Larry White, the director of Public Relations for the Kissimmee
Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomes Garden Smart to the Kissimmee
and Orlando area. This is the number 1 family destination in the world,
claiming approximately 48 million visitors each year that originate
from all over the world. This area has appealed to visitors for 35
years, at least certainly since 1971 when Disneyworld opened the Magic
Kingdom. While the area has continued to grow, Larry feels Kissimmee
has retained a small town atmosphere in many aspects. He finds that
travelers enjoy that aspect after they've done the theme park
experience. At that point they're ready to kick back, relax, enjoy
go-kart racing, dinner shows, explore Old Town, fishing in nearby
lakes, even golf. There have been a number of high profile,
championship golf courses designed by some of the best names in the
business added in the past few years. The weather in central Florida
allows many plants to prosper here.To view many of those plants one
should visit the Gaylord Palms. Tim McColgan has done a wonderful job
in this regard, making this property unique. Larry welcomes Garden
Smart and invites all its viewers to come and visit.
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Tim McColgan is the horticulture manager at the Gaylord Palms Hotel.
The Gaylord Palms has 3 basic theme areas - Everglades, St. Augustine
and Key West. Within these gardens there are a lot of tropical plants.
We start by looking at some of the taller palms and Tim talks about
several of his favorites. The Caryota or Fishtail Palm is so called
because when one looks at its leaf it looks like it could be a
fishtail. These are beautiful specimens. There is a Pandanus, called
Screw Pine. Some mistake it for a Yucca plant because of the lance-like
foliage. The root structure at the base of the plant is very
interesting. Tim also likes the Ficus lyrata because of its large,
really dark green and big waxy leaf.
Joe likes the Chocolate Tree. It is unusual, the flowers are more on
the stem than where most plants have flowers, at the apex of the leaf.
It is a long, slow process to get chocolate out of the tree.
Tim tells us a little about his background. He has been in Florida for
about 12 years. His background is in plant science and horticulture. He
comes from northern gardens. And one of his biggest fears when first
moving here was that he wouldn't know the plant pallet here, that he
wouldn't know tropicals and subtropicals. But, because he's an avid
gardener and passionate about plants he jumped right in and began the
learning process. To Tim it's fun, there is always something new, new
plants to discover, when you're interested it is easier and faster to
Tim next shows Joe some tropicals in the Key West atrium. We first
view, in the upper canopy, an Adonidia Palm. Below it is another Palm,
a Chamaedorea, or Chamaedorea metallica. The reason it is called
metallica is when you look at the leaf on the plant it has a silvery
coating. To incorporate color Tim has utilized Cordyline plants or
Hawaiian type plants as well as several different kinds of Ginger. Joe
likes the way the colors tie together. The lighter colored plants seem
to come alive when the lights are on at night. It looks very different
here in the evening than during the day. Strikingly beautiful.
Tim next tells us about bed design. In this bed they tried to
incorporate different textures, different colors, things that are
unusual. The Dieffenbachia has been around for awhile; this however is
a newer variety, called Camouflage. The plant behind it is called
Schefflera arboricola. It has the same leaf coloration but has a
completely different texture. Tim has used a darker plant underneath
because of the contrasting leaf color, it is a Calathea, or Calathea
Tim is going to be renovating a bed later and now shows us behind the
scenes and the planning and work that goes into changing a bed. When
they first begin to look at a new bed design they first develop the
concept, then put the concept together. They go into the marketplace
and see what's available from the local Florida nurserymen. After
buying the plants, they bring them into this facility, inspect them
closely, look at them really hard and if necessary quarantine them to
make sure there are no insect or disease problems. This should also
apply at home, inspect the plants you buy, especially under the leaf
surface. Do this at the nursery, before you bring them home.
Another use for this staging room is for building all the floral
displays. They have a group of talented stars, that provide fresh cut
floral displays for the hotel. They change them out every week but
freshen them every 3 or 4 days. The arrangements are spectacular.
We just had to mention the floral arrangements, now back to the bed
renovation. They've inspected the plants, organized them into groupings
(everything looks good and healthy), now they're ready to take them
upstairs. Tim's crew, referred to as stars, is a talented group. Three
have earned their Master Gardener designation and they've won both
local and national awards for their gardens here. Tristen, the lead
horticulturist, has started on the bed renovation.
Tim provides a little background on why and when they change a bed.
Here, he felt that aesthetically this bed no longer worked in this
area. He realizes that everything in the garden has a specific life
span and this bed had outlived its time. It had been in for about 4
years, was overgrown and was time to move on. When taking out the old
plant material they must decide what stays and what goes. Some of the
larger pieces, some of the bones of the garden, those that feel good
and belong here, stay. Others must leave. A lot of the undergrowth or
understory material has grown together - it goes. They open up the bed
and clear it for new plantings. When clearing a bed and removing old
plant material, that is an ideal time to do some bed renovation to the
soil or to update the irrigation system or even add an irrigation
system. Soil will get broken down over time so you might want to add
fertilizer. They've done all that in this bed. First they opened up the
bed, cleared out the old material, did an irrigation preventative
maintenance inspection to make sure it was ready for new plant
material, brought in a lot of new soil, incorporated that into the old
soil and added fertility to the new plant mix.
