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GardenSMART Episode

Show #47/7408-Biltmore Conservatory

Summary of Show

Conservatory
Eric comments this is such a beautiful CONSERVATORY, it really underscores the importance of the gardens to Biltmore because after all it is Biltmore Estate and Gardens. Structurally, it's an amazingly beautiful feature. Eric would like for Todd to walk us through the way the conservatory is laid out. Todd is delighted to do so. Currently we're standing in the main room, this is the palm room. There are eight rooms, but this is the largest. It's around 40 feet tall, allowing them to feature some of their bigger specimens - palms, some of their trees, for instance.
For More Information Click Here

Poinsettias
Let's talk about POINSETTIAS. What is the plant? What do we need to know about it? Todd fills us in. The poinsettia actually comes from Western Mexico, so it actually doesn't like it in here.
For More Information Click Here

Poinsettia Tree
Eric would like to talk about this beautiful POINSETTIA TREE. He loves this selection with gold speckled bracts. He would like for Todd to tell us how he built this poinsettia tree, and then talk about this cultivar.
For More Information Click Here

Different Varieties Of Poinsettias
Eric would like to talk about some other fun varieties that Todd's been working with. As one enters the conservatory, you're going to see some DIFFERENT VARIETIES. Most people think of red. But they have some non-traditional varieties, one called golden glow that's yellow. Another has an orange glow that has a very bright fluorescent orange color.
For More Information Click Here

Bromeliads And Tillandsias
There's so much diversity in the world of BROMELIADS AND TILLANDSIAS. Eric doesn't think any conservatory would be complete without a collection. There is a wonderful collection here and Eric would like for Todd to talk us through some of his favorites. Todd also thinks bromeliads are a really great plant. They can be used as a houseplant, but they do come from the jungles of Central and South America, so they do like humidity and dampness.
For More Information Click Here

Care - Bromeliads And Tillandsias
Eric would like to talk about growing and CARING FOR BROMELIADS AND TILLANDSIAS. They can be a really, really practical and easy plant to have in the home. They come from areas of high humidity in Central and South America and are mostly epiphytic, so they're going to be growing on trees, that sort of thing, up in the canopy in tree crotches, on branches.
For More Information Click Here

Wow Plants
One of the many reasons Eric loves visiting private and public gardens is to see plants that just make you say, “WOW!” And Todd has a lot of great examples. Todd talk to us about some of your favorites. Especially by children, one of his most asked about plants is this new variety, common name chenille plant, Acalypha hispida. When kids see this plant, they think of a caterpillar.
For More Information Click Here

Banana
Over the years GardenSMART has filmed many community gardens and many public gardens that do a great job of demonstrating where the things that we eat or find in the grocery store come from. Eric finds it fascinating that oftentimes children when they discover a tomato on a bush, the sense of wonderment of like, "Oh, wow, that's where that comes from” is striking. Todd has a great example of a BANANA, which we don't oftentimes see in full fruit, and it really is fascinating. Eric never gets tired of seeing this plant. It is so interesting. This variety is Dwarf Cavendish. It is the variety that one would see in the grocery store. Dwarf not meaning the fruit, but Dwarf because it was created to be a shorter variety of banana tree.
For More Information Click Here

Orchid
One of Eric's favorites of all tropical plants is the ORCHID. And, in many conservatories, especially when they're all in bloom, they are one of the stars of the show. They have so many amazing colors, almost any color one can imagine, all kinds of crazy combinations of colors as well. Even in the home, it's one of those plants that every garden enthusiast should have. Todd agrees, it's a big, big plant family.
For More Information Click Here

Tips For Success With Orchids
Regarding orchids - Are there any TIPS FOR SUCCESS tips for success with them? One of the challenges he has from time to time is getting them to bloom reliably. What should Eric be doing? Todd thinks that the biggest challenge with all the house plants we have is - they're not houseplants. They came from the tropics or subtropics. Now you put them in a home and they're not getting what they need and one of those big things is fertilizer, a good 20-20-20 balanced fertilizer each time you're watering is needed.
For More Information Click Here

