GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2012 show22
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Show #22/2809
Landscaping America's Largest Home

History Of Biltmore Estate
LeAnn is the spokeswoman for Biltmore Estates and provides some HISTORY of this amazing place. George Vanderbilt opened this home in 1895 to his friends and family and in doing so ushered in a great era of entertaining.
For More Information Click here

Landscape Design
The LANDSCAPE is equally impressive. It was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park in New York City, as well as other great landmarks. Olmsted started working with Vanderbilt toward the end of his career, it was one of his final projects.
For More Information Click here

Gatehouse
Eric is anxious to see more so they start the tour at the Biltmore GATEHOUSE. This is a very formal property yet driving through the entrance gates is a very welcoming experience. And the experience is pretty much the same today as it was in 1895. This entrance is the original entrance. George or guests would get off at the train station, just outside the entrance, take a horse and carriage up the road through the big, wide, brick parkway walks. The only thing that has changed is today there are cars instead of horse and carriage. The bedding plants are similar.
For More Information Click here

The Conservatory
The CONSERVATORY at Biltmore is an impressive structure with an incredible variety of plants. The original intent of the Conservatory was to display all the wonderful tropical plants in a non-tropical area. If one were putting in a country estate in the late 1800's one had to have a conservatory, a palm room, etc. to display all the plants collectors had picked up over the last century.
For More Information Click here

Container Tips
Eric observes a large number of CONTAINERS and a large number of plants in this building. Parker provides some tips for care. Containers are easy to care for but make things easy on yourself. Put plants together that need similar light requirements or containers of a similar size so that they have similar water requirements.
For More Information Click here

Rose Garden
The ROSE GARDEN is an expansive garden with a wonderful collection of roses. Many gardeners have trepidation about growing roses because of the stigma about them being disease prone or that they're prone to attract insects. Parker tells us that primarily they address problems like those by selecting rose varieties that are disease resistant.
For More Information Click here

Pruning Roses
Parker and Eric next discuss PRUNING ROSES. Some of the rose bushes are becoming a little branchy and need some balancing and some could use deadheading. Parker walks us through some of those steps. The gardener for this area is trying to keep these bushes about 4 feet tall, that's the height they're looking for. So, the longer canes with no buds on top need to be balanced out.
For More Information Click here

White Garden
If Eric could have only 1 garden it would be a WHITE GARDEN, it's a favorite of his. The guys are standing in the middle of Biltmore's White Garden. It's a study in textures, a great example of the different kind of design from a color themed garden. These gardens are built on the backbone of white and silver foliage, white blooming plants and of course threes. There is a lot of seasonality in this garden, certain things are blooming now, other things will bloom later. They're trying to work here with different textures.
For More Information Click here

Victorian Border Garden
The guys continue their tour of the VICTORIAN BORDER GARDEN. Eric asks what makes a victorian border garden different? Here they've taken plants that became available during the victorian period, the early to mid 1800's - dahlias and other plants that were brought into Europe and American gardens at that time. They're using the latest varieties thus are always looking for the best plant.
For More Information Click here

Allium Care
Parker talks about the ALLIUMS they have in their annual beds. They find that if they leave them in the border garden all summer long they get smaller the next year. Alliums like it hot and dry in the summer, so they take them out of the ground, store them in bulb crates in a shed and don't plant them again until November.
For More Information Click here

Transitioning From Season To Season
So they're taking the Alliums out now which is part of the transitioning from one season to the next. But they also jump seasons. It is the end of spring, the beginning of summer and Parker is preparing a bed area with a seeding area in the border garden. The rubeckias in the front will cover it all up. And, in behind the Dahlias will also provide shade but will allow just enough light in the area for a couple of ROWS OF SEEDS. They take a nice, ripe seed pod from a Fox Glove, which is full of seeds. Parker creates a seed bed in the middle of the garden and throws in the seeds, literally thousands of seeds, tiny little things, then carefully covers them over.
For More Information Click here


LINKS:

Biltmore Estate and Inn

Plant List



2809. Landscaping America's Largest Home

Transcript of Show


In this episode GardenSMART visits one of the most impressive private estates in the United States. Its gardens are as impressive as its architecture.

LeAnn is the spokeswoman for Biltmore Estates and provides some HISTORY of this amazing place. George Vanderbilt opened this home in 1895 to his friends and family and in doing so ushered in a great era of entertaining. The home was opened to the public, to a limited schedule, in 1930 by Cornelia Vanderbilt, the daughter of George and Edith Vanderbilt. Today they welcome about 1 million people every year, it's one of the largest attractions in the Southeast. It is the largest privately owned home in the country and still owned by descendants of George Vanderbilt. The home is approximately 125,000 square feet or about 4 football fields. It is a home built for entertaining and for family and guests. They did a very good job of making it welcoming and expansive.
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The LANDSCAPE is equally impressive. It was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park in New York City, as well as other great landmarks. Olmsted started working with Vanderbilt toward the end of his career, it was one of his final projects. He worked with Vanderbilt on a plan that would rejuvenate the land because at that time it was overly timbered. It needed a lot of TLC and what one sees today is the result of that work over 100 years ago. Not unlike many other great estates, such as Versailles, the Biltmore Estate has many different kinds of gardens, some of them themed and most have very different looks. There is walled garden, an Azalea Garden, a Spring garden for example. All offer completely different looks. The walled garden for example has many different patterned beds. One bed reflects the victorian era, so as guests enter it's as if they're entering another world. After visiting the house and one has become immersed in the era, the garden carries that feel forward. They take great strides to provide that experience and feel, making it as authentic to the era as possible. Eric thanks LeAnn for the introduction to Biltmore and is off to visit the gardens.

