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SHOW #52/1813. New Jersey Country Estate

REEVES REED ARBORETUM HISTORY
REEVES REED ARBORETUM HAS A VERY INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT HISTORY. This land was originally inhabited by native Indians, in 1889 it became a country estate with specimen trees and flowerbeds. In 1916 it really moved forward because at that time Richard and Susie Reeves purchased the property and started to expand all the gardens. Susie was the driving force behind the gardens and hired different landscape designers to assist in the expansion. One of her most influential garden designers was Ellen Biddle Shipman. Ms. Shipman, we're told, was a very important figure in landscape architecture. She was probably one of the first women in the field, a field that was previously dominated by men. Once Ellen was established she hired predominately women which opened doors for many women that came after her. Her designs contained carefully proportioned relationships between the house and its' gardens. Kent confesses that as a home gardener she struggles with this concept around her own house. One wants their yard and garden to be just right for their own little space in the world. But, how should one then bring in the natural habitat yet marry that with the latest in plants and flowers? Ms. Shipman's gardens did that and importantly provided areas of quiet, domestic intimacy for women to be able to escape from their trials of life.

Click here for more info

ELEMENTS OF AN ENGLISH STYLE PERENNIAL BORDER GARDEN
THE GUYS NEXT VISIT A PERENNIAL BORDER GARDEN. This is an ideal location because there is plenty of sunshine and plenty of color. But Joe gets the sense that this may not have been the architects original intent. Peter believes that Mrs. Reeves began to experiment in the 20's and 30's with the English style perennial border and this is clearly not that style. What makes it not that style? The randomness of the plant material, the tall plants in the front of the border, the short plants in the back of the border, clearly that's not the English style perennial border garden. The definition of an English style border garden is one that has masses of color and masses of texture. The use of several plants together as opposed to individual plants in line. Peter teaches classes on perennial border design, thus knows of what he speaks. The most important element to a perennial border design is color, the use of color harmonies to create a visual movement through the design. Pastels, particularly, are used in English style perennial borders. Texture is another important element. The texture of the plant itself is considered, as is the foliage and the flowers. Compatible and contrasting textures are also important. Creating a sense of unity is another. A line, the use of color or texture to create a line or movement through the garden is another. Form is a consideration. How the garden appears overall is the form of the garden. And shape, the use of different shapes of plant material throughout the garden is important. That creates rhythm and unity. You want to carry the person's eye through the entire border, through the entire design.

Click here for more info

ELECTRIC MOWER VIDEO
The guys are walking away and Joe notices the beautiful lawn. This would probably not have been lawn when Mrs. Reeves was here, it probably would have been pasture but they presently maintain a lawn for people to recreate on. People love their lawns for recreation and they're doing it in a more eco-friendly manner. Click below to check out this video about a new electric mower.
Video Tip

Click here for more info

THE KETTLE
THIS IS A GLACIAL FORMATION KNOWN AS A KETTLE. 17,000 years ago it is believed that there was 5 miles of the Wisconsin glacier above this area. A piece of the glacier fell off and landed in this area, made this indentation and it is now called a Kettle. This area is about 30 feet below the front door and about a football field away from it. There are a lot of native plants in this spot. That was not the original design intent. Originally this was a meadow, they grazed horses here. Over time Mrs. Reeves began to experiment with the use of Daffodils, then during the 30's and 40's, planted approximately 35,000-40,000 Daffodils in this Kettle. To this day they continue to plant Daffodils here. Each year if the daffodils are weak, they replace them. And, it's no wonder some become weak. This is the bottom of a 30 foot depression, thus there are times that this will fill with rain water, so the bulbs can rot.

