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Show #16/1603. Maine's Unexpected Oasis

Transitioning From The natural To The Planned Environment
THEY MOVE FROM THE NATURAL SURROUNDING TO THE MAIN ENTRANCE which is still a naturalized setting but transitioning to more of a planned environment. It truly is a transition from the totally natural to the cultivated but it has elements of both. This is the Entrance Walk, it's the walk one takes from the parking lot up to the Visitor's Center. They didn't want to hit people right out of the natural areas with lots of color, thus tried to keep it subdued, a little more natural, but then build in more ornamental things as one progresses up the walk. They've kept the regional flavor with a lot of native plants.

Click here for more info

The Great Lawn
JOE AND BILL NEXT VISIT WHAT THEY CALL THE GREAT LAWN. This is what the visitor sees when they come out of the visitor's Center. They wanted to hit visitors with a "Wow" of color and the expansiveness one associates with the Maine coast. So they use a lot of sweeps of perennials and woody plants. They also took advantage of some of the natural features in this space. The very large ledge was discovered when excavating, they decided to incorporate it into the garden and to define the garden. It's a fun place for kids to climb, they have concerts in the area, etc.

Click here for more info

Coneflowers
MOST ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE TYPICAL PURPLE CONEFLOWER, it flowers for about 6-8 weeks during the summertime. But in recent years there has been an explosion of new colors and forms available to gardeners. In fact it is said that some are now, cone-crazy and for good reason. Coneflowers are in the Daisy family, so they're a composite flower meaning they're made up of 2 parts. The central cone is where the activity is located, that's where bees will be found because that's where the pollen and nectar are located and that's where the seeds are set. But the petals around the outside look like a shuttlecock and they are the billboards that attract insects. They must stay in good shape; as long as the little flowers keep opening they will bloom for a long time. Many cut them back or deadhead them after blooming to encourage new blooms.

Click here for more info

Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' BLACK-EYED SUSAN IS ONE OF THE MOST FAMILIAR PERENNIALS to most, it's on most people's top 10 list. This cultivar is Goldstrum and it has the same attributes as a Coneflower. It has a central cone and the petals stay in flower a long period of time, they're easy to grow and it has a strong color. Here they like to soften it a little and use grasses or softer colors like pale yellow or blue to accomplish this.

Click here for more info

Rose Arbor
THE GUYS NEXT VISIT THE ROSE ARBOR. When couples get married in the garden this is the spot they normally choose for the ceremony. It's a new structure. They've planted vines, etc. to create a romantic space for the ceremonies. This area also provides an opportunity to trial different varieties. Some do better than others. Vines can be tricky because many will take over and you don't want that. They wanted a vine that would grow quickly, but not too quickly. One of the best, for them, has been Rosa Rose Lilly and Gibson. Wisteria is another choice. The Chinese Wisteria is a real thug and can take the whole structure down if it's not solid enough and it will spread. So they have an American version, American Wisteria is much less aggressive. The cultivar they're using is Wisteria frutescens 'Amythest Falls' American Wisteria, it's very pretty with dangling purple flowers. They also have native Lonicera Honeysuckle which has pale yellow flowers. They're trying different things like Hydrangea petiolaris Climbing Hydrangea.

Click here for more info

Hillside Garden With A View Of The Water
The next view is stunning but one doesn't notice it until right upon it. It's a beautiful view, the water in the distance is the Sheepscot River and THE GARDEN IS CALLED THE HILLSIDE GARDEN. The trail takes one down from the terraces to the water all while meandering back and forth through gardens and vistas. This area originally was wooded. It was a lot of work getting the paths in, then Mother Nature put her spin on it. Last year they had a big storm and all the trees blew over so it went from being a shaded path to, now, pretty much full sun. Thus a new opportunity. They brought in more color in the plantings on the hillside to tie in the upper gardens with the lower gardens.

