GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2006 show20
GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
Visit our Sponsors! Southern Living Dramm
Visit our Sponsors and win.
Past Shows:

Show #20/407

In a state as big as Texas one would expect a lot of plant diversity. And you get it, but surprisingly in a compact area. The Gaylord Texan is a wonderful resort, with beautiful gardens, spread out in a 4 and 1/2 acre atrium. The horticultural staff works hard to make sure the plants and gardens always look their best. Imagine changing your annual color beds every 3 or 4 weeks. Or, imagine changing out 800 beds, even when the plants are in their prime. Well, they do that here. In this show there is a lot of great gardening information as well as tips and problem solving solutions, all from Grapevine Texas.

Barry Lewis is Director of Marketing for the Grapevine Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau and welcomes Garden Smart to Grapevine. Grapevine is a charming, historic town, located between Dallas and Fort Worth. It was founded in 1844, making it one of the oldest towns in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. They are proud of their agricultural heritage, a heritage rich in grape and wine production. Presently, they have wine tasting rooms in Grapevine and a large vineyard that grows grapes, bottles the wine and sells it on their premises.

Grapevine is a charming town. Their historic downtown shopping district has many fine dining establishments and numerous family-fun places to visit. There is a steam engine that dates back to 1896, which is called the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. Grapevine is also known for its festivals, 3 major events are held throughout the year. The Vintage Wine Trail is the 3rd weekend in May, they celebrate outdoor adventure and their heritage with their Main Street Days Festival and September is highlighted by their largest festival, Grapefest. Grapefest, a celebration of Texas wine and is the largest wine festival in the southwest. They are also particularly proud to be home to the beautiful Gaylord Resort on Lake Grapevine. It is a welcome part of the community. They've done an excellent job of bringing Grapevine into their environment with their vineyards. Vickie Taliferro is in charge of the gardens and the best person to show everyone all the sights.

Vickie Taliferro is the Horticultural Manager at the Gaylord Texan. She started her career in commercial interior landscaping in 1980, had her own company for about 10 years, then went to school and got a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. She sold her business but continued to work for other interior landscape companies. When they started developing, then building the Gaylord Texan, the company she was working for bid on the project. Thus, Vickie has been lucky enough to work on this project from the beginning.

Vicky heads a staff of 14. Three individuals work on special events for the hotel and 11 focus entirely on the gardens. There are 4 and 1/2 acres under glass and 1511 rooms that overlook a lot of these gardens. They've done their best to utilize plants native to Texas in the different garden areas.

2 and 1/2 acres are in the Lone Star atrium, the main atrium. One of the gardens is themed after the Hill Country. The hardscape in that area has native limestone, similar to what one finds in Texas. They call it Austin stone. There is a Riverwalk Atrium, that looks like much Riverwalk in San Antonio. They've even matched the little umbrellas where one dines. Here they have live fish and water plants indigenous to San Antonio.

The Lone Star Atrium is themed after West Texas. In this area, they have ducks and a Palo Duro Canyon replica and have chosen plants that would naturally grow in Amarillo. Additionally, they have a replica of a Texas mission, which some say reminds them of the Alamo. As well, there is a bell tower identical to what one would find in south Texas. Joe feels they have done a great job because even though there is 4 and 1/2 acres under glass he still gets the feeling of intimacy. Most likely this is because of the different themes they've created, the different garden areas.

Vickie says that in this space they have 10,000 plants and 400, what they call trees. Here a tree is a plant that is 10 feet tall or taller. They have chosen trees that work in an indoor environment, yet still look like a Texas tree. And they are thriving.

Joe asks about seasonal color. Vickie says they have 800 units of 6 inch color that they change out every 3 to 4 weeks. They try to keep them fresh. In the main atriums, they like plants growing that are representative of whatever would be growing in that particular season. When they take them out, some get replanted and are relocated to other areas where they aren't so prominent, allowing them time to rebloom. The remaining plants they sell to their employees (they call them stars) for a very reasonable price. It's a good deal.

Here the special events department decides on a theme, then the horticulture department comes in with creative ideas and incorporates plants that are related. Trains are used extensively in holiday celebrations at the hotel because historically the first steam engine rolled into Austin, Texas, the state capitol, on Christmas day.

Designing unusual gardens is fun for the horticulture department; it provides the opportunity to create a landscape that has unusual themes. For example, this summer, for Summerfest, the horticulture department was challenged to come up with something that would attract people to their fifty-year anniversary exhibit of Austin City Limits.

