GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show9
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Show #9/1509
Rosedown Plantation


North Garden
TRISH AND RICHARD FIRST VISIT THE NORTH GARDEN. This is the garden visitors see first. It's special because of its canopy of Quirkus virginiana Live Oak. They provide shade to all the shade plants in this garden. But, not only are the Live Oaks old but so too the Lagerstroemia Crepe Myrtle.

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South or Picturesque Garden
THEY NEXT VISIT THE SOUTH GARDEN, one of the oldest gardens at Rosedown. This would have been the hub of activity for the slave gardeners. It's a picturesque garden and much sunnier than the first garden. Richard's definition of a picturesque garden is one where there are a few focal points, a few specimen plants, but a lot of open area. Trish confirms, that is correct and they have some wonderful specimens in this garden.

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Garden Rooms or Garden Windows
THEY NEXT MOVE INTO ONE OF THE GARDEN ROOMS OR GARDEN WINDOWS. These are private little areas meant to highlight a specimen in the garden. All this is quite similar to a picturesque garden. Here they have wonderful specimens like Magnolia grandiflora Southern Magnolia, Osmanthus fragrans Sweet Olive and mass plantings of things like Ardesia.

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Noteworthy Heirloom Plants
SINCE TRISH IS AN HEIRLOOM PLANT GURU she introduces several of her favorites. The Deutzia is one of her favorites. It's an old plant but does get very large, it sprawls, is very tall and very wide. It sometimes forms colonies thus one must have plenty of room in your yard to grow Deutzia. It has beautiful white flowers in early spring and the bark exfoliates, thus has wonderful interest. The Rosa Chestnut rose are a species rose. Species is something that's never been hybridized and that means they're very hardy. But they only bloom once.

Click here for more info

The Rockery
The next area visited is strange, it almost has a construction site feel. It is quirky. IT IS THE ROCKERY and was built in 1850. This family traveled a great bit and often traveled to Europe. This garden is trying to emulate the ruin gardens of Europe. We didn't have ruins in America at that time so what they would do is go to the creek and collect native creek rock, a composite rock. They would haul it up in wagons and stack it artistically, thus creating the rockery. This was trendy for its time, a quirky garden trend.

Click here for more info

Creating Your Own Rock Garden
IF THINKING ABOUT CREATING YOUR OWN ROCK GARDEN there are several things to think about. Make sure the stones are natives, make sure that they fit in the area and don't look out of place. Also consider fine textured plants, plants with small leaves that are close together. They will contrast nicely against harsh, big rocks. Also think about cool colors, blues and purples in terms of flowers. Maybe incorporate a water feature to help cool the area. A rock garden is a great place for critters. One might see lizards, possibly even some small snakes, as well as other little animals. So if you want to attract wildlife, a rock garden is a great way to do that. For more information on rock gardens check out our links.

Click here for more info

The Formal or Pleasure Garden
The next garden visited is THE FORMAL OR PLEASURE GARDEN and it is stunning. This is where Martha spent a great deal of time and money. There are 28 flower beds and they're very large and each one is different. Trish has tried to collect as many 19th century flowers and roses as possible in order to fill the garden with flowers year round.

Click here for more info

Pruning Shrubs
Richard realizes the Hollies must be pruned fairly regularly to keep them nice and neat. This, of course, means they're high maintenance, providing frequent opportunities for pruning. TRISH EXPLAINS HER PRUNING PHILOSOPHY: The Youpon Hollies are native, they're very tough and resilient and they tolerate a great deal of pruning. When she first got here they had outgrown their space. Trish and crew had to cut them down to 5 or 6 inches with a heavy duty professional hedge pruner, at times a chain saw. In terms of maintenance now that they've grown back they maintain the shape with hand shears and they can cut them into any shape desired. The squared shape is one in which Mother Nature never intended a plant to grow.

Click here for more info

Several Favorite Plants
TRISH POINTS OUT SEVERAL OF HER FAVORITE PLANTS. She starts with several roses. Rosa Caldwell Pink Rose is a Polyantha rose. They have a beautiful pink bloom and are disease resistant. It has a very subtle color. Rosa Sally Holmes Signature Rose is a white rose. It's a single petal flower but blooms in great big clusters, they look like white pompoms when in bloom. Very striking and very bold. Next are several climbers.

