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GardenSMART Episode

Show #34/6508. Garden Design And Containers

Summary of Show

Michael Carr
Eric welcomes MICHAEL CARR back to the program. Michael is a renowned container designer, who every year releases hundreds of new and exciting containers for the most discerning gardener. Michael thanks Eric and welcomes the GardenSMART audience to his brand new display garden. Michael is very happy to have GardenSMART here and show what he has in this garden. And Eric is excited to see this new garden. The last time he was here, this was a bit of a steep slope that had a bunch of trees on it but it has undergone an enormous transformation.

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Pamela Crawford
She has had a long career in design, both with planters and with plants, but what has always been her theme has been color. So this was a dream to her and what has really made it possible are the new advances in pottery. Today there are so many gorgeous glazes, so many beautiful colors. Combined with the new advances in breeding the whole gardening world has opened up. For example, hydrangeas - some of them in the past bloomed for about a week, we have a hydrangea right here that blooms a full six months. Eric loves what's happening with the new breeding programs where breeders are looking for plants that are more compact and more dense so that you can actually use them in tighter spaces, even use more of them.

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Four Quadrants - Design
This garden was meant to showcase pottery and color so Pamela has divided it into FOUR QUADRANTS so she could have four different color schemes and that made it possible to have a place for every one of the new super plants, like the Little Quick Fire. Eric would like to talk through the plants that are here. There are a number that have become like industry rockstars, like the Lo and Behold Blue Chip buddleia. It's an absolutely fantastic plant. And once again, when we think about buddleia we think of plants that have become almost like garden bullies. Little Blue Chip is this beautiful little tight compact plant. It gets only about a foot and a half tall.

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Echinacea
And Eric loves this new ECHINACEA. Not only for the fragrance, but white echinacea he thinks is very underrated. This cultivar is The Price Is White. It is somewhat compact so we would expect it to get maybe 18 to 24 inches tall. It's very appropriate for this design. Of course, it works with the pastel theme. Eric also wants to point out the Touch of Gold holly.

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Quadrant One
The other thing that Pamela thinks is important in this QUADRANT is that she is using the colors of the containers to coordinate with the colors of the flowers. She was able to do that with whites and she was able to do it with the pale aqua. She did go out of the lines a little bit when she threw in one that was a dark color. That was just a question of putting it there and seeing how it worked compositionally. And it looked right.

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Quadrant Two
As we move over to QUADRANT TWO this basically is a study in contrast, which is a very important thing for people to understand about good design. Oftentimes, we want colors that are comparative and then others that are contrasting. Those provide a great sense of how powerful these plants are. Look at Abelia, Miss Lemon and then juxtapose it against this amazing loropetalum, Purple Daydream. These two plants couldn't be more different from a standpoint of foliage colors, but it makes both of them really pop. Then add to that, the ilex Touch of Gold. If you look at the loropetalum next to the ilex, the ilex makes the loropetalum pop quite a bit more, it makes it show up. And then at the same time, the abelia, Miss Lemon also makes the loropetalum show up.

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Quadrant Three
QUADRANT THREE has so many fun plants. Eric would like for Pamela to talk through what her thoughts were for the design of this particular quadrant. High contrast. Pamela wanted the brightest reds with the brightest yellows with a touch of dark purple. This was her most fun one to plan. It also is one that will come into its own more next year than this year. Eric loves the spirea, Candy Corn, it's fantastic. In thinking about design, foliage is so important. He loves the blooms on the spirea, but this foliage where it's always transitioning from light chartreuse to yellow, to these magenta red tips, it's got so many interests throughout the entire season.

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Quadrant Four
Pamela and Eric next visit the FOURTH AND FINAL QUADRANT and once again, it's a stunner. There's great contrast, great texture here. It seems to have a little bit of like a cooler feel. Pamela has some great plant selections here. Eric loves salvia nemorosa, and of course, Violet Profusion is a wonderful new cultivar. Nemorosa in general is a great garden perennial. They do tend to say more dwarf and compact. Violet Profusion will grow to maybe 16 inches by 16 inches. Snow Kiss is a great companion to nemorosa, it is bright white about the same specs.