Click here for more info

NATIVE PLANTS
JOE NOTICES MANY NATIVE PLANTS IN THIS AREA. And, they're here for a very good reason. After the Daffodils are done there is not a lot of interest in this area. Plus, with all the Daffodil foliage the natives provide a great way to hide that foliage and importantly the natives help protect the integrity of the whole structure. As well, the natives provide added interest, attract wildlife, such as birds, bees and butterflies. The natives provide a wonderful habitat as well as food and shelter for the wildlife.
The guys look at some of the plants in this area. Two fall blooming natives are - the Aster and the Solidago virgaurea Goldenrod. In some gardens these are considered weeds. The classic definition of weed is simply a plant out of place. But, one can't beat these plants for height and color and they look great in masse. Natives are becoming more and more popular but to learn more about natives in your area:
List Of Native Plant Societies

Click here for more infoClick here for more info

INVASIVE PLANTS
Some native plants can be a little more assertive than others but it's a whole other thing to have invasive plants. INVASIVE PLANTS ARE TYPICALLY NON-NATIVE. Invasives crowd out or displace native plants. They have no natural enemies, such as disease or insects and they persist without cultivation. Their ramifications are huge. They can wipe out that habitat one worked so hard to achieve - that attractive spot for wildlife, the eco-systems and the biodiversity that's created with native plants - all can be destroyed in a very short period of time. And one doesn't normally have to look very far to find invasive plants in your landscape. Peter shows several in this area. Convolvulus arensis Field Bindweed is wrapped around some Eupatorium maculatum Joe-Pye Weed which is wrapped around some Artemisia vulgaris Mugwart which is also considered invasive. All spell trouble.

Click here for more info

NOXIOUS WEEDS
In addition to invasives there are other unwelcome plants in the garden. PARTICULARLY PROBLEMATIC ARE NOXIOUS WEEDS such as Poison Hemlock and Poison Ivy. A noxious weed is a plant that can cause you physical harm. One should eradicate these from the garden however possible. When it comes to eradicating noxious weeds there are 3 ways ways to eradicate them. 1st is physical control. Simply reaching over and physically pulling the plant out is 1 way. When doing this make sure to get all the root system, or as much of the root system as possible. 2nd is mechanical, use a hoe or a weed wacker. Same thing, make sure to get all or as much of the root system as possible. The 3rd and last line of defense is the use of chemicals. Poison Ivy causes dermatitis and the method of control is the use of a contact herbicide. Simply spray with a little Round Up. It will kill the plant in 3-5 days. There are other plants that are appropriately treated with chemicals. Plants that spread by rhizomes, typically Mugwort and Thistle, need to be controlled this way because if you simply pull them they will continue to spread through rhizomes.

Click here for more info

LINKS:

Hotel Indigo-Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Reeves Reed Arboretum

Garden Smart Plant List

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SHOW.

