GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2005 show10
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Show #10

Today we look at Perennial border gardens at Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville Georgia. Scott Mahr is the general manager and provides some background on this beautiful resort. The village is in the form of an English country resort because they felt it best fit the property. In designing the property they considered what guests would like. Thus they built a golf course, a full service spa, it has mountain biking, fishing, sporting clays and paint ball, hiking trails and of course wonderful gardens. Barnsley is located about 70 miles Northwest of Atlanta in the foothills of the Appalachians. It is a great corporate retreat during the week and a romantic getaway for couples on the weekend. Each cottage has its' own particular beds, there are no two beds alike, each cottage has a front and a rear door and all have beautiful gardens. Robert Stoney is the resident horticulturist and responsible for the restoration of this property. Not only is Robert knowledgeable but fascinating and enlightening.

The gardens have been in existence for about 160 years although they had fallen on hard times. The restoration started 15 years ago. Robert has been a part of the restoration for 6 years.

One of the stars of this Perennial border is the Peony. It is one of the easiest plants to grow and provides pleasure for a long time. The secret to growing good Peonies is good soil, nice, deep, fertile soil, with lots of organic matter. Time also helps, if you have 5 years that is a great bonus because they will flower one or two blooms the first year they are put in but they are really at their peak at 5 years onward. We view a glorious white variety, Festiva Maxima. It is a double and has a wonderful raspberry ripple in the middle. Peonies come in different shapes and sizes, most are fragrant. Since most are doubles they have lots of petals. Robert does have some single varieties, they are all colors-pinks, reds and whites. With Peonies you usually see little ants. Many think they are necessary to get the flower to open, that isn't true. They're just feeding on the nectar coming out of the Peony flower bud. If you want to pick the flower and not bring ants into the house, pick them before they open, when they will look like a marshmallow. They will then open inside and be beautiful. Peonies don't need a lot of care, if you have good soil you're set. They will flop over, especially in the Spring, especially if there has been a lot of rain. At that point the heads tend to be lush and heavy. To combat this problem Robert uses a mesh grid, this one is plastic coated wire and will last a long time. Set it in the ground before the leaves emerge, as they're coming up, at that point they're more stems than leaves. Push it into the ground, as the plants grow move the frame up and it keeps the plant upright. For the occasional stray bloom Robert uses a different staking mechanism, he calls it a Lily staker because it works well on Lilies as well. When pushing it into the ground, if it will go down 18 inches, if it does this easily you know you have good composted soil.

A Perennial border is usually a long area, usually 15-20 feet wide, but long and almost anything but trees can be grown. Most people think a Perennial border is composed of Herbaceous plants. Robert is making use of a new trend which is to use other kinds of plants in the border. This is called a mixed border. You can do pretty much anything you like in this setting. Robert has Irises against a backdrop of higher plantings, in this case Native Azaleas. This Iris is called Pallida and he calls this variety Kool-Aid because it smells like Kool-Aid. It is easy to grow, you just need time to get it established. It is a rhizomatos Iris and has a nice fleshy root, like a long potato. To plant it you don't bury the root, just cover half the root, put mulch over it and it will do well even in dry conditions as well as quite moist habitats. Irises are adaptable, you can find an Iris for almost every soil condition. They will even thrive submerged in water. This variety likes slightly dry conditions, doesn't need especially fertile soil and it thrives in this climate. The only problem, it may get too lush and overgrown. When that happens it tends to produce fewer and fewer flowers so periodically they need to be thinned. To do this physically dig them up and divide them. They are forgiving plants and can be divided anytime, although it is probably best done when they're dormant, during the winter months. But they can be divided when in full flower, Charlie has divided them in the North after blooming, in the middle of the Summer, because with cooler temperatures you can get away with it. Robert shows us how. Pry up a clump and you see the knobby roots. You can see the older parts, those can be cut off. Some people will break the roots apart. Either way works. Choose roots that look reasonably fresh, not old. Also cut off the foliage about 6 inches above the base of the riser. That is all that is needed to replant. Don't treat the wounds, maybe let them dry a little. Set it on the soil so the roots will be under ground and the riser is on top of the ground. Give it some water add some mulch to conserve moisture and it should grow. Place them about 10-12 inches apart and they'll soon fill the space. They will hopefully produce at least 1 flower stem per riser.

Slugs love the lush green leaves of Perennials. There are some old fashioned ways of controlling slugs-pouring salt on them, even creating beer traps causing them to drown but there are some new ideas as well. One is iron phosphate pellets. They're great because all you do is sprinkle them around the plant, the slugs eat them and die. They are safe for the environment, they break down in the soil and they don't harm insects or pets. Another way is to try high caffeinated coffee, this supposedly repels slugs, so just pour it around your plants and watch them run.

