On this show we visit Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, Georgia.
Barnsley is a large, beautiful resort encompassing over
1,000 acres. It is rich in history as well as plant material.
There are woodland trails, a beautiful resort and many things
This garden was designed by Andrew Jackson
Downing, the father of landscape design. He was the driving
force in this field during the 1840's and 1850's. The main
characteristics of an Andrew Jackson Downing landscape would
be the wonderful mixture of formal and informal, a combination
of formal gardening and the picturesque.
His influence is apparent in the Azalea
walk we visit today. It meanders slowly through the pleasure
grounds that surround the gardens. Here one finds a beautiful
canopy of mature trees, then native Azaleas and interesting
under plantings. It provides a three tiered effect, something
down low, something in the middle and something up high.
It has a lovely variety of indigenous plants that would
have been taken from the area and massed and concentrated
along either side of the walkway. They are set in fairly
informal beds with wavy edges, the paths are twisty and
serpentine. It creates a path that is intriguing and entices
one to explore further. There are no plants planted in straight
lines, rather everything mimics or tries to mimic mother
nature. The paths harmonize with the surrounding hills and
hollows as do the surrounding plants.
Robert shows us some of his springtime
favorites. Rhododendron Austrinum, Florida Azalea is one
of the first Azaleas to flower in the year, it has a wonderful
scent and blends beautifully with the Irises growing under
the tree. These represent what one might consider a happy
accident, where one plant compliments or contrasts with
another. In this case the blue-green foliage of the Iris
Palada against the more traditional green and rounded leaves
of the Azalea is stunning. As well, the flowers of both
contrast with each other and also make a stunning statement.
The forms and colors are dramatically different, yet at
the same time there is a sense of harmony between the two.
There is a contrast because colors are at opposite ends
of the color spectrum, yet a sense of harmony. Robert believes
that the native Azalea is a perfect compliment to Irises
rather than the more showy, in-your-face strident colors
of the modern hybrids. In informal woodland settings natives
tend to work better.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas are all part
of the Rhododendron family. All Azaleas are Rhododendron
"something." The most apparent difference can
be found in the flower. The Azalea flower has five stamens,
the Rhododendron generally has ten. Also the flower shape
in an Azalea is more trumpet shaped, whereas the Rhododendron
flower is bell shaped.
Another Azalea favorite of Roberts' is
the Piedmont Azalea, the Pinkster, Rhododendron Canescens.
It originates in the Piedmont region, the lower levels of
the Appalachian Hills. Another favorite is the Oconee Azalea,
Rhododendron Flammeum. It isn't fragrant but has wonderful
big and full red or orange flowers. Later in the year blooms
the Flame Azalea, which is valuable because it flowers in
July and August when there isn't typically a lot of color.
It extends the Azalea blooming season through high summer.
Thus, one could have Azaleas blooming from early spring
through mid summer.
We next discover an area called Robin
Hill Azalea Walk. These Azaleas are all hybrids, all part
of the Robin Hill Azalea Group. Hybrid means that the parents
are different from one another. Hopefully the offspring
will have a better quality or will have something special.
With Azaleas a hybrid is easy to produce, there are probably
tens of thousands of named varieties of Azaleas. The difficult
part is getting the same plant twice. Along this walk there
are some intense colors next to each other, magenta then
a white then a Salmon, all beautiful Azaleas. Many would
consider these to clash in terms of color association. This
represents a modern trend in gardening, to have deliberately
clashing colors. The two have intense colors but in order
to soften it a little the white is placed in the middle.
Cream or white between two very strong colors tends to blend
strong colors and combinations then work better. Robert
thinks Andrew Jackson Downing would have used hybrids if
they would have been available in his time, they would have
appealed to him as much as they do to us today.
Azaleas are relatively care free. To ensure
they look their best they require adequate moisture. Make
sure the roots in particular get plenty of water especially
during the first year or so. Mulch is important, two or
three inches of horticultural mulch like straw or pine bark
will help protect their roots, which grow close to the top
of the soil. They don't need to be pruned. If you want to
shape or remove dead wood, wait until after they bloom.