Click here for more info




Click here for more info

 

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Plant of the Week

Rosedown Plantation

Butler Greenwood Plantation & Bed and Breakfast

Giles Subaru

St. Francisville, Louisiana

Build a Rock Garden


Complete transcript of the show.

Show 9/1509.
Serious gardeners should always pay attention to history for good ideas on plants and garden design. Nowhere is history more evident than in the deep south. So, in this Episode GardenSMART visits Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

In the 1800's cotton was king in the South. And, cotton had a big part in building Rosedown Plantation and its 28 acres of gardens. James Smith is an interpretive ranger at Rosedown and tells us about this beautiful place. The real history began in 1828 when Daniel Turnbull married Martha Barrow. They had 3 children, the firstborn son was William and William lived to the age of 27 when he drowned in the Mississippi River. The middle child was Sarah and Sarah took over the home because her younger brother, James, also died. James died at the age of 7 from Yellow Fever. Normally it would have been the boys who took over the home but since both had passed, Sarah took over. She married a man named James Perry Bowman from Oakland Plantation and they had 10 children, 2 boys and 8 girls. 4 of those daughters were unable to find suitable husbands because it was right after the Civil War and because their mother Sarah was very picky about who they were allowed to marry. So the women lived here until they passed. When the last, Nina, died in 1955 her nieces and nephews sold Rosedown to a woman named Kathryn Fondren Underwood, an Exxon Mobile heiress from Houston. She restored Rosedown between 1956 and 1964 at a cost of $10 million. Those dollars went into the gardens and home as well as restoring much of the furniture in the house. The Underwoods owned Rosedown until 1993 when they sold it to another man who owned it from '93 until 2000. He then sold it to the State of Louisiana and the State has owned it since.

The gardens here were a 60 year project of Martha Turnbull. She started off with parterres and the formal garden that flanks the home, then worked her way out into the picturesque gardens on either side of the island. Martha's garden journal was a valuable asset in restoring these gardens. It documents her successes and failures, her plant purchases from around the world and the work of the enslaved people in the garden. These gardens have a rich history and are truly beautiful gardens.

Richard next meets Trish Aleshire the head horticulturist and park manager of this wonderful, historic site. This place is huge and well maintained. Trish shares some of what it takes to care for this place. She has a wonderful staff, several horticulturist attendants and some wage staff that work here seasonally. They work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, manicuring the site.

Trish was introduced to gardening by her mom and grandmother. It was something they did every weekend as a family. It was something they could bond over and enjoy together every Saturday. Eventually Trish went off to college at LSU but didn't really know what she wanted to major in. It was her mother who suggested gardening. She started in botany but decided botany wasn't for her and ended up in horticulture. Trish loved her studies and eventually went into the nursery business. It was there she developed an interest in heirloom plants - antique roses, old Camellias, etc. She studied at a few of the plantations in the south but when the State bought Rosedown in 2000, she knew they would need a horticulturist. She kept her eye out for the position and luckily they hired Trish and she has been here ever since.

TRISH AND RICHARD FIRST VISIT THE NORTH GARDEN. This is the garden visitors see first. It's special because of its canopy of Quirkus virginiana Live Oak. They provide shade to all the shade plants in this garden. But, not only are the Live Oaks old but so too the Lagerstroemia Crepe Myrtle. Trish can't pinpoint their exact age but they must be at least 75 years old. They too add shade to the area. Beneath them one finds Camellias which bloom in January and February, then the Rhododendron and Azaleas that bloom a little later, in mid-March, followed by Hydrangeas which bloom in mid-May and of course a succession of smaller plants, like the Mahonia Grape Holly. The Mahonia is a favorite of Richard's. The coarse texture and berries really set a shade garden apart. It is a visitor favorite as well. The ground covers are also attractive. The Baptista Indigo blooms all summer and the Ardesia makes a berry but also blooms almost year round. These are all great choices for a shade garden.

