers but generally it's punch is the new intense foliage on the top of the plant. In the middle of the summer it will turn mostly green, in the fall it has good fall color-reds and oranges. It tolerates temperatures down to -10 degrees, thus will do well in most parts of the country. It likes well drained soil, but keep it moist particularly during the first year. It's an easy, low maintenance plant that works in most garden situations.

If looking for something with a tropical look think about Mandevilla. This is a new plant "Mandevilla Pink Parfait." It is different because it's a double flowering variety. That means instead of one row of petals it has two sets, called a double. Mandevilla is a tropical plant, thus won't tolerate temperatures much lower than about 30 degrees. If you're looking for something for an arbor or trellis and you have bright light this is a good choice. It has large, coarse textured leaves thus looks good even when not blooming. And it will bloom through most of the season.

On arbors or trellises Dr. Rick likes a plant on one side with an evergreen vine, it will come back year after year. On the other side plant a vine like Mandevilla, it can be changed out every year and you have a new look yet the evergreen vine provides a bit of consistency or permanence.

Orange Meadow, Bright Cone Flower, also known as Echinacea Arts Pride is the first ever orange Cone flower. We've known the purple flowers for years, the orange variety makes a nice compliment to the older variety. It starts blooming mid to late summer and blooms all the way through the fall. It grows to between 1-3 feet tall, loves and needs full sun, needs dry or well drained soil, it hates wet feet. Cone Flowers are Native Americans and will grow in zones 4-9 in terms of cold hardiness. They can tolerate a wide range of heat, everything from a cool, medium summer to a real hot summer.

Heucherella is a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella. It grows to between 8 inches and 1 foot tall, likes more shade than sun. This variety is called "Heart of Darkness" because of the large dark vein towards the center of the leaf. The foliage is striking because of the different variegation and it produces foam-like flowers like Tiarella. It tolerates temperatures to about -30 degrees, so it is a tough plant as long as it has some shade, a little moisture, but not soggy soil. It is a great plant to combine with ferns or as a replacement for Hostas.

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak are a problem throughout the United States. The resin on the leaves is what bothers us, causing acute dermatitis (a bad rash). If you happen to come in contact with it, quickly wash with hot soapy water, that should at least reduce the amount of irritation. Poison Ivy has three leaves and a little bit of red where the leaf merges with the stem. There is a new product made especially for eradicating Poison Ivy and tough brush. To use this product, spray the leaves thoroughly when the foliage is dry, early in the day when there is plenty of moisture in the plant. That way it will move down into the roots and kill the plant. Another approach, for particularly stubborn Poison Ivy is to take a plastic bag, wrap it around your hands and pull the Poison Ivy vines from a tree, etc., then dip those vines in a bucket of this product. This is a particularly effective way to translocate the product to the roots and kill the Poison Ivy.

Barnsley Gardens pleasure grounds are laid out for people who want to stroll or amble around and enjoy the acres of plantings. There are less formal, wilderness trails where the plantings are completely natural. Here people can enjoy an endless array of wild flowers, trees and wildlife. During any time of year one finds a lovely range of understory plants. Plants like Trillium, Shooting Star, May Apple, Wild Geraniums. Out in the open one will find plants like Evening Primrose, Wild Columbine and Dogwoods. There are always interesting plants one can enjoy on these wildflower trails, summer, fall, winter and spring.

Wild Geranium with large, lavender flowers is especially beautiful in the spring. One of the characteristics of this family of plants is that when the flower goes to seed it produces an elongated seed capsule which looks like a Crane's bill, hence the name Crane's Bill. It is easily identified because it's the only large flowered Geranium in this area and has lovely spottings on the leaves. The delicate lavender flower, is really bright in the deep shade.

Trillium is another great group of woodland plants. They are called Trillium because they have three leaves. We look at the Red Trillium or Toad Shade. It's leaves are flattish. They like an environment that is deep in shade, in a rich, undisturbed woodland. It is an indicator species, if growing it shows that the woodland is healthy and vital.

During a woodland walk don't just look for flowers, some plants have interesting foliage as well. May Apple or Mandrake has deeply lobed leaves. It is a poisonous plant in other parts of the world, the leaves, the stems, even the roots are poisonous but it produces a yellowish-orange fruit that in May is edible.

Columbine, Aqualegia is a word that comes from eagles claw. It refers to the spurs that are on the back of the flower. It has a drooping flower, a nice little leaf and looks a bit like a catchers mitt. It's short lived, will last 2-3 years then hopefully reseed in the garden.

Evening Primrose is native to the southwest United States, even Mexico, but is an old time favorite in Southern regions. It is a great plant for rough areas or poor soil. It is a beautiful plant, very showy, unusually so for a wild flower. It's often planted in gardens and will produce huge clumps, masses on pond banks. Many species open towards the end of the day, this plant is open during the day and closes at night. When it opens, it opens rapidly, one can actually watch it open.

For a mid level plant, something not really a ground cover, yet not a large tree consider Red Buckeye, "Aesculous Pavia. It's distinctive because of its' red flowers and the five Palmate leaves. They look like fingers on a hand. A great choice for something for the shade, yet stunning. The red flowers will develop seed heads and inside each seed head one finds a big seed which is round and dark, just like a buck's eye, hence the name Buckeye.

Pawlonia Tomintosa also known as Empress Tree or Indian Princess Tree is spectacular. It grows 8-10 feet in a year and is often touted as a miracle shade tree. Its foliage provides a tropical effect, the trunk is heavy and the branches are nearly horizontal. It is often mistaken for Wisteria or other plants with a purple flower early in the spring. Some don't like this tree because it pops up unmercifully but it has some wonderful qualities. In other parts of the world it is prized. The streets of Paris are lined with this tree, in the Orient it's known as a dowry tree. If planted as a seedling when a daughter is born considering its' rate of growth by the time that daughter is 18 the tree is big enough to give as a rather valuable dowry. Its' wood is prized for construction and for use in decorative bowls, etc. The seed capsules are very light, they were the styrofoam peanuts of their time, used as packing materials for delicate items.

Thank you Robert for showing us these lovely parts of Barnsley Gardens. The gardens are stunning during springtime and we know from past visits equally stunning during the other seasons of the year, as well.

Links: Barnsley Gardens

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