The guitar/train garden concept was conceived. It is fun and shows off a different garden look. Dennis Cherry, their train aficionado, designed and built this entire set. It's to scale, but is certainly oversized. For plants, they chose natives; Lantana, Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum), Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), just like one would find in a North Texas field. They top dress with sand, which adds to the authenticity of the look. Importantly though, adding a little bit of sand to the soil provides better drainage, which is needed for these kinds of plants. Joe concludes that everything is bigger in Texas.

They also have a small garden that highlights cactus. This is in a little area next to a restaurant. Previously it had 100's of plants in containers. They wanted something more creative so they built a short stone wall and made a cactus garden. Underneath is what's most important, that is what allows the plants to live.

They started with a layer of plastic on top of the brick foundation, to protect the brick from moisture. They then added gravel, so that the water can drain down. Then a layer of filter fabric was added to separate the soil from the gravel. They then installed a little sump pump so they can remove the water, if for some reason it has standing water. They have great plant structure in this garden starting with a fire-engine-red Flowering Euphorbia. There are some Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii), some prickly pear cactus (Opuntia) and other succulents that could be found growing in Texas. To add interest, they found some interesting items around the hotel and added them to the garden. Most of us have things in our garage that could be utilized. By doing this, it allows us to save money, use what we have. This is a small-scale project but it adds interest, is attractive and doable for the home gardener.

The plants in the cactus garden are easy to care for and the longer they last the better they look. But, in the hotel they have over 800 annual beds with color and those beds must be changed frequently. In one particular bed, they're removing the July 4th, red and white, Kalanchoe display and replacing it with summer colors of Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) and Begonia. Joe marvels that they would change this bed when it looks so good. The reason they do it at this time is because, with experience, they can anticipate how long the blooms will be open. By next week these blooms will not only not be open but will have fallen off and withered away. Thus, they remove them when they look great.

They will be pulling the Kalanchoes today. Vickie explains they have a process that they use every time they have a color change. They first bring in boxes with grow pots. They have learned over time that it is better to pull the plants out of the grow pots and plant them directly into the soil. The plants get water more readily, their irrigation system is more effective and it saves labor because a person doesn't need to spot water each of the hundreds of plants. So, they have the empty pots, pull the plants out of the soil, put them into the empty pots and box them. This helps reduce the mess in the work area. The old plants are taken in pots to the back of the house for the plant sale.

The stars then go through and clean up the soil. They pull out old dead blooms, leaves and foliage because they rot, which can add bacteria to the soil, which they try to prevent. They then bring in the new foliage in boxes and pull them out of the grow pots, saving the grow pots for the next change out. First, the gardeners determine what design they want to use, they're free to make a fresh design every change out and they enjoy that. They line out the plants in the design, then start planting from the inside out. This is how they change out their color, everyone has their job and it goes quickly.

Joe says it seems every Texas garden incorporates a water feature. Vickie says they do and that is because water features provide a cool feel to a garden and everyone likes to hear the sound.

We now visit one of Vickie's water gardens. This feature was originally built for a special event and everyone liked it so much they created a permanent garden. They saw an opportunity to not only create a beautiful water feature but an opportunity to incorporate more Texas plants.

This garden has some areas where they've incorporated Columbine (Aquilegia) and the Umbrella plants (Schefflera), Yarrow, Papyrus, things like that. But building the pond was a real task. In the upper pond, they have a vinyl liner, which is normally what one would find when one builds a pond at home. Typically, one puts in a vinyl liner, even a prefab unit and some people even use concrete in the bottom of their ponds. The reason they use vinyl here is because the electrical for their sound system goes underneath and they want to be safe.

Vickie's stars aren't pond experts, thus in the lower pond the team did research to identify the best materials. They found that it is relatively simple, just read and educate yourself. Here they decided that they would make an all-natural pond. They dug about 6 inches lower than they wanted the finished grade, then applied a layer of Bentonite, swelling clay. When Bentonite gets wet, it expands and fills in cracks and little holes in the soil allowing it to contain water. But it's breathable. So, they can still have gas exchange and nutrient exchange between the soil and water. This creates a truly natural environment. They have little fish, some Bluegill, a few Coy, some Goldfish, all living in this environment. It's a beautiful feature. The living fish indicate to Joe that the water quality is fine. It's perfectly balanced for the plants, the water plants and the fish. They all have their little eco- system and they all survive together.

With a garden this big, Joe assumes they must certainly have their challenges. Vickie says that two of the biggest challenges are their soil and water and those are the two most important components of growing plants indoors. She shows us one example. One can tell there is a problem because the leaf margins of these plants are burned, one sees leaf spot, the new growth isn't prolific and the plants just aren't healthy.