If you're thinking about creating a shade garden or a garden like this, blooms are always important but think about texture, think about form. The Crepe Myrtle is a perfect example of this, a plant that stands out in a garden and makes a garden what it is.
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THEY NEXT VISIT THE SOUTH GARDEN, one of the oldest gardens at Rosedown. This would have been the hub of activity for the slave gardeners. It's a picturesque garden and much sunnier than the first garden. Richard's definition of a picturesque garden is one where there are a few focal points, a few specimen plants, but a lot of open area. Trish confirms, that is correct and they have some wonderful specimens in this garden. They also follow good design principles for a picturesque garden. And that is, depending on how tall something is, say it's 10 or 12 feet tall, then there should be nothing within 10 to 12 feet in any direction. This garden has changed somewhat during the past few years. They lost several trees to hurricanes. Whereas it was once a fern garden, very shady; they now have a lot more flowering plants, only a few ferns are left. And speaking of ferns. Thuja Arborvitae is called a fern, but it's not. Cyrtomium Holly Fern is a fern but can take a good bit of sun.
Top

THEY NEXT MOVE INTO ONE OF THE GARDEN ROOMS OR GARDEN WINDOWS. These are private little areas meant to highlight a specimen in the garden. All this is quite similar to a picturesque garden. Here they have wonderful specimens like Magnolia grandiflora Southern Magnolia, Osmanthus fragrans Sweet Olive and mass plantings of things like Ardesia. These are all great plants, very large plants which work well in a large space like this. One couldn't do this on a small scale. For a smaller area, a garden nook, highlight a small plant, something like a dwarf form of Magnolia instead of the large one.
Top

SINCE TRISH IS AN HEIRLOOM PLANT GURU she introduces several of her favorites. The Deutzia is one of her favorites. It's an old plant but does get very large, it sprawls, is very tall and very wide. It sometimes forms colonies thus one must have plenty of room in your yard to grow Deutzia. It has beautiful white flowers in early spring and the bark exfoliates, thus has wonderful interest. The Rosa Chestnut rose are a species rose. Species is something that's never been hybridized and that means they're very hardy. But they only bloom once. They're called Chestnut Roses because when looking at the bud it's very burry, like a chestnut burr. They do get large. Occasionally here they prune them back hard to keep them out of the pathway. For this they use power pruners, sometimes chainsaws. The Gardenia thunbergil 'Rosedown' Hip Gardenia is no longer found in the trade unfortunately but they're a wonderful old Gardenia. They make a single flower that is fragrant in the summertime but it really comes into its own in the fall. Then it produces a beautiful red hip and the whole plant looks like it's in flame. Richard loves plants that provide 2 seasons of interest.

Next our gardeners review some of the practices from times past. Nowadays we're a little spoiled. We run down to the nursery and get whatever we want. Back then it was more difficult. Trish knows from Martha's journal that she did purchase plants from nurseries, many in New York, but really from all over the world. These plants would be shipped in on riverboats and oftentimes when they arrived were not in good shape. And there may have only been 1 plant and with a garden of this size they wanted more than one. This means making cuttings and a lot of patience to grow that plant off. To make cuttings for years in order to get a whole garden full of that particular plant required a cold frame. The work was done by slaves that worked the property and the cold frame was heated with manure placed on the ground. As manure composts, it heats up. The cold frame faces south, thus catching the sunshine. It can be opened or closed depending on the temperature, which regulates the heat inside. The slaves who worked this garden were wonderful propagators. They could do grafting, they could do budding and they could make cuttings. And that's how this garden got to be so large. They were very talented, there was a lot of expertise here.

They next look at the tools of early times. The tool shed was where the slaves would pick up their tools at the start of the workday. The tools were very simple. Simple hoes, rakes, pitchforks were used for the work in the garden. But one piece of equipment looks complicated. It is a water cart, the original water cart. It holds maybe 30 gallons of water, which would have ben filled up at the well. From the well they would have pushed it through the garden. It had a rudimentary pump with a rubber hose attached. Pump the water, then water each plant individually. But once empty push it back to the well and refill it. It would have been a group effort because it would have been very heavy, probably requiring several men to push it through the garden.

