GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show43
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Show #43/1804 - Gardening From A Boat

A NEW VISTA AROUND EVERY CORNER
JOE NOTICES THAT EVERY TIME ONE ROUNDS A CORNER THERE IS A WHOLE NEW VISTA. That was Hugman's concept. Not only with hardscapes but with plant material - change it up. Thus in one area they might use a Begonia that's red, but in a different area use another Begonia that's white. And that application can work at home as well. If one has a somewhat limited plant palette, mass the reds then come in with pinks and whites in another area. But mass by them color in different locations, it provides a completely different look. It's the same plant but provides a completely different look, simply by changing the colors. This can also be done with plants that love shade with plants like Impatiens. The sky is the limit with the plants one can choose. The same concept can be utilized with the hardscape.
Click here for more info

PEAK'S PARK
THIS IS PEAK'S PARK. They pull over, get out and take a look. This area was challenging because it is shady, nothing would grow here. But Joe right away notices turf. Now turf is not a friend of shade yet here they have turf. This is a variety of Zoysia japonica Zoysiagrass. It's supposed to be shade tolerant and drought tolerant. It's was planted here only about 3 days ago so they'll watch the progress. If it works it will be the best of both worlds - shade and drought tolerant. The guys next focus on the plants. Of course, they have Begonias. It's a nice annual, does well in full sun yet performs in shade as well.
Click here for more info

RAISED BEDS
LINCOLN AND JOE TALK ABOUT THE RAISED BEDS. Here they put in the raised beds, then brought in soil. Raised beds, of course, add visual interest but offer more. Originally they had problems growing plant material here. There is a lot of foot traffic and visitors would trample the plants. The raised beds help define the area, thus alleviating that problem. Raised beds are great for many other reasons and at home when a challenging situation occurs a raised bed can be helpful. One might have challenging soil, that hardpan layer or hard clay can even make using a shovel difficult. A raised bed can help alleviate that issue and create a great growing environment, the soil you want can be added. They did that here. When picking up the soil it's apparent that this soil is good, it will allow for great drainage and will retain sufficient moisture. If one has physical limitations, if bending over and working in the garden presents a challenge, raise an area up, create a sitting area, then bending over isn't as much of an issue.
Click here for more info

MEDITATION GARDEN
The guys get back on the boat and find another garden, THE MEDITATION GARDEN. Again they get off to take a closer look. This area, too, is shady and they had difficulty growing plants here. One first notices the gravel or stone. The gravel has a pattern raked into it. The gardener that works this area takes pride in this garden and creates the designs, like a Zen thing, in the chat. It really looks nice and is perfect for a Meditation Garden with Lagerstroemia indica Crepe Myrtle and Ethretia anacua Anacua predominate. With these plants they lifted up the canopy and again incorporated a bed in front with the chat and added some benches. This made it into a seating area that is very peaceful. By limbing up the trees it really showcases the beauty of a Crepe Myrtle. The bark on the trunk is stunning.
Click here for more info

CPS GARDEN
THIS IS THE CPS GARDEN. Again they had planting problems because of the tree canopy. They raised the canopy up, then used rocks because rocks hadn't been used in a bed elsewhere. This area has some honeycomb rock and there is a little creekbed on the other end. The rock garden approach has worked out great and importantly didn't require a lot of planting. Yet it still has interest because of the stones and rocks. A creek bed is nice in a home environment where one has water runoff. Water is always flowing downstream, ultimately into a watershed.
Click here for more info

MOUND PLANTING
HERE THE BEGINNING OF THE BED IS ABOUT A FOOT HIGH, WITH THE SOIL MOUNDED UP. What the gardener was trying to do here was to show off the plant material from the river while visitors were taking a boat ride. He brought the soil all the way up, rounded it off and created different designs with plants. This is an excellent example of mound planting. When doing his one must be careful to retain the soil on the sides, it should be skirted with something. Here they've used Loriopy to keep the soil in place.
Click here for more info

GARDENING TRICK - CATCHING THE SUN
THE GARDENER HAS UTILIZED ANOTHER INTERESTING GARDENING TRICK. He has introduced a plant, Pintas, that typically does better in a higher sun situation yet this is a somewhat shady area. To compensate the gardener put the Pintas on the outskirts of the bed, where it has the opportunity to get the most sun. They are planted on the edge of the canopy of the trees and the plant is happy and thriving.
Click here for more info

MARRIAGE ISLAND
IT IS CALLED MARRIAGE ISLAND and for a price one can get married here. The side of the island is made up of Cypress roots. The roots go down into the riverbank and they have formed a huge round island root ball. Again a challenging place to plant. They just added some soil, filled the gaps between the roots and planted into those areas.
Click here for more info

LINKS:

Drury Plaza Hotel (Riverwalk)

San Antonio - Riverwalk

Garden Smart Plant List

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SHOW.

