This week we're visiting the Fieldstone Inn in Hiawassee,
Georgia. The Fieldstone is a 66 room lodge, located less
than two hours North of Atlanta, on an 8,000 acre lake,
with a four hundred slip marina. Hiawassee is much higher
in elevation than Atlanta and normally 10 degrees cooler.
We're visiting in the fall, at the peak of the leaf season,
and the colors are spectacular. Greg Diehl, the general
manager, says that leaf season typically lasts between 3-5
Fall is the time they do a lot of bulb
planting, bed work, expanding some gardens and replacing
others. Dana Pelham is the owner of the resort and a landscape
designer. Dana along with her crew have been transforming
the landscaping at Fieldstone since she and her husband
bought this resort.
Dana likes bulbs and perennial beds. Bulbs provide a lot
of color and they help direct traffic. People see them when
driving past and guests when in their rooms are drawn out
and towards the beautiful lake. Dana likes strong, primary
colors - reds, yellows, blues, they're pure and bright.
She likes red Tulips, blue Grape Hyacinth and yellow Daffodils.
Dana likes to keep the scheme simple, she uses a large number
of a small variety of plants but uses the colors repeatedly
in beds to keep continuity.
Dana buys thousands of bulbs each year.
When purchasing she looks first for size, larger bulbs have
more stored energy. Secondly, the bulbs must be pre-cooled,
this allows them to bloom earlier.
When a healthy bulb is cut open, one first notices the scales,
like an onion. In the center is the undeveloped, immature
Tulip. If the bulb has been cooled correctly the undeveloped
Tulip will be yellow or white and crispy. If it is black
or brown beware it has been exposed to high temperatures.
If this is the case some foliage may appear but it most
likely won't flower.
If the bulbs themselves have a black or
bluish color that is a sign of fungus and they may rot.
Also, make sure the bulb is firm.
Bed preparation is critical to the success
of beautiful bulbs. For the bulb to flourish in the Spring
it is important to let the bulb establish itself in the
Fall. It is important to till the soil, bulbs don't have
extensive root systems. Breaking up the soil allows the
roots to grow horizontally and easily in the ground. Secondly
, add organic matter, about 25% by volume is a good recipe
for success. If tilling down about 8 inches, add about 2
inches of organic matter. The organic matter should contain
different size particles. The particles should range from
fine texture to medium to large particles. This mix will
provide moisture holding capability and should last for
a good period of time. Also, make sure Potassium is plentiful.
Potassium stimulates root growth, a slow release Potassium
or Bone Meal is critical for success.
Dana has planted the bulbs in a straight
row, this has been done to maximize exposure from the lodge.
Every plant is then visible as opposed to massing plants.
She places them about 4-6 inches apart. When the leaves
are out the view is full and colorful. Bulbs should be planted
about about 2 and 1/2 to 3 times the depth of the bulb.
When bulbs have little bulblets on the side, it is usually
best to leave them on. In 3-4 years the plant could be divided
but it is best to let the plant get a healthy start. If
you can find the roots on a bulb that is the part that should
be planted down. Think of the tip of the bulb as a nose,
a nose is always on the top.
Often times we want bulbs in small spaces,
areas that aren't large enough for a tiller. In cases like
this a power drill with an augur attached works well. The
machine we are using in this show has a two cycle engine,
no electrical cords, and lots of torque. Rev it up, plunge
it into the ground and go about twice as deep as needed.
It will dig up extra dirt but that is easily replaced and
provides a big hole with plenty of room for roots to grow.
In the fall when leaves turn color, they're
beautiful. It is estimated that the average tree has between
50,000 and 100,000 leaves. That can leave a real mess in
our yards. Gary McGlocklin shows us a piece of equipment
that is handy for this situation. This is a shredding vac.
It will blow your leaves or pick them up. It is particularly
helpful removing leaves from plant beds or shrubbery. It
has a 12:1 reduction ratio, thus space needed for lawn debris
is greatly reduced. It pulls the leaves, etc. through the
tube, reduces them, then collects them in a storage pouch
on the back of the unit. They then can be used in compost
piles or on beds, it is environmentally friendly and much
easier than putting them in big plastic bags out by the
road. This piece of equipment is light weight, yet powerful.
One of the challenges with bulbs is that
they look spectacular in the Spring but there isn't much
show during Summer and Fall. It is ideal to find plants
that bloom after the bulbs. Dana has chosen some plants
that go well with bulbs and in bulb beds. Red Hot Poker
flowers in late summer and early fall. It has a bulb kind
of look, the bloom sits on top and is 2-3 feet tall and
can be as much as 2-3 feet wide. It is evergreen, likes
well drained soil, and full sun, just like bulbs. Anemone,
sometimes known as Wind Flower blooms in the fall and is
stunning. Helianthis Solisofolia, sometimes known as Swamp
Sunflower likes full sun and well drained soil. It grows
to approximately 4 feet by 4 feet. It has a large flower,
with a clear, strong, yellow color. They can also be used
in cut arrangements. Another good choice, especially in
the back of a bed is Wygelia Florida, this variety is called
Wine and Roses. The more sun it gets the stronger the color
of the foliage. It produces a pinkish red flower in the
spring which Hummingbirds love and adds interest to the
bulb bed. It provides more size, it's a larger plant, and
adds evergreen foliage in the bed.
The Fall is a good time to divide perennials.
Dana is dividing some Day Lilies now even though they look
great. One reason she likes to divide is because it provides
a free plant. Secondly, if the plant has slowed in its'
blooming it may have become bound. If a plant is healthy
and green but not getting as many blooms, it could be time
to divide that plant. Fall is a good time to do this because
the ground is still warm, even though the air is crisp.