Richard notices something that looks like a cookie jar. It is actually a clay bell which was used to protect young plants from early frost. It would also have been used to produce white asparagus. It doesn't have a bottom, it's placed over the plant.
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The next area visited is strange, it almost has a construction site feel. It is quirky. IT IS THE ROCKERY and was built in 1850. This family traveled a great bit and often traveled to Europe. This garden is trying to emulate the ruin gardens of Europe. We didn't have ruins in America at that time so what they would do is go to the creek and collect native creek rock, a composite rock. They would haul it up in wagons and stack it artistically, thus creating the rockery. This was trendy for its time, a quirky garden trend. It is believed that this area also had a water feature of some sort. The old records discuss water features throughout the rockery, but we're not sure know how it worked. We do know there were no electrical pumps, thus whatever water got to and through the rocks would have been hand pumped. And, it was most likely a difficult job. This garden also had conch shells. They would have gotten the conch shells from the Gulf of Mexico and then decorated the rock with conch shells. Thus water, rocks, conch shells and some interesting plants, all were incorporated into the rockery. There are small plants planted throughout in the different crevices and these plants would have been changed out seasonally. Richard compliments Trish on picking plants for the area based on sun or shade. That's important because some of the areas are bright full sun areas and some are dark shade. They first discuss the sun plants. Ricinus communis Castor Bean Plant is a big, bold selection which contrasts with the rocks and the small plants in between the rocks. Richard likes the fact that it's a large, bold and handsome specimen to go with the rocks. There are other plants growing in the rocks. Thymus Thyme is a wonderful creeper and nicely fragrant, it has a very fine texture which provides a nice compliment against the coarse rocks. Verbena provides flowers in the summertime and they're very drought tolerant. Inside the cracks Trish has Sedum. The Sedums don't require a lot of soil and they like it very well drained, thus are perfect for a rock garden and perfect for full sun. For the shade Trish has Selaginella Peacock Moss, Spikemoss. The Moss is very fine, making a beautiful little green carpet across the rocks. It looks like a billiard table, rich and dark. Also present is Indigo. Indigo can be invasive in the south thus one must be careful with it. But something that normally might create a problem works well here. It's the perfect environment for an invasive plant.
Top

IF THINKING ABOUT CREATING YOUR OWN ROCK GARDEN there are several things to think about. Make sure the stones are natives, make sure that they fit in the area and don't look out of place. Also consider fine textured plants, plants with small leaves that are close together. They will contrast nicely against harsh, big rocks. Also think about cool colors, blues and purples in terms of flowers. Maybe incorporate a water feature to help cool the area. A rock garden is a great place for critters. One might see lizards, possibly even some small snakes, as well as other little animals. So if you want to attract wildlife, a rock garden is a great way to do that. For more information on rock gardens check out our links.
Top

The next garden visited is THE FORMAL OR PLEASURE GARDEN and it is stunning. This is where Martha spent a great deal of time and money. There are 28 flower beds and they're very large and each one is different. Trish has tried to collect as many 19th century flowers and roses as possible in order to fill the garden with flowers year round. There is a stunning collection of roses, many antique but the annuals and perennials are beautiful as well. The plants look old timey and the heirlooms fit the period perfectly. They have Dianthus barbatus Sweet William. One doesn't see Sweet William all the time. They're a wonderful old plant, in the Dianthus family. Another is Antirrhinum Snapdragons which are called 'Black Prince' and are an old variety, first grown at Monticello.

