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Show #29/1703 Thunderbird Lodge


Color Themes Unify The Garden
This garden has color themes repeated throughout. And THE COLORS UNIFY THE GARDEN. They have great combinations that utilize chartreuse, purple and grey. The contrast between the purple and chartreuse, found in the ground covers, then the intermediate plants make it clear that Diane has a real design sensibility.

Click here for more info

Moisture Retention Issues
THEY FIRST VISIT THE SHAMROCK GARDEN. They call it the Shamrock Garden because of the stone feature resembling a shamrock that the American Indians fashioned out of native stone from the area. They believe, from their research, that the reason for the shamrock was because George's parents were from Tyron, Ireland. This garden is one of the oldest and the most challenging. It sits directly above the tunnel which connects the main lodge to the Boat House. The soil is only about 2 feet deep so they have significant issues with moisture retention and water holding. They try to reach a balance of how much water they can put on the garden before it leaks into the tunnel. Many American gardeners, have rocky, sandy soil or soils that are on top of rocks or areas where it's difficult to get enough moisture to provide for most plants. One of the ways they've dealt with that here is by selecting plants that are well suited to the site. Eric notices a lot of Euphorbias, a lot of Sedums, these are plants that are extremely well designed for drought areas or areas that just won't hold much moisture.

Click here for more info

The Cook Butler House
The cook and butler had a wonderful view which provided A NICE VANTAGE POINT FOR THE MANY NATIVE PLANTS. Many of these plants look like they've been here for a long time, while others appear to have been moved into the area. Arctostaphylos Hardy Manzanita is all over the property, in fact all over the basin. It's a pretty plant and evergreen. But it's volatile, the leaves are very oily. Thus the fire department has asked them to take it down to a minimum, because of fire concerns. So, they've introduced other natives, specifically the Prunus virginiana that is a favorite because of its color.

Click here for more info

Soil - Decomposed Granite
This site has a steep pitch which creates a number of challenges in regards to planting. The biggest challenge on this hill is that THE SOIL IS DECOMPOSED GRANITE. The lovely boulders pose a problem because when they erode they create a sandy, rocky soil. An ideal soil will have equal parts drainage material, like sand and rock, then organic materials like decomposed leaves, wood, whatever, then space for water and air. What they're left with here is something that doesn't hold much water or nutrition. A site like this takes a tremendous amount of compost and mulching incorporated into the soil to help with water holding and nutrient holding capacity.

Click here for more info

The New Plants
DIANE AND ERIC LOOK AT SOME OF THE NEW PLANTS that have just arrived. Eric notices some of his favorites. The Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' is a wonderful selection that has 3 seasons of interest. A very unique Hydrangea, very floriferous is Phisocarpis opulifolious 'Summer wine'. It's purple leaves fit the color scheme and is a wonderful plant in bloom. It's flowers are on right now and its blackish, purple foliage is absolutely fantastic. A great plant they've just received and one that's excellent for dry soils is Berberis thunbergii 'Gold Pillar'. Sambucus nigra "Black Lace' is a perfect Japanese Maple substitute in zone 5 where the Japanese Maple can't grow, but it does great here.

Click here for more info

Saturating The Root Ball With Water
The new plants are all great plants and help bring home Diane's watering tip. IT'S IMPORTANT TO HAVE A SATURATED ROOT BALL. They have been watering these plants for 3 days but when they submerge the plant in a bucket of water one notices the bubbles vigorously rising up. That means the root ball was not saturated enough for planting. Soaking the root ball ensures that we get all of those fine little hair roots in the root ball totally saturated. Those hair roots are the ones that are responsible for water absorption and nutrient absorption which will be essential when this plant is put out in the landscape. Making sure it's totally hydrated provides the best shot for survival.