Todd’s Floral Design Capabilities
Many people probably think Todd's job is mostly horticultural, in the context of every day duties, but there is a FLORAL DESIGN aspect that's so important to the visitor's experience. And, Todd has some wonderful examples of his work on display. Eric loves the creativity and loves coming to places like Biltmore to get ideas. It's why he spent so much time in the conservatory looking at container compositions and things like these amazing little Christmas trees that Todd's built. Talk about this composition. It's really fascinating. Todd explains, a lot of what he does and what one sees is horticulture. For example, one sees the plants around the foundation, but then there's that element of floral design and creativity in what they do.
For More Information Click Here

LINKS:

Biltmore Estate
Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Conservatory
Conservatory - Biltmore

Stay At Biltmore
Stay on Biltmore Estate

Plant List

Show #47/7408-Biltmore Conservatory

Transcript of Show

Glass houses are a magical addition to any garden and in this Episode GardenSMART visits one of the most impressive conservatories in North America. And, the stately conservatory at Biltmore Estates is magnificent. Plus, this is a particularly special time of the year as it happens to be decorated for the holiday season. Each year, the designers and horticulturists pour their heart and passion into creating displays that warm the heart and excite the senses.

Todd Roy is a brilliant designer and a talented plantsman. Eric welcomes Todd, it’s great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. Todd in turn welcomes Eric and the GardenSMART audience. Thanks for coming, we're happy you are here.

Eric comments this is such a beautiful CONSERVATORY, it really underscores the importance of the gardens to Biltmore because after all it is Biltmore Estate and Gardens. Structurally, it's an amazingly beautiful feature. Eric would like for Todd to walk us through the way the conservatory is laid out. Todd is delighted to do so. Currently we're standing in the main room, this is the palm room. There are eight rooms, but this is the largest. It's around 40 feet tall, allowing them to feature some of their bigger specimens - palms, some of their trees, for instance. Again, there are eight total rooms. On the other side there is a room called the orchid room, it obviously features their orchid collection. And they have a fairly large orchid collection, well over 1,000 orchids. They have an exhibit room, where they rotate plants to highlight the various seasons. Then there are three wings. A sitting room, which is just that, it has furniture and looks like a traditional Victorian sitting room. Then they have the hot room and the cool room. They were more propagational in early days, they were used to propagate certain kinds of plants for the estate. Now, it's used just for display, additionally they have a cactus and succulent room, as well as the potting rooms.

Eric wonders - How old is the structure? It's been here since the estate was built? 1895. Correct? Todd agrees, it's definitely one of the older ones around. And it's in amazing shape. There's quite a bit of effort that goes into keeping it as beautiful as it is. What one sees here was built way back, so they are trying to make do with something that maybe doesn't work like a modern greenhouse does. But they have a computer system that controls the heat and humidity and all that stuff, so they make do. And, it is modernized, the glass has been changed through the years, but it is still largely the original structure. Eric thinks that's great to hear and the plants look super happy. Todd comments it's very humid and hot in here, that's what many of the plants enjoy and the guests enjoy. Today it's cold outside, so it's a nice way for visitors to come in, get out of the cold and enjoy the plants inside.

Eric comments, there are few plants that say holiday cheer the way that poinsettias do, and Todd has some really interesting ones. It's a great collection. Todd has given people the opportunity to see all the different variations that occur. The common poinsettia that we all know and love is a basic red, yet there are many more that are out there. Folks can come to the conservatory and really get a sense of the breadth of many categories of plants.

Let's talk about POINSETTIAS. What is the plant? What do we need to know about it? Todd fills us in. The poinsettia actually comes from Western Mexico, so it actually doesn't like it in here. The conservatory is very humid yet the poinsettia actually comes from a dry region.That means it's a great plant for the home because it likes it dry. It doesn't need a lot of water. It does need some bright light, but other than that, it could be very successful in the average home.