Click here for more info

Natural Garden Designed As An Accent For The Rhododendron Garden
The next location is a nice scene and ties in with Bill's point about INCORPORATING A LOT OF NATURAL LOOKS WITH LANDSCAPE DESIGN. Here they took advantage of the natural ledge then decided to add some manmade elements such as a terrace waterfall and some plantings. It was developed as a focal point for the Rhododendron garden. They left as much natural vegetation as possible, for example the Polytrichum commune 'Haircap Moss,' the Polypodium Ferns, the Hay Scented Fern, mentioned earlier, and use all to tie in with the ornamentals, the Grass and the Rhododendron that knit it together.

Click here for more info

Bill's Take-Away
BILL HAS SOME PARTING WORDS OF ADVICE. Although he probably shouldn't say this, because he does write reference books, his advice to gardeners is - just don't be afraid to make mistakes. You must just get out there, the best way to learn is to just do it. He has killed a lot of plants in his day but every time he does he tries to think - why did that die and what lesson can I learn from it? Try not to repeat the same thing. Try different plants and if you fail with something, try a little different spot and see if it works out. Take your clues from nature. Look and see what grows naturally there, then replicate that in your own landscape.

Click here for more info

LINKS:

Show #16/1603. Maine's Unexpected Oasis

Complete transcript of the show.

August in Maine is beautiful. While other parts of the country may be hot and humid, at the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, in Boothbay Maine the weather is delightful.

Maureen Heffernan is the Executive Director of the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden (CMBG) and welcomes Garden Smart. Maureen and Joe are standing close to a group of Oak trees that have historical significance. They are part of what they call Founder's Grove. There are 7 Oaks that represent the founders of this botanical garden. The winters in Maine can get long, it was during this time of year that a group got together and decided that Maine needed a botanical garden because there wasn't a botanical garden in Maine. This group persevered with the concept, ran with it, spending many years looking for land. Although they had been looking for land from Portland to Camden, fortuitously this piece of land with 128 acres came up in their own backyard. A sub divider couldn't sell plots and had put the property back on the market. In 1996 it went on the market for half a million dollars which was a deal even back then for 128 waterfront acres. But for this group $500,000 could have been $5 million, but they scrambled and got some cash together which wasn't quite enough for a down payment so they took second mortgages on their homes. They were very committed, a wonderful group and the Oak trees are dedicated to them for getting this whole project started. It's rather symbolic, from a tiny seed, the mighty Oak. And there is a mighty garden that has arisen and continues to grow.

Maureen explains. During the past several years they've been busy in the main campus and other parts of the garden building beautiful ornamental gardens. As well, they have miles of beautiful shorefront acres and woodland trails. So when one visits they can really experience the best of Maine. Here one sees beautiful gardens with plants that thrive in the coastal climate, as well as woodland trails and coastal walks. The beautiful coastal waterfront is one of the things that puts this garden in another league, it's very rare with botanical gardens. One can't build that into just any botanical garden.

The raw land is special. It has ledges and varying topography and the shorefront. But they have been cognizant of the fact that the master plan must be well thought through and skillful because one wouldn't want to harm the natural beauty. By working with top designers, they have done the land proud. They have enhanced the beauty by being very sensitive to the site and making sure their master plan has a wonderful flow. They were very careful to respect the features that are found on this site like the ledges and trees and depressions where water collects which is where they've created ponds. They have a very site sensitive master plan and Maureen feels people can really feel that when walking through the property.

And they have grand plans for the future. The construction noise is a new garden that will open next year. There will be 2 major gardens opening in the next 2 years. The Learner Garden of the Five Senses will open next June. It's devoted to the senses and will have 5 rooms to walk through, each highlighting a different sense, using plants. Very creative. In 2010 a 2 acre Children's Garden will open. It will be magnificent, very creative, very fun and very educational.

Joe next meets Bill Cullina who is the guest host for this show. Bill is the Plant Curator. But Joe, when thinking of Maine thinks of cool weather, lobster and lots of evergreens but not necessarily beautiful gardens. Bill reassures Joe. They use lobster in their compost, the cool weather keeps the plants growing fantastically and the evergreens make a gorgeous background for the gardens.