Many recognize New Jersey as one of the first states in the Union, they think of its' manufacturing, even its' wonderful coastline, and as gardeners, we think of it as the Garden State with beautiful rolling hills and lush greenery. To learn more about the Garden State, Garden Smart visits Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit, New Jersey. We feature a lot of beautiful gardens around the country and always relish the opportunity to introduce gardens with significant historical aspects. Reeves Reed Arboretum is one such garden, providing a unique look into the past.
Kent Manahan introduces the show. Kent is the news anchor of New Jersey Network's NJN News. Kent has been reporting the news for over 30 years and is a 5 time Emmy award winning journalist. Kent is pleased to join Garden Smart on a particularly beautiful day and proud to provide insight into the state. New Jersey is called the Garden State for a reason. New Jersey is home to over 60 public gardens and numerous private gardens, one finds natural gardens with native plants as well as formal gardens with exotic shrubs and flowers. New Jersey is also known for its farmland and those farms grow some of the best tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, cranberries, corn, etc. in the country. There is more grown in this state than most imagine.
But to visit Reeves Reed Arboretum is a special treat. REEVES REED ARBORETUM HAS A VERY INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT HISTORY. This land was originally inhabited by native Indians, in 1889 it became a country estate with specimen trees and flowerbeds. In 1916 it really moved forward because at that time Richard and Susie Reeves purchased the property and started to expand all the gardens. Susie was the driving force behind the gardens and hired different landscape designers to assist in the expansion. One of her most influential garden designers was Ellen Biddle Shipman. Ms. Shipman, we're told, was a very important figure in landscape architecture. She was probably one of the first women in the field, a field that was previously dominated by men. Once Ellen was established she hired predominately women which opened doors for many women that came after her. Her designs contained carefully proportioned relationships between the house and its' gardens. Kent confesses that as a home gardener she struggles with this concept around her own house. One wants their yard and garden to be just right for their own little space in the world. But, how should one then bring in the natural habitat yet marry that with the latest in plants and flowers? Ms. Shipman's gardens did that and importantly provided areas of quiet, domestic intimacy for women to be able to escape from their trials of life. Much of her acclaim arose from her beautiful border gardens which provided a really simple and effective means of growing many different kinds of flowers.
Ms. Shipman was involved in a number of unique garden designs and played a significant role in the design of this garden. Yet, very few of her gardens remain intact today. That's one of the reasons that Reeves Reed Arboretum is so important. These gardens are a beautifully maintained example of early 20th century landscape architecture which is known as Country Place Movement and they provide an important link to an important figure in American landscape architecture, Ellen Biddle Shipman. Joe thanks Kent for the interesting history lesson and is off to meet Peter Grant.
Peter Grant is the Horticulturist at Reeves Reed Arboretum and has a very interesting history himself. Her started in the landscape business when he was 14 years old, pushing a lawnmower around people's yards, making some money at that. He went to the State University of New York in Farmingdale, graduated from there and after a stint in the military attended and graduated from Delaware College. After that he got into a parks and shade tree operation in Burkett county, then went to work for AT & T Bell Laboratories as a horticulturist. They have several large research and development facilities in Northern New Jersey in which they strive to create a park-like setting for their employees. In his heyday he managed upwards of 600 acres and multiple locations. So, there was never a shortage of things to do. In 2003 he retired from that job but decided he wanted to get back into horticulture. He found an ad for the Old Westbury Gardens, Director of Horticulture, interviewed and struck a deal. After 4 years the commute to Long Island became too much, so he decided to look for something more local. Fortunately Reeves Reed was looking for a horticulturist and site preservationist. Telling the story of a site like this is something Peter finds intriguing and likes to do, so he accepted the job. He has been here about a year, trying to make it all happen.
Joe and Peter take a stroll around the property to learn more. They start with the obvious, the house. It was built in 1889 for John Horner Wisner, a merchant who traded in the Orient. He brought his family here to get away from the noise, smell, dirt and hubbub of New York City. That was possible because the train had come to Summit in the 1870's meaning there was a convenient method to commute to the City. At that time people of wealth put a lot of time and energy into their homes and grounds. It was a great way to display one's wealth. Early on there wasn't a tremendous amount of landscaping done, rather more clearing to make it look like an estate and less like a farm. There was a vista from the south terrace to New York City and they worked to maintain and accent that vista. In 1916 the property was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Reeves. Susie Reeves was an ardent horticulturist, loved gardening and began to utilize some landscape architects to develop the more formal gardens that are on the east side of the house. As Kent discussed, the primary landscape architect was Ellen Biddle Shipman.
Peter's charge is to maintain the integrity of the original design of the gardens and the house. But over time the plant material and plantings had gotten away from the original intent of the architect. In the 1990's they realized that and began to restore some of the more formal gardens on the east side. They continue that transformation today. His charge is, really, to maintain the architectural integrity of what's here now and to continue to research and find out what was here to begin with and begin to restore it back to their beginnings. Last week, as an example, he spent several days working in the archives looking at pictures, trying to find old photographs of some borders that they will restore over time.
Top

