This week we visit Barnsley Gardens, in Adairsville Georgia, and talk with Robert Stoney their horticulturist. We learn more about plants that produce color in high summer, how to arrange these plants and how to keep these plants looking good this time of year.
Late spring and early summer flowers have now faded. If you've done your gardening homework, if you've properly prepped your plants, even with the extreme heat, everything should be flourishing. We start at a Herbaceous border garden. Robert not only has perennials in this garden but annuals as well. Annuals may be cheating a little because they are a quick way to get color in your garden while it takes a year to get the full benefit of perennials. This garden is exploding with color. Dr. Rick and Robert take a look at specific plants and discuss their care and maintenance.
To combine plants well requires not only a horticultural skill but an artistic skill as well. Robert has done an excellent job, this garden doesn't look like a plant zoo. Robert puts plants together that either contrast or compliment each other in color, in leaf form or in texture. One example is the bright orange Zinnia Lineris contrasting with the more subtle purple of the Heliotrope. The Heliotrope is a wonderful old fashioned plant, not seen much today, but extremely popular in times past. It has a wonderful scent, loves the heat and grows well from cuttings. Robert grows it as an annual but it will over-winter, if brought into a greenhouse.
Zinnia Linearis, Star Gold, is a tough plant, with a thin leaf and related to the regular garden Zinnia. Robert has this plant next to a regular Zinnia which has a larger, broader leaf. The narrow leaf variety doesn't get powdery mildew as readily as the regular variety, it withstands the heat better and has a continuous flower. It is self cleaning, doesn't produce an ugly seed head and self sows, meaning you'll get plenty of little sprouts for free.
We look at another example of contrasting foliage and an example of complimentary planting. The sword-like foliage of the Iris contrasts dramatically with the more subtle Melampodium, which has a smaller leaf. The Melampodium is a heat lover, will survive in full sun or shade, loves dry conditions, will self seed and is an annual. It goes well with Black Eyed Susans. They're a slightly larger form, with the same color, an echo, of the small Daisy-like flowers. A great tip for gardeners - select plants with similar color in the same family but with different sizes.
Spider Wart or Tradescant or Tradescantia contrast well with the Zinnia. The yellows and blues contrast, yet accent one another because they are at opposite ends of the color spectrum.
Four O'clocks are another great stand by. They get their name because they go in, or close up, in the morning and come out around four in the afternoon. They are a perennial, although some people grow it as an annual. They have deep roots that allow it to come back for many years. Once in the ground it will last for years because it germinates from seed. It has a nice reddish-maroon flower and silvery foliage. Robert has placed these next to Salvia, which bloom in August. If these were placed next to the Phlox, because they too are red, it would compete. But next to the blue of the Salvia, it provides a break and it works beautifully.
Border Phlox has a bloom that is blue with a tinge of red. Accordingly you don't want it next to plants with orange or red blooms. This is a tall plant, it probably has grown even taller because of excess moisture, and needs to be staked or it would flop. Robert thinks it best when staking a plant to do so before it gets too tall, before it starts flopping. Put one big stake in the middle and tie the plant to the stake. Robert has used Bamboo. Ventilation is important with these plants because they are susceptible to mildew, blights and fungus, especially in wet conditions. To ensure good air circulation make sure the plants are separated from other plants and importantly, choose varieties that are mildew resistant. In this case the mildew is low on the plant where it is close to other plants and doesn't have good air circulation. You can plant something in front that would hide the mildew. In the advanced stages of the disease the leaves turn brown and fall off, causing an unsightly plant. There are some Phlox cultivars on the market that are mildew resistant. There are a number of sprays available that stop the progression of the fungus. As with most fungus diseases, prevention is better than the cure.
One of the most important nutrients is Phosphorous. Phosphorous is the middle number on a fertilizer bag and is responsible for healthy root growth. There has been a lot of controversy about Phosphorous lately, it has shown up in increased or excess levels in lakes and streams. As gardeners we need to be environmentally friendly, thus will talk about using phosphorous correctly. When getting a lawn started or plants started we need a lot of root growth, thus high phosphorous is needed, it's called a starter fertilizer. Phosphorous is immobile in our soil, in other words once it is in the soil, it stays, we don't need to have excess amounts. That is where the problem occurs. Phosphorous is important to get plants started, after that select fertilizers that have a high first number. If you need something with a lot of disease resistance and heat resistance find something with Potassium. Be cautious, use Phosphorous only when necessary.
One of Dr. Ricks favorite perennials is Begonia Grandis, Hardy Begonia. Although a tropical plant it has adapted to temperate regions. It will survive frost and come through the winter. The back of the leaf is beautiful, the venation is incredible. It has off shoots which are great if you want to propagate the plant. Take cuttings, remove the shoots and put it in some potting soil, it should root in about six weeks. Shoots will even fall off the plant, onto the ground and root there. They produce a pod after the flowers decline. The pods are filled with seeds, that are like dust. There can be as many as two million seeds per ounce. Even though this plant is herbaceous, very tender, it rarely needs staking. It is tough and durable even with heavy rains. If it does flop it will be replaced by a large number of shoots that will take over and remain upright. When moving the shoots to other parts of the garden, keep them out of full, direct sun, at that point they are best in half or full shade.
