Gardening under glass is a great way to control your growing
environment. Today we take indoor gardening to an entirely new level as
we visit the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. Here they have 4 and
1/2 acres under glass and it showcases some of the state's most unusual
places, like Key West, St. Augustine and the Everglades. The
temperature is a constant 72 degrees, with the perfect humidity so it's
a great place to see some healthy and unusual plants.
Kemp Gallineau is the General manager of the Gaylord Palms Resort and
Convention Center in Orlando. This is a 1500 room resort that
incorporates the best of Florida under 1 roof. Here they have a replica
of the fort at St. Augustine, gardens that represent the Everglades and
the Key West area, as well as animal exhibits. And all this is under
their spectacular atrium. To compete with the many attractions in the
area the Gaylord Palms must stand out. And they do, this resort is
spectacular. There is no one better to show us around than Tim
McColgan, who leads the horticulture staff that keeps this property at
the highest level on a day to day basis.
Tim says they really do have spectacular gardens here. The gardens are
about 4 and 1/2 acres in a conservatory space under glass. When the
gardens were being conceived management first wanted to find what
people wanted when visiting Florida. They found out that people wanted
to go to the Everglades, wanted to go to St. Augustine and they wanted
to go to Key West. So they created gardens out of each of those themes.
Tim feels he has the best and coolest job in the whole hotel. He loves
this position. His background is in horticulture and plant science and
has been in the landscape industry for about 25 years.
We start in the St. Augustine area, which is about 2 acres. If you've
been to St. Augustine you know the fort. Its proper name is Castillo de
San Marcos and was built by the Spanish in the late 1600's. It is made
of a special stone, coquina, calcium carbonate, which is broken down
shells that have been compressed over time. The Spanish would go into a
quarry, cut stones out and build the product from that. It is a tough
stone and could withstand the force of cannonballs. They would actually
bounce off because the coquina would absorb some of the impact. They
have also withstood the test of time.
Here they have plants growing out of the stone. The first we view is
Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes. It does well in lower lighting situations.
Next we view a Lipstick Plant which is doing well on the top. It is
filled with blooms.
Tall Palms were utilized to create an archway into the fort and to make
one feel they're walking into a new room or a different room. These are
Caryota mitis, the Fish Tail Palm and are readily available at garden
centers, although they will stay much smaller. As will the Rhapis Palm
underneath which is a great houseplant and is commonly referred to as
Lady Palm. If you wanted something with a bit more color one might
utilize the Philodendron, this one is called Philodendron Red Congo. It
will do well inside and makes a bold statement when it gets bigger.
Calathea also makes a bold statement. They have a lot of varieties of
Calathea, Ctenanthe and Stromanthe, they're all kind of related. Tim
likes them because they do well in low light situations, offer a bold
leaf pattern and the underside of the leaf has a nice maroon color
which looks great when the air moves the leaves.
Tim also likes a plant, new for him. This is a Nun's Orchid. They don't
grow it for the foliage, the foliage isn't spectacular. Instead they
grow it for the display, the flower. They get 6 to 8 weeks of color and
it's fragrant. A great addition. This plant has a single stalk but more
mature plants will have 4 or 5 spikes per plant.
The next plant is related to the Spider Plant. It's a Chlorophytum,
this one is called Chlorophytum Mandarin. Tim doesn't grow this plant
for its foliage either, it to is grown strictly for the color. It has a
bright flash on the stem and the trunk of the plant. Tim receives more
questions about this plant than any other in the hotel. Tim has
mirrored their color in an adjoining bed. Part of a good design element
is to take a bold statement, then repeat it on the other side.
Tim next shows us a Phoenix roebelenii palm. He found this in south
Florida, had it acclimated then brought it to this environment. He has
set it off with a dark backdrop. That is a great tip for the home
gardener-if you want something to pop or stand out, then give it a good
dark background. This palm wouldn't stand out as much without the
curtain of green behind it. Tim felt that this plant had a lot of
character and wanted to feature it, thus the surrounding colors.
On the way to the Everglades garden Tim and Joe notice several American
alligators, that are native to the Florida area. This is a great
habitat for them. The rock they're on is heated. Alligators don't have
the ability to cool their bodies. They will sit on the rock or warm
their bodies in the sun, then they'll slide in the water and cool down.
In the Everglades atrium they've tried to recreate the feeling and
experience of the Everglades. Before building this hotel they visited
the Everglades with the intent of bringing elements to this location.
One of those elements is what Tim refers to as controlled chaos. There
is nothing planted in individual rows, everything is more random. This
is something that applies to the homeowner. Look at what happens in
nature, then bring that back into your own landscape or garden. You
don't need rows of 3's, 5's or 7's.
This area has several challenges. It has low light and fog, both add to
growing challenges. Fog sometimes wreaks havoc on plant material.
Another thing they do well here that applies to the homeowner is to
make good plant choices. Choose plants that will succeed in your area.
Bald Cypress does well in this environment, as does Cyrtostachys or Red
Sealing Wax Palm and Alocasia and Colocasia. They do great in this
Joe notices a totem. It provides a lot of vertical interest. Tim's
gardeners wanted to create vertical interest thus utilized the pilings
that support the boardwalk. They took Sphagnum Moss, soaked it then
wrapped it with monofilament, put a drip irrigation system at the top,
wrapped the whole thing, then plugged in plants. Here they utilize
plants that work in this environment but plants for any environment
could work. The homeowner can do the same thing. Buy the Sphagnum Moss
at a garden center, fishing line will work to wrap, add appropriate
plants and you can have a similar look. If you're in an area that gets
very cold in the winter treat the plants as annuals, try Impatiens or
whatever does well in your area.
