GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show44
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SHOW #44/1805. Putting The Correct Plant In The Correct Place.

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY
AS ROLLIN IS DESIGNING GARDENS ON THE GROUNDS HIS FIRST THOUGHT IS PUTTING THE RIGHT PLANT IN THE RIGHT PLACE. He must choose plants that are tolerant of the climate conditions, plus he wants the maximum number of bloom days from any given plant. Plants well suited to the climate must tolerate heat and humidity and those plants must be resistant to the diseases and insects in this environment. By selecting the proper plants, those plants are easier to maintain by the gardeners working on this site. The concept of selecting plants that are high performance, pest and disease resistant and low maintenance appeals to gardeners all across the country.

Click here for more info

VISITOR CENTER
THE FIRST SITE THEY VISIT IS THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG VISITOR CENTER. Everyone either staying at their hotels or those buying a ticket will typically go through this site. Thus they want color here, color that will be a focal point. But it's still the woody ornamentals that carry the eye and the theme through this landscape, since they're here year round. So, the woody plants provide the backbone; the annuals, the spots of color, the added interest. This area is sunken with walls surrounding it. The air can be stagnant on a summer day when no wind is blowing and it can get a lot of heat buildup, plus the humidity from the fountain is a consideration. The plants have to perform under these conditions.

Click here for more info

REPETITION PLANTING
The next location is in front of the main parking lot for the Visitor's Center. There is nice landscaping on this promenade, A LOT OF REPETITION WITH LAWN, REPEATING TREES AND TREE TRUNKS. Behind that, the undulating line of Juniperus communis var. depressa ties the whole landscape together with continuity. Behind the Junipers are other shrubs which are also repeated as far as shape, size and the texture of the plants. The whole landscape has a certain unity and continuity to it. And that is a concept most gardeners would do well to capitalize on in their own yards.

Click here for more info

PLANTS TOLERANT OF DAMP CONDITIONS
ALL OF THE FOLLOWING PLANTS ARE TOLERANT OF THE DAMP CONDITIONS FOUND AT THIS SITE. And, these plants receive a lot of reflected heat in this location since it is a heavily paved site. The Cyperus fiscus is juxtaposed next to the Canna neglecta. Rollin has seen a Cyperus used as a cut flower. They cut it, used floral paint, sprayed the top, then used it to represent fireworks in an arrangement. Here they've juxtaposed it with the broad leaf of the Canna. As well, in this planting, they have some lpomoea batatas Sweet Potato. Joe likes the combinations. If planting the Cyperus individually it accents its architectural structure, here in masse it accents the wispiness of the top growth. It looks more like a mound. They've used specific plants in drifts or in groupings of various plants and tie it all together with a similar color scheme. They also have the black leaf Sweet Potato and Tradescantia pallida Purple Heart both are within the same color range. They have the pink of the Angelonia 'Serena lavender Pink' and some ornamental peppers with variegated foliage.

Click here for more info

GROWING PLANTS FROM SEED VS. VEGETATIVE PROPAGATION
THEY SAVED THE SEEDS FROM THE PEPPER PLANTS THIS PAST YEAR, then supplied those seeds to their grower so that he could grow them out. In selecting seeds, Rollin tried to select seeds from the plants that had the most coloration. They will see even more white variegation and some blue color coming in on the foliage of this pepper as time goes on. In contrast, the Coleus is vegetatively produced, so if one were to try to save seed from that plant, you wouldn't get anything that looks close to the parent plant the following year. With vegetative propagation one is assured of an exact clone. At one time they bought all of their Angelonias or Angel Flower as vegetatively-produced plants. Then seed companies came up with varieties that could be started from seed, yet provide a very uniform type of plant.

Click here for more info

DOORWAY OR DRIVEWAY GARDENING
THE GUYS NEXT LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL ANNUAL AND PERENNIAL BED IN FRONT OF THE INN. It is low enough to provide a wonderful vista into the Inn. They wanted a focal point for people as they first arrive at the Inn. The garden started with predominately perennials but, as we all know, with perennials there is a limited window of bloom. So they supplement with annual color. That way there is something in bloom most of the year in this bed and that is by design. They've tried to establish a nice succession of blooms, using perennials that bloom from early spring to those that will go into the fall. They've also tried to select varieties that have a very long window of bloom for that species. Of course, they can't hit all of those times with blooms, thus have annuals to fill the voids. This garden sets the stage when one arrives here. When driving up the driveway one can't help but notice the beautiful view. Joe calls this "doorway" or "driveway" gardening. It sets the stage and makes that person arriving feel welcome. And that was by design. They wanted to designate a point of arrival, to help identify the entrance with color and plantings.