Bill started out studying psychology, not plant psychology, but human psychology. After a few years he realized that his first love was plants and that he should probably think about a career in plants. He finished up with psychology, went back to school to study landscape architecture and horticulture and that launched him on his present career path. His first job was working for the Univ. of Connecticut where he went to school. He then went to North Carolina and ran a nursery. He came back to New England and for 13 years worked for the New England Wildflower Society running a nursery. It was at that point he began writing, speaking and becoming more of a spokesman for the plants and the organization. When the job at CMBG became available they were delighted to have Bill head the horticulture team. He is a great resource and asset.

Bill has written 4 books and has one in the works. One of the books deals with native plants, one is about growing and propagating wildflowers, another is on native trees, shrubs and vines and the 4th on green stuff - mosses, grasses and ferns. He's currently working on a book about understanding perennials. This means that Bill is always busy.

But there is a lot to see here so Bill and Joe are on their way. THEY MOVE FROM THE NATURAL SURROUNDING TO THE MAIN ENTRANCE which is still a naturalized setting but transitioning to more of a planned environment. It truly is a transition from the totally natural to the cultivated but it has elements of both. This is the Entrance Walk, it's the walk one takes from the parking lot up to the Visitor's Center. They didn't want to hit people right out of the natural areas with lots of color, thus tried to keep it subdued, a little more natural, but then build in more ornamental things as one progresses up the walk. They've kept the regional flavor with a lot of native plants. And that is a good tip at home. We can plant the same annuals from coast to coast but then every garden looks the same. The best thing we can do from a design standpoint is to utilize plants from our area because they keep and promote that local flavor. Bill has done a great job of that here. That's made possible because Maine has a strong regional character and the plants are fun and easy to work with. He tries to work in Vaccinium angustifolium Lowbush Blueberry, the Maine Blueberry. Besides lobster it's one of the first things people think of when thinking of Maine, plus it's a great ornamental. It grows to about 6-8 inches high, has beautiful fall color and of course one can eat the fruit. They encourage visitors to eat the berries, it's a perk for them. Arctostaphylos uva-irsi (syn. Comarostaphylis) Bearberry or Knick Knick is in the Heath family as is the Lowbush Blueberry. It likes very dry, acidic soil, spreads quickly, is evergreen, is a great plant as long as it has a good exposed, sunny spot. Dennstaedtia punctiloba North American Hay Scented Fern and Hay Scented Fern are plants that many gardeners around this area cringe when they hear about because it has long rhizomes that will spread. If one has treasured rarities in a bed don't plant it. But in this situation where they have a mass of what they want to grow it's a beautiful plant. Plant it, it takes care of itself, it's green all summer, keeps putting out new fronds. They also use native mosses as well as Cornus canadensis Bunch berry and Dogwood. The little Bunch berry with white flowers and red fruits is charming. As the guys work their way closer to the building there are more cultivated plants that carry ones eye through and beyond the gate. Closer to the gate they have native ground covers, then the more ornamental plants. To accomplish this and provide color they utilized drifts of Scaevola White Fan-Flower in both white and blue. They don't use a lot of annuals in this planting bed but Scaevola is a great ground cover. Often people think of it as a hanging basket plant or a container plant but it works well in the ground, it blooms throughout the summer and brings color to shadier areas. And it looks nice in large drifts, it is an eye catcher. In the background Aconitum Monkshood is blooming. It's one of the species they use here. They pick up where the Delphiniums leave off earlier in the season, bringing in blues and whites this time of year. Behind those are Fargesia sp. rufa 'Green Panda' Bamboo. Normally when Bill mentions Bamboo people cringe just like they cringe when they hear Hay Scented Fern because there are Bamboos that will take over the world but there are also clumping Bamboos that are winter hardy too. The 'Green Panda' as the name implies is one of the foods of the Panda. Bamboo can be a good choice if buying the correct variety. It grows in every continent except Antarctica so when looking for a cold hardy perennial, a clumping Bamboo wouldn't be a bad choice. Astilbe False Spirea is also prevalent, they use it a lot. It does fantastically in this climate, it blooms from late spring all the way pretty much into the fall. The foliage is pretty, the flowers are beautiful, and it's a tough plant.
Top

