GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2010 show52
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Show #52/2213
Run For The Roses


Introduction
CHURCHILL DOWNS SITS ON 140 ACRES set in the middle of the metropolitan area. This vast space allows John and his crew the opportunity to try a lot of different gardening ideas which range from very formal settings to informal settings. They have dry gardens where they use a lot of succulents as well as areas of mass annual plantings. They have lots of mixed containers and always try to include the local fare because Louisville has such a rich horticultural history.

Click here for more info

Aristides Garden
JOHN AND ERIC START IN THE ARISTIDES GARDEN. The statue in the center is Aristides, the 1st Kentucky Derby winner, in 1875. Although the statue is a little larger than scale, Aristides was a big horse. The walls that surround this area were the old paddock runway. This was the area where the horses left the paddock and went to the racetrack. Things have changed between then and now. On the wall in the background are the initials JC. That was the 1st original jockey club and was built in 1895. The garden in this area has been a traditional garden for many years. They have tulips growing here now because many people associate tulips with the Derby. They use Tulipa 'Burgundy lace" which is the latest blooming tulip they can find. Tulips have gone through changes and now many tulips are bred for the cut flower industry and not so much for the landscape industry. These tulips have a lower chilling requirement meaning they bloom much earlier in the season. They also seem to hold as well as any that John has found. It's very old, bred in the 40's and 50's and have a very traditional look that has worked well here. One can't talk about plants at the Kentucky Derby without talking about roses. After all it is a "run for the roses." A rose that has worked for John has been the Rosa Double Knock Out. It blooms early, comes on with great color, has enough petals that it has a traditional rose looking bud as it starts to emerge. It seems to take abuse. They have a fickle climate here; for example, they had a late freeze this year. It went from far above normal to far below. John still thinks he'll have some color for Derby. In this garden area they have a blend of very traditional plants, a traditional garden.

Click here for more info

A Garden with Traditional and New Plants
A NEARBY GARDEN HAS SOME NEW ELEMENTS THROWN IN. Eric likes the different combinations of colors, rich variegations, the golds, then the splash of the deep greens with a lot of different textures. Eric particularly likes the blending of traditional plants with brand new plants. Here the focal point is the Beech Tree, Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa.' It was grafted from a Tortuosa that is at Yew Dell Gardens, Theodore Kline's garden but it came originally from the Morton Arboretum. It's a traditional plant and is terrific for anchoring this garden not only in the spring when there is a lot of seasonal color but into the fall as well. At that time of year it has contorted branches and a nice form. It looks great no matter the season. Also in this garden are several beautiful Trachelospermums that have great, but different variegation. One with pink is Tricolor, Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Tricolor' Confederate Jasmine. This plant has been around for awhile, the one in front is Trachelospermum asiaticum Ogon Nishiki and it has a lot of gold in it. John, rather than staying with one color believes in a garden that looks like he spilled a box of crayons on the ground. He mixes a lot of different colors and he thinks it makes for a more dramatic appearance.

Click here for more info

Cold Tolerant Annuals
THERE ARE SEVERAL ANNUAL PLANTS THAT WORK FOR HIM EARLY, PLANTS THAT ARE VERY COLD TOLERANT. One is Petunias and the area where they are planted presently is a sea of pink. This Petunia is Petunia hybrida Supertunia 'Vista Bubblegum." Not only is it cold hardy but Petunias are day light neutral. That means that Petunias like this are just coming in as the days lengthen. This Petunia doesn't need longer days to go into its' flowering cycle. It'll flower much earlier in the season. Because of that they can get the plants out earlier. They show more color early and they seem to take a little more cold. John also uses Petunias as a terrific mass planting plant for spring plantings. But, Churchill also runs in the fall and this meet often goes over into areas where they're getting frost. Petunias work for John then as well. But as the days get shorter it's only those day light neutral varieties that continue to work for him.