As we move to the end of the Herbaceous border garden, it becomes more shady. For this area Robert selected color schemes that were lighter and whiter so they would be more visible and calmer. They draw the eye away from the hot, brighter colors in the middle of the border garden and provide a sense of peace and quiet. A sort of resting place for the eye. Robert has chosen a lovely white flowered plant, Double Aster. It is fine textured compared to the neighboring Peonies and Hollyhocks. Their bigger leaves provide a striking contrast against the delicate Gypsophylum or Babys Breath. They also add a filling effect. Mixed in are White Cleomes and White Phlox. Another great stand-by in this garden is Black-Eyed Susan or Rudbeckia. This one is Rudbeckia Hirta, it will flower through September or October or until the first frost. In fact after the first frost the petals will fall off and the seed heads will then look ornamental. After that they become more cone shaped. Rudabeckia, Indian Summer, has huge flowers that are 6-8 inches across and it will become a perennial in milder areas. This plant contrasts nicely with the silvery foliage of the Japanese Painted Fern. It has a lot of nice, fine textures, does well in full shade, will tolerate full sun and bugs don't seem to bother this plant.
Georgia visits with Katie Brown, a landscape designer who this week shows us some beautiful containers she has designed. Katie thinks containers add so much to the landscape and to the home. Katie wants to make a container interesting so she uses a variety of plants that work well together. This container is a big urn so she needed plants that were proportionally big enough to fit. This is a seaside area and the container is in an area that seems at times like a wind tunnel. She used Andromeda, a shrub, as an anchor plant, it's tough but lacy. She's added other colors and textures as under plantings. One, a Begonia, called Escargot for Snail, has a fabulous leaf design with a little spiral, colored with gray and green. She's added Potato Vine, a chartreuse color that contrasts nicely with the Begonia. Ivy is added and contrasts with the gray in the Begonias well. This container is beautiful and will last all summer.
Another planter is a 19th century American urn. In it she has placed Shrubby Gardenias. Katie likes to place Gardenias or Dwarf Lilacs by the front or back door because they are so fragrant. She picked up the white theme of the Gardenias with White Petunias and White Bacopa. Mixed in is English Ivy. The Ivy cascades over the sides, softening the edges. Katie likes to put slow release fertilizer in all planters so the plants will continue to be fertilized throughout the season.
In another container Katie has used Carpet Roses. They come in red or white and are different than the standard Geraniums - which if not deadheaded, look terrible. If these Roses are deadheaded they will go all summer. Also added is Algerian Ivy, an interesting, big-leafed Ivy.
Katie has shown us some unusual containers, Georgia thanks her for the tips.
Cemetery Lily, or Crinum Lily is a favorite of Dr. Ricks. They last without much care and attention and are often found in places like cemeteries. It is a hand-me-down plant, a great heirloom plant often seen in formal gardens. It is in the same family as Amerilus. It has a deep, well protected bulb and it produces a great show in the summer when a lot isn't typically going on in the garden. It is fragrant. The variety, Ellen Bosencuait, has a strong smell. This plant flowers over a good, long season, with 12-14 flowers coming on in succession, producing blooms through July. You can just plant it and enjoy, it is drought resistant because it has a huge bulb that stores water during the winter. It's like a camel using the stored water in the summer. It has nice, glossy strap like leaves that provide interesting texture in the garden. It is frost sensitive, the leaves will brown, thus it needs full protection from a late frost. A great idea in any garden is to combine formal elements with informal elements. Celosious Spicata or Wheat Celosia looks like a wild flower. It is a great standby for this time of year because it is very robust. It withstands heat and humidity. It is related to Little Celosias that we use as annuals. This plant gets huge, often growing to shoulder height. It provides vertical accent. Some use it in dried arrangements late in the season as well. The seeds can be saved, sow them as an annual the following year.
One strategy for combining plants and creating a garden is to compartmentalize. Robert has used a Boxwood framework and created a Partier Garden. Partier is a french word for part earth. The Boxwoods divide the growing areas from the paths making neat little compartments, almost like an individual room in your garden. They are called rooms within the Partier. These gardens/rooms are protected by the Boxwoods. These were designed for northwestern Europe to keep cold out, in this environment it keeps the heat in. In this environment when it's 90 degrees outside the garden it's 100-110 in the garden. Thus one needs plants that can survive that heat. Robert has massed plants that are all white. He has chosen Madagascar Vinca or common Annual Vinca. This Vinca is a very white, very robust, very clear Vinca. There isn't a hint of another color in this flower. Mixed in are Cleomes and Asiatic Lilies. The Lilies provide a wonderful accent and are beautifully perfumed, particularly in the evening when the perfume is particularly intense. This garden not only looks good during the day but also in the evening or whenever there are a lot of clouds. Whites always come into their own in the evenings or in half light. In fact in the moonlight they really stand out. This garden has a monochromatic approach. The white contrasting against the dark green makes for a very restful area. This garden is further contrasted by a nearby garden, on the other side of a fountain, that has dark shades.
Dr. Rick is amazed at the number of plants that do well in the heat of the summer and thanks Robert for showing us these beautiful gardens.
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