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Show #34/6508. Garden Design And Containers

Transcript of Show

In this episode GardenSMART tackles the exciting topic of garden design and container gardening. From container basics to advanced techniques there's something for everyone.

One of Eric's favorite garden accents is a beautifully crafted and well-designed container. Containers offer gardeners so much flexibility with the nearly endless array of shapes, sizes and colors. And, the best containers are a work of art in their own right, they have the ability to create a striking focal point in the garden or accent architectural features nearby. Gardening has gotten so much more exciting in the past decade as plant breeders have introduced an amazing diversity of compact, yet durable plants that are perfect for container gardening. Many of these new selections bloom across multiple seasons, vastly extending their color interests and making them great candidates for containers.

Eric welcomes MICHAEL CARR back to the program. Michael is a renowned container designer, who every year releases hundreds of new and exciting containers for the most discerning gardener. Michael thanks Eric and welcomes the GardenSMART audience to his brand new display garden. Michael is very happy to have GardenSMART here and show what he has in this garden. And Eric is excited to see this new garden. The last time he was here, this was a bit of a steep slope that had a bunch of trees on it but it has undergone an enormous transformation. Michael has incorporated a beautiful retaining wall and basically brought the grade back up, made it habitable for a garden and done so much more. This is really awesome. Michael adds, before we did this, it was a wild, unmanageable, natural area. Originally, we were just going to place plants throughout to grow. This is an entirely different feel. Michael feels he is very fortunate in that he makes his living doing what he loves to do and is able to use it as a hobby. With this being his home office and with the creation of hundreds of new items every year, he needed a place to display his pieces and to kind of give folks ideas of what those pieces look like in the garden. They were able to meld it together and feels blessed to make that happen. Eric thinks it's a wonderfully well-designed garden. It's also a garden design with a purpose, which is to show off these amazing creations. Michael is so creative and the containers that he comes up with every year, hundreds of new designs every year, so although a lot of work this gives customers or fellow gardeners, the ability to see what these containers actually look like in their native habitat, which is the garden. And it works, as Eric walked through this garden it gave him a bunch of new ideas. It's a way of getting the juices flowing - what we can do with containers and then how might they look in certain color combinations, in certain placements in the garden. And it's really inspiring.

It really does help to see something inside a pot. A lot of times when we walk into the garden center containers are beautiful and whatnot but all you see is an empty hole. It helps to be able to spur the imagination where people can see, hey, it may look like this, or maybe I can use this pot here or this plant color looks great with this pot, etc., etc. And that's the idea Michael wanted to use here. Plant wise here Michael has a lot of shrubbery and perennials. They will continue to grow. So he will be able to just swap pots out throughout the year and throughout upcoming seasons to get different looks. That's certainly the goal with what he has here.

Eric thinks it's a great design because much of what's planted here is more dwarf, compact plants. They provide a nice foundation and it allows the planters to be these vertical accent pops throughout the garden. The garden in many ways is designed to show off the containers. And even the plant selections are designed to allow the containers to be the star of the show. It's amazing. Michael is pleased, he's happy to have GardenSMART here, thank you for coming. Eric thanks Michael, it’s been enjoyable.

Eric next welcomes Pamela Crawford. We've had the pleasure of featuring Pamela on GardenSMART in the past and it's always a treat to welcome her her back. Pamela earned her master's degree in landscape architecture and has been creating beautiful designs ever since. She's also a consummate author, publishing 12 books to date, all focus on all aspects of container gardening and design. Along the way she's designed her own line of garden products to push the boundaries of the way one can use containers in a wide variety of spaces. In this episode we take a walk through one of her latest designs, a stunning combination of classic garden design that incorporates containers throughout.

