GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2003 show18
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Show #18

This week we visit Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, Georgia. Robert Stoney is their resident horticulturist.

We're in the middle of summer. Plants, like summer annuals, that love the heat find this an ideal time. They're thriving and growing rapidly, the days are long, with 8-9 hours of sunlight per day. Robert likes the mornings best because it's cool, he tries to get his arduous tasks out of the way in the AM. If he must work in the afternoons he tries to protect himself from the sun and addresses less strenuous tasks like pruning.

Robert likes Hydrangeas because they offer a wide range of colors and shape, they're easy to care for, they tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and because their blooms are long lasting. They like shade or partial shade and are happy in the poorest of soils. This is a plant that thrives in the south, east and in parts of the west. There are a wide variety of these plants that allow us to have blooms early in the spring into the middle of the summer.

Broadly speaking there are two varieties of Hydrangeas developed from a species called Hydrangea Arborescence, which is a native all the way up the east coast. One variety is very hardy, will tolerate frost and it flowers on new wood. In other words if you get a late frost all the potential blooms won't be killed. The second variety doesn't tolerate a late frost, its' blooms would be lost if subjected to a late frost. This variety is normally associated with the big, showy, Mop Head and Lace Cap varieties. They're not hard to grow, just susceptible to late frost. They like cool, damp conditions and are perfect in the south and in the west in places like Oregon and Washington. The late frost would kill the growth that set the flower buds the previous year.

You can change the color of Hydrangeas. Aluminum in the soil is taken up by the plant and changes it from pink to blue. The PH or acidity of the soil stops the aluminum from being absorbed. If you want a rich blue you will need acid conditions, remember - blue/acid, pink/alkaline. You may have an acidic condition if under an eve of a house, the rainfall may be enough to keep the soil acidic. Products like Muracid or Gypsum will acidify the soil causing blue blooms. To ensure a plant has lush, green foliage, an acidifying liquid fertilizer would be great. This will accomplish two things at once, it feeds the plant and corrects the PH.

We look at a Lace Cap Hydrangea, which is a delicate looking flower, it looks like a lace cap. It has large showy flowers around the outside, which are sterile. In the middle it has smaller, fertile, blue flowers which will set seed. The outer flowers can range from white to blue and they may fade back to pink as they age. As with all Hydrangeas you can cut the bloom at any stage during its' growth, strip off the leaves and hang it up and let it dry. It will stay beautiful looking and ornamental through Christmas. It may not keep its' blue color but if you cut it when it's cream or green it will retain that color for some time.

Annabelle Hydrangea has a light green bloom. It starts off green then changes to bright white or creamy white, then back to a lovely chartreuse green. It has three different looks while blooming. It flowers on this year's wood, so it's not susceptible to late frost because it produces flowers from the base regardless of frost.

To prune Hydrangeas if you wait until after flowering, you'll get the benefit of those flowers. You can then prune it to the ground.

One of the challenges in having a beautiful garden is keeping the weeds at bay. Weeds have been described as a thoroughly successful plant or a plant out of place. We call them weeds because they are so pernicious, regardless of what you do to them they come back. There are many strategies for keeping them under control - you can hand pick them, for example. There is a product that will keep weeds at bay for up to a year. You must be careful with this product, don't put it anywhere near growing plants, but in roadways, sidewalks and pebble paths where we don't want anything growing. For this purpose, this is a wonderful product. It has a fast acting ingredient, glyfosate and a long lasting product that stays in the soil for up to 12 months. Mix a quart of the product with a gallon of water, and it will treat about 75 square feet of space. First wet the surface to be treated, that allows the product to move into the ground, then apply the product, then several days later come back and water again. This allows the product to move into the ground and keeps weeds at bay for up to one year. It's fantastic for walkways, just make sure that where it's applied you're at least twice the distance from the trunk to the drip line or damage could occur. It's a low maintenance way to keep weeds out of your garden and off your pathways.

Hydrangeas come in every shape and form. Hydrangea Arborescence, Grandifloria is more irregular, more informal. Breeders have worked to improve the size of the flower and it is much larger than native varieties. In its native form the leaves would be the same but the flowers would be much smaller. It is a robust flower. It will flower in very deep shade, in shade so deep it would be difficult to take a picture. This particular Hydrangea bloom is a little yellow, probably caused by too much sun or it may be hungry. It could probably use a little nitrogen.

Hydrangeas propagate easily from cuttings. This time of year the wood is soft, in other words it is just turning from fresh green growth to wood. If you can find a leader, a shoot without a flower head, that is preferable. A terminal bud is better than a lateral bud. Cut it and place it in a free draining, premium potting soil. Place it down the edge of the pot, Robert finds cuttings root better between the compost and the pot. It isn't necessary to scrape the bark off the stem. Some people use a rooting powder, that is not necessary. Cover the pot and cutting with a clear plastic bag, keep it in the shade and out of the sun, keep it moist and within about 8-10 weeks roots should be growing.