Click here for more info


Winners Circle
THE TRADITIONAL WINNERS CIRCLE PLANT HAS BEEN THE RED GERANIUM although by looking at past photos other plants have been tried. At the Derby there will be hundreds of thousands in attendance and millions watching on TV and all will be focused on this 1 spot. Accordingly they want to make sure the area is the absolute best it can be. To accomplish this task the soil must be the best it can be and prepared properly. They want a nice blend of organic material, they want it to retain moisture. John wants a nice, friable soil, which means it crumbles in your hand providing enough air space for the roots to integrate out into the native soil. The soil in Louisville is clay based, clay loam soil and it needs preparation. The main components they use are compost pine bark and mushroom compost. You can't do it once or twice, the stuff breaks down. Every year they add more and more, thus the soil gets better each season. They try not to work it when its too wet. John believes that good soil is like chocolate cake, it needs little airspaces. They don't want compacted soil, instead keep the soil nice and pliable.

Click here for more info


Hot and Dry Area
THIS AREA IS ESPECIALLY HOT AND DRY and doesn't have irrigation. John has learned to find plants that fit the site, not the other way around. What he's done here is gone with a mix of succulent plant material, plant material that will take these dry conditions. One of the surprises is the Dogwood tree Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes.' It has a nice variegated foliage but importantly for this spot it will take a dry location. It works well in those spots. And, it makes a wonderful focal point. There is a lot of diversity in plants in this bed, a lot of different textures and feels. John has included the Fan Palm, the Kalanchoe. The Fan Tail palm is not winter hardy here, but it makes a terrific annual. He can bring them into the greenhouse in the winter but they're not so expensive that if they need to be replaced it would be a terrible loss. They provide a nice texture. In front is Bulbine frutescens'Hallmark.' it isn't winter hardy in this area but is a little further south. He buys these out of South Carolina or Georgia and also uses them as an annual. By seasons end the clumps will be huge. They take hot, dry conditions very well and they add a little color and different texture.

Click here for more info


Plants in Cast Iron Containers
THEY LOOK AT A ROW OF MASSIVE CAST IRON PLANTERS. These are large containers thus John's gone with plants that are large in scale so everything ties in. John has used a unifying blue theme and put in some complimentary yellow splashes with variegated Ginger. John walks us through his design ideas on these containers. The anchor plant is blue Plumbago auriculata x. Underneath is an Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata' which is a great plant. It also has an Ageratum houstonianum, a Petunia and then a little splash of red with Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Cherry Red.' Eric feels it has come together well. He likes the way they've integrated so many different textures and colors.

Click here for more info


Container Design
EVERY GREAT CONTAINER COMBINATION HAS CERTAIN DESIGN FUNDAMENTALS that bring the whole container together in a unified and cohesive way. John talks briefly about the type elements and design fundamentals that he utilizes in container design. They view one container that exhibits 3 basic elements. A pillar, or upright plant, a filler, which are the plants in the center and are mounding in form and then a trailing plant that John refers to as a spiller. So they have a pillar, a filler and a spiller. The taller element is the Sambucus nigra 'Eva,' Sambucus black lace, in the center are several plants but is anchored by Solenostemon x 'Glennis' Coleus. As well they have a Ageratum houstonianum, some Salvia divinorum, some Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' which is a plant John loves. And then falling out the bottom is Scirpus cernuus (Isolepis cernua) Fiber Optic Grass and Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Tricolor.' It all works well together, a lot of texture change. When one goes from grass texture to cut leaf texture it adds a lot of depth and a lot of texture as well as color to this combination.

Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

Churchill Downs

Galt House Hotel and Suites



Complete transcript of the show.