Eric notes we typically interact with the poinsettia in the context of a potted plant that gets about, maybe, two feet tall. But in its native habitat, they can get quite large. Correct, it's actually a very large bush. They're a little bit airy in their growth habit, where they're going to get anywhere from 6, 8 to 10 feet tall. Eric asks - In order to get the color change from a poinsettia, it’s a light-dependent process? That is correct, one could cause the color change by just putting it in a closet for about 12 hours a day. And then once that color change starts to happen, you can just leave it out.

It's an euphorbia. We know many other garden euphorbias, the genus of this plant. Euphorbia pulcherrima, the euphorbia species are known for having white sap and enjoying very dry conditions. A lot of euphorbias are cactus and succulents, a very big family, but a family that is a good one for houseplants because of liking it dry and those kinds of conditions. We don’t want to overwater. They do like it dry and overwatering can lead to their demise.

Eric would like to talk about this beautiful POINSETTIA TREE. He loves this selection with gold speckled bracts. He would like for Todd to tell us how he built this poinsettia tree, and then talk about this cultivar. Todd fills us in - What you see here is a total of about 50 individual poinsettias arranged on basically a cone tree form. If one could see underneath, there is a metal substructure that they use to attach the individual poinsettias. This variety's called glitter, it's a nice way to showcase the poinsettia as well as say, "This is Christmas."

Eric would like to talk about some other fun varieties that Todd's been working with. As one enters the conservatory, you're going to see some DIFFERENT VARIETIES. Most people think of red. But they have some non-traditional varieties, one called golden glow that's yellow. Another has an orange glow that has a very bright fluorescent orange color. They have mouse ears, which is behind them and has a round leaf. Most traditional poinsettias have a holly leaf, but this one's round. They have a rose form, which actually is contorted, it almost looks like carnation or rose-shaped flowers. They have a variegated one called tapestry, its' foliage is variegated. Eric thinks it's so cool to be able to see this incredible spectrum and start thinking about poinsettias in a different way. They're great plants.

There's so much diversity in the world of BROMELIADS AND TILLANDSIAS. Eric doesn't think any conservatory would be complete without a collection. There is a wonderful collection here and Eric would like for Todd to talk us through some of his favorites. Todd also thinks bromeliads are a really great plant. They can be used as a houseplant, but they do come from the jungles of Central and South America, so they do like humidity and dampness. Todd doesn't know of any other plant that has its’ impact of color. The area behind them is an example of some of the different varieties. Probably Todd's most asked question is about Aechmea Blue Tango and Aechmea Del Mar, because they have that brilliant blue and pink.

Aechemias are a favorite because aechemias have a tall flower stalk. Some other varieties like Neoregilia are really popular for foliage, they're grown for their bright color. The variety behind them is called Casa Blanca. The Christmas tree is interesting, it’s a tree made out of individual bromeliads. The variety is called Margaret. Plus, they have Aechemia Harvey's Pride. One area in particular shows the scale of how big they can get. Aechemia Big Ben, for example can grow to three to four feet tall.

A whole different variety of plants, bromeliad for example, or pineapple, can be found in the grocery store. People often see things in the store, but have no idea where it comes from. Bromeliad is an example of this. It's called an ananas. Interesting thing about bromeliads is when they fruit or flower, they are done. Meaning you'll have to cut away that mother plant, but they do basically kick off what are called pups, young plants, to continue the cycle.

Eric would like to talk about growing and CARING FOR BROMELIADS AND TILLANDSIAS. They can be a really, really practical and easy plant to have in the home. They come from areas of high humidity in Central and South America and are mostly epiphytic, so they're going to be growing on trees, that sort of thing, up in the canopy in tree crotches, on branches. The problem with most people growing them in their home is they tend to over water them. Be careful not to over water, plus it's important to have really good draining soil, almost a cactus, succulent mix, something that's going to drain really well.

Let's talk about Spanish moss. Not a moss, right? Todd concurs and thinks that is where common names sometimes mislead people. Spanish moss, as you can see, growing on the tree is actually a Tillandsia usneoides, and is related to all the bromeliads that you see. It's an air plant. Eric loves keeping them in his home and in bloom they’re fantastic. He thinks it's a great plant for homeowners to consider.