Click here for more info

THE QUEEN'S ENTRANCE
THE NEXT AREA EPITOMIZES THE IMPACT ONE CAN GET FROM MASS PLANTINGS. The drift look is presently accomplished with 2 varieties of Daylilies and the colors work well together. This is a special location, it is an entrance to the Inn and is known as The Queen's Entrance. Queen Elizabeth used this entrance to the Inn on her first visit in 1957. Over the years, the landscape has been modified, right now they have mass plantings with a lot of perennials and some annuals and some shrubs with Spirea x vanhouttei being used as a perennial. We've seen the Astilbie, the Spirea has also bloomed and has now been cut back. The second bloom happens because of the pruning. By removing the spent flower heads another flush of blooms will come along in several more weeks. When they do cut back the blooms of the Spirea, they fertilize the plant, keep it watered and that helps promote the second flush of flowers.

Click here for more info

SHADY BACK OF THE INN
The backside of the Inn is completely different and in completely different conditions. IT'S IN THE SHADE. But they're trying to maintain continuity, even though it's full shade and with no irrigation. A tough challenge. To accomplish this they may change the species. Whereas in the front of the building they have annual Vinca with white flowers of a certain size, here instead they use a plant that wouldn't take bright sunlight, yet does well in the shade. That plant is Impatiens hawkeri New Guinea Impatiens. Same color flower, same flower size. They also bring in Angelonia, which is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, whether full sunlight, shade, dry or on the damp side, this plant can be used in both locations to tie it all together.

Click here for more info

SHADE AND TREE ROOTS
Another location on the backside of the Inn is even more challenging. IT TOO IS UNDER DEEP SHADE BUT HERE THEY HAVE TREE ROOTS from an old Oak tree. Yet they have a nice bed. Again, they picked the plant species that would be most tolerant of those conditions and they do a lot of hand watering since there isn't an irrigation system here either. The key is every time they change this bed, both in spring and fall, they take their spades and prune back the tree roots, those that keep re-invading the bed. That way the roots aren't here when they plant the annuals and it takes the roots a while to grow back into the same root zone that the annuals need to preform their best. Roots can be a real sponge for water and nutrients, but by cutting them out in moderation and because the bed is so small it doesn't create a problem.

Drought Tolerant Plants

Click here for more info

HOT, COLORFUL, SUNKEN GARDEN
From shade back to full sun, and yet another challenging situation. This garden is a multipurpose garden, in fact while there, it was being set up for a reception later in the day. THE OVERALL THEME OF THE GARDEN IS ONE OF COLOR. There is a trellis with Wisteria frutescens that blooms with its blue to purple violet flowers in spring. As well there is Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' Lady Banks, which provides the light primrose color and it is currently blooming. They follow through with perennials and other colors that are blue violet and primrose. This carries forward the theme discussed earlier in the show of succession of color throughout the season, even if that requires the use of different plants.

Click here for more info

LINKS:

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg Resort

Plants of Williamsburg

Garden Smart Plant List

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SHOW

Many of the plants we enjoy today have been around for hundreds of years. Thanks to the art and science of modern plant breeding, we now can enjoy the best of both worlds. In this Episode we review some new plants from an historical setting, as we GardenSMART from Colonial Williamsburg.
Joe comments that Colonial Williamsburg is a beautiful place to visit. But what a treat to get a first hand account from somebody that lived it. Tim McCarthy is the living re-enactor portraying John Bruce. John Bruce was a headmaster and in the business of finding students for his academy in Norfolk, 60 miles from Williamsburg City. He was always looking for students he could educate, for a reasonable price. When Mr. Bruce is in town he prefers to stay in one of the taverns, near the capitol. One is Mrs. Vogue's Tavern. She's a wonderful woman, very opinionated but he won't go into that. They don't gossip in Virginia. For good accommodations, it's seven and a half pence for a spot to sleep. Two men to a bed, the rest sleep on the floor. Sometimes it's best to sleep on the floor. There is breakfast, lunch and supper, served three times a day. The food is average, but good. The conversation is the news of the day, the latest talk and as night progresses, maybe a bit of rum and some gaming, no gambling, but wagering.
Williamsburg is the Capitol City and the pillar of, not just Virginia, but all 13 of its colonies and of England. From the capitol to the college to the governor's house, all are symbols of England. They do that with love, grace, beauty, structure and fine color.
Williamsburg was beautiful and welcoming back then, just as Williamsburg is beautiful and welcoming today. One of the ways they do that is through their attractive landscape designs. Mr. Bruce suggests Joe talk with Rollin Woolley, the current day landscape supervisor and Joe is off.
Rollin is the landscape supervisor for the contemporary gardens at Colonial Williamsburg. Rollin started gardening as a child, raising the typical things like corn and pumpkins, etc. He attended a land grant university, North Carolina State University. He worked in a number of greenhouses and garden centers over the years, eventually became an extension agent of Virginia Tech's extension service. He first applied to Colonial Williamsburg in 1972 and finally got a job here in 1980. Positions were always filled here so it was a long process.
AS ROLLIN IS DESIGNING GARDENS ON THE GROUNDS HIS FIRST THOUGHT IS PUTTING THE RIGHT PLANT IN THE RIGHT PLACE. He must choose plants that are tolerant of the climate conditions, plus he wants the maximum number of bloom days from any given plant. Plants well suited to the climate must tolerate heat and humidity and those plants must be resistant to the diseases and insects in this environment. By selecting the proper plants, those plants are easier to maintain by the gardeners working on this site. The concept of selecting plants that are high performance, pest and disease resistant and low maintenance appeals to gardeners all across the country.
Colonial Williamsburg is large and has different micro-climates. Those climates can range from full baking summer sun to those that are in the shade. With shade comes competition from tree roots that are already established which often keep the plant from performing at its optimum. So they have plants that are tolerant of each set of challenging conditions. In addition, at each hotel they want a different look. Thus the higher quality plants are located at the most exclusive sites and the more common plants at those places that are used less every day.
Top

THE FIRST SITE THEY VISIT IS THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG VISITOR CENTER. Everyone either staying at their hotels or those buying a ticket will typically go through this site. Thus they want color here, color that will be a focal point. But it's still the woody ornamentals that carry the eye and the theme through this landscape, since they're here year round. So, the woody plants provide the backbone; the annuals, the spots of color, the added interest. This area is sunken with walls surrounding it. The air can be stagnant on a summer day when no wind is blowing and it can get a lot of heat buildup, plus the humidity from the fountain is a consideration. The plants have to perform under these conditions.
The guys take a closer look. One garden splits 2 staircases at the main entrance. The humidity from the flowing water is a concern and it has full baking sun as the day goes on. Thus they require plants that are tolerant of heat and humidity. Coleus forskohlii is one such plant. It is a sun tolerant variety of Coleus, although most think of Coleus as more shade loving. Today one can find plants for specific locations that have different qualities not available a decade or two ago. Euphorbia hypericifolia 'Inneuphe' Diamond Frost is another plant in the area. It was chosen to provide a textural difference between the leaves of the Coleus and the fine texture of the Baby's Breath. Surrounding those is one of the newer varieties of Petunia x hybrida that is more tolerant of late season disease problems. They've previously planted varieties similar to it but not this specific variety. Rollin expects it will do well but it is on the edge of the bed, thus if it does fail the Diamond Frost will quickly grow in and cover the area. Rollin has planted in drifts with that in mind, if something doesn't perform as he would like, the other plants are vigorous enough to fill in, even if something is removed.
Joe likes the Diamond Frost. He's trialed it in a container in not so sunny conditions and has been pleased with the results. Rollin tried it at his house last year in a container and by the end of the season it was a nice big plant, thus knew it would work well in this garden. It has already reached a nice size and it's not the 4th of July. In a container it will hide the legs of something taller, while providing a light, airy look, plus it lightens up a darker spot.
Top