JOE AND BILL NEXT VISIT WHAT THEY CALL THE GREAT LAWN. This is what the visitor sees when they come out of the visitor's Center. They wanted to hit visitors with a "Wow" of color and the expansiveness one associates with the Maine coast. So they use a lot of sweeps of perennials and woody plants. They also took advantage of some of the natural features in this space. The very large ledge was discovered when excavating, they decided to incorporate it into the garden and to define the garden. It's a fun place for kids to climb, they have concerts in the area, etc. They take a closer look. Bill likes designing with brightly colored perennials, one can enjoy them from a distance but there is nothing like getting close and enjoying the activity of the pollinators and such. Coneflowers are a great example and they do well all across the country. They are one of Bill's favorite garden perennials.
Top

MOST ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE TYPICAL PURPLE CONEFLOWER, it flowers for about 6-8 weeks during the summertime. But in recent years there has been an explosion of new colors and forms available to gardeners. In fact it is said that some are now, cone-crazy and for good reason. Coneflowers are in the Daisy family, so they're a composite flower meaning they're made up of 2 parts. The central cone is where the activity is located, that's where bees will be found because that's where the pollen and nectar are located and that's where the seeds are set. But the petals around the outside look like a shuttlecock and they are the billboards that attract insects. They must stay in good shape; as long as the little flowers keep opening they will bloom for a long time. Many cut them back or deadhead them after blooming to encourage new blooms. But ornamentally it's attractive to leave the old blooms on. They are a great source of seed for birds because it has a small sunflower seed inside thus the goldfinches and other birds like to peck away at the seeds in the fall. Bill shows a new selection, called Echinacea purpurea 'Sunrise' coneflower. It's sort of a pale yellow and a good blending plant. Another is Echinacea purpurea 'Art's Pride,' another is Echinacea purpurea 'Twilight' Coneflower. One of the first coneflowers that Bill named when in North Carolina is called Echinacea purpurea 'Kim's Knee High' Coneflower, it's short and purple. There are white Coneflowers, one Bill likes is Echinacea purpurea 'Coconut Lime' Coneflower, it is white with a sort of green in the middle, similar to Green Envy.
Top

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' BLACK-EYED SUSAN IS ONE OF THE MOST FAMILIAR PERENNIALS to most, it's on most people's top 10 list. This cultivar is Goldstrum and it has the same attributes as a Coneflower. It has a central cone and the petals stay in flower a long period of time, they're easy to grow and it has a strong color. Here they like to soften it a little and use grasses or softer colors like pale yellow or blue to accomplish this.

The Coreopsis ties in nicely with the other plants and it still has that softer yellow theme. Bill also has some softer foliage and lower growing plants to provide variety. People are always asking Bill for a perennial that will bloom all summer. He tells them that what they want then is an annual because it's hard for perennials to do that. But the Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' is one that probably comes the closest. It is a tried and true perennial but there is a whole other generation coming out. Coreopsis 'Autumn Blush' comes out bright yellow, fades to sort of a soft yellow then turns almost pink before the flower finally fades. Bill was able to get a second flush by cutting it back about mid summer. They cut it back to about 6 inches, it's now sent out a second flush and should bloom for another 3 to 4 weeks before fall sets in. They wouldn't cut it back a third time for even more blooms, instead let it retire for the wintertime, have a chance to build up the reserves it needs to get through the winter, it will then come back strong next spring.
Top

THE GUYS NEXT VISIT THE ROSE ARBOR. When couples get married in the garden this is the spot they normally choose for the ceremony. It's a new structure. They've planted vines, etc. to create a romantic space for the ceremonies. This area also provides an opportunity to trial different varieties. Some do better than others. Vines can be tricky because many will take over and you don't want that. They wanted a vine that would grow quickly, but not too quickly. One of the best, for them, has been Rosa Rose Lilly and Gibson. Wisteria is another choice. The Chinese Wisteria is a real thug and can take the whole structure down if it's not solid enough and it will spread. So they have an American version, American Wisteria is much less aggressive. The cultivar they're using is Wisteria frutescens 'Amythest Falls' American Wisteria, it's very pretty with dangling purple flowers. They also have native Lonicera Honeysuckle which has pale yellow flowers. They're trying different things like Hydrangea petiolaris Climbing Hydrangea. It's slower to start but once it gets going it's fantastic and it doesn't overwhelm things. Bill believes that's the key. Find plants that will take their time, yet do well. Don't go for the instant effect then be pulling them off for a long time. Here they're willing to wait a few years for the right thing. Once this group of plants matures, they will have the purple of the Wisteria, the red or yellow of the Honeysuckle, depending on the variety, then the white flowers of the Hydrangea. It will be a great looking combination.
Top

