GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2004 show3
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This week we visit Columbia, South Carolina and learn a little about the history of this Capitol city. Columbia was South Carolinas first planned city and unlike Charleston, which meanders like an English city, is laid out in a grid pattern. It was established in 1786 when the Capitol was moved to the middle of the state. It is located on the fault line, where the river ceases to be navigable. Columbia's history has spanned 3 centuries, yet many link it to the civil war. The state house bears marks of six artillery shells that hit the building February 16th and 17th, 1865. Columbia was not destroyed during the war, only about one third was burned to the ground. Primarily the commercial district was burned, the annabellum buildings largely remained as did many of the gardens. Columbia during that time was considered a social mecca and its' gardens were regionally acclaimed. There are 4 historic house museums, some with wonderful gardens, still in existence and many private homes with beautiful gardens.

One home on many garden tours is that of Hannah Rogers. Hannah has taken a relatively small piece of property and turned it into a spectacular garden. It has hundreds of different plants, yet is unified, it's cohesive. She has utilized form, color and texture and created a masterpiece that has outdoor rooms that can be used 365 days a year. Hannah moved from the Northeast and wanted to make the most of the Southern climate.

Originally the house had many Pine Trees. They removed 15 Pines in the back and two from the front. The front beds were originally lined with Liriope, Hannah pulled all of that out and created a bedline. She wanted more flower beds and bricks between the grass.

Bedlines refers to the space or edge between the planting bed and the turf. From a visual standpoint bedlines are very important components in any composition. Wherever there is a change in color, texture or form that is where our eye naturally lingers. An in-curve, the part that goes into the planting bed and the out-curve, the part that goes out from the bed, work together. When working properly there is a sense of synergy. A design tip: Stones or brick utilized in walkways or garden borders ideally emphasize, mimic or are sympathetic to the architecture of the house. It creates a harmony, a cohesiveness. The bricks in this garden are similar to those in the house, it ties it all together. Hannah's garden is relaxing, very restful because she has placed her plants in drifts, a nice bold mass of plants that tail off. The plants are grouped in a sinuous, gentle curve that creates a bold, very informal, relaxing group of plants. When trying to create a sense of relaxation and meditation never place plants in a straight line, particularly when the curvilinear approach has been utilized, as in this yard. These bedlines are sweeping and curving and when combined with drifts of plants that move back and forth it creates a relaxing feeling, a sense of movement. Another important feature - the plants are grouped in mass, providing a bold look. The Euphorbia is an example, their cluster consists of 50 to 75 plants. From a distance or from inside the house it creates a strong block of plants and helps tie all the garden parts together.

Variegated plants are often difficult to use in a landscape. They are so striking they jump out. One of the best ways to utilize variegated plants is all by themselves or in a shady area or an area that is dull that needs brightened. In this environment, a dark area on the side of the house, they work well. An entrance is another good spot, they draw attention, add punch.

Another choice for entrance areas would be Evergreen plants. Euyonomous is a great choice and lasts year round.

One challenge with Evergreens is they grow year round, thus need fertilization. Consider a slow release fertilizer, it generally will last 3 months, depending on temperature and moisture. If it's 90 degrees it may only last about 1 month.

Combining colors is one of the most challenging aspects of garden design. Hue is important. An intense pink Geranium and a pink Camellia work well together because they are the same color. One is low intensity, one is high intensity. A low intensity Camellia goes well with a low intensity Pin Cushion, both have white added. On the other hand an intense, almost florescent Geranium goes well with high intensity Pansies. They both have very clear, very bold, powerful colors. Think about hue, think about intensity, both assist in combining colors effectively.

Hannah likes for people to explore the garden on their own. That way they're not distracted by talking and they inspect areas that interest them. This garden has a nice atmosphere, it's romantic, the wind chimes and plants move together. Her favorite areas are the seating areas, by the pond, the little summer house. When the afternoon sun hits these they're pleasant and warm.

Hannah has planted a lot of interesting plants in and among the slate walkway. To pull this off one will need a good base, one that drains well, Hannah used sand. Once the sand is in place tamp the slate in place leaving it even and compressed. Leave two to three inch spaces between the slate pieces, then use a good 25% organic mix, possibly manure or compost, with the rest sand so that it drains well but has nutrients. Install many different plants between the slate. Thyme works well and mint will creep. This is a good way to green up a paving area, especially if your traffic areas aren't highly traveled, a main thoroughfare wouldn't be ideal. It's a great way to create something beautiful, something alive, yet functional.

This garden is about 11 years old. As gardens get older, plants get bigger. That causes problems because they create more shade. One technique to get sunlight into the garden, yet not destroy plants, is to create high shade. Hannah has limbed up a lot of her plants. From a design standpoint this creates a treelike effect, a strong vertical element in the landscape and because the foliage is high it allows the eye to move back and forth in the garden without creating an obstruction.

A pruner with an extension helps limb these plants up. Dr. Rick likes for 2/3 limbs exposed and 1/3 canopy or foliage. It's a nice proportion between green and bark.

For plants that are Evergreen, plants that don't have flowers, the time to prune is whenever the pruners are sharp. It doesn't bother the plant if pruned anytime. It's best however, to prune when it's real cold and the plant is dormant, but they can be pruned in the heat of the summer as well.