PAMELA, thanks so much for joining us, welcome back to the show. Pamela is very happy to be here. Eric comments that this is a wonderful design, it looks amazing. GardenSMART has been on location for a while now and been able to see the different stages of this coming together. Seeing it now in more or less a finished state where things have started growing in it's just amazing. You should be very, very proud. Pamela thanks Eric. She has had a long career in design, both with planters and with plants, but what has always been her theme has been color. So this was a dream to her and what has really made it possible are the new advances in pottery. Today there are so many gorgeous glazes, so many beautiful colors. Combined with the new advances in breeding the whole gardening world has opened up. For example hydrangeas - some of them in the past bloomed for about a week, we have a hydrangea right here that blooms a full six months. Eric loves what's happening with the new breeding programs where breeders are looking for plants that are more compact and more dense so that you can actually use them in tighter spaces, even use more of them. And they're easier to take care of, too. In this space there are some hydrangeas that in the past would get, say, eight feet tall by six feet wide. That would be completely inappropriate for this design, but Little Quick Fire, as an example, is a nice compact hydrangea that has super long blooming seasons.

This garden was meant to showcase pottery and color so Pamela has divided it into FOUR QUADRANTS so she could have four different color schemes and that made it possible to have a place for every one of the new super plants, like the Little Quick Fire. Eric would like to talk through the plants that are here. There are a number that have become like industry rockstars, like the Lo and Behold Blue Chip buddleia. It's an absolutely fantastic plant. And once again, when we think about buddleia we think of plants that have become almost like garden bullies. Little Blue Chip is this beautiful little tight compact plant. It gets only about a foot and a half tall. So it's perfect. It's used almost like a ground cover, but the flower power is amazing. It is, and the pollinators are just flocking to it. But look at how it works with everything else here. This is her pastel quadrant and it kind of shows how everything works together with the little buddleia and the other plants. This is not only about color, but also about texture. So you see three different flower shapes - with the buddleia, with the long thin flower, with the echinacea, with the big brown flower that's flat then our star, the hydrangea with the round flower. That makes them differentiate more with your eyes, so you don't see it as one big thing with one thing blurring into another, but as separate entities that make up the whole.

And Eric loves this new ECHINACEA. Not only for the fragrance, but white echinacea he thinks is very underrated. This cultivar is The Price Is White. It is somewhat compact so we would expect it to get maybe 18 to 24 inches tall. It's very appropriate for this design. Of course, it works with the pastel theme. Eric also wants to point out the Touch of Gold holly. It is kind of the theme that ties all four of the quadrants together, because it is the border. And it works beautifully with all four of the different color schemes. Touch of Gold is the star. It actually unifies each of the different quadrants and it shows how the gold goes so well with almost every color scheme you use.

Eric would like to talk about the containers a little bit too. He knows that that’s Pamela's specialty among many, many other things. And there are so many fun plant in containers. We see lantana in a container. Of course, it's a wonderful choice, long bloom time and a really, really high impact plant, mandevilla is another example. Many of these beautiful plants are annuals, but it's a nice blend of annuals and perennials.

The other thing that Pamela thinks is important in this QUADRANT is that she is using the colors of the containers to coordinate with the colors of the flowers. She was able to do that with whites and she was able to do it with the pale aqua. She did go out of the lines a little bit when she threw in one that was a dark color. That was just a question of putting it there and seeing how it worked compositionally. And it looked right.

Eric loves what's going on with the foliage, too. Dichondras Silver Falls is a classic for containers. You get that kind of glaucous silvery foliage that is a wonderful backdrop for the other like deep green foliage plants that one would have in those containers. So much to see here. Angelonia, those kinds of plants that really do work well in containers.