By doing it at this time the dead wood is easily identified
and there is no worry about cutting off flower buds. Rather
than shearing, remove entire branches. This will provide
a more natural appearance. They can tolerate heavy pruning.
But don't do too much to them, careful neglect is all they
We next look at some new plants.
First is a new Hydrangea, Hydrangea Macrophylla,
"Endless Summer." It is different because it blooms
more than once during the entire season. Typically mop heads,
Hydrangeas with large flowers, bloom early spring and that's
it. They're pretty and attractive the rest of the year but
no more blooms. This plant was found in Minnesota and can
tolerate cold weather, which is unusual for Hydrangeas.
It likes filtered light, a little moisture, in fact during
the first year it's a good idea to water it deeply enabling
the roots top grow deep into the soil. It will have blue
flowers if there is a bit of aluminum in the soil, if not
it will turn pink. It grows to about 3-5 feet tall.
Nandina "Sienna Sunrise" is
new and different. It's reminiscent of a sunset the top
is fiery red, maroon, yellow, even orange. It grows to 3-5
feet tall. It's more compact than a typical Nandina but
will help show off an area that you want to accent. Occasionally
it will produce little white flowers but generally it's
punch is the new intense foliage on the top of the plant.
In the middle of the summer it will turn mostly green, in
the fall it has good fall color-reds and oranges. It tolerates
temperatures down to -10 degrees, thus will do well in most
parts of the country. It likes well drained soil, but keep
it moist particularly during the first year. It's an easy,
low maintenance plant that works in most garden situations.
If looking for something with a tropical
look think about Mandevilla. This is a new plant "Mandevilla
Pink Parfait." It is different because it's a double
flowering variety. That means instead of one row of petals
it has two sets, called a double. Mandevilla is a tropical
plant, thus won't tolerate temperatures much lower than
about 30 degrees. If you're looking for something for an
arbor or trellis and you have bright light this is a good
choice. It has large, coarse textured leaves thus looks
good even when not blooming. And it will bloom through most
of the season.
On arbors or trellises Dr. Rick likes
a plant on one side with an evergreen vine, it will come
back year after year. On the other side plant a vine like
Mandevilla, it can be changed out every year and you have
a new look yet the evergreen vine provides a bit of consistency
Orange Meadow, Bright Cone Flower, also
known as Echinacea Arts Pride is the first ever orange Cone
flower. We've known the purple flowers for years, the orange
variety makes a nice compliment to the older variety. It
starts blooming mid to late summer and blooms all the way
through the fall. It grows to between 1-3 feet tall, loves
and needs full sun, needs dry or well drained soil, it hates
wet feet. Cone Flowers are Native Americans and will grow
in zones 4-9 in terms of cold hardiness. They can tolerate
a wide range of heat, everything from a cool, medium summer
to a real hot summer.
Heucherella is a cross between Heuchera
and Tiarella. It grows to between 8 inches and 1 foot tall,
likes more shade than sun. This variety is called "Heart
of Darkness" because of the large dark vein towards
the center of the leaf. The foliage is striking because
of the different variegation and it produces foam-like flowers
like Tiarella. It tolerates temperatures to about -30 degrees,
so it is a tough plant as long as it has some shade, a little
moisture, but not soggy soil. It is a great plant to combine
with ferns or as a replacement for Hostas.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak are a problem
throughout the United States. The resin on the leaves is
what bothers us, causing acute dermatitis (a bad rash).
If you happen to come in contact with it, quickly wash with
hot soapy water, that should at least reduce the amount
of irritation. Poison Ivy has three leaves and a little
bit of red where the leaf merges with the stem. There is
a new product made especially for eradicating Poison Ivy
and tough brush. To use this product, spray the leaves thoroughly
when the foliage is dry, early in the day when there is
plenty of moisture in the plant. That way it will move down
into the roots and kill the plant. Another approach, for
particularly stubborn Poison Ivy is to take a plastic bag,
wrap it around your hands and pull the Poison Ivy vines
from a tree, etc., then dip those vines in a bucket of this
product. This is a particularly effective way to translocate
the product to the roots and kill the Poison Ivy.