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This episode is unusual. Garden Smart visits San Antonio, Texas and its famous Riverwalk where most of the show originates from a boat. It's a beautiful location with plenty to learn.
The first settlers to the San Antonio area staked their claim over 4 centuries ago and since then few citizens have formed such an intense relationship with their river as those of San Antonio. By 1850 they were using the river for many things, including powering the waterworks and mills, supplying irrigation ditches and drinking water, putting out fires, even carrying sewage downstream. But 50 years later the river had slowed to a trickle and threats to its sustainability were mounting. In 1904 many trees along the river were cut down and residents became outraged. Shortly thereafter the city initiated its first river landscaping project and a small group named the San Antonio River Improvements Association was formed to revive and protect the river. Although ongoing efforts were required to keep the river intact from development, a bigger concern took center stage in 1921 when a flood covered most of downtown and 50 people lost their lives. 3 years later, as a way to prevent future flooding a dam, that included a cut off channel, was constructed. In 1929, visionary architect, Robert Hugman was hired to dress up the area. His plan was to convert what might have become a drainage culvert into an astonishing park, patterned after old cities in Spain, with winding streets free of vehicular traffic, yet containing the best shops and restaurants. A decade later, Hugman's river project finally began to take shape, yet shortly thereafter Hugman was dismissed and a different plan was implemented. That wasn't successful, the area became seedy and military personnel at one point were banned from going into the area. 30 years later, in 1968, during the HemisFair Riverwalk finally began the transformation that today makes it an international sensation and the crown jewel of Texas. Thankfully, many of Hugman's ideas from the 1920's were finally incorporated. Today, Riverwalk and its 3.2 miles through businesses and parklike settings is one of the most visited sites in America.
Curt Greer welcomes Joe and the Garden Smart audience to San Antonio. Curt is the General Manager of an impressive hotel on the Riverwalk and his company has been very involved in the development of the area. Where they're standing didn't look this way 2 years ago. At that time it was merely a channel behind the hotel. They completed the Riverwalk circle when Drury Construction developed the sidewalk and the channel from their other hotel down to the floodgate. They had 9 days to do that. Every January the river is drained for construction and maintenance. It was during these 9 days they had to develop the channel or face huge fines. By doing this it opened a whole new area of Riverwalk and now rather than a horseshoe, it's a continuous loop. The foot traffic visible here today was not possible before the construction.
Curt also has a fun side. He was the Mardi Gras King, he was King Rex. He tells Joe - San Antonio always has a party. They have Fiesta, a Fiesta parade, they have parades for everything, Mardi Gras parades, Christmas parades and on. San Antonio is a fun, happening place. There is always something going on. It's an involved community, whether it be locals or tourists, this is the place to be.
We have a lot of firsts on Garden Smart and this show is no exception because we're touring the gardens from the river. But to do this we need an expert to lead the way. Joe meets Lincoln St. George who is the horticulturist. Lincoln is in a suit which throws Joe. Lincoln is the Downtown Operation Manager for the City of San Antonio and is responsible for Riverwalk and the 13 miles of downtown businesses. Lincoln, in his job, attends a lot of meetings, thus wears a suit. But, he would prefer to be in blue jeans working in the gardens. Lincoln attended college in Waco, Texas where he learned to become a grower. He then moved to San Antonio, received his state certification and started growing plant material for the City of San Antonio. The City no longer grows its own plants, instead they now let outside firms perform that task because they purchase about 80,000 annuals per growing season.
Lincoln introduces Joe to Lee Talamantez, the boat Captain. Lee is with Rio Cruises and welcomes the guys on board. They start in the main channel. On one side is the hotel we just discussed which completed the Riverwalk circle. Before it was complete everyone had to take stairs up, go across the street, then come back down. Now it's a full walkway so everyone can stay on Riverwalk.
They have incorporated flower beds and other gardens along Riverwalk. It makes a beautiful impression. Joe first notices a Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress. It's huge and about 200 years old, one of the oldest on the Riverwalk. It has great form. They get up in the tree every year and remove the dead wood but additionally they hang Christmas lights from it every year. It's a real attention getter. The guys move into Gate 3. Joe likes the intimate feeling created by the walls and the canopy of the trees overhead. Joe notices a tree that seemingly is growing out of a wall. Lincoln says that it is indeed growing out of the wall. It is an Acer negundo L. Boxelder and legend has it that back in 1921 during the flood a seedling got caught in the mortar and the tree actually started growing from the wall. When one goes inside the restaurant the roots are visible inside.
Joe notices a variety of plants growing along the way. Lincoln likes to incorporate different types of plant material. Things like Sagos, Aralias, then bring in some annuals like Zinnias and gingers. They make a good garden and provide something different. Yet it's ever changing. A lot of variety can be a good thing.