THE GUYS NEXT VISIT A PERENNIAL BORDER GARDEN. This is an ideal location because there is plenty of sunshine and plenty of color. But Joe gets the sense that this may not have been the architects original intent. Peter believes that Mrs. Reeves began to experiment in the 20's and 30's with the English style perennial border and this is clearly not that style. What makes it not that style? The randomness of the plant material, the tall plants in the front of the border, the short plants in the back of the border, clearly that's not the English style perennial border garden. The definition of an English style border garden is one that has masses of color and masses of texture. The use of several plants together as opposed to individual plants in line. Peter teaches classes on perennial border design, thus knows of what he speaks. The most important element to a perennial border design is color, the use of color harmonies to create a visual movement through the design. Pastels, particularly, are used in English style perennial borders. Texture is another important element. The texture of the plant itself is considered, as is the foliage and the flowers. Compatible and contrasting textures are also important. Creating a sense of unity is another. A line, the use of color or texture to create a line or movement through the garden is another. Form is a consideration. How the garden appears overall is the form of the garden. And shape, the use of different shapes of plant material throughout the garden is important. That creates rhythm and unity. You want to carry the person's eye through the entire border, through the entire design.
This border design has some of those elements, thus the guys talk about ideas that work and ideas that don't work. Peter points out some color combinations that don't work. The pink of the Begonia and the yellow of the Rudbeckia fulgida Black-eyed Susan seem to clash, in Peter's opinion. Both plants are great on their own but not together. The Kalimeris pinnatifida Japanese aster is out of scale in the front of the border. It really belongs in the back of the border and a shorter plant needs to be in its' place in the front. It's a great plant, just out of place. Peter feels that another area could use some Mums that would be grown as annuals. The Mums he's referring to are, of course, perennials. But because Mums typically bloom in the fall, that's their best time of year aesthetically, that's when one wants to showcase them, in this case, at the end of the season, pull them out because they won't have a lot of aesthetic value until the next season's fall.
Joe notices some Hostas and some other foliage plants. Those would not typically be found in an English border. Foliage could be used to fill some holes but in their renovation project these will come out.
Peter has some tall Anemone pulsatilla in the back and they work well. He also has some great examples of appropriately placed plants in the front. He particularly likes three plants Stachys byzantina Lamb's Ear, the Nepeta nervosa and the Geranium. And he thinks they work well together. The combination, the foliage, colors and textures work very nicely together. The color combination of the lavender of the Nepeta and the pink of the Geranium in early summer make a nice combination. And he likes the way they spill out of the border and onto the path. It really softens the retaining area.
Joe notices a bare spot. What to put there? Peter is a fan of Sedum, he likes the lower growing variety of Sedum and thinks it would be a great plant to fill that hole. And he thinks Sedums work well from a color standpoint. Nice contrast from the texture, but as well the colors all compliment each other very well.
Top

The guys are walking away and Joe notices the beautiful lawn. This would probably not have been lawn when Mrs. Reeves was here, it probably would have been pasture but they presently maintain a lawn for people to recreate on. People love their lawns for recreation and they're doing it in a more eco-friendly manner.

Click Here for a video about a new electric mower.
Top

Peter and Joe next visit an unusual area. THIS IS A GLACIAL FORMATION KNOWN AS A KETTLE. 17,000 years ago it is believed that there was 5 miles of the Wisconsin glacier above this area. A piece of the glacier fell off and landed in this area, made this indentation and it is now called a Kettle. This area is about 30 feet below the front door and about a football field away from it. There are a lot of native plants in this spot. That was not the original design intent. Originally this was a meadow, they grazed horses here. Over time Mrs. Reeves began to experiment with the use of Daffodils, then during the 30's and 40's, planted approximately 35,000-40,000 Daffodils in this Kettle. To this day they continue to plant Daffodils here. Each year if the daffodils are weak, they replace them. And, it's no wonder some become weak. This is the bottom of a 30 foot depression, thus there are times that this will fill with rain water, so the bulbs can rot.
Top

JOE NOTICES MANY NATIVE PLANTS IN THIS AREA. And, they're here for a very good reason. After the Daffodils are done there is not a lot of interest in this area. Plus, with all the Daffodil foliage the natives provide a great way to hide that foliage and importantly the natives help protect the integrity of the whole structure. As well, the natives provide added interest, attract wildlife, such as birds, bees and butterflies. The natives provide a wonderful habitat as well as food and shelter for the wildlife.
One of the major design intents of this area was to use natives to create a succession of bloom, to have something in bloom after the Daffodils bloomed in April through the Asters and Rudbecia and the hard frost in October. It's mid-September and hard to believe how much color is in this area. Natives have many advantages. One of the biggest is they use a lot less water. Plus they don't require fertilizer, they don't have to mow, thus they don't use any gas. Once established they need very little care. The only thing they do here is at the end of February they come in with a brush cutter, cut it by hand, pick it up by hand, carry it out by hand and take it to the local compost facility. This is low impact gardening and with increasing water concerns in many parts of the country and world, plus our desire to be environmentally friendly, native plants really fill the bill. It just doesn't get any more environmentally friendly.