The Dooley Hydrangea is named after the coach of the Univ. of Georgia football team. It is a new plant and produces "mop-head" flowers from chutes originating all the way down the stem. If it does get hit by late frost, the leader will be replaced by laterals coming from the base and it will produce a flower that season. It is a very frost resistant, frost proof "Mop Head" Hydrangea and we haven't had one of those before.

Georgia Raimondi this week visits with John Lloyd, a very talented garden designer. John shows us his potting shed in his charming garden. It is unusual, special and blends in with the surroundings. John needed a place, in winter, that could hold plants, pots and planters that decorate the garden during the summer. It is multi functional, it's a quasi potting shed, green house. They collect seeds during the summer, store them and they then have a place for them to germinate during the winter months. The potting shed is heated so it is ideal for that purpose. He starts seeds in here and is able to keep some plants going during the winter. He brings Orchids from inside the house when they've expired, when new blooms are ready the plant is moved back into the house. There is constant movement of plant material from the garden and home into the shed, then back out. The potting shed is integrated into the environment and inviting. Inside John keeps seed trays and developing and over wintering plants. It is an economical way to start and develop plants. It is a fun place, yet functional. John keeps his tools inside, making it possible to organize them and know where everything is located. As well it is a storage area for peat moss, potting soil, sprayers and fertilizers. It all is contained in this building.

Green is a restful color in your garden. A great way to add green to your garden is with evergreen shrubs. One of Robert's favorites is Boxwood. They have some of the richest green foliage known. English Boxwood is slightly different than American Boxwood, it is a lighter green and more slow growing. These plants are 160 years old, they were put in when the garden was originally laid out. Robert rescued these plants, the garden was abandoned for 40-50 years and they grew wild, into a sizable plant that completely filled the paths. Robert then had to train them and bring them back to the shape they were intended, which was/is about knee high so one can enjoy the beds and borders. This is referred to as a Partier. Most people when trimming evergreens want to take their shears and give them a haircut, just take it right off the top. That is incorrect. This plant conserves moisture in its leaves. The leaves are glossy, even waxy, when you cut off the leaf you take its water supply. Shearing also encourages the plant to produce a skin of leaves on the outside and nothing down deep in the plant. To encourage leafing deep down in the plant use a hand pruner, go into the plant and break off taller pieces, down deep. By choosing the taller pieces you end up shaping the plant but you are creating a lot of little holes, skylights if you like. This encourages leafing way down in the plant which will produce a much healthier plant. When left untrimmed the plant is so humid inside that the plant thinks it is in moist soil and it puts out roots called advantageous roots. These little roots can actually be seen growing on the stem of the plant. If you wanted to start new plants, pluck those off and start new plants, they root readily. This is a sure sign that the Boxwood needs ventilation. It is best to prune gradually although you can cut Boxwoods back to the bare wood and it will sprout from the stump, they have amazing powers of regeneration. When cut back dramatically it could shock or cause damage to the plant. Robert instead likes to take it slowly, he takes at most a third off at one time. It is best to practice ongoing maintenance. Every other year, pluck the plant, opening it up, then come along with pruners for a light surface pruning. This may seem a slow, laborious process but it is the only way to get the plant looking right and ensuring it is healthy. It is understandable why people use shears and cut across the top, this saves time, but is not a good strategy. You can prune boxwoods at any time. Make sure that there will not be a late frost on the new growth. In this part of the country the best time to prune is is toward the end of April, May or June. Robert avoids pruning in July and August and one must be careful pruning in the fall we don't want the plant to be tender going through the winter.

The Japanese beetle is a voracious eater in the middle of the summer. If your flowers start to look moth eaten, they have holes in them, particularly at the top of the plant you probably have Japanese Beetles. They eat everything but the skeleton and the veins of the plant. Japanese Beetles love Roses, Hibiscus, even grapes. They're a little half inch beetle with a green sheen. There are three ways to deal with them. The simplest and most effective is to literally pick them off by hand. All you have to do is go out early in the morning, that is critical because these beetles are docile and can't even fly until the temperature is above 80 degrees. At that point you can just knock them off the petals or leaves into a container of soapy water. Put a cup under the flower, tap the flower and they fall into the cup with water. Another method is Pheromone Traps. Place the traps at least 50 feet away from important plants so the traps don't attract bugs to plants you're trying to protect. The traps attract the males, taking them out of the breeding population. The third way is with sprays and there are a number of these. Natural plant extract like Rotanan and Neem are effective. Chemical derivatives like Pyrethrums and Pyrethroids also work. Acifates go into the plant and causes it to become a bit toxic. Another option is to choose plants that Beetles won't eat. Remember Japanese Beetles are only going to be around for a month or so, they're not likely to completely destroy the plant. Sometimes we just need to learn to live with them for the short amount of time they're bothersome.

Dr. Rick thanks Robert for showing us Barnsley Gardens and plants that thrive during the summer. There is a lot going on this time of year.

Link: Barnsley Gardens

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