Click here for more info

Fall Is An Awesome Time To Plant
Oftentimes, when gardeners think about the best time of year to plant, spring pops into their mind but FALL IS AN AWESOME TIME TO PLANT. And there are a number of reasons for that. Generally, fall will have cooler temperatures so the plant is not going to be nearly as stressed going into the garden. Plus fall normally has more predictable rainfall thus one shouldn't need to rely so much on irrigation. And plants planted in the fall have the ability to put down a nice deep root system resulting in nicer spring blooms. So when thinking about planting, think fall. It's a great time to put plants into the ground.

Click here for more info

Garden That Plays Off Golds And Greens
In one of the more newly developed parts of the garden Eric notices some Spirea. They seem to shine like little beacons. The color scheme here is a little different, A MORE MONOCHROMATIC SCHEME that plays off the golds and greens. They chose spirea Gold Mound Spirea because of the color scheme. It pairs nicely with the old fashioned Heuchera which has a nice little red flower in springtime. And they then fill in the spaces with Geranium which look very nice and are hard to miss. A Genista is included in this area and doing well. It is Lidia genista and unlike some of the garden-variety brooms that are invasive on the West Coast this is garden friendly.

Click here for more info

Containers
Eric feels THEY HAVE DONE A NICE JOB WITH CONTAINERS. The property has a lot of stonework and a lot of hardscape. The containers do a great job of breaking all of that up. Containers provide a type of portable beauty, they can be placed where you want focal points or accents. In designing her containers, Diane has utilized the basic container philosophy which is the thriller, in this case the taller grass, the Heuchera which is their filler, then the Lotus which is their spiller. These plants provide a nice blend of different colors and textures. Eric likes the plumes in the Penisetum alopecuroides. The Heuchera is a repeated theme throughout the garden, it's very nice - a light to dark progression and a beautiful eye-catching center. And the spiller, completes the package.

Click here for more info

Container Care Tips
But CONTAINERS ARE NOT MAINTENANCE FREE. They require preplanning and maintenance. These containers have been planted since mid June. They start out with great potting soil, it's key to any container's success. Then they bubble, as discussed earlier. Afterwards they water, probably every 2 days. This area has a limited growing season and containers are one way to get a strong pop of color early, because if you provide good nutrition, use premium soil in your containers, plants will pop out fast. Diane plants the containers in mid-June because they need to make sure that the chance of frost has passed. A couple of years ago they planted at the beginning of June and it snowed for 2 days. But the container plants are normally up until the 3rd week of October. Then the perennials, just like the Ninebark discussed earlier, will go into their gardens and that's how they expand their gardens.

Click here for more info

 

LINKS:

Resort at Squaw Creek

Thunderbird Lodge

Proven Winners - Woody Ornamentals

Plant of the Week


Complete transcript of the show.

29/1703.
Lake Tahoe has an absolute wealth of natural beauty, from the mountains to the crystal clear lake, it's a stunning area. Probably best known for its ski resorts, what most people don't know is there are incredible gardens.

And one of the most outstanding pieces of Lake Tahoe's history is the secluded Thunderbird Lodge. The eccentric San Francisco real estate magnet, George Whittell, built this magnificent Tudor revival summer estate between 1936 and 1939.

Ron is a curator and tour guide at Thunderbird Lodge and welcomes Eric. Ron tells us more about this property. The estate sits on 6 acres and it features 6 buildings. One is the Butler Building, that was used to house the cook and butler. Another building, where George and his friends would participate in high stakes gambling is the Card House. The Boat House is quite large and houses the wooden Thunderbird boat which is 55 feet long. But, the magnificent main house is the heart of the estate. George was somewhat reclusive but truly loved this place.

George Whittell was a San Franciscan and owned a lot of property in San Francisco. He was very, very wealthy and actually never did work a day in his life. His job was to watch his money. He came to Lake Tahoe in the 30's and started buying land. He eventually assembled 40,000 acres, including 27 miles of shoreline on the Nevada side. He did fall in love with the area and ensured much of the land was protected. And that is why, today, the area is so pristine. It has become his legacy.

The grounds of the Thunderbird Lodge are today impeccably maintained. And that is because the Thunderbird Preservation Society maintains the estate today. When George was here he did a fair job of keeping the grounds beautiful, but they do an even better job today. Diane is the person in charge of the grounds and will lead the tour.