The next location is in front of the main parking lot for the Visitor's Center. There is nice landscaping on this promenade, A LOT OF REPETITION WITH LAWN, REPEATING TREES AND TREE TRUNKS. Behind that, the undulating line of Juniperus communis var. depressa ties the whole landscape together with continuity. Behind the Junipers are other shrubs which are also repeated as far as shape, size and the texture of the plants. The whole landscape has a certain unity and continuity to it. And that is a concept most gardeners would do well to capitalize on in their own yards.
Take any 50 foot section or vignette and it just repeats all the way down, which is critical in a long expanse like this. Even in our own landscape which most likely isn't as long, one can achieve the same effect. Joe's only concern is that he's a plant plopper, he buys one here and one there, thus there is no real unity. We've all done that at one time or another but we should designate one bed to be the one where we trial those plants. That way if we find one that is working for us, we can then select them to be specimen plants somewhere else in the landscape. But we always want to achieve this level of unity and conformity, a certain amount of repetition. Even the flower beds are repeated along the length of this section, it all ties together. One tip is to develop a plan on paper before starting planting.
Top

ALL OF THE FOLLOWING PLANTS ARE TOLERANT OF THE DAMP CONDITIONS FOUND AT THIS SITE. And, these plants receive a lot of reflected heat in this location since it is a heavily paved site. The Cyperus fiscus is juxtaposed next to the Canna neglecta. Rollin has seen a Cyperus used as a cut flower. They cut it, used floral paint, sprayed the top, then used it to represent fireworks in an arrangement. Here they've juxtaposed it with the broad leaf of the Canna. As well, in this planting, they have some lpomoea batatas Sweet Potato. Joe likes the combinations. If planting the Cyperus individually it accents its architectural structure, here in masse it accents the wispiness of the top growth. It looks more like a mound. They've used specific plants in drifts or in groupings of various plants and tie it all together with a similar color scheme. They also have the black leaf Sweet Potato and Tradescantia pallida Purple Heart both are within the same color range. They have the pink of the Angelonia 'Serena lavender Pink' and some ornamental peppers with variegated foliage. Even their fruits start out purple which matches the other plants in the area. Another sun tolerant Coleus, this one Solenostemon scutellariodes 'Fishnet Stockings' will take the sun as well. By having them in drifts, if there is ever a problem they might have to replace one planting at a time, but they can easily do that with a few selected plants.
Top

THEY SAVED THE SEEDS FROM THE PEPPER PLANTS THIS PAST YEAR, then supplied those seeds to their grower so that he could grow them out. In selecting seeds, Rollin tried to select seeds from the plants that had the most coloration. They will see even more white variegation and some blue color coming in on the foliage of this pepper as time goes on. In contrast, the Coleus is vegetatively produced, so if one were to try to save seed from that plant, you wouldn't get anything that looks close to the parent plant the following year. With vegetative propagation one is assured of an exact clone. At one time they bought all of their Angelonias or Angel Flower as vegetatively-produced plants. Then seed companies came up with varieties that could be started from seed, yet provide a very uniform type of plant.
Joe and Rollin next visit one of the resort hotels, the Williamsburg Inn. The landscape has changed dramatically over the years. At one time there was a nice evergreen screen planting that separated the Inn from the historic area, because they wanted to keep the colonial atmosphere. Later, they reevaluated the landscape, decided that they wanted the Inn to appear more welcoming, so that screen planting was removed. Also, over time the trees change, simply because trees like any other plant have a definite life time. Therefore as the trees begin to decline and die with older age they want to have a replacement plan in place. Here they have a nice planting of young Quercus virginiana southern Live Oak trees. The point is, everyone should be planning for the future, as trees start to decline and die, be planting a succession of young to replace them, so as the older trees are removed younger trees will be on site to replace them.
But keep in mind if one has older trees on site you want to protect the root systems of those trees from any construction or other things going on, such as putting in an irrigation system. Even compaction, caused by driving on top of them can be harmful.
The take away is this. Everyone's landscape needs change, we can and should reevaluate our landscaping needs periodically. Every 2 or 3 years may be too often but, say, every decade, look at things, reevaluate and adjust our landscapes accordingly.
Top

THE GUYS NEXT LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL ANNUAL AND PERENNIAL BED IN FRONT OF THE INN. It is low enough to provide a wonderful vista into the Inn. They wanted a focal point for people as they first arrive at the Inn. The garden started with predominately perennials but, as we all know, with perennials there is a limited window of bloom. So they supplement with annual color. That way there is something in bloom most of the year in this bed and that is by design. They've tried to establish a nice succession of blooms, using perennials that bloom from early spring to those that will go into the fall. They've also tried to select varieties that have a very long window of bloom for that species. Of course, they can't hit all of those times with blooms, thus have annuals to fill the voids. This garden sets the stage when one arrives here. When driving up the driveway one can't help but notice the beautiful view. Joe calls this "doorway" or "driveway" gardening. It sets the stage and makes that person arriving feel welcome. And that was by design. They wanted to designate a point of arrival, to help identify the entrance with color and plantings.
Top