Joe notices one of the gardeners watering. There are 12 gardeners on staff and 3 horticulturists that maintain the whole Riverwalk. This particular gardener is pumping water from the river and watering the plant material.
JOE NOTICES THAT EVERY TIME ONE ROUNDS A CORNER THERE IS A WHOLE NEW VISTA. That was Hugman's concept. Not only with hardscapes but with plant material - change it up. Thus in one area they might use a Begonia that's red, but in a different area use another Begonia that's white. And that application can work at home as well. If one has a somewhat limited plant palette, mass the reds then come in with pinks and whites in another area. But mass by them color in different locations, it provides a completely different look. It's the same plant but provides a completely different look, simply by changing the colors. This can also be done with plants that love shade with plants like Impatiens. The sky is the limit with the plants one can choose. The same concept can be utilized with the hardscape. For example, if making a pathway and you only have a certain number of bricks and you run out of bricks. What to do? Get some stones and mix them with the bricks. It creates a different look but one that works.
Joe confesses, he has two weaknesses - plants and restaurants. Everywhere he looks there is a great looking restaurant. There are many different varieties of restaurants all along the Riverwalk, that's one of the special things about this magical place.
The guys have just left the main restaurant area and coming into a completely different looking area - a park like setting. THIS IS PEAK'S PARK. They pull over, get out and take a look. This area was challenging because it is shady, nothing would grow here. But Joe right away notices turf. Now turf is not a friend of shade yet here they have turf. This is a variety of Zoysia japonica Zoysiagrass. It's supposed to be shade tolerant and drought tolerant. It's was planted here only about 3 days ago so they'll watch the progress. If it works it will be the best of both worlds - shade and drought tolerant. The guys next focus on the plants. Of course, they have Begonias. It's a nice annual, does well in full sun yet performs in shade as well. Gotta love that plant. They also have Impatiens 'New Guinea' always a nice variety and different from the standard variety most use. The foliage of the Cyrtomium falcatum Holly Fern is unusual, it's a tough plant with a great leaf. Liriope muscari Giant Loriopy has a fountain look that adds visual height. It's a bulletproof plant, they don't come much tougher. Joe notices they've added 3 rocks or stones to the bed. They break up the softness of the plants and add hardscape interest. Stones like these are readily available and really do add a nice touch.
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LINCOLN AND JOE TALK ABOUT THE RAISED BEDS. Here they put in the raised beds, then brought in soil. Raised beds, of course, add visual interest but offer more. Originally they had problems growing plant material here. There is a lot of foot traffic and visitors would trample the plants. The raised beds help define the area, thus alleviating that problem. Raised beds are great for many other reasons and at home when a challenging situation occurs a raised bed can be helpful. One might have challenging soil, that hardpan layer or hard clay can even make using a shovel difficult. A raised bed can help alleviate that issue and create a great growing environment, the soil you want can be added. They did that here. When picking up the soil it's apparent that this soil is good, it will allow for great drainage and will retain sufficient moisture. If one has physical limitations, if bending over and working in the garden presents a challenge, raise an area up, create a sitting area, then bending over isn't as much of an issue. It's much easier to work in the garden. There are trees in the area and normally we don't want to add too much soil over tree roots. But they knew that and didn't add too much soil. Raised beds can be made from any type of material. In this case they've used stone and cement but one can use timbers, even recycled plastic. Raised beds are great for many reasons.
The guys get back on the boat and visit another area. They stop when Joe notices several interesting trees in the area. One is an Olive tree and another is a Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Variegated Tropical Hibiscus. If not pruned carefully it could revert back, thus they are careful about pruning. This area is below street level, which creates a different climate, it creates a micro climate making growing this tree, in this location possible.
They turn around and notice an outdoor amphitheater. But there is a river running through it. Very different, but inviting. It too was one of Hugman's concepts. Mr. Arnason was the actual superintendent that helped build Riverwalk and this amphitheater was named after him. The stage has plantings around and grass seating for the cushioning effect. 800 people can sit here and enjoy the performance.