Churchill Downs, Home of the Kentucky Derby
In this show Garden Smart visits Louisville, Kentucky and Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs is not only famous for horse racing but also has a rich horticultural tradition.
Lisa Haller welcomes Eric and Garden Smart to Louisville. Louisville is a town founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark and was named after King Louis XVI. Louisville became a thriving community in large part due to its location on the Ohio River. It sits right on the waterfront and with the advent of the steamboat era it became an industrial town. Louisville is a college town and is known for sports. The Kentucky Derby is the biggest thing in horse racing around here and is known throughout the world. Churchill Downs was originally incorporated in the Galt House Hotel. In 1975 Al Schneider built the current Galt House on the waterfront and adopted its name from Dr. Galt who was the first hotelier in Louisville. The current Galt house is the largest in the Commonwealth with 1300 rooms and 600 suites. It is also the center of activities during the Derby celebrations. They have a tribute to all Derby jockeys with their handprints in cement and an exhibit at the front door. Many Derby parties take place at the Galt House as well. Louisville is a fun place to visit especially during the Derby celebrations.
Eric next meets John Backert the Director of Horticulture at Churchill Downs. John has been at Churchill for 4 years. Before that he was in the nursery and landscape business for about 20 years. He might have been the guy that put mulch in back of your car 20 years ago. He followed that with a stint at the local state technical college.
Horticulture has been a big part of John's life and certainly a big part of Churchill Downs. The recetrack was built about 1875 and has a rich horticultural history. John is determined to see that tradition continue.
Louisville in general has a rich horticultural tradition as well. Louisville is the home of Theodore Kline and Yew Dell Gardens, Bernheim Gardens and Cave Hill Cemetery as well as many other terrific gardens. Louisville has a rich tradition of plants and plant introductions.
CHURCHILL DOWNS SITS ON 140 ACRES set in the middle of the metropolitan area. This vast space allows John and his crew the opportunity to try a lot of different gardening ideas which range from very formal settings to informal settings. They have dry gardens where they use a lot of succulents as well as areas of mass annual plantings. They have lots of mixed containers and always try to include the local fare because Louisville has such a rich horticultural history.
Top

JOHN AND ERIC START IN THE ARISTIDES GARDEN. The statue in the center is Aristides, the 1st Kentucky Derby winner, in 1875. Although the statue is a little larger than scale, Aristides was a big horse. The walls that surround this area were the old paddock runway. This was the area where the horses left the paddock and went to the racetrack. Things have changed between then and now. On the wall in the background are the initials JC. That was the 1st original jockey club and was built in 1895. The garden in this area has been a traditional garden for many years. They have tulips growing here now because many people associate tulips with the Derby. They use Tulipa 'Burgundy lace" which is the latest blooming tulip they can find. Tulips have gone through changes and now many tulips are bred for the cut flower industry and not so much for the landscape industry. These tulips have a lower chilling requirement meaning they bloom much earlier in the season. They also seem to hold as well as any that John has found. It's very old, bred in the 40's and 50's and have a very traditional look that has worked well here. One can't talk about plants at the Kentucky Derby without talking about roses. After all it is a "run for the roses." A rose that has worked for John has been the Rosa Double Knock Out. It blooms early, comes on with great color, has enough petals that it has a traditional rose looking bud as it starts to emerge. It seems to take abuse. They have a fickle climate here; for example, they had a late freeze this year. It went from far above normal to far below. John still thinks he'll have some color for Derby. In this garden area they have a blend of very traditional plants, a traditional garden.
Top