Containers are always a great addition to any garden. They're changeable, portable and offer instant presence for anything placed in them. For example, the Verbena in a hanging basket is a good way to add color higher up, versus down in the garden soil. Containers in the patio bring your garden into the hardscape. Hannah has placed 2 hanging baskets under 2 windows. These can be enjoyed from the garden, the walkway or the house. These baskets have a symmetrical planting with a wild and asymmetrical group of plants. It creates a nice balance.

Corridors are important parts of any garden. They allow one to get from the front yard to the back. These areas are often left over spaces and many times forgotten. There isn't a lot of thought that goes into creating them or making them interesting. A GARDEN SMART tip: Use interesting pavers, Hannah has used pavers the shape of a cat. They create a little whimsy, something interesting and cause our eyes to look down. When one does, they create surprise, delight and they cause one to notice the interesting plants. For example, Hannah has used Strawberry and Geranium Begonia. The Begonia is a great plant, it fills in well as it grows and it tends to be lush, not allowing weeds to pop up. She has also used Primula. It adds spice, punch to the garden. They come in a variety of colors, most have 5 petals and almost always have a yellow center. It gets beat up in the heat, thus doesn't work well in hot summer conditions, but in areas with milder winters and a cooler summer it's a great plant.

A great plant for shade is Japanese Acuba, Acuba Japonica. Once mature it will be 6-10 feet tall. In the shade it's relatively slow growing. It has a shiny, really broad leaf adding texture to the garden. It's red berries add interest throughout the winter, providing 12 months of fascination.

Holly Fern is a great choice for adding interest to a dark, shady area. It has bold features and very large, shiny leaves. They create a real textural quality differentiating themselves between other ferns. Use them along a border in a shady place where there is a lot of organic matter and plenty of moisture. It acts like a focal point, especially in a small garden.

What once was called Ligularia and now is called Farfugium Japonicum or Leopard plant is another great way to brighten a shady area. It is from China, has glossy bright, green foliage, the leaves are about 6-12 inches across. The plant grows to between 1-2 feet in width. From fall into winter, flower stems rise 1.5-2 feet tall. Each carries several yellow daisy-like flowers. Hannah has planted this plant next to a small Yellow Primula providing a nice color echo. In other words, some of the colors from the leaves are present in surrounding plants. This provides a sense of marriage and creates a stunning combination.

If you're a serious and frugal gardener Dr. Rick has some advice. According to research, buy small plants, they will catch up to the larger ones within 2 or 3 growing seasons, especially if you have Herbaceous Perennials or shrubs. Buy a 4 inch versus a 5 inch plant, possibly a 1 gallon plant. Granted they will look a little small when installed but within 2-3 years the difference won't be noticeable.

Hannah has a large number of new and unusual plants. A favorite is Lorapetalum Chinese, also know as Chinese Fringetree or Chinese Witch-Hazel. It actually isn't a tree or shrub but can be used in a variety of ways. If the top is continually pruned it will stay reasonably short and full, more like a shrub. If one prunes the base and removes the lower branches it will develop a tree-form. It will grow to 8-16 feet tall, depending on the variety and growing conditions. It's drought tolerant and does well in warmer parts of the country. It has a purple version, with purple leaves and a brilliant, almost florescent pink flower.

One way to get color into the garden other than with flowers is to add interesting foliage, Borage or Rumex does that. It's grown for its' foliage, will grow only a foot or so tall, typically we see it in early spring, it lasts until the temperatures start to get really warm in late spring or early summer. It has nice, strong veination in the middle, is an upright form, yet rounded. It adds a lot of interest as a filler, especially around plants or other elements that have some purple or light green. Borage adds a little spice to your garden, especially before flowers emerge in your garden.

Sillybum Mariana, Mary's Thistle is related to Thistle and is unusual in the garden. It will grow to 3-4 feet tall, it's an annual and reseeds. In some parts of the country it's a bi-annual. That means it grows vegetatively one season, then flowers the next season. It tolerates poor soil, but likes a well drained environment. It has a rosette of leaves, all emerge from the center of the plant and it tends to get tall throughout the season. It has a spectacular look in the Spring.

If you're looking for something with a strong, deep purple leaf look at Persecaria. It is invasive, so keep it under control, plant it next to a walk or next to a solid element to keep it from spreading. It's Stoliniferous meaning it grows from Stolens or underground stems. It's an excellent foliage plant, if kept moist it grows quickly, if wanting a more compact plant keep it on the drier side.

Clematis Aramandii is a wonderful vine. It is a native of China, is a very fast grower and can reach 25-50 feet tall. It has beautiful white fragrant flowers with an orange blossom scent. Plant it next to a kitchen window or an outdoor room and the smell is lovely. It's not a heavy feeder and does need support because it will get large and quite heavy. Use it where shade is present.

Thank you Hannah for showing us your garden. It is lovely.


Columbia Metropolitan

Whitney Hotel
SC Homes & Gardens magazine

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By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

As summer heats up, the garden party is just beginning for gorgeous, tropical mandevillas. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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