GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2003 show17
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Show #17

This week we visit the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island Georgia and learn about plants that thrive in coastal environments. Many of these plants will thrive anywhere in the south and make a beautiful addition to our gardens.

Kevin McLean is the head horticulturist at this beautiful resort. It is difficult to find plants that thrive in heat and humidity, accordingly Kevin has been careful and creative in plant selection and the resort is beautiful.

When selecting annuals for coastal areas, or other areas, heat and humidity must be considered, since both tire out a lot of plants. The selected plants should reflect the look of the building.

Faith Chapel has Victorian architecture so Cleome has been chosen because it too has a victorian look. It will grow to about 3-4 feet high, it easily reseeds and has a pungent odor which repels the deer. It can be grown from the coast of Georgia all the way up to New Hampshire. It is a fast growing plant and attains fair height early in the season.

Zinnia, Dreamland Mix, provides a lot of intense color. Their color contrasts nicely with the Cleome. They are fast growing and may experience problems with Powdery Mildew in situations with high humidity. Zinnia Linearis, a smaller leafed variety is available in orange, red or white and is not susceptible to Powdery Mildew. Since it has a nice round flat flower, which acts almost like a landing pad, they attract butterflies, moths, even Humming Birds.

Scaveola, Blue Wonder, acts like a carpet and blooms prolifically all season. Kevin finds this rare because finding a blue or rich purple flowering plant that thrives in the heat is difficult. The purple relates well with the Cleome. Kevin has used this as a ground cover but it also does well in containers. It requires no deadheading, very little care once established, just keep it watered. It is a wonderful plant for areas with a long growing season.

Another bed has Cannas in the back for height. The Bengal Tiger Canna has nice variegation in the leaves and a beautiful orange flower that is so bold it almost overpowers everything else. Mixed in is Scaveola, Blue Fan Flower, that has cascaded over the brick walls providing nice structure in the garden. The blue flower contrast nicely with the orange Cannas. Angelonia, Angels Face, is similar to a Snapdragon or Salvia, all have similar growth habits. It has an upright form but isn't a large plant. It blooms throughout the summer, deadhead after the spike on the bloom fades and it will come right back. Kevin has also used a Croton, normally used as a house plant. Its bold foliage offers a lot of pizzazz and a complimentary color to purples and oranges. It offers visual weight at the bottom of the bed to balance the taller plants. Bacopa works well as a ground cover, comes in white and can also be used in containers. It is similar to Scaveola, but don't let it dry out, it likes moist soil. The color scheme is simple but the textures are very different, from small flowers moving up to medium flowers of the Angelonia to the large leaves and flowers of the Cannas. It provides a smooth transition and gives visual interest in addition to brilliant color.

Some parts of the country have had a wet spring and summer. With the abundance of water, we're starting to see fungus problems. One is Powdery Mildew. If you have Zinnias, Phlox or Roses, even Crepe Myrtles you may notice a white powdery substance on the top of the leaves. It may look like it could be brushed off, in reality it is a fungus attacking especially young leaves, flower buds or new stalks. In cool, damp, even shady areas it will strike. If you have good circulation or it is dry you won't see this problem as often. To solve the problem either clip off the effected parts or use a general purpose fungicide. You will need to spray every 10-14 days as long as the symptoms persist. Another option is to select plant varieties that are naturally resistant to Powdery Mildew.

Leaf Spot, Entimosporium, is another problem caused by cool, wet conditions in spring and summer. This is characterized by red ringed little dots all over the upper and lower parts of the leaves. If not too severe, the disease is mostly cosmetic and permanent damage won't occur. If the disease is particularly bad, if an entire leaf drop occurs, threatening the plant, apply a general fungicide. Do this every 10-14 days as long as the wet conditions persist. Be careful in using fungicides if temperatures are over 90 degrees because leaf burn could occur. Otherwise wait for drier, more arid conditions and the situation will correct itself.

