GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2004 show38
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Show #38

This week we visit the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast. Dee Goode is the concierge and provides background information for our viewers. This structure was founded in 1896 by 53 northern millionaires who wanted a place to get away from their busy life in New York. They were attracted by the warm climate, natural beauty and nature. The island is 7 1/2 miles long, 2 1/2 miles wide yet has 22 miles of bike paths. There is a lot to keep everyone busy but is relaxing as well. You're still treated like somebody special, just the way it was when this, then private, club was founded. The grounds are beautiful, thanks to the head horticulturist, Kevin McLean.

Kevin first shows us some of the fantastic, old Oaks. There are 600 different varieties of Oaks. The scientific name is Quercus. The Majestic Oak, Quercus Virginiana, is a very long lived tree with strong, hard wood. The USS Constitution was made of live Oak, its' name "Old Ironsides" came about because canon balls would hit the ship and bounce off - all because of the hard wood.

Oaks are readily available at nurseries. Oaks like dry conditions. Their branches will grow in a horizontal position because they have hard wood. Kevin doesn't prune them during their growing season and doesn't prune unless there is a dead branch. In one instance a branch is touching the ground, this is common and adds to their majesty and beauty. Birds and Squirrels seem to keep insects, caterpillars and mites in check. Sudden Oak Death Syndrome is one problem that occurs mostly in cooler climates. It is a fungus usually brought in by boaring bees. To prevent the problem, don't prune your Oaks in spring when Ambrosia Beetles are most active. If a tree is dying remove it from your property ASAP. If you want an Oak tree, purchase one from a nursery or start one from an acorn. An acorn, placed in the ground will sprout within several weeks. Make sure you select one without worm holes. If you transplant a tree make sure to get a nice root ball. Go out to the drip line - where the branches end - with your hole. Keep it well watered for the first two years, then slowly reduce the watering.

Kevin has many trees that are 200-500 years old. With a tree that old, other things will grow on it. Resurrection Fern doesn't damage the tree, lives off the excess moisture in the bark, doesn't remove nutrients from the plant, it just uses the tree as a support system. When there isn't excess moisture it turns brown, it looks like it died by will come back when it rains.

Spanish Moss is another airborne plant and it also doesn't harm the host plant. It attaches to the tree but doesn't take any of the nutrients or water away from the Oak. It picks up its food from pollen and dust in the air. People collect this Moss, it's not a good idea because it is a host plant for Mites and Chiggers, Red Bug and little red Spiders.

Oaks are slow growing. We look at a small tree that is 12 years old. When planting make the hole for the root ball 3 times larger than the root ball but about the same depth, don't put it in too deeply. After planting, build up a berm on the top, that acts as a water well and holds water in. At the top don't put the soil right against the trunk. You don't want to smother the tree (don't plant too deeply) and you want good air circulation around the tree. The first two years are critical in establishing an Oak tree, then they're fairly self-sufficient.

Kevin has used a watering bag. It goes around the base of the tree, zips up and is then filled with water. The small perforations at the bottom allow water to slowly percolate to the tree. These can be purchased at garden centers. A trash bag with holes in the bottom could also be used. These are good ways to get the tree established, slowly provide water and keep the root system growing.

Genus Nepeta, commonly known as Catmint is a vigorous, spreading plant with an aromatic foliage. Another variety is Catnip, it isn't as ornamental, but cats are usually wild for this plant. Catmint is a super plant especially is you are in an arid part of the country. It doesn't like wet soils or damp feet and likes light, well drained soil. There is a variety -Six Foot Giant - that tolerates higher humidity and damper conditions. Catmint is excellent if you're looking for something with green/gray foliage or if you have other silver plants or a situation that is in full sun. The cool blue color of the flowers works well with these colors as well. It is a vigorous spreader, will spread by seed. Catmint in various parts of the country is used as a substitute for Lavender. It makes a nice edging or border plant. It can be sheared back for a nice, full dense look.

If you like majestic trees but don't want a plant that is deciduous (in other words drops its' leaves) consider Evergreen Oaks. Kevin shows us a Chinese Evergreen Oak, Quercus Myrsinifolia. This tree came to this country in 1807 and was introduced as a street tree. It will grow to 20-40 feet tall. It has evergreen foliage that changes during the year. The new foliage is a bronzy, purplish color, then changes to dark green. The leaves last about 2 years, they then shed but a new flush will have already appeared, thus the tree always has leaves. The bark is almost like that of a Beech tree, very smooth. Woodpeckers are the only thing that bothers this tree, other than that it's carefree, a strong, hardy tree. It is heat tolerant and cold hardy through zone 7. It tolerates acid or alkaline soil, drought conditions and it can take some moisture.