The guys look at some of the plants in this area. Two fall blooming natives are - the Aster and the Solidago virgaurea Goldenrod. In some gardens these are considered weeds. The classic definition of weed is simply a plant out of place. But, one can't beat these plants for height and color and they look great in masse. Natives are becoming more and more popular but to learn more about natives in your area: Click Here
List of Native Plant Societies

Another advantage of native plants is their ability to attract wildlife. As an example, butterflies and bees are attracted to the Buddleia or Butterfly Plant. It is a major magnet for those. And not much maintenance is required. Other than an occasional pruning to keep the Buddleia in check, it's an easy plant to care for. Here they prune at the beginning of the year. That's it. Another great plant is Silphium perfoliatum Cup Plant which holds water and attracts Goldfinches. There is a structure on the Cup Plant that holds the water for the birds to drink during the summer. Another great wildlife attractor is Agastache can Wild Hyssop which attracts hordes of honeybees.
But, in spite of all the positive attributes of using native plants, they're not always viewed in a positive light. Many view natives as easy horticulture, not hard, anyone can do it. But with the right planing and maintenance one can have an appropriate wildlife garden. It's important to note that many subdivisions and neighborhoods across the country have covenants and restrictions that prohibit the use of native plants. So before undertaking something like this, it's wise to check with your local building department to see if there is a property maintenance code in your area that might preclude natives.
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Some native plants can be a little more assertive than others but it's a whole other thing to have invasive plants. INVASIVE PLANTS ARE TYPICALLY NON-NATIVE. Invasives crowd out or displace native plants. They have no natural enemies, such as disease or insects and they persist without cultivation. Their ramifications are huge. They can wipe out that habitat one worked so hard to achieve - that attractive spot for wildlife, the eco-systems and the biodiversity that's created with native plants - all can be destroyed in a very short period of time. And one doesn't normally have to look very far to find invasive plants in your landscape. Peter shows several in this area. Convolvulus arensis Field Bindweed is wrapped around some Eupatorium maculatum Joe-Pye Weed which is wrapped around some Artemisia vulgaris Mugwart which is also considered invasive. All spell trouble.
Peter has 3 more examples of invasives nearby. One is Celastrus orbiculatus Oriental Bittersweet. It escaped from captivity at the turn of the century and has a way of twining up through trees and strangling them. Second, he has Lonicera japonica Japanese Honeysuckle which tends to run along the ground and run up trees and along fences. Thirdly, Wisteria floribunda which many grow on the side of their house for their beautiful white or pink flowers. The irony is, these plants are being sold in the trade, we can buy them at many garden centers and we're often not aware of the ramifications of these plants. In addition to invasives there are other unwelcome plants in the garden. PARTICULARLY PROBLEMATIC ARE NOXIOUS WEEDS such as Poison Hemlock and Poison Ivy. A noxious weed is a plant that can cause you physical harm. One should eradicate these from the garden however possible. When it comes to eradicating noxious weeds there are 3 ways ways to eradicate them. 1st is physical control. Simply reaching over and physically pulling the plant out is 1 way. When doing this make sure to get all the root system, or as much of the root system as possible. 2nd is mechanical, use a hoe or a weed wacker. Same thing, make sure to get all or as much of the root system as possible. The 3rd and last line of defense is the use of chemicals. Poison Ivy causes dermatitis and the method of control is the use of a contact herbicide. Simply spray with a little Round Up. It will kill the plant in 3-5 days. There are other plants that are appropriately treated with chemicals. Plants that spread by rhizomes, typically Mugwort and Thistle, need to be controlled this way because if you simply pull them they will continue to spread through rhizomes. Thus they need to be sprayed well with a contact herbicide at a controlled strength. The herbicide is non-selective thus if it gets on anything else it will kill that as well. So, keep it on target and a good time to spray is early in the morning when it's very calm.
Peter's charge here has been to bring this garden back to the 19th century, as it was; yet as well move it forward into the 21st century. That's not going to occur by happenstance. Peter if he could leave the audience with 1 piece of advice is to make a plan. A plan provides direction in the garden, tells you what plants to purchase, how many plants to purchase and what colors you'll have in the garden. It provides an end result on paper before you buy the 1st plant. That will save a lot of time and a lot of money.
Good advice. This has been an enjoyable day. Reeves Reed Arboretum is a beautiful garden filled with a lot of very interesting history. Peter is doing an amazing job at bringing that history to life. Thanks Peter.
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LINKS:

Hotel Indigo-Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Reeves Reed Arboretum

Garden Smart Plant List

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