Most think that if we want annuals in the landscape we need well drained soil and for most situations that is critical. Kevin had a wet area that was in a sharp turn in the sidewalk that everyone was making a shortcut with bicycles and golf carts. In this wet area he wanted more beauty and wanted to control traffic so he installed a garden. This garden has a monochromatic color scheme, lots of whites, with a tinge of pinks and purples. He wanted a simple scheme, to bring out the beauty of the bed, yet he wanted it to have a tropical feel. Kevin didn't want an overpowering garden, no bright oranges, etc., instead one that was more muted. In this simple garden, coarse texture is an essential ingredient. In between plants with coarse texture are plants with medium or fine textures. They give the garden a lot of boldness and pizzazz. Without the coarse texture this garden would blend in with the grass. In the back is what many might consider Purple Corn Plant, it's actually a new Millet called Millet Purple Majesty. It has dark foliage, with a large seed head, that encourages birds to visit. Kevin has also planted Papyrus a great plant for wet areas. This plant could actually be submersed in water but will do well in drier conditions. It could be propagated by taking the seed head or top off, then putting it in the ground and it will root from the top head, it roots easily. It's cold hardy down to about 10 degrees. Kevin has mixed annuals and perennials. Mexican Petunia, Ruellia is a nice purple flower that contrasts against the white. It does well in the sun or partial shade. It tolerates dry soil or moist soil and will grow to 3-4 feet tall. Once grown it overseeds (will drop seeds) so new plants will pop up everywhere. If you don't want the plant after this stage you will need to pull all new plants as they come up. It is a nice, strong purple and adds a lot of depth. In the front Kevin has used Calladium. It is a nice plant for shaded areas, has a striking foliage and comes in many different colors. It has little shades of pink in the plant, not just a pure white. The green is nicely variegated, providing a lush green feel. By putting coarse textures in the front and fine textures in the back one creates a feeling of depth or more volume.

This week Georgia visits with Susan Emmitsberger who takes us on a tour of her border garden that overlooks the harbor. At one point there was just a sea wall, then the grass. Susan wanted something that would enhance the view from the house. It is a beautiful view but she loves flowers, has an extensive bulb garden in the spring and likes to have as many blooms as possible throughout the season. In the spring her garden blooms a little later than most in the area but stays warmer in the fall because of the air coming off the water and harbor. Susan has planned a succession of blooms - early perennials, mid-perennials and later perennials. The bulb garden is first, then the Terra Rosa Clematis, her first blooming perennial. She has a purple variety that blooms later but she found that deeper colors are fine when up close but if enjoyed from a distance brighter colors are more easily seen. Perennials often have a life of their own, they spread. If they do this take them out and share with a friend or relative. Susan likes to add annuals to her perennials because in certain times of the year there will be bald spots. If you incorporate annuals it will fill those spots in. This can be accomplished by planting the annuals or by placing containers with annuals in the bald spots. This adds color and fills empty spots throughout the season.

Kevin shows us a beautiful combination of Annuals and Perennials. Cosmos, Cosmo Sonata Mix, is a wonderful flower, has beautiful colors, it overseeds and is a wonderful flower for wild flower mixes. You often see them between roads and highways. It is an annual and will reseed. In the background is Peraskia or Russian Sage. It is a lighter bluish purple, can tolerate drought conditions and can tolerate heat and cold. It is a little wispy, has an open airy look that combines well with the Cosmos and at the same time the foliage is almost fern-like, replicating the foliage of the Cosmos. Deer don't seem to bother this plant and it has no real insect problems. It is a great all-round plant that works well in a perennial border. When using low intensity plants they are best used in the back, use high intensity plants, those with strong hues, in the front. This will make a more stunning garden.

Use a complimentary color scheme - colors on the opposite end of the color wheel. Two of the most famous opposite colors are red and green. Kevin has utilized these colors in a spectacular garden. He has used Chartreuse Sweet Potato Vine, Ipomea, the variety Margarite. This is related to the sweet potato, the root is edible. He has used another Ipomea, another Sweet Potato Vine, this one Pink Frost or Tricolor. If you plant the root the next year you won't get the same variegation. You have the same form, the same texture, but colors on the opposite end of the color wheel make a stunning statement.

Celosia Plumosa, New Look Celosia, is a great plant that has a bloom that is almost fire like or flame like. It works well as a dried flower. It can tolerate dry soil and is tough in terms of heat tolerance. It works well in an asphalt situation, a very hot area. Celosia has a leaf that is not only green but a burgundy as well. It goes well with the Pink Frost Sweet Potato Vine and adds formality to the bed. The darker, deeper valued colors are in the back and the lighter or higher valued colors are in the front. It gives the bed more depth and is eye catching. This bed is lush, very durable and very heat tolerant.

Agapanthus, Lily of the Nile, is a beautiful plant. They will grow to 3-4 feet high with the bloom spikes adding another 18 inches to the height. It is evergreen and the deer seem to love this plant. The bloom looks like fireworks and comes in colors of blue and white. To make sure you get just the right color buy the plant when in bloom. With these Kevin has used Zinnias, Dreamland Mix. The blue mixes well with the oranges, pinks and yellows, another complimentary color scheme. Kevin has also used Portulaca, Portulaca Yubi, it is a great plant, drought tolerant and comes in yellow, white and hot pink. When sheared it will rapidly grow back.

Dr. Rick thanks Kevin for showing us these beautiful gardens. They're great for any part of the country but are particularly good for coastal areas. They're heat tolerant, drought tolerant and can handle a lot of humidity.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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