Richard brags on Trish. This garden is impeccably maintained, she's done a great job of keeping this garden looking beautiful. And the design ideas are plentiful. The hedges are Ilex vomitoria Youpon Holly and they border each bed. Richard likes the contrast between the formal and informal. The hedges are well maintained which contrasts with the very informal, often unruly combination of plants in the middle. Something else, look one direction down the axis and one sees a nice strong piece of statuary, look the other direction, one sees a huge picturesque tree that Mother Nature created. It is appealing and creates a wonderful access point, providing plenty of views no matter where one stands.
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Richard realizes the Hollies must be pruned fairly regularly to keep them nice and neat. This, of course, means they're high maintenance, providing frequent opportunities for pruning. TRISH EXPLAINS HER PRUNING PHILOSOPHY: The Youpon Hollies are native, they're very tough and resilient and they tolerate a great deal of pruning. When she first got here they had outgrown their space. Trish and crew had to cut them down to 5 or 6 inches with a heavy duty professional hedge pruner, at times a chain saw. In terms of maintenance now that they've grown back they maintain the shape with hand shears and they can cut them into any shape desired. The squared shape is one in which Mother Nature never intended a plant to grow. Occasionally problems occur because when one keeps cutting at the same point over and over it creates a thick amount of foliage at the ends with no light penetrating the plant. When pulling back the foliage it's a black hole in the middle, there is nothing there except sticks. That's a problem. Sometimes limbs or other problems will cause holes in the shrub. Trish shows how she addresses these issues. Take a loper and cut the large dead pieces away. The bypass loper would be used on pieces larger than a finger, maybe a broom stick. Same thing with the branches, cut the dead ones away. For the precision pruning, the small wood, use a hand pruner and prune away the dead material. This will open up the plant and expose the plant to as much light as possible. Once the plant is exposed and the dead wood removed use hand pruners to get inside and remove all other dead material. This will allow the plant to start rejuvenating itself. This shrub has previously been worked on and one can see a little bit of build back in the middle. Normally within a year to a year and one half it will come back. No one will be able to tell anything happened. Many might remove this plant, but by following this advice it will come back.
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TRISH POINTS OUT SEVERAL OF HER FAVORITE PLANTS. She starts with several roses. Rosa Caldwell Pink Rose is a Polyantha rose. They have a beautiful pink bloom and are disease resistant. It has a very subtle color. Rosa Sally Holmes Signature Rose is a white rose. It's a single petal flower but blooms in great big clusters, they look like white pompoms when in bloom. Very striking and very bold. Next are several climbers. Rosa Seven Sisters Rose is very old, from the 1700's. It blooms a pink but fades to white. Rosa Mermaid Rose is another single and rather yellow. Be careful with Mermaid, it will take over your house. It requires a special space, a lot of space, big fencerows or a very strong structure to hold it up. For perennials: As difficult as it was to get plants back then, they wanted plants that would come back year after year. Here they grow Agapanthus Lily of the Nile, African Lily. Grown in the 1800's it would have been an exotic plant thus grown in a clay pot in the greenhouse. They're now common in the area, found in many yards in south Louisiana. Crinum Milk & Wine Lily is a variety they grow here, it has a beautiful white flower with a deep red center. Even when not blooming with its foliage it's a handsome plant. Gladiolus is very tall and stately with bright colored flowers. It makes a wonderful cut flower which in past times were often brought into the home. Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' is very popular. Martha grew many Salvias. The 'Black & Blue' is two-toned, has a black face and blue flower. Very different, unique but an old time favorite.

Trish is an excellent gardener with a unique set of skills and has this final thought. She thinks it's important that we remember our nation's history and that we do this through plants. Some of these plants have been around for generations, and that's because they're durable. Many of these selections are great for the home gardener. Put them in your yard and they'll be around for generations to come.

Great advice, Trish. Richard thanks Trish for the tour. We've enjoyed Rosedown Plantation and Trish's perspective on heirloom plants.
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LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Plant of the Week

Rosedown Plantation

Butler Greenwood Plantation & Bed and Breakfast

Giles Subaru

St. Francisville, Louisiana

Build a Rock Garden

 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

By Lisa Bartlett, Smith Gilbert Gardens

Spring ephemerals are some of the first plants to flower in the early spring long before most trees leaf out. They tend not to like the heat and will quickly disappear if temperatures get above 80 degrees. Spring ephemerals leaf out, bloom, go to seed, spread themselves about and then enter dormancy; they don't really die. All this happens in a two-month period, making them some of the most efficient of the flowering plants. That is what makes these plants so very special. Read more...


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