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The guys get back on the boat and find another garden, THE MEDITATION GARDEN. Again they get off to take a closer look. This area, too, is shady and they had difficulty growing plants here. One first notices the gravel or stone. The gravel has a pattern raked into it. The gardener that works this area takes pride in this garden and creates the designs, like a Zen thing, in the chat. It really looks nice and is perfect for a Meditation Garden with Lagerstroemia indica Crepe Myrtle and Ethretia anacua Anacua predominate. With these plants they lifted up the canopy and again incorporated a bed in front with the chat and added some benches. This made it into a seating area that is very peaceful. By limbing up the trees it really showcases the beauty of a Crepe Myrtle. The bark on the trunk is stunning. It's a shame when anyone cuts it off, sort of coat racks it. Joe refers to it as Crepe murder. This is the way they should look, grand and beautiful. The plants are perfect for a shade garden, several are different from what we've seen so far. The Aucuba japonica Spotted Laurel is the speckled variety. It is also available in a dark green variety. A great plant for deep, dense shade. It has ornamental aspects when it goes to seed and has a nice red berry. The Aspadistra elatioe Cast Iron Plant works great in this area. They do need to thin it out occasionally because it will take over, particularly in a shaded area. Joe has noticed that Aspadistra is actually happier in deeper shade, if sun starts to come through it starts to bleach out the leaves, it will look stressed. So with this plant the more shade the better and that doesn't happen with many plants.
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The guys move on and find another garden. THIS IS THE CPS GARDEN. Again they had planting problems because of the tree canopy. They raised the canopy up, then used rocks because rocks hadn't been used in a bed elsewhere. This area has some honeycomb rock and there is a little creekbed on the other end. The rock garden approach has worked out great and importantly didn't require a lot of planting. Yet it still has interest because of the stones and rocks. A creek bed is nice in a home environment where one has water runoff. Water is always flowing downstream, ultimately into a watershed. With a dry creekbed it provides an area for drainage, slows the flow of water and allows those run off contaminates, or whatever, that might have gone into the river to kind of slow and filter through the soil first. This is a great plan for anyone with water run off issues.
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The next garden also has a raised bed but it is unlike the one we saw earlier. The first had the physical structure on the sides and it was filled in with soil. HERE THE BEGINNING OF THE BED IS ABOUT A FOOT HIGH, WITH THE SOIL MOUNDED UP. What the gardener was trying to do here was to show off the plant material from the river while visitors were taking a boat ride. He brought the soil all the way up, rounded it off and created different designs with plants. This is an excellent example of mound planting. When doing his one must be careful to retain the soil on the sides, it should be skirted with something. Here they've used Loriopy to keep the soil in place. That's a good tip at home. One can get the raised effect but it is very important to keep the soil from washing away. A big reason to mound is to showcase a plant that may not be as big as one might like. Build up the soil in the middle, it creates the illusion that the plant is bigger than it is. Another concern is one Joe voiced earlier. The mounding here is over tree roots. However these trees are Bald Cypress and they oftentimes grow under water. So the fact that they have a lot of topsoil on top of their roots is not much of an issue. Plus this soil is very light and airy and that is very important when planting over tree roots. But the rule of thumb is to keep the soil on top of tree roots no more than 3 to 4 inches at most.
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This area, again, is planted with Begonias. But they are interplanted with a different plant, Pintas. The Pintas come in white and red. The colors here match perfectly. THE GARDENER HAS UTILIZED ANOTHER INTERESTING GARDENING TRICK. He has introduced a plant, Pintas, that typically does better in a higher sun situation yet this is a somewhat shady area. To compensate the gardener put the Pintas on the outskirts of the bed, where it has the opportunity to get the most sun. They are planted on the edge of the canopy of the trees and the plant is happy and thriving. A neat trick. Joe likes planting with mounds. In his front yard he has mounded up an area next to a walkway because it showcases the walkway, it draws ones eye closer to the plants thus features those plants. But mounds will work anywhere in any part of the yard.
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The next area is an island. IT IS CALLED MARRIAGE ISLAND and for a price one can get married here. The side of the island is made up of Cypress roots. The roots go down into the riverbank and they have formed a huge round island root ball. Again a challenging place to plant. They just added some soil, filled the gaps between the roots and planted into those areas. Joe has another idea he likes for areas somewhat like this. Take a plant in a pot, find a gap in the soil, put the plant in the pot into that gap, cover it with mulch and there are no worries. Just keep it watered and one has a great looking plant, if it does start to decline, swap it out with another plant and no one knows the difference. They didn't need to do that here, they were able to plant right into the soil. They added some flagstone, brought in some benches and it's become a very popular area for people to get married.
Lincoln feels a gardening key is to never loose ones imagination. Try new things, it will make gardening and your garden more enjoyable. They've tried new things within Riverwalk and it's a wonderful area. Very classy and very tranquil. Thanks Lincoln.
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LINKS:

Drury Plaza Hotel (Riverwalk)

San Antonio - Riverwalk

Garden Smart Plant List

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