Diane welcomes Eric to Thunderbird Lodge. Eric feels that this is a gardeners paradise. It reminds him of a jewel box garden, where every time one walks around a boulder or around a corner there is a little gem popping out. Eric can tell a lot of work has gone into this garden.

Diane explains that Mother Nature has provided some great bones. But George was not a gardener. He was more of a womanizer and a gambler. His 3rd wife, Elia, loved annuals, so when she was visiting he would have some annuals planted. For the most part, that was his commitment to gardening. The property is filled with huge boulders and tall pines, so there was lot to work with, but a lot of effort has gone into this garden. Diane explains that they have a wonderful crew, about 23 volunteers, half Master Gardeners like Diane that put in over 1,300 hours of volunteer work each year to make the gardens beautiful. And it shows. One can feel the love and see the creativity that's gone into each garden.

This garden has color themes repeated throughout. And THE COLORS UNIFY THE GARDEN. They have great combinations that utilize chartreuse, purple and grey. The contrast between the purple and chartreuse, found in the ground covers, then the intermediate plants make it clear that Diane has a real design sensibility.

Diane was gardening as a young child, both her mother and grandmother were wonderful gardeners. In fact Diane feels she has been gardening her whole life. Even when living in an apartment, which didn't have any land, she gardened a cemetery plot. Gardening involves a lot of trial and error, especially gardening at 6,500 feet At home Diane has about 1 acre and it took her 3 years to learn how to garden at this elevation. After those 3 years she decided to become a Master Gardener so she could help others learn how to garden at this high elevation. Even with her training and experience there are a number of challenges with this piece of land.
Top

THEY FIRST VISIT THE SHAMROCK GARDEN. They call it the Shamrock Garden because of the stone feature resembling a shamrock that the American Indians fashioned out of native stone from the area. They believe, from their research, that the reason for the shamrock was because George's parents were from Tyron, Ireland. This garden is one of the oldest and the most challenging. It sits directly above the tunnel which connects the main lodge to the Boat House. The soil is only about 2 feet deep so they have significant issues with moisture retention and water holding. They try to reach a balance of how much water they can put on the garden before it leaks into the tunnel. Many American gardeners, have rocky, sandy soil or soils that are on top of rocks or areas where it's difficult to get enough moisture to provide for most plants. One of the ways they've dealt with that here is by selecting plants that are well suited to the site. Eric notices a lot of Euphorbias, a lot of Sedums, these are plants that are extremely well designed for drought areas or areas that just won't hold much moisture. But they do have a lot of diversity and color. Eric notices they've repeated the chartreuse and burgundy theme with the flowers. The foliage accents are set off by plants with blue flowers. Other plants have been included that introduce burgundy and gold colors. Diane likes all of the plants but particularly loves to work with Yarrow, Achellea 'Moonshine' because it is a plant that goes well with their color scheme. They bloom throughout the summer and into early fall. They have extended the season of yellows by using the Moonshine. The yellow is picked up by the Solidaglo which is a nice native plant and one that lasts until the colder months. They add a nice spot of yellow to the garden. Usually one will see yellow in the springtime, it's nice to see that yellow color in the fall. Diane particularly likes the way it contrasts with the purple of the Heuchera. The grayish tones of the Dystachis are also included in this garden. And the Nepeta 'Walker Low' provides season round interest with its beautiful purple flowers.

The Dragon's Tail is a serpentine walkway that hugs the beautiful granite rocks. Here Diane introduces Eric to MJ Cross. MJ was the garden coordinator before Diane and her is her garden mentor.
Top