Elms are another group of trees we typically think of as Deciduous. Ulmus Parvifolia or Drake Elm holds its' leaves year round. It is found in the south and in southern California. It's not as cold hardy as other Elms and doesn't do well above zone 7. It is a beautiful tree, typically used as a street tree. It is good around pools and family gathering areas because it provides a lot of shade. It has a fine texture so is a restful looking tree. The exfoliating bark adds interest. The only problem is that they have a deep crotch and do split in high wind conditions or with a lot of frost or ice. The tree has a nice green, rich foliage. It should be left in its natural form, thus doesn't require a lot of pruning. They had to prune or pollard this tree because it was next to the pool and it is suffering and could be lost. Pollarding is when you go back to the trunk, taking off branches, similar to what is done with Crepe Myrtles. It is best not to prune or pollard this tree, just like the Oaks.

Magnolia is another majestic tree. Magnolia Grandifloria is used a lot in the south, in Arizona and California. The blooms are magnificent, creamy white, very fragrant with beautiful dark green foliage. It takes a fair amount of space, if you need something to fill a large area Magnolia is the way to go. If you have a small piece of property the Magnolia would outgrow the space quickly. There are smaller varieties, one called Little Gem, that work well for smaller spaces or against buildings. The biggest problem is the leaves that drop. They drop year round and are almost like plastic, they last a long time even in a compost pile. Because it is so dense most everything will have trouble growing underneath. Kevin just uses mulch under this tree.

Georgia this week visits with Katie Brown a landscape designer. Katie has designed a beautiful harbor garden. She selected seaside plants that are salt tolerant. The Hydrangea called Pia or Little Elf is nice for the front of the border. Another Hydrangea, Madame Olyeare or Sister Teresa gets large and is essentially a white, niko blue. In the back is Globe Thistle which gets a big purple ball and has a lot of structure. Gaura is an under used plant that comes in white or pink. We look at a new shrub rose called Carefree Wonder, Carefree Delight or Carefree Sunshine. It's a yellow shrub rose that grows most of the summer but must be dead headed. Salvia is added, a must for a seaside garden, and is great with yellows or pinks. Salvia should be cut back when finished, it will then flower another 2 or 3 times. Another Salvia, Rose Queen, also is stunning in this garden.

This garden has a woman's touch, it is very feminine. It is Katie's pretty garden as opposed to one with rugged grasses. She has Lilacs, the Salvia and Peonies. Also she's added Baptisia, which is almost like a purple/blue Sweet pea. It's wonderful with the Peonies and compliments the Salvias because of the wonderful, intense purple color. Katie doesn't think you could ever have too many Peonies in a garden. Katie has picked beautiful plants, but as well, plants that are hardy and that will do well by the seaside.

A Cycad is often mistaken for a Palm, some think it is a Fern. The Cycad is a member of the grass family and has been around since the beginning of time. It is a tough, beautiful plant. It has dark green foliage, nothing seems to bother it, is deer tolerant and pest resistant. It has needles on the end with very sharp points. Its diacious, meaning there are male and female plants, you can tell the difference in the middle of spring or beginning of summer. The female has a cabbage like head in the middle and the male has a cone shape. The female after it has pollinated produces an orange or red seed late in the season. This plant could be used as a house plant in a smaller container.

The Canary Island Date Palm is majestic but only tolerates warmer conditions. It is one of the most majestic palms that grow in this country and has a globe like feature towards the top. It is called a Pineapple Palm because with one pruning method when they take off old branches or old frawns they cut them straight and on younger plants it almost looks like a Pineapple. It has that Pineapple shape, then the frawns coming out of the top look like pineapple foliage. It is very slow growing. Kevin shows us one that is well over 100 years old. They are expensive costing about $1,000 per foot.

Palms can be beat up at the base. If you have a weed eater or lawn mower and damage the base it doesn't seem to bother them like an Elm or Magnolia, for example. It is tolerant this way because it is in the grass family, very fibrous. It is a Monocot, so its vascular system, the part of the plant that allows water to be taken up and nutrients to be taken down, is throughout the entire trunk. On a typical tree, like an Oak or Pine Tree, all the vascular system is underneath the bark. The tree needs the trunk protected, if we girdle those trees we could kill them. With the Palm Tree not much damage occurs this way.

Cabbage Palms , Sabal Palmetto are slow growing but provide a lot of different looks. Kevin shows us one that has been stripped and one left in its natural state. They remove the frawns as they get old and it gives a smooth appearance. To create the smooth look take a saw and strip away the frawn at the base of the tree at the trunk. These Palms can withstand temperatures to about 20 degrees, if lower the plant suffers.

Palms are pruned once a year for the seed heads. Kevin does this typically in July or August. Someone either climbs the tree or a crane or bucket is used.

Trees are about the most majestic feature in this landscape. Kevin shows us the Plantation Oak. It is estimated to be 350-500 years old. It is truly impressive.

Kevin feels you need to remember to be careful when pruning trees, be careful when driving around trees and always pay attention to tree ordinances in your area.

Dr. Rick thanks Kevin for showing use these beautiful trees and palms.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel

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By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

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