One of the many reasons Eric loves visiting private and public gardens is to see plants that just make you say, “WOW!” And Todd has a lot of great examples. Todd talk to us about some of your favorites. Especially by children, one of his most asked about plants is this new variety, common name chenille plant, Acalypha hispida. When kids see this plant, they think of a caterpillar. It comes from New Guinea, Malaysia or other tropical Asian areas. This variety has been trained a little bit, so it looks like a tree. It's been trained to be a standard form, but actually, in the wild, is a bush. And it’s going to be a pretty large bush in the 8 to 10 foot range, but if you live in the southern regions of the United States like Florida, like zone 10, maybe 9B, you'll be able to grow this in your yard. And how does it do as a houseplant? It's going to be a little tough to grow just because of the size. Also, in a home, because of the lack of humidity, and the fact that it comes from a more humid and tropical environment, it's not going to be the best choice as a houseplant.

Over the years GardenSMART has filmed many community gardens and many public gardens that do a great job of demonstrating where the things that we eat or find in the grocery store come from. Eric finds it fascinating that oftentimes children when they discover a tomato on a bush, the sense of wonderment of like, "Oh, wow, that's where that comes from” is striking. Todd has a great example of a BANANA, which we don't oftentimes see in full fruit, and it really is fascinating. Eric never gets tired of seeing this plant. It is so interesting. This variety is Dwarf Cavendish. It is the variety that one would see in the grocery store. Dwarf not meaning the fruit, but Dwarf because it was created to be a shorter variety of banana tree. Bananas, typically, are tall and they tend to want to blow over in the wind, so this variety has been bred to be shorter and squatter, so that way they don't tip over so easily. Eric would like Todd to talk a little bit about the history of bananas. Dwarf Cavendish is a bit newer to the pantheon of cultivars we see in grocery stores. It's only been around since, what, the 50s or 60s or so? In the 1950s, there was a problem in the industry. The early banana, the only banana that was ever known to the general public, was called Gros Michel or Big Mike. Panama disease is a type of fiserium that was starting to attack the plantations and killing off the bananas. So they were trying to find a variety that they could replace it with and they found this Dwarf Cavendish was resistant to it. It underscores the importance of diversity. Oftentimes we don’t see, or know about, plant problems because they happen behind the scenes in commercial agriculture, but those problems creep in because we're only growing one kind of banana, or one kind of, name any fruit. And then that's where you can end up with the kind of crisis they had in the 50s.

Let's talk about bananas for the home gardener. Eric loves Dwarf Cavendish in containers. Actually, he has found them to be quite a bit more cold-hearty than expected. But they are definitely tropical. Look at the leaf. It's an indication - anything with a big leaf like that, is going to like a lot of solarization. They want that heat, that humidity. They are very heavy drinkers and heavy feeders. You're going to have to really fertilize them, really water them. But if you do you're going to get a good reward out of the fruit. Do they fruit reliably for most folks indoors? Indoors it's going to be tricky just because of the sheer size. But there are other varieties. Do your research and find some of the dwarf varieties, that don't get quite as big as this. The big concern will be the humidity: just trying to get that water and the humidity to them. Eric thinks the reward is well worth it. The child in him never gets tired of seeing a giant cluster of bananas.

One of Eric's favorites of all tropical plants is the ORCHID. And, in many conservatories, especially when they're all in bloom, they are one of the stars of the show. They have so many amazing colors, almost any color one can imagine, all kinds of crazy combinations of colors as well. Even in the home, it's one of those plants that every garden enthusiast should have. Todd agrees, it's a big, big plant family. It's hard to really grasp because it is one of the largest plant families in the world. You're looking at like 25,000 individual species and to get a grasp on that, they're in every continent in the world other than Antarctica. They are dispersed all over the world. This variety happens to be what is referred to as the slipper orchid. Most orchids are epiphytic growing up in trees, but this is one that grows in the ground terrestrially.