The next view is stunning but one doesn't notice it until right upon it. It's a beautiful view, the water in the distance is the Sheepscot River and THE GARDEN IS CALLED THE HILLSIDE GARDEN. The trail takes one down from the terraces to the water all while meandering back and forth through gardens and vistas. This area originally was wooded. It was a lot of work getting the paths in, then Mother Nature put her spin on it. Last year they had a big storm and all the trees blew over so it went from being a shaded path to, now, pretty much full sun. Thus a new opportunity. They brought in more color in the plantings on the hillside to tie in the upper gardens with the lower gardens. They're letting some of the native evergreens grow back in so that eventually it will become a little more shaded once again, at least until the next storm comes around. The guys follow the path and sure enough the sun loving plants are apparent. They're trying to marry the Low Bush Blueberry, one of the naturals discussed, with some of the more ornamental plants, like Coreopsis, along with some Rhododendrons yet still keep the Maine feel. The Weeping Spruce, Picea abies 'Reflexa' (Also P. abies 'Inversa') Weeping Norway Spruce is prevalent. Visitors love it, it looks like a bunch of people walking down the hillside. They're fun because like most weeping Conifers one can train them however you want. As long as staked, allowing it to grow up and allowing it to get woody, it will stay in that position until the stake is removed and it will then weep back down. They usually stake them at about 6 feet, then let them weep.

Bill and Joe end up at the water and it's easy to see why the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden is so unique. Bill touches on some of the gardening challenges in Maine. When most think of Maine they think of snow, they think cold and they certainly do get their share of both in the wintertime. And they have a fairly long winter compared with many parts of the country, but being right on the coast they're moderated quite a bit buy the ocean, so this is actually a Zone 6 which is fairly mild for this part of the country. Many can be mislead by what grows here, they think if it grows here it can grow in the rest of Maine. But that's not always the case. The climate changes very quickly as one moves inland, twenty miles inland is a completely different kind of climate. We're visiting in the middle of summer and it is very pleasant, there is a nice breeze coming off the water. The sea breeze is one of the secrets of success. People have been coming to Maine to vacation for years because it warms up during the day, but the wind pulls in the cool air off the water and at night it cools it back down again. Rarely do they get temperatures above the low 80's during the summertime. That's a good thing for plants and a beautiful place to be.
Top

The next location is a nice scene and ties in with Bill's point about INCORPORATING A LOT OF NATURAL LOOKS WITH LANDSCAPE DESIGN. Here they took advantage of the natural ledge then decided to add some manmade elements such as a terrace waterfall and some plantings. It was developed as a focal point for the Rhododendron garden. They left as much natural vegetation as possible, for example the Polytrichum commune 'Haircap Moss,' the Polypodium Ferns, the Hay Scented Fern, mentioned earlier, and use all to tie in with the ornamentals, the Grass and the Rhododendron that knit it together.
Top

BILL HAS SOME PARTING WORDS OF ADVICE. Although he probably shouldn't say this, because he does write reference books, his advice to gardeners is - just don't be afraid to make mistakes. You must just get out there, the best way to learn is to just do it. He has killed a lot of plants in his day but every time he does he tries to think - why did that die and what lesson can I learn from it? Try not to repeat the same thing. Try different plants and if you fail with something, try a little different spot and see if it works out. Take your clues from nature. Look and see what grows naturally there, then replicate that in your own landscape.
Top

LINKS:

   
 
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By Heather Rhoades, GardeningKnowHow.com, Photographs courtesy of GardeningKnowHow.com

Cover crops are an often-overlooked way to improve the vegetable garden. Oftentimes, people consider the time between late fall to winter to early spring to be a time where the vegetable garden space is wasted. We think our gardens rest during this time, but this is not the case at all. Read more...


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