At that time of year the tops of plants may start to die
down. However, since the ground is still warn the roots
will establish themselves. Soil temperatures typically lag
air temperatures by 4-6 weeks. Thus, if it's 60 degrees
above ground the soil temperature should be 60 degrees 4-6
When dividing perennials, start with a
thin, sharp shovel. This is the key to getting the plant
out of the ground. Once out, flip the plant over, see how
many divisions that can originate from that plant. Keep
the crowns together, the plant needs enough root system
to remain healthy and then thrive in the Spring. Next, till
the soil, add organic chemicals and add some lime. Dana
typically adds 1 to 1and 1/2 inches of mulch, this protects
them from winter weather, keeps the weeds down, dresses
up the beds and holds the soil in place, especially during
Fall is not a great time to prune trees.
Instead, wait until a good hard frost. If pruned before
the plant could be stimulated, encouraging growth. Then
when frost occurs the plant will be stressed or possibly
Crepe Myrtle needs special pruning and
care. Dana removes all the suckers which are limbs growing
out of the ground. She opens up the middle which gives it
a tree form. This provides people from the lodge the ability
to see through to the lake. This gives it a tree shape,
adds volume to the tree and helps with the growth of the
tree. It also helps control Powerdy Mildew by allowing good
Georgia visits this week with Scott Canning,
director of Horticulture at Wave Hill in the Bronx. Wave
Hill is a beautiful public park and cultural center. The
mansion was developed along the Hudson River by William
Morris in 1843. It passed through various families until
1860 when it was presented as a gift to the City of New
York. It is in a private corner of the Bronx and has about
120,000 visitors each year. This facility has been a public
garden for 43 years and has some wonderful old specimen
To care for these old specimen trees Scott
and his crew utilize a lot of judicious pruning. Sometimes
it is best to leave a tree alone, sometimes its best to
intercede on its behalf, sometimes a tree outlives its'
purpose in the landscape. People tend to cling to old trees
too long. Scott wants to keep these beautiful specimens
as long as possible but if a tree becomes too old, ill or
not doing what it was intended to do in the landscape it
may need to be removed.
The Yellow Pine has beautiful bark. One
of the advantages of old specimens is that some of the character
is not initially noted. This bark of the tree is multi-colored,
it has beautiful yellows, oranges and tans. The branches
have unusual shapes. Age brings problems but also character.
Lace Bark Pine has beautiful exfoliating
bark. The flaking reveals different colors underneath. This
character wouldn't be evident in a young plant, one found
in a nursery. This is one reason that they aren't popular
in nurseries, it takes 15 or 20 years before the incredible
camouflage patterning becomes notable.
Grand Elms are part of the American landscape.
American Elms have a vaulting base shaped trunk. This particular
tree is the second largest in New York City. Many Elms,
countrywide have been lost to Dutch Elm Disease. Scott would
now encourage people to buy Elm trees since varieties have
now been developed that are resistant to this disease. Varieties
like the Princeton Elm and Valley Forge seem to be reliably
Thanks Scott for showing us these beautiful,
One of the best places in the whole world
to see spectacular Fall tree color is in the Eastern United
States. Because of the wide range of Deciduous trees and
shrubs and because of the moderate climate, the Eastern
U.S. provides one of the most spectacular views every Fall.
Leaves are natures food factories. Plants
take water from the ground through the roots, they take
Carbon Dioxide from the air, they then use sunlight to turn
that water and Carbon Dioxide into Glucose. Glucose is a
kind of sugar, plants use Glucose as food for energy and
as a building block for growing. The process of plants turning
water and Carbon Dioxide into sugar is called Photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis means putting together with light.
Why do leaves change color? They actually
don't change color. It is actually more of a disappearance
of Chlorophyll. When leaves are green they're photosynthesizing.
When the days get short, when temperatures start to cool,
that is a signal for the plant to stop Photosynthesizing.
The Chlorophyll disintegrates, it breaks down. The yellows
and oranges which are Xanthophylls and Carotene are present
in the leaf. In fact, in the summer, if one could rid the
green from the leaf, the leaf would be yellow or orange,
the pigments are already there. Pigments manufactured in
the fall are Anthosyanids, they produce the reds and purples.
Anthosyanid production is dependent on bright fall days.
When Fall brings clear skies that means a lot of Anthosyanid
production, therefore a lot of reds and purples. Rain is
another factor. If there is plenty of rain in the fall that
allows the plant to build up a lot of energy and that too
allows good fall color. When it is rainy and cloudy in the
fall, generally speaking, the colors aren't as strong. Frost
also effects the quality of fall colors. If it's delayed,
if there is plenty of cool weather but no frost there is
a more extended Fall color period. If there is an early
frost, generally speaking, that causes the leaves to fall
The leaf has been preparing for Autumn
since it started to grow in the Spring. At the base of each
leaf is a special layer of cells called the Abcision or
separation layer of cells. All Summer small tubes which
pass through this layer carry water into the leaf and food
back into the tree. In the Fall the Abcision layer begins
to swell and it forms a cork like material. This reduces,
then finally cuts off the flow of water to the leaf. Glucose
and waste products are trapped in the leaf. Without fresh
water to renew it, Chlorophyll begins to disappear and the
leaf falls from the tree. Plants that are Evergreen or leaves
that stay on year round, actually do fall off, they just
don't do it all at the same time. They do actually turn
yellow and fall off, if they did it all at the same time
it would be noticeable and again spectacular colors would
Bright, cool weather and late frost should
provide maximum, spectacular Fall color along the Eastern,
Fall is a great time to garden, not only
because it is cool and a great time to be outside but because
anything we do now will pay of in the Springtime. Get into
your garden now, whether its pruning, tending bulbs or other
fall activities, Fall is a great time to do this work.
Link :: The
Back to Top