Eric would like for Todd to talk about this container assembly. It's really, really interesting and underscores the creativity that goes into the work that Todd does. Todd thinks this is a good idea for a homeowner to utilize maybe something left over or laying around. This is basically a leftover bird bath he used to create a diorama and a display out of a soil bag. He’s cut in the different orchids and created a whole display that looks very natural, like something one would see it in the wild. Eric loves the way it's nicely mounded, with a really nice gradient. This was basically a large concrete fountain bowl, he then put a large bag of soil in and an upside down pot to create the whole dome effect. Then cut holes into the bag the size of the pot which provides an opportunity to switch orchids in and out. As the plants are done blooming, one can switch quickly to a new blooming plant and always keep it very showy for Biltmore guests.

Regarding orchids - Are there any TIPS FOR SUCCESS with them? One of the challenges he has from time to time is getting them to bloom reliably. What should Eric be doing? Todd thinks that the biggest challenge with all the house plants we have is - they're not houseplants. They came from the tropics or subtropics. Now you put them in a home and they're not getting what they need and one of those big things is fertilizer, a good 20-20-20 balanced fertilizer each time you're watering is needed. You can cut back in the winter time when they're not growing so much, but when they're growing, you're going to have to give them a good fertilizer. They really like humidity: 60% humidity or higher. So you might consider a humidity tray, something to get those humidity levels up. Eric agrees, understanding what a plant needs, what requirements it has to produce blooms, getting into the mind of the plant is important to understanding it and getting the best results.

Many people probably think Todd's job is mostly horticultural, in the context of every day duties, but there is a FLORAL DESIGN aspect that's so important to the visitor's experience. And, Todd has some wonderful examples of his work on display. Eric loves the creativity and loves coming to places like Biltmore to get ideas. It's why he spent so much time in the conservatory looking at container compositions and things like these amazing little Christmas trees that Todd's built. Talk about this composition. It's really fascinating. Todd explains, a lot of what he does and what one sees is horticulture. For example, one sees the plants around the foundation, but then there's that element of floral design and creativity in what they do. And, that is what one sees here: a Christmas tree made out of anthuriums. Anthuriums are a really popular plant both for the home and in tropical gardens. Todd points out an aroid that comes from South America, Ecuador, that area. An aroid, is going to like it a little drier. It has some air roots, really thrives in the home with regular misting to keep the humidity up and that's because of their air roots. Also, a good soil mix is important. When you get that plant home, don't just put it in any old soil. You want a good draining soil mix. One might even go as far as amending the soil, buying some perlite and further amending that soil. That way that plant really has what it needs to be successful in your home. Eric loves the color. This is like a glossy fire engine red that almost looks like it’s been clear-coated. It is really, really fantastic. Outside of red, there are many, many other colors for anthurium. It is often called the wax flower or the flamingo flower - it is most commonly red, but, as well, pink, there's purple, there's white. There are some really dark purples, almost blacks now, but it is very much known for that waxy flower and is very popular amongst home enthusiasts.

Eric comments that Todd has an extensive background in container design and a lot of the way he thinks about plants, in the context of the garden, is putting together wonderful compositions. Eric loves that about the way Todd approaches horticulture. One exhibit that Eric wants Todd to point out is the amazing chandelier. Todd explains, they had been thinking about something like this for a while. It’s actually an upside-down tree, but it's created using bromeliads to give it that chandelier effect. The Neoregilia bromeliads with their bright-colored foliage as well as the guzmanias, which is a very popular in-home plant along with guzmania bromeliad, a variety that provides the bright showy display they were looking for are featured in this display. And, it really, really packs a punch. It's fantastic.

Eric wants to encourage everyone to visit Biltmore, and you will need to visit multiple times throughout the year because these exhibits are changing all the time, there's always something exciting to see. It's amazing to see the evolution of the plant collections at Biltmore and the incredible creativity that goes into making every visit special. Eric thanks Todd, we’ve learned so much from you.

LINKS:

Biltmore Estate
Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Conservatory
Conservatory - Biltmore

Stay At Biltmore
Stay on Biltmore Estate

Plant List


   
 
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