To the left is the Cook Butler House. The cook and the butler stayed here so Diane hopes they were married. This is 1 of 6 houses on the property as Ron had mentioned. All out-homes are similar in size and all are made out of the same stone. To the right is the Cook Butler Upper Garden. The cook and butler had a wonderful view which provided A NICE VANTAGE POINT FOR THE MANY NATIVE PLANTS. Many of these plants look like they've been here for a long time, while others appear to have been moved into the area. Arctostaphylos Hardy Manzanita is all over the property, in fact all over the basin. It's a pretty plant and evergreen. But it's volatile, the leaves are very oily. Thus the fire department has asked them to take it down to a minimum, because of fire concerns. So, they've introduced other natives, specifically the Prunus virginiana that is a favorite because of its color. Eric notices an Alnus Alder that one might not expect to do well in this type site but it's flourishing. They too are surprised that it's doing well because it does like water. It shot up like a weed once irrigation was installed, when that happened it went wild.
Top

This site has a steep pitch which creates a number of challenges in regards to planting. The biggest challenge on this hill is that THE SOIL IS DECOMPOSED GRANITE. The lovely boulders pose a problem because when they erode they create a sandy, rocky soil. An ideal soil will have equal parts drainage material, like sand and rock, then organic materials like decomposed leaves, wood, whatever, then space for water and air. What they're left with here is something that doesn't hold much water or nutrition. A site like this takes a tremendous amount of compost and mulching incorporated into the soil to help with water holding and nutrient holding capacity. Eric can tell they've done a great job amending the soil simply by looking at the healthy plants.
Top

One of the things they focus on is making sure the root ball is saturated with water. By doing that it increases dramatically a plants chance to survive. DIANE AND ERIC LOOK AT SOME OF THE NEW PLANTS that have just arrived. Eric notices some of his favorites. The Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' is a wonderful selection that has 3 seasons of interest. A very unique Hydrangea, very floriferous is Phisocarpis opulifolious 'Summer wine'. It's purple leaves fit the color scheme and is a wonderful plant in bloom. It's flowers are on right now and its blackish, purple foliage is absolutely fantastic. A great plant they've just received and one that's excellent for dry soils is Berberis thunbergii 'Gold Pillar'. Sambucus nigra "Black Lace' is a perfect Japanese Maple substitute in zone 5 where the Japanese Maple can't grow, but it does great here.
Top

The new plants are all great plants and help bring home Diane's watering tip. IT'S IMPORTANT TO HAVE A SATURATED ROOT BALL. They have been watering these plants for 3 days but when they submerge the plant in a bucket of water one notices the bubbles vigorously rising up. That means the root ball was not saturated enough for planting. Soaking the root ball ensures that we get all of those fine little hair roots in the root ball totally saturated. Those hair roots are the ones that are responsible for water absorption and nutrient absorption which will be essential when this plant is put out in the landscape. Making sure it's totally hydrated provides the best shot for survival. That was a great tip, Diane.
Top

The next garden visited is the Lower Butler Garden. Those new plants just discussed will be planted here. They plan to take out the Purshia Bitterbrush and plant some Ninebarks. And, they will look fantastic. Oftentimes, when gardeners think about the best time of year to plant, spring pops into their mind but FALL IS AN AWESOME TIME TO PLANT. And there are a number of reasons for that. Generally, fall will have cooler temperatures so the plant is not going to be nearly as stressed going into the garden. Plus fall normally has more predictable rainfall thus one shouldn't need to rely so much on irrigation. And plants planted in the fall have the ability to put down a nice deep root system resulting in nicer spring blooms. So when thinking about planting, think fall. It's a great time to put plants into the ground.
Top

In one of the more newly developed parts of the garden Eric notices some Spirea. They seem to shine like little beacons. The color scheme here is a little different, A MORE MONOCHROMATIC SCHEME that plays off the golds and greens. They chose spirea Gold Mound Spirea because of the color scheme. It pairs nicely with the old fashioned Heuchera which has a nice little red flower in springtime. And they then fill in the spaces with Geranium which look very nice and are hard to miss. A Genista is included in this area and doing well. It is Lidia genista and unlike some of the garden-variety brooms that are invasive on the West Coast this is garden friendly. Diane likes it because it has a different texture and lends a nice feel to the garden.
Top

Eric feels THEY HAVE DONE A NICE JOB WITH CONTAINERS. The property has a lot of stonework and a lot of hardscape. The containers do a great job of breaking all of that up. Containers provide a type of portable beauty, they can be placed where you want focal points or accents. In designing her containers, Diane has utilized the basic container philosophy which is the thriller, in this case the taller grass, the Heuchera which is their filler, then the Lotus which is their spiller. These plants provide a nice blend of different colors and textures. Eric likes the plumes in the Penisetum alopecuroides. The Heuchera is a repeated theme throughout the garden, it's very nice - a light to dark progression and a beautiful eye-catching center. And the spiller, completes the package. Eric thinks they're well done.