THE NEXT AREA EPITOMIZES THE IMPACT ONE CAN GET FROM MASS PLANTINGS. The drift look is presently accomplished with 2 varieties of Daylilies and the colors work well together. This is a special location, it is an entrance to the Inn and is known as The Queen's Entrance. Queen Elizabeth used this entrance to the Inn on her first visit in 1957. Over the years, the landscape has been modified, right now they have mass plantings with a lot of perennials and some annuals and some shrubs with Spirea x vanhouttei being used as a perennial. We've seen the Astilbie, the Spirea has also bloomed and has now been cut back. The second bloom happens because of the pruning. By removing the spent flower heads another flush of blooms will come along in several more weeks. When they do cut back the blooms of the Spirea, they fertilize the plant, keep it watered and that helps promote the second flush of flowers. Rollin likes the Astilbe because even though it's past it's prime and finished blooming, the foliage is great. It's very fern-like and a nice compliment to everything else in the bed. As mentioned, the Daylilies are presently blooming. And they're stunning.
Top

The backside of the Inn is completely different and in completely different conditions. IT'S IN THE SHADE. But they're trying to maintain continuity, even though it's full shade and with no irrigation. A tough challenge. To accomplish this they may change the species. Whereas in the front of the building they have annual Vinca with white flowers of a certain size, here instead they use a plant that wouldn't take bright sunlight, yet does well in the shade. That plant is Impatiens hawkeri New Guinea Impatiens. Same color flower, same flower size. They also bring in Angelonia, which is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, whether full sunlight, shade, dry or on the damp side, this plant can be used in both locations to tie it all together. They also have some of the same perennial species here so that continuity is kept. An example is the Echinacea Purple coneflower.
Top

Because of the amount of space in this bed and the total amount of root system this tree has there is no detrimental effect that's seen with the tree. This is a great example of dealing with a challenging situation successfully.

Drought Tolerant Plants
Top

From shade back to full sun, and yet another challenging situation. This garden is a multipurpose garden, in fact while there, it was being set up for a reception later in the day. THE OVERALL THEME OF THE GARDEN IS ONE OF COLOR. There is a trellis with Wisteria frutescens that blooms with its blue to purple violet flowers in spring. As well there is Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' Lady Banks, which provides the light primrose color and it is currently blooming. They follow through with perennials and other colors that are blue violet and primrose. This carries forward the theme discussed earlier in the show of succession of color throughout the season, even if that requires the use of different plants.
To make it more challenging, this area is a sunken garden with high heat, low air circulation, high humidity, a lot of elements are at play in this area. One must choose plants that will be tolerant of those conditions to make it through the entire season. Platycodon grandiflorus astra Double Blue Balloon flower is a favorite. It is a nice, tough perennial. It takes a lot of adverse conditions, it's been bred to be a dwarf form which works well in a small garden. And, it contrasts nicely with the Rose. This rose doesn't have any problems with black spot in this hot, humid environment. Down lower is the Stokesia laevis 'Peachie's Pick' Stokes aster. This Stokesia is in the blue range, others in the garden, some of the newer varieties, are in the yellow range. There is new material coming on the market all the time and all are great performers.
Once again Joe has run out of time, but asks Rollin for some parting thoughts. Rollin feels we all should check with experts in your local area, be it a nurseryman or extension agent; find out what works well in your climate. The Rose sums it all up. The variety is Rosa Rocksberg and has been around since 1825. This is a plant that has a great record of performing well and for a long time. Pick plants that will last in your garden. It's like putting your money on the pony that's going to win the race, pick a winner. It just takes a little research.
Thanks Rollin. This show presented a lot of good information and a lot of practical, yet often overlooked, advice. The grounds of Colonial Williamsburg are beautiful and provide many lesson we all can use in our yards and gardens.
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LINKS:

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg Resort

Plants of Williamsburg

Garden Smart Plant List

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