Through experience they know what they'll find when they dig. This hotel was built on construction soil, a sandy substance, then on top that is 18 inches of a high peat mix. The peat's very acidic and the 2 together cause giant clumps. When they get these clumps, the soil can't drain like it needs to. So, they need to increase the porosity and they do that by amending the soil with a sandy loam and also by turning the soil and breaking up the clumps. This allows for little pathways in the soil allowing the water to drain and allowing the soil to aerate.

The steps are actually quite simple. They take the plants out of the soil one at a time, put them to the side, clean them up, determine which ones are healthy enough to replant later, dispose of what's not good, then begin removing the clumps. They need to be careful when digging because they have inline irrigation and they don't want to damage that. They expose the irrigation so they know where they're working. They then use their wheelbarrow as a little test area to make sure they know what the problem is. In the wheelbarrow they then amend the sandy loam to make sure they're getting the correct proportions. When they're sure it's correct, they dump the new mixture into the bed and continue to finish the bed, adding the correct proportions of sandy loam to make sure they have it right. They then level out the soil, relocate the irrigation lines, cover them up, place their speakers, cover those lines because aesthetically they don't want the wires and irrigation showing. They then first plant in front of the speakers, to ensure they're hidden from view. They then start at the back and work forward, spreading evenly the good plants that remain. In about 3 or 4 weeks they will see a lot of new growth on these plants and within 2 months this will be a nice, full, lush bed. All this with just a little labor and not a lot of money.

Joe is hearing and reading more about states becoming involved in grape production. In Grapevine, they have been growing grapes a long time. There are vineyards around Grapevine, and other vineyards in the Texas hill country. The grape growing history in Texas is long and rich. It started with T.V. Munson, a good 'ole boy Texan who was a grape hybridizer or viticulturist. Munson, in the 1880's (when Phylloxera, a disease that about demolished the wine industry in France) was able to bring back cuttings from French grapes and graft them on U.S. grape stock. Those plants proliferated; he took them back to Europe and saved the French wine industry.

This vineyard has Chambourcin grapes, which are a hybrid produced by T.V. Munson. Fittingly, they selected this variety. Today they have the assistance of Dr. Roy Renfro, a professor at Grayson County Community College in Texas. Grayson Community College has their own vineyard but Dr. Renfro visits here about 3 times a year and works with Ann Maynor, the exterior landscape manager, at Gaylord, to determine when things need to be pruned and how to care for and look over this vineyard. Normally, one would expect bare root stock, like they planted, to take about 5 years to actually produce grapes. These grapes were planted 2 and 1/2 years ago, they're very proud of this vineyard, it is loaded with beautiful plants and abundant grapes. They don't make wine with these grapes, but the guests could if they wished.

These are very good grapes. They're a red grape, they do have seeds. In the fall, the leaves are a beautiful color. These plants are disease and pest resistant, a very good thing for a hotel with lots of guests, because they don't want to be spraying. For these reasons, Dr. Renfro thought that these grapes were an appropriate selection. They've had almost no infestations, the plants and vines are healthy. They look forward to his next visit so he can tell them how they're doing.

When Joe thinks of grapes and wine, he thinks of California with their cool nights that he thought important for success and a sweet grape. He has noticed that the nights here aren't very cool, yet these grapes are thriving. Vickie thinks there are several reasons. One, they have chosen a variety with a rootstock native to Texas, so it has developed itself and acclimated itself to warm nights and hot days. Also, they've planted in the correct soil and they have given them the proper care. All those things combine to make a healthy vineyard.

Joe notices rose bushes planted at the base of the trellises. Vickie says there are several reasons they have a rose garden in the middle of their vineyard. Roses are beautiful, they're fragrant and they're native Texas roses, but importantly, roses are used as an indicator for the disease Phylloxera. They found out a long time ago that roses are susceptible to the disease and that they show signs of the disease before a grapevine will. So, out of that historical significance they have decided to plant a small rose garden in the vineyard. The guests enjoy it and it's added a great touch.

Joe thanks Vickie for showing us around. This has been a most informative show. We've learned a lot today. The gardens are beautiful inside and out.

Links ::

Gaylord Texan Grapevine Resort and Convention Center
Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau

Back to Top

GardenSMART Featured Article

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Have your hanging baskets seen better days? It’s normal, by midsummer they are ready for a little TLC to bring them back to their former glory. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.