In another container Diane has used Physocarpus opulifolius as the focal point, the Hakonechloamacra provides a nice chartreuse contrast against the purple leaves. Oftentimes people don't think about using woodys as a container plant but it's a nice accent and a great use for that plant. Diane enjoys container planting for all the reasons mentioned but additionally the containers will grace the patio areas all summer long, then in the fall the plants are planted in their permanent gardens.

Eric thinks some of the most impressive containers are those down by the lake and he hears the water calling. The patio on the water has a wonderful view. The mountains in the background, the crystal blue water, it's fantastic. The containers have added to the beauty of the area, they're vibrant, so much color. And the plants really like it on this deck. Diane has incorporated several plants found throughout the landscape. Included here are plants like Yarrow Moonshine which she enjoys, the sulphur yellow color goes with everything. The Powis Castle is another favorite. And, the Penisetum alopecuroides is another repeated element in the containers. With these containers they have played with the combinations, the textures and the colors. Nierembergia is a relative newcomer as far as annuals go and provides a nice flash of purple. The Gaillardia is a wonderfully drought tolerant plant and one of the few coastal plants that can take the heat and real sandy soil. These are all excellent choices for containers.
Top

But CONTAINERS ARE NOT MAINTENANCE FREE. They require preplanning and maintenance. These containers have been planted since mid June. They start out with great potting soil, it's key to any container's success. Then they bubble, as discussed earlier. Afterwards they water, probably every 2 days. This area has a limited growing season and containers are one way to get a strong pop of color early, because if you provide good nutrition, use premium soil in your containers, plants will pop out fast. Diane plants the containers in mid-June because they need to make sure that the chance of frost has passed. A couple of years ago they planted at the beginning of June and it snowed for 2 days. But the container plants are normally up until the 3rd week of October. Then the perennials, just like the Ninebark discussed earlier, will go into their gardens and that's how they expand their gardens. The containers are, in a way, the birthplace of the gardens here. It's a wonderful way to get color impact with containers, then extend the life of the plants and add to the garden.

Eric thanks Diane. It has been enjoyable spending time in the gardens of the Thunderbird Lodge. There is something magical about this place. Eric feels that this garden goes way beyond just a traditional path and plantings. There's a childlike imagination that's gone into every aspect of this garden. It seems as if the garden is bidding the viewer to walk down this serpentine path and when one does they find more interesting landscapes that seem pop out from behind a boulder, continuing along one then finds something else totally unexpected with wonderful color combinations, pocket gardens or jewel box gardens. It's all so well thought out, there is certainly an element of fun in this place.

Diane appreciates the comments but is quick to point out that although they put a lot of work into these gardens they're rewarded every Monday when coming to work with the beautiful scenery. And it all would not be possible without the generous donations that they get from the Lake of the Sky Garden Club, in particular. They provide a grant every year that helps purchase the container flowers. So without them they might not have these beautiful flowers. We thank you Diane and all that have made this garden possible. This is truly a special place.
Top

LINKS:

Resort at Squaw Creek

Thunderbird Lodge

Proven Winners - Woody Ornamentals

Plant of the Week

 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article
AAS GREAT PEPPERS FOR 2017

By All-America Selections, Photos courtesy of AAS

Peppers, whether hot or sweet, are a popular vegetable to grow in home gardens. Continuing our series of great new plant introductions from All-America Selections, these are some of the winners in the "Edible/Vegetable category." Here are the new peppers that made the cut. Read more...


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