Another challenging area had very low light, mist and fog. Plant
material didn't last very long. They liked the foggy look for the
mystery feel but many plants didn't like it - they were always wet.
They decided to change the concept in this particular area entirely and
incorporated elements of what an Everglades river bank might look like,
without all the plants. Tim realized that all plants have a life span
but the life span for the plants in this area was too short and they
were constantly replacing them. So they developed he concept of turning
this space into a riverbank and the riverbanks in northern Florida look
like this. This is an example of taking a problem situation and
improving upon it. Many home gardeners have similar type problems - it
might be trying to grow grass in a shady situation. One might try to
limb up the trees, if that doesn't work, then grow something else,
replace grass with something that works. Here they took all plant
material out, excavated about 2 inches of soil, put down some filter
fabric, then imported 1-3 inches of washed river gravel and they have a
new look. They've selectively put in plant material and placed
driftwood for ornamentation. It looks natural. Joe likes it, it looks
Tim next shows Joe their torques. This is something their gardeners
dreamed up. They've taken old growth grapevines from California. Some
of this original stock was shipped to California from Europe in the
1800's. It no longer produces grapes as it should, so they've taken the
vines, put them in a tumbler to give them the weathered look, then gone
to a grower and found multiple varieties of Tillandsias, which are
epenthetic plants (they live off the air) and essentially hot glued
them on to make it look like they belong in the Everglades. It does not
produce anything, it's just a dry piece of wood with a lot of character
but something like what one would see in the Everglades. And it looks
Eric Johnson tells us this week about color combinations in containers.
They're a great way to bring a dynamic splash of color to the
landscape. Eric shows us some beautiful ornamental ironwork containers
with some great color combinations. One of his favorites is Supertunia
Petunias, this one is called Royal Velvet. It is interplanted with
Blushing Princess. It is a great combination of dark lavenders with
light blush colors. Fantastic. Another great combo is Phlox Intensia,
Lavender Glow. It is planted with Royal Velvet for another great
combination. A unique combination is Phlox Intensia Cabernet, a deep
magenta, which is very nice in containers. Another Supertunia is Giant
Pink, it looks fantastic. These are just a few ideas for great
container combinations that you can use in any setting. For more
information visit our web site, click on Gardening Tips.
Tim tells Joe about some of the interesting maintenance issues in this
atrium environment. Plants normally need a lot of light. The glass in
this building is 99% UV block and has a 60% shade coefficient. Because
they are on the inside, without wind or rain, and with low light it is
imperative to keep the plants clean, because dust will block some of
the plants ability to photosynthesize. To keep plants clean they often
hand wash them. On some plants they take a wet rag and wipe them down
once a week. Other plants are sprayed down. On the upper canopy
material which collects most of the dust, every 60 to 90 days they
utilize a pressure washer. They bring a lift into the facility, then
lightly pressure wash the leaves to remove the dust buildup. They keep
the pressure washer at very low pressure but with enough pressure to
get dust off and keep the leaves clean.
Their water irrigation system is computerized, computer controlled.
They have underground irrigation and know exactly how many gallons are
being applied at any given time. That changes on a seasonal basis. When
the heat is turned on it's a bit drier and because it's air conditioned
it results in a low humidity situation. Some spots are hot spots and
some spots aren't hit with irrigation, on those spots they hand water.
Joe shares a tip for the home environment. The homeowner is going to
realize 15-30% maximum humidity level during the winter and since the
air conditioner is a dehumidifier in the summer as well. So houseplants
suffer from a lack of humidity. A good tip is to place your container
or houseplant on a saucer that has some pebbles in it, then fill that
saucer with water and the evaporation actually provides humidity that
the plant needs.
Tim continues with his maintenance tips. His gardeners come in early in
the morning and check their area. They make sure their plants are clean
and they pull off all the yellow. Plants are always yellowing and,
again, they don't have wind to blow the leaves off, so they clean their
plants, prune when and where necessary and they're not shy about
pruning. If a plant appears to be overgrowing its area or if they want
to delineate one plant from another they prune those plants.
Fertility is another issue. Again, they don't have natural rainfall.
Normally one might put down a granular fertilizer but here they use a
water soluble fertilizer and use water tanks to get it into the soil.
They actually have their soil manufacturer incorporated fertility
directly into the soil, since they're always incorporating new soil
into the beds. Thus they're using a slow release fertilizer in the soil
and a water soluble fertilizer periodically a few times a year. At
home make sure not to over water. That is the number 1 reason that
plants die-too much water. The roots get saturated and the plant dies.
The Key West atrium is filled with 160,000 gallons of water. This
recently converted to saltwater and they brought in 3 primary sport
fish to the area. To do this they partnered with Florida Fish and
Wildlife and acquired Red Fish, Snook and Tarpon. Some of the Red Fish
are 35 to 40 pounds.
They've added color to this garden. What Key West garden would be
complete without Coconut trees? The Cocos nucifera does well here but
they do get a little stressed because of the low light situation. As
well, they've blended a lot of interesting color combinations. They're
colorful and fun and add a relaxed feel - just like Key West. Tim has
done a wonderful job of blending great colors and plant material with
the high Palm Trees, then the mid range, then the lower plant material.
There is a lot of different tropical plant material in this area.
Joe feels like he has had a plant tour of the whole state of Florida
and thanks Tim for the tour. Tim and his stars have done a wonderful
job, this is a lovely facility. Truly a great place to visit.
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