Some Irises will successfully grow in part sun, part shade. They don't mind being in part or full shade but probably flower more profusely in full sun.

Siberian Iris has wonderful colored blooms, a reed like foliage, a thinner foliage, almost goose neck. They do tend to straighten out as they start to flower. It is fibrous rooted, very different from the big bulbous risers we saw earlier. They can be grown from seed and if planted in the Autumn oftentimes will flower the following Spring or Summer. It forms clumps and doesn't need much dividing. This batch is in a Swamp Cypress grove, which is unusual because it tends to be wet, in fact there is a section actually flooded. With the Iris popping up between the knees of the Cypress it makes a nice effect.

Robert has some Yellow Flag Iris that are growing in water, after they're through flowering Robert leaves them. They are very decorative, the foliage is handsome. If cut, it would probably spoil the flowering the next season. They are a vivid yellow color and the striations and markings inside the flowers are beautiful. This is the flower that gave rise to the Fleur-De-Lis, the emblem of the French kings shields. It has a wonderful structure and shape. This Iris, in some parts of the country, is aggressive, it is an interloper. Don't let it colonize outside of where you're cultivating because it will spread. It doesn't need fertilized.

We've seen Irises with beautiful flowers now we look at one with stunning foliage. This is an Iris Pallida but it's a variegated form and showy. It does flower, although later than most varieties. They struggle because they're so variegated, they do require patience. That is true of variegated plants in general, they tend to be a little weaker, they need to be pampered in order to get them to grow and flower. Because they are stunning they draw the eye and you must be careful what you put with them. Blues work well and even whites. Thus Robert has planted low growing Salvias.

Abraham, this week, shows us concrete stamping. Here we have a concrete foundation, he wants to give it more character. He uses a concrete stamping product that is latex based, it is water cleanable. He starts by cleaning the patio, he wants a nice clean surface. He then lays down a dark gray shade that is similar to paint but it has a texture. He rolls it on, this become the grout color. Abraham then starts designing the stones. He tapes everything which forms the rock shapes. If you wanted you could draw this first. Once the design is taped, he starts trowling on the first texture which is the solid base for the stone. After the whole surface is covered he goes back, removes the tape which produces the stone look. He then goes back again and adds other colors, grays, blacks, maybe a little copper and khakis. To mix it in he uses a sponge. When done you have a realistic stone look. Abraham then seals it and the patio has a flagstone look.

Robert next shows us attractive foliage plants in the shady part of a Perennial border. They brighten the area. The star of the show is the Japanese Painted Fern. It is a silvery and purple stemmed plant that looks good with practically anything as the foliage changes and develops over the year and contrasts beautifully with the Angel Wing Begonia. It also contrasts nicely with the beautiful Heuchera foliage. In the same bed is a large, dramatic Mayapple, it has a dramatic leaf that has a deeply divided and a large round shape. Next to it is a little Shamrock, Pink Oxalis. These are great examples of common Perennials that can grow in shady areas.

Robert has an unusual Columbine with yellow variegated foliage. It came up from seed and has a beautiful yellow and green pattern. Another Columbine has a nice blue color and is a double. The name Columbine comes from the old Latin name for a Dove which was Columbus. So the name literally means a combination of Columbus or Columbine. In fact they look like a little collection of Dove like shapes. Charlie sees the little heads, wings and tails. They provide a great source of blue and purple in the border this time of year. Since Delphiniums don't do well in this climate, Columbine provides a perfect replacement. They are carefree plants, they self sow readily and last for a while. They are bi-annuals. Plant them in the fall, let them go through their leafy stage in the fall and build into a nice big plant so they'll flower properly the following year. That's a great tip-some plants are either annuals, bi-annuals (meaning they die the second year) or perennials in your garden, depending where you live. Here in Georgia these are bi-annuals, in the North they might be short lived Perennials, further South they might be Annuals. Thus you need to know the type plant and the climate.

Robert has Perennials growing in a formal setting. Perennials don't need to be grown in an English cottage look, they can be in a much more formal setting. This is a portage, a little French garden. The French tend to have ornamentals mixed in with their herbs and vegetables. It provides an opportunity to try combinations of color in a much more formal setting. This is a very geometric design and a great tip. If you're growing a formal garden and planting Perennials that take a while to fill in you'll probably want to fill in with Annuals. Robert has used Pansies, some bulbs and Anemones, even Snapdragons which make a great filler-in in that gap period when there may be a lull in color. Later on he will clear the bed and grow some cutting flowers, something like Zinnias.

Thank you Robert you have showed us beautiful Perennial flower borders, how to grow them in different designs and we've looked at some beautiful flowers. Thank you for showing us Barnsley Gardens.


Barnsley Gardens

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