GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2004 show6
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Show #6

This week we visit Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, Georgia. Barnsley's history dates back to the 1840's and 50's. Euan McGlashan and Robert Stoney show us around this magnificent resort. Everyone is amazed by the history and beauty of Barnsley Gardens and to this day the Barnsley's provide the inspiration for this exquisite resort. The landscape was designed by Andrew Jackson Downing. The Civil War caused the financial ruin of the Barnsleys, they didn't have the financial means to rebuild, thus Barnsly Gardens is for the most part what it was before the Civil War. It remains a wonderful tribute to Downing, the father of landscape design in America.

Downing used a lot of Irises. The Iris is also part of the owners, the Fuger family, crest. There are over 300 species of Iris. Iris in Latin means rainbow, thus they come in every color but green. Richard has seen rare reds, yellows, blues and whites. The Iris can be divided into two groups. The Dutch and Siberian Iris grow on fibrous roots which is different from the usual Iris that grows on a rhizome. The rhizome is sometimes half buried and sometimes exposed on top of the soil.

Within the Rhizome group is the Bearded Iris. Typically the German Irises are true Bearded Irises and they have showy forms. They are tall, called standards, the petals droop down and are called falls. That's different and distinct from the Crested Irises which have a crest instead of a beard. Iris Tectorum is an example of a Crested Iris. April is their peak time but Irises can bloom from January all the way through November or December. Thus, there are even fall flowering Irises.

Robert Stoney shows us several types of Iris. The Dutch Iris has clear white colors as well as blues and purples. The Siberian Iris is also beautiful in spring and makes wonderful drifts if massed. Scented Iris, Iris Pallida is light blue as is the Dalmation Iris, Iris Dalmatica. Not all varieties are fragrant, but people don't typically grow them for fragrance since the scent is rather delicate, one can only smell them up close.

Iris are a diverse group in terms of size and color., They can tolerate every condition imaginable. Even when not flowering they have a decorative leaf. Some have a variegated leaf providing another form of interest.

Once one decides which Iris they want, then the decision is where should they go in the garden. First think about color. If surrounded by muted colors, blue or cooler colors, then it's best to go with other cool shades. The foliage has a silvery blue color so they go very well in cool color schemes. The flowers, although beautiful are fleeting, so call attention to the upright sword-like foliage. Place them where the eye can linger, in a perennial bed or somewhere where they can dominate. Irises are easy to care for, come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Massing them in groups of 50 to 100 plants makes a potent display. However they can also be used in containers. Some varieties are only 2-3 inches tall while some grow to 6 feet tall. In either environment make sure they get plenty of fertilization, a little bit of sun, then enjoy them.

Dr. Rick looks at a new type rake. When buying a rake look for something lightweight, something made of aluminum. That way there are no splinters and it is easy to handle. This rake has a nice soft place at the top and at the base where the hand fits, thus fewer blisters. Where it picks up stuff it's curved so when pressure is placed the rake folds back and is effective at moving grass clippings, wood chips or anything else.

This is the time of year to prepare the soil in your beds to get ready for summer annuals. Robert is getting rid of old plants and planting the new. He's taking Pansies out of slightly raised beds, these beds act like large containers. It's easier to replace the plants, don't turn them underneath. That way bacteria or fungus won't be tilled into the soil, plus it takes a while for the old material to break down in the soil. Robert first adds compost. This product was made at Barnsley, the result of decomposed residues from previous Pansies, grass cuttings and weeds piled together and composted over a 6-8 month period of time. Once everything is removed, an annual bed can be tilled. With a perennial bed that is more difficult. But perennial beds don't normally need such a heavy application of compost. As well expectations with annuals is higher, we expect them to bloom immediately and through the end of the season. The raised beds will drop a little over time, the compost helps them keep the right height.

Robert has a steep slope at the front of the bed, there he forms a valley or gutter. That helps with watering. The water sits in the gulley and doesn't erode the bed too badly. He shapes it with a hard rake. The bed could be higher in the back than the front. By slightly compacting the soil, everything doesn't get washed away with a hard shower, etc. Bark chips, mulch or pine straw will also help in this area.

With the bed now ready for planting, Robert turns to the plants. In the back, because they're tall, he has placed the Pennisitum, Purple Fountain Grass. Next, Verbena, their pink goes well with the purple of the Fountain Grass. Silver Argentea, Silver Salvia and Alternathera, yellow or green leaf color will also be added. In these beds the planting process is relatively easy because the rich bed is loose. When removing the new plant, Robert breaks the roots if they seem to be swirling at the bottom of the plant. With bigger plants it's nice to have two people, one to place the plant the other to dig the hole. It's important to place the plant about the same height as it was in the container. After planting, if you don't like how you've arranged the plants you can change them until you like the arrangement. In the front are the Salvia Argenteas. It has a coarse texture that contrasts well with the finer texture of some of the other plants, providing a lot of interest with not only the flowers but the leaves as well. A formal row could be planted in the front, Robert prefers to mix it up and has a little triangle. These will grow about a foot and a half across, the leaves will be almost 10 inches later in the summer. The fuzz on the leaves doesn't seem to mind irrigation and they don't require too much water, in fact if these plants were kept too wet they could rot. A lot of silver flowered plants, plants like Dusty Miller don't like over watering or too much humidity, this one has a prettier flower and tolerates wetter conditions. Next Robert adds Alternathera, they're chartreuse and contrast with the other plants. These he plants in informal patches of three to five plants rather than planting in straight lines. And they're planted about 10 inches apart. They will grow together and fill in, although they won't have flowers, just an intense foliage color. Once in the ground, water all plants completely, then water every day, especially when hot and sunny, After established Robert starts a weekly regimen of liquid fertilizer. It's a beautiful combination of Evergreen, Deciduous plants, Ornamental Grasses and flowers. It looks very nice.

If you have an important tree or shrub in your yard, you want to make sure is well fed. Consider tree spikes. They are concentrated and compressed fertilizer. Place them into the ground, place a plastic cap over the top and hammer them into the soil when it is moist. The roots grow down and around the spikes. The roots then remove as much nutrients as they need. They last for several years although it is recommended that in the first couple of years, as the plants become established, that spikes be added several times a year. Place them around the drip line. If the diameter of the plant is 4 feet, place 1 spike, as the diameter increases increase the number of spikes accordingly.

Vines are an intriguing plant and we need to use them more often. Clematis has about 200 species, most are deciduous, they loose their leaves in winter. There are a few evergreen Clematis, they don't have a lot of high maintenance requirements. One must remember that they like to keep their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade. Mulch around their root system heavily. A good location is near a porch so the roots can grow down underneath. They do need adequate moisture, rich, loose, well drained soil. They need to be supported, an easy way to do that is to use string. Allow the leaf to twirl around the string. When pruning, if Deciduous, and just planted, say the first year, cut it back to about 12 inches or count up from the base three nodes or three sets of leaves, which ever is the lowest. Prune it back to that point. If using the flower indoors, cut as much of the stalk as possible, take a lighter or match and sear the base. This allows the juice or the vascular system to stay open and water to enter the flower, enabling it to look good for a longer period of time.

We view a Chinese Snowball Vebernum and it is absolutely spectacular. It is in full flower, in fact the blooms are so large that they are weighing down the branches and Robert worries they might break.

Thank you Robert for showing us the garden. As always it is beautiful. Everyone should visit.

Links: Barnsley Gardens

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