A NEARBY GARDEN HAS SOME NEW ELEMENTS THROWN IN. Eric likes the different combinations of colors, rich variegations, the golds, then the splash of the deep greens with a lot of different textures. Eric particularly likes the blending of traditional plants with brand new plants. Here the focal point is the Beech Tree, Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa.' It was grafted from a Tortuosa that is at Yew Dell Gardens, Theodore Kline's garden, but it came originally from the Morton Arboretum. It's a traditional plant and is terrific for anchoring this garden not only in the spring when there is a lot of seasonal color but into the fall as well. At that time of year it has contorted branches and a nice form. It looks great no matter the season. Also in this garden are several beautiful Trachelospermums that have great, but different variegation. One with pink is Tricolor, Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Tricolor' Confederate Jasmine. This plant has been around for awhile, the one in front is Trachelospermum asiaticum Ogon Nishiki and it has a lot of gold in it. John, rather than staying with one color believes in a garden that looks like he spilled a box of crayons on the ground. He mixes a lot of different colors and he thinks it makes for a more dramatic appearance. It is eyecatching. The Polemoniums are a beautiful plant. Polemonium caeruleum 'Snow and Sapphires' has great variegation, great blooms and it blooms at the right time. The Kentucky Derby is always the 1st Saturday in May and this plant is reliable for blooming during that time frame. Eric notices 2 other new plants, a Fatsia and a beautiful gold fern. This is John's 1st year growing the Fatsia, Fatsia japonica 'Spiders Web' and he loves its dramatic form. Fatsia Japonica is a favorite of John's but with the addition of the powdery white variegation it really helps carry the plant, especially in this garden where he's doing so much with variegated color. The fern is actually a variegated Boston Fern called Nephrolepis exaltata 'Rita's Gold.' It can be a little overpowering by itself but when used in combination with other material it really brightens up dark shaded areas. This garden is not deep shade, but it does get a fair amount of shade in the corners and this plant really helps brighten the area. This is the 1st adaptation on Boston Fern in forever, the first gold ever, Rita's Gold is a great addition to this collection.
Top

Cold Tolerant Since the Kentucky Derby is an early race Eric wonders about some of the gardening challenges John and his crew must keep in mind. John must always take into consideration that the first frost free day in this area is May 8. The race is held the first Saturday in May, thus it's never later than May 7. Thus they always have the possibility of a late freeze. Accordingly he holds most of his annual plantings as late as possible but THERE ARE SEVERAL ANNUAL PLANTS THAT WORK FOR HIM EARLY, PLANTS THAT ARE VERY COLD TOLERANT. One is Petunias and the area where they are planted presently is a sea of pink. This Petunia is Petunia hybrida Supertunia 'Vista Bubblegum." Not only is it cold hardy but Petunias are day light neutral. That means that Petunias like this are just coming in as the days lengthen. This Petunia doesn't need longer days to go into its' flowering cycle. It'll flower much earlier in the season. Because of that they can get the plants out earlier. They show more color early and they seem to take a little more cold. John also uses Petunias as a terrific mass planting plant for spring plantings. But, Churchill also runs in the fall and this meet often goes over into areas where they're getting frost. Petunias work for John then as well. But as the days get shorter it's only those day light neutral varieties that continue to work for him.
Top

We next visit the Winners Circle. This is the focal point of the whole track. At Churchill Downs they have an everyday Winners Circle used year round. But the Kentucky Derby Winners Circle has only been used 132 times. It's a very special place. It's special to horsemen and special to all at Churchill Downs. They take great pride in making this look its best. THE TRADITIONAL WINNERS CIRCLE PLANT HAS BEEN THE RED GERANIUM although by looking at past photos other plants have been tried. At the Derby there will be hundreds of thousands in attendance and millions watching on TV and all will be focused on this 1 spot. Accordingly they want to make sure the area is the absolute best it can be. To accomplish this task the soil must be the best it can be and prepared properly. They want a nice blend of organic material, they want it to retain moisture. John wants a nice, friable soil, which means it crumbles in your hand providing enough air space for the roots to integrate out into the native soil. The soil in Louisville is clay based, clay loam soil and it needs preparation. The main components they use are compost pine bark and mushroom compost. You can't do it once or twice, the stuff breaks down. Every year they add more and more, thus the soil gets better each season. They try not to work it when its too wet. John believes that good soil is like chocolate cake, it needs little airspaces. They don't want compacted soil, instead keep the soil nice and pliable.
Eric and John start planting. It's important to plant the plant the correct way which will provide the best shot for the plant to incorporate into the native soil that has just been prepared. Of course, start with a healthy plant. John, of course, has done that. This plant, when taken out of its container, has a few circling roots which happens with most container plants. To address that, slightly flare the roots because one wants the roots to grow out into the soil, as opposed to continuing in a circle. Then dig a nice big hole, place the plant in about level and work the soil around the plant. Don't pack it in too much, then water it in.
Top