Eric next meets Parker Andes, the Director of Horticulture for the historic Biltmore gardens and estate. His job is a horticulturists dream job. Parker worked a lot of years to get to have this responsibility. It all started in West Virginia and for a number of years thought he was going to concentrate on orchards - raise apples, grapes, etc. He did several internships in landscape and it drew him in. He fell in love with the field. His first job out of college was at Bush Gardens in Williamsburg. It was a beautiful theme park and the way it was laid out, between the color and the native trees was captivating. Parker next thought he wanted to run a conservatory and went to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain Georgia. From there in 2000 he came to Biltmore, thus has been here about 12 years. Parker has thousands of acres under his management. He feels fortunate to have a great staff so his job basically is to see how they're doing and help them out. He is always mindful that this property was beautifully laid out so he must ensure it keeps going and to make sure it looks the same in 50 years.

There is a tremendous amount of grass on this property. They have over 20 acres of what they call high maintenance turf, turf they strive to keep fairly weed free and mowed often 2 times a week. Plus, there are literally 100's of acres along roadsides that require maintenance every week or so.
Top


Eric is anxious to see more so they start the tour at the Biltmore GATEHOUSE. This is a very formal property yet driving through the entrance gates is a very welcoming experience. And the experience is pretty much the same today as it was in 1895. This entrance is the original entrance. George or guests would get off at the train station, just outside the entrance, take a horse and carriage up the road through the big, wide, brick parkway walks. The only thing that has changed is today there are cars instead of horse and carriage. The bedding plants are similar. George loved a garden of ornament, Olmsted was not crazy about bedding plants, he didn't think the color was just right. The parkway leading to the home is about 3.5 miles, they could have cut it in a straight line but instead is serpentine, winding around the trees and countryside. This creates a wonderful experience on the way. The parkway experience was designed even before they laid out the house. In early times the drive to the house took about an hour thus one had time to experience the arrival and think about it. It's all about setting the mood and giving the guests an experience.
Top


The CONSERVATORY at Biltmore is an impressive structure with an incredible variety of plants. The original intent of the Conservatory was to display all the wonderful tropical plants in a non-tropical area. If one were putting in a country estate in the late 1800's one had to have a conservatory, a palm room, etc. to display all the plants collectors had picked up over the last century. George Vanderbilt was no exception. The architecture of the Conservatory is different from the architecture of the house. So because of the physical differences it is geographically separated from the house.
Top


Eric observes a large number of CONTAINERS and a large number of plants in this building. Parker provides some tips for care. Containers are easy to care for but make things easy on yourself. Put plants together that need similar light requirements or containers of a similar size so that they have similar water requirements. That way one can water them at one time. Put plants together according to light requirements. For example mix ferns together. You can have wonderful displays but mix and match, do it in layers, they have done that in this building and it adds a special touch.

They also try unusual ideas. For example Parker shows us a tiny little tray dish garden. It has a polka dot plant, aluminum plant and a little begonia. It takes a little more water thus one must be careful but it adds a real splash of interest. It is a great accent. And the broken pot adds interest as well. It could be a vine that's been trained up a little trellis inside a wall, anything you can do to add a splash of interest and some color.
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The ROSE GARDEN is an expansive garden with a wonderful collection of roses. Many gardeners have trepidation about growing roses because of the stigma about them being disease prone or that they're prone to attract insects. Parker tells us that primarily they address problems like those by selecting rose varieties that are disease resistant. They replace roses that have disease issues. Breeders today have come out with varieties that are significantly less maintenance intensive. Today one can have beautiful roses and yet not need to address rose issues of old.
Top


Parker and Eric next discuss PRUNING ROSES. Some of the rose bushes are becoming a little branchy and need some balancing and some could use deadheading. Parker walks us through some of those steps. The gardener for this area is trying to keep these bushes about 4 feet tall, that's the height they're looking for. So, the longer canes with no buds on top need to be balanced out. Parker will go down inside the silhouette of the plant and look for a leaf that points in the direction he would like the rose to come in. He makes a cut and 2 or 3 new shoots will grow where the old one was. Those 2 or 3 shoots will help balance the plant out.

As far as deadheading - Pruning stimulates growth so when making a cut, remember you'll get shoots coming from that area. So look for a leaf oriented the way you want them to grow, the new shoot will grow in that area. Go down inside the plant and try to make the cut inside the silhouette of the plant.