Barnsley Gardens pleasure grounds are
laid out for people who want to stroll or amble around and
enjoy the acres of plantings. There are less formal, wilderness
trails where the plantings are completely natural. Here
people can enjoy an endless array of wild flowers, trees
and wildlife. During any time of year one finds a lovely
range of understory plants. Plants like Trillium, Shooting
Star, May Apple, Wild Geraniums. Out in the open one will
find plants like Evening Primrose, Wild Columbine and Dogwoods.
There are always interesting plants one can enjoy on these
wildflower trails, summer, fall, winter and spring.
Wild Geranium with large, lavender flowers
is especially beautiful in the spring. One of the characteristics
of this family of plants is that when the flower goes to
seed it produces an elongated seed capsule which looks like
a Crane's bill, hence the name Crane's Bill. It is easily
identified because it's the only large flowered Geranium
in this area and has lovely spottings on the leaves. The
delicate lavender flower, is really bright in the deep shade.
Trillium is another great group of woodland
plants. They are called Trillium because they have three
leaves. We look at the Red Trillium or Toad Shade. It's
leaves are flattish. They like an environment that is deep
in shade, in a rich, undisturbed woodland. It is an indicator
species, if growing it shows that the woodland is healthy
During a woodland walk don't just look
for flowers, some plants have interesting foliage as well.
May Apple or Mandrake has deeply lobed leaves. It is a poisonous
plant in other parts of the world, the leaves, the stems,
even the roots are poisonous but it produces a yellowish-orange
fruit that in May is edible.
Columbine, Aqualegia is a word that comes
from eagles claw. It refers to the spurs that are on the
back of the flower. It has a drooping flower, a nice little
leaf and looks a bit like a catchers mitt. It's short lived,
will last 2-3 years then hopefully reseed in the garden.
Evening Primrose is native to the southwest
United States, even Mexico, but is an old time favorite
in Southern regions. It is a great plant for rough areas
or poor soil. It is a beautiful plant, very showy, unusually
so for a wild flower. It's often planted in gardens and
will produce huge clumps, masses on pond banks. Many species
open towards the end of the day, this plant is open during
the day and closes at night. When it opens, it opens rapidly,
one can actually watch it open.
For a mid level plant, something not really
a ground cover, yet not a large tree consider Red Buckeye,
"Aesculous Pavia. It's distinctive because of its'
red flowers and the five Palmate leaves. They look like
fingers on a hand. A great choice for something for the
shade, yet stunning. The red flowers will develop seed heads
and inside each seed head one finds a big seed which is
round and dark, just like a buck's eye, hence the name Buckeye.
Pawlonia Tomintosa also known as Empress
Tree or Indian Princess Tree is spectacular. It grows 8-10
feet in a year and is often touted as a miracle shade tree.
Its foliage provides a tropical effect, the trunk is heavy
and the branches are nearly horizontal. It is often mistaken
for Wisteria or other plants with a purple flower early
in the spring. Some don't like this tree because it pops
up unmercifully but it has some wonderful qualities. In
other parts of the world it is prized. The streets of Paris
are lined with this tree, in the Orient it's known as a
dowry tree. If planted as a seedling when a daughter is
born considering its' rate of growth by the time that daughter
is 18 the tree is big enough to give as a rather valuable
dowry. Its' wood is prized for construction and for use
in decorative bowls, etc. The seed capsules are very light,
they were the styrofoam peanuts of their time, used as packing
materials for delicate items.
Thank you Robert for showing us these
lovely parts of Barnsley Gardens. The gardens are stunning
during springtime and we know from past visits equally stunning
during the other seasons of the year, as well.
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