As we move over to QUADRANT TWO this basically is a study in contrast, which is a very important thing for people to understand about good design. Oftentimes, we want colors that are comparative and then others that are contrasting. Those provide a great sense of how powerful these plants are. Look at Abelia, Miss Lemon and then juxtapose it against this amazing loropetalum, Purple Daydream. These two plants couldn't be more different from a standpoint of foliage colors, but it makes both of them really pop. Then add to that, the ilex Touch of Gold. If you look at the loropetalum next to the ilex, the ilex makes the loropetalum pop quite a bit more, it makes it show up. And then at the same time, the abelia, Miss Lemon also makes the loropetalum show up. Loropetalum is a fairly commonly used plant, at least throughout the southeast. Pamela sees it so often just put up against dark green and she wonders, why can't you put something light in front of that, because that would really make it pop. There aren't that many plants that have that deep, deep purple foliage so it is an important piece of the palette in garden design. And when we use it, we can get a lot more bang for our buck if we're using it in a high contrast way. This is a particularly amazing one, most of the landscape loropetalums get bigger, it's really more of a foundation planting plant. But these stay nice and compact and the foliage really is the star of the show. They do have nice flowers, of course, but the foliage really is the star of the show. Eric would like to talk about a few more plants in this quadrant that are really, really impressive. This wonderful landscape rose, It's A Breeze, Eric loves this plant. It's part of a group of small roses that have been hitting the scene for a long time and they're fabulous because you can use them as landscape plants. They bloom much longer than the old roses that we were used to and they just keep going. And also they don't require all the spraying that the older roses do. And this one, the way it sends up those spikes, has a very interesting form. Eric loves the way that when it blooms it kind of puts the flowers above the other plants that surround it. So it actually makes it very visible. Even from quite a distance this rose is very striking. The star of this quadrant, is, viburnum Steady Eddy. Of course it's a new planting, so they've not quite come into their own, but it's another really, really wonderful plant that is going to make quite a statement here. And it follows the theme of contrast in that we've got white flowers that are going to be huge next to the dark flowers. So each is going to make the other look better.

Last but not least let's cover some of these containers. Eric loves what Pamela is doing with the alocasia and then the heuchera. So once again there is the juxtaposition of the nice, kind of crinkled leaves of the purple with the heuchera, with the enormous big green elephant ears. And it's in this wonderful bluish pot. So a very, very high contrast design but it all totally works. And Pamela doesn’t know if it was a mistake or just discovery in that she just tried some of those turquoise pots that were here and just realized how good they looked with all the other colors. And that's what she used. Eric thinks this has excellent composition.

QUADRANT THREE has so many fun plants. Eric would like for Pamela to talk through what her thoughts were for the design of this particular quadrant. High contrast. Pamela wanted the brightest reds with the brightest yellows with a touch of dark purple. This was her most fun one to plan. It also is one that will come into its own more next year than this year. Eric loves the spirea, Candy Corn, it's fantastic. In thinking about design, foliage is so important. He loves the blooms on the spirea, but this foliage where it's always transitioning from light chartreuse to yellow, to these magenta red tips, it's got so many interests throughout the entire season. And he thinks that's what makes it a particularly great garden plant. Oftentimes with some of these long blooming plants there is still a somewhat limited season for the bloom, but the foliage oftentimes can be the star of the show. Eric loves that about this spirea. And if you put it up against something that contrasts, which you can see here it is next to the red roses, it works really well. Loropetalum is fabulous with it, a color that's very different, but that really pops with it. It shows up a lot better than if you just put it up against a dark green hedge. Absolutely. Another plant that Eric thinks is super fun is Kniphofia, Solar Flare. Kniphofia is a very underrated plant in the garden, it's one that we don't see in many gardens and actually it's easier to grow than most might assume. And it has this wonderful, candles or big spikes. Next year, it's going to be even more showy. Eric thinks it's a plant that gardeners ought to reconsider. And Solar Flare is a particularly great example of that genus. And, once again, for contrast, it really gets other plants to show up. If you use a round smooth leaf next to a spiky leaf, the eye is going to see those as very different. And that makes it work.

We don't want to not talk about echinacea, Lakota Fire, which Eric thinks is a stunning plant. We're seeing it in some of the new breeding programs. He remembers back when the very first yellow and corals and reds and oranges came out, it was a big deal. Now we're seeing these breeding programs that are putting out these super compact echinacea that oftentimes will have multiple colors on the same plant. There's one he just used in his garden called Cheyenne Spirit. It has yellows, oranges, reds and even some purple-y coral colors. Lakota Fire also makes a lot of that same kind of impact because you have anything from a light orange to almost a crimson purple red on the same plant. Eric loves that. It's a little bit startling to look at the plant and see different color flowers, but at the same time, it always makes him smile. It's just really cool.