Hot and Dry There are many different and varied sites at Churchill Downs which present John with a number of horticultural challenges. We look at one. THIS AREA IS ESPECIALLY HOT AND DRY and doesn't have irrigation. John has learned to find plants that fit the site, not the other way around. What he's done here is gone with a mix of succulent plant material, plant material that will take these dry conditions. One of the surprises is the Dogwood tree Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes.' It has a nice variegated foliage but importantly for this spot it will take a dry location. It works well in those spots. And, it makes a wonderful focal point. There is a lot of diversity of plants in this bed, a lot of different textures and feels. John has included the Fan Palm, the Kalanchoe. The Fan Tail palm is not winter hardy here, but it makes a terrific annual. He can bring them into the greenhouse in the winter but they're not so expensive that if they need to be replaced it would be a terrible loss. They provide a nice texture. In front is Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark.' It isn't winter hardy in this area but is a little further south. He buys these out of South Carolina or Georgia and also uses them as an annual. By seasons end the clumps will be huge. They take hot, dry conditions very well and they add a little color and different texture. The Kalanchoe thyrsiflora 'Flapjack' is an unusual plant with huge leaves and a nice, little red margin. John used this in the paddock the first year and it was a showpiece. It generated more questions than about any plant John has grown. He thinks it's a wonderful plant.
Top

Iron Containers Eric has noticed the many walkways, they have a lot of hardscape - beautiful brick walkways, different alleyways, etc. Eric Feels John has done an artful job of working in beautiful containers. THEY LOOK AT A ROW OF MASSIVE CAST IRON PLANTERS. These are large containers thus John's gone with plants that are large in scale so everything ties in. John has used a unifying blue theme and put in some complimentary yellow splashes with variegated Ginger. John walks us through his design ideas on these containers. The anchor plant is blue Plumbago auriculata x. Underneath is an Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata' which is a great plant. It also has an Ageratum houstonianum, a Petunia and then a little splash of red with Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Cherry Red.' Eric feels it has come together well. He likes the way they've integrated so many different textures and colors. It's really beautiful.
Top

Container Design John and Eric next visit the greenhouse so John can show how he puts his container collections together. EVERY GREAT CONTAINER COMBINATION HAS CERTAIN DESIGN FUNDAMENTALS that bring the whole container together in a unified and cohesive way. John talks briefly about the type elements and design fundamentals that he utilizes in container design. They view one container that exhibits 3 basic elements. A pillar, or upright plant, a filler, which are the plants in the center and are mounding in form and then a trailing plant that John refers to as a spiller. So they have a pillar, a filler and a spiller. The taller element is the Sambucus nigra 'Eva,' Sambucus black lace, in the center are several plants but is anchored by Solenostemon x 'Glennis' Coleus. As well they have a Ageratum houstonianum, some Salvia divinorum, some Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' which is a plant John loves. And then falling out the bottom is Scirpus cernuus (Isolepis cernua) Fiber Optic Grass and Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Tricolor.' It all works well together, a lot of texture change. When one goes from grass texture to cut leaf texture it adds a lot of depth and a lot of texture as well as color to this combination. Eric likes the way they've worked off the colors in the container. It's a black container so they echo that with the Sambucus Black Lace. There is a lot of interest with the pillar, filler and spiller design technique. One gets a sense of moving through the container. One sees everything and it all really comes together beautifully. Since these containers will sit on the presentation stand for the Kentucky Derby there is a lot riding on these containers. John wants them to look good. And they do.
Eric thanks John for his hospitality and gardening lessons. Both are appreciated. We'll never view the Kentucky Derby the same. It will always have more meaning.
Top



LINKS:

Churchill Downs

Galt House Hotel and Suites


   
 
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