GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2003 show30
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Show #30

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 weeks.

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 weeks later.

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 hard rains.

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 injured.

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 air ventilation.

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 trees.

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 disease resistant.

Thanks Scott for showing us these beautiful, old trees.

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 faster.

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 result.

Bright, cool weather and late frost should provide maximum, spectacular Fall color along the Eastern, United States.

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 Fieldstone Inn

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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