Let's talk about the containers too, because you've gone with a lot of contrast in the containers compared to some of the other quadrants where the containers are all somewhat similar. Next to each other here Pamela has these bold reds, then a turquoise with kind of like an earth color on the top on it. Among the containers that were selected here, Pamela has got quite a bit of contrast. The red she knew was going to work because red was a color that was here. With that big one, once again, she didn't know. That's one of the pots that's marking that entry, so it had to coordinate with the other side. We had a turquoise pot, tried it and it looked good. Pamela thinks there are so many colors in this bed that it just popped right up against it. Eric thinks it totally works with this whole field of beautiful landscape roses, for example It's A Breeze which is beautiful. Eric thinks it all came together really, really nicely. He loves the way that each one of these quadrants is its own experience. As we walked through the garden there are four completely different experiences in one cohesive garden. And for a gardener, it's nice because there's always something different that's blooming, there's something different happening every day. Absolutely.

Pamela and Eric next visit the FOURTH AND FINAL QUADRANT and once again, it's a stunner. There's great contrast, great texture here. It seems to have a little bit of like a cooler feel. Pamela has some great plant selections here. Eric loves salvia nemorosa, and of course, Violet Profusion is a wonderful new cultivar. Nemorosa in general is a great garden perennial. They do tend to say more dwarf and compact. Violet Profusion will grow to maybe 16 inches by 16 inches. Snow Kiss is a great companion to nemorosa, it is bright white about the same specs. Eric thinks both of those, planted together are just a natural fit and they look great. There are a couple of other plants well worth pointing out here, kind of the star of the show is going to be Blue Chiffon althea. When you think about the old heirloom althea's all of our grandmothers' had one. There’s been a lot of work that's been done with this plant. Blue Chiffon is one of the most impressive ones. And it's sister Pink Chiffon is ideal if you want more of the pink shades. There are also double blooming ones with the paper variegated foliage. But Blue Chiffon, has stood the test of time. It’s a plant's that’s been around. Eric remembers when Proven Winners launched it, maybe 10, 12 years ago. In looking at using a lot of new stuff in a garden Eric thinks it's also important to balance the new with some of the stuff that's been around long enough to know, yes, that's a great plant and in time that's going to be six, eight feet tall and it's going to create this wonderful accent piece in the middle of this garden. It's going to be fantastic. Pamela mixed the rose of sharon or althea with a red plant Oso Easy rose which has a more structured feel to it. It looks more like a traditional rose, grows a little bit larger than the other roses we've looked at. It gets maybe three feet by three feet and it's going to be covered in blooms throughout a lot of the warm season.

Some of the other plants that Eric thinks are worth pointing out in this garden are the cannas. He remembers cannas as a child they had them abundantly in their garden. His dad loved growing them, they were easy to grow. They had large patches and like many, many other plants, they've made breeding improvements on the canna. This one is Bengal Tiger. He loves what foliage does for design and the way it can pop and with that beautiful organgey, yellow flower on it, that's one that he thinks if you've got the space try it. It works great in container, it's nearly a must have in a garden. He loves that plant. Pamela points one that she think is one of the most exciting plants she has seen in a long time. It is canna Cleopatra, it actually has both red and yellow flowers. Eric agrees, it looks fantastic.

One thing Eric wants our viewers to know is that nowadays with the internet being what it is, anyone can find a plant with ease and add it to your garden. In the past it was much more difficult, especially with the new releases, to find the plants that we wanted. But now with all the plants released within a few months and available to the public, that information is available, which he thinks is amazing. Pamela agrees the online sales venue has completely changed gardening for us. It used to be she would find a new plant and talk about it and maybe one person out of a hundred she was talking too could actually find that plant. Now, they can go online and easily find it.

Eric would like to know if there is anything else Pamela would want our viewers to know before we leave this beautiful garden? She would like to talk about the purple plant, Persian Shield. It is an annual in most of the country, but it will grow as a short-term perennial in tropical areas. It has completely iridescent purple leaves and by just contrasting it with red pots, with white pots even with the gorgeous turquoise pots, it really makes a stunning container grouping. Eric agrees.

Eric thinks one thing that he learns from Pamela every time they talk is that we shouldn't be afraid to be bold with our plantings in our containers. Gardens can be fun, they can be electric, don't shy away from just making it that way. Go hard with the color and make your garden something that is a statement and something that is bold and fun. Pamela totally agrees, take that chance, conquer your fear of color.

Eric thanks Pamela so much for being with us. What an amazing garden. We always learn so much when we spend the day with Pamela.

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By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
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