The take home message is - roses are easy, don't be intimidated by them, buy a selection that is disease and insect resistant, then don't sweat the big stuff. Parker is convinced that one could use shears on these plants, they're not difficult.
Top


If Eric could have only 1 garden it would be a WHITE GARDEN, it's a favorite of his. The guys are standing in the middle of Biltmore's White Garden. It's a study in textures, a great example of the different kind of design from a color themed garden. These gardens are built on the backbone of white and silver foliage, white blooming plants and of course threes. There is a lot of seasonality in this garden, certain things are blooming now, other things will bloom later. They're trying to work here with different textures. Because this is a monochromatic garden, the idea of texture and playing off other textures is more important than a more colorful garden. A white garden is great for someone that works all day. When you come home and the light starts to drop the white flowers and foliage seem to just jump out. Another plus - many of the most fragrant plants are also white blooming thus they add another dimension. To mix it up somewhat Parker has added a red hibiscus which seems to make the whites even whiter. The contrast jumps out.
Top


The guys continue their tour of the VICTORIAN BORDER GARDEN. Eric asks what makes a victorian border garden different? Here they've taken plants that became available during the victorian period, the early to mid 1800's - dahlias and other plants that were brought into Europe and American gardens at that time. They're using the latest varieties thus are always looking for the best plant. They use plants like banana interspersed with classics like Russian sage, or Babies Breath sprinkled throughout. But they not only have some classics but additionally some great natives which they would have found at that time. The Victorian era was all about exuberance so they have a bed with tropicals and use hearty bananas. They come up year after year and are big. They make a real statement. By the end of the season they will be 8-10 feet tall. This garden is a progression of color, textures and height. Earlier in the year there were tulips and pansies in this bed. They were taken out and basic plants like marigolds and day lilies were then planted. They're looking for good punches of color. It's a good idea in a perennial border garden to allow a few small spaces to plug in some annuals for color. That way you'll have color throughout the season. It need not be a lot of space and it need not be high maintenance. It can provide a sense of accomplishment in August to see the patch of color. Everything else may be looking a little tired, the annuals can carry the garden through the heat of the summer. And, it's a good way to keep the garden fresh.

This is an interesting time of year at Biltmore. It's the transition time between spring and summer so we're seeing the end of certain gardens and the beginning of others. These gardens are constantly evolving, changing from one season to the next. The gardens typically last about 3 months. And the gardeners here work very hard to make sure the switch out, the change spring to summer, summer to fall and fall to next spring is a continuous operation. One of the beds was just put in. It has great variety. They have used a design that leads your eye, it's a curving design and not abrupt. It is along the road and almost leads one along.

Eric likes the containers with vertical elements. The gardeners have done this for several years using the blue containers, then built columns and, this year, planted them out with succulents. Vertical gardens are a hot trend in gardening. They've used Queen Palms in the past to provide a Victorian exuberance but this is a more modern take. And Eric thinks it is gorgeous.
Top


Parker talks about the ALLIUMS they have in their annual beds. They find that if they leave them in the border garden all summer long they get smaller the next year. Alliums like it hot and dry in the summer, so they take them out of the ground, store them in bulb crates in a shed and don't plant them again until November. Since they're a Mediterranean plant thus are accustomed to well drained soil it is important for them to dry down well and it can get wet in this part of the country. Parker and his crew have found that using the stalks for floral arrangements works wonderfully. They can be dyed or spray painted different colors and they look fantastic.
Top


So they're taking the Alliums out now which is part of the transitioning from one season to the next. But they also jump seasons. It is the end of spring, the beginning of summer and Parker is preparing a bed area with a seeding area in the border garden. The rubeckias in the front will cover it all up. And, in behind the Dahlias will also provide shade but will allow just enough light in the area for a couple of ROWS OF SEEDS. They take a nice, ripe seed pod from a Fox Glove, which is full of seeds. Parker creates a seed bed in the middle of the garden and throws in the seeds, literally thousands of seeds, tiny little things, then carefully covers them over. A good potting soil would work well, they don't need to be covered a whole lot, just finely covered, tamp them down and in a few weeks they will sprout. By the end of summer take these young fox glove plants and move them to an ideal place in the border so next spring they'll grow. Since they're biennials, they will grow the first year but the second year they'll flower and they'll be fantastic. There are many plants that can be seeded similarly, this method saves money and provides fantastic plants for your garden.

Think about saving seeds even if you were to harvest them and put them in a zip lock bag and keep them in dry storage. You don't need to use them that day.

Some of their native plants, like Verbena Beneriensis will seed themselves. They come up on their own. It's easy to weed out, just pull out the little plantlets. The plants come up on their own and often in places not planned, sometimes in places that look better than if you had planned. Nature has a wonderful way.

Our time has come to a close. Eric thanks Parker for his time and gardening insight. This is a magnificent garden. Parker and his staff have done a magnificent job here. Thanks so much.
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LINKS:

Biltmore Estate and Inn

Plant List



   
 
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