To begin with, they looked at the space then decided on the feel they
wanted to create. Since this is in the Everglades area, Tim wanted an
Everglades feel. They looked at leaf size, leaf shape and texture and
color because they wanted to incorporate color. They also looked at
screening items. Here they have a long wall, they wanted to screen that
wall and take some of the hardscape away. It is a bed that can be
viewed from 360 degrees so they were sensitive to that. To us it looked
great before but the finished bed is even better.
Joe has found a new gadget. Many times when renovating a bed, he needs
to amend the soil and sometimes it's with 5 or 6 inches of new soil
improvements. How much does that translate into cubic feet or cubic
yards? He has found a new tool, this one wasn't made for the outdoor
garden setting but works well here. Let's say the garden bed is 10 by
20 feet and we want to know how much soil amendment to add. If he
points this tool, he gets the dimensions. It will then actually
calculate the square feet or cubic yards that are needed. That way one
can go to the garden center and buy the exact, needed amount.
This next bed screams color in a great way. It's beautiful but does
have some unique requirements. The soil depth is 6 to 8 inches deep
thus they can't use large plant material. Secondly it is one of the
most heavily trafficked areas, thus they've turned it into a perpetual
color bed. They're always changing it out- about every 6 to 8 weeks.
Right now it has a northern bulb display.
Some of the taller plant material utilized is Sansevaria and Rhapis
Palm. They have mixed in temperate plants with tropical plants, even
some forced plants. They have Forsythia, Cork Screw Willow and Quince.
All are forced. They go to local florists, buy what they call sticks.
They crush the ends and allow the sticks to hydrate. They keep them
chilled until ready to bring them out, stick them in floral foam, then
bury the floral foam in the ground. As a final touch they cover the
whole bed with sheet moss. It's a great touch, the technique of forcing
the plants helps create an instant garden.
We next view what Tim calls his Villa garden or Mediterranean "feeling"
garden. There is color everywhere. This garden has just been renovated
and they wanted to incorporate a Mediterranean feel into the area. This
garden is really just a giant container, it's one big raised bed. Here
they looked at texture, they wanted a flow of a Mediterranean garden.
This is a long space so they repeated things over and over. And that is
a tip for the homeowner. If you have a long narrow bed, it's a great
idea to repeat patterns. That way you tie the garden together, you
create rhythm and consistency. It draws the eye across the bed. Joe
loves the Gerber Daisies. Tim saw these at a nursery, loved the color
and felt it would work well in this landscape. Directly behind the
Daisies they have a native, Saw Palmetto, or Seranoa, Seranoa repens.
It does very well inside. And in true Mediterranean style they've added
Agaves. Blue Agaves as well as some variegated varieties. An
interesting plant that many might confuse for a Yucca is really a
Dracaena. The Yuccas probably won't do as well as hoped but the
Dracaena is a true tropical. If a plant doesn't grow in your area find
other plants that are available, plants that look similar, then
substitute. Further down through the rocks they have a Selaginella,
which will eventually creep and begin to cover the rocks. Even further
down Tim has a true Mediterranean plant, the Pimenta, it is tropical.
As is the Bay Rum which has a great scent. Break the leaf, it smells
great. Two final elements they wanted to add to this overall bed design
were a hardscape element and a container element that reflects the
overall Mediterranean design theme. The whole hardscape was pretty easy
to put together. They took Tennessee flagstone, laid it on top of sand,
filled in the cracks with brown river gravel. Around the edges and to
soften the edges, he put in Maiden Hair Fern. Tim also added containers
on the backside of the patio area. Joe, although not wanting to
diminish the effort, says it sounds like it was relatively easy, yet it
looks sophisticated. Tim says it took only about two hours and it looks
great. The containers are the final feature. One is an unusual blue
color. For it Tim chose Selaginella moss, which is the same color, thus
incorporated it into the container. Joe loves the foliage color, but
wouldn't have believed that it was possible to match the foliage and
the container. It's unusual and beautiful. With the big, dark Rosemary
as a backdrop the whole container system really works with the patio.
Eric Johnson shares his tips for the week. A great way to create accent
and intrigue in the garden is by using black plants. Black plants are
some of the hottest plants on the market today. Eric has 3 examples.
Ophiopogon Nigrescens, Black Mondo Grass has a wonderful texture for
underplantings. Colocasia Black Magic is great for a tropical feel.
They will get pretty big. One of his favorites is Sambucus Black Lace.
It is a fast grower and super cold hardy. When you're looking for
plants for your garden, think about black plants for accent.
See the Garden Tips section on our web site for more information.
The next area is a main thoroughfare. They have a lot of interesting
plants, different leaf textures, a lot of different colors but the main
design intent was - at the 1st and 2nd story level, to provide privacy
for the guests. Tim wanted them to feel like they were enclosed in
their own garden space and to provide those walking along the corridor
more of a garden view. Joe thinks it has worked. Most every homeowner
has something they want to cover, be it an air conditioning unit,
fence, compost pile or something else. Remember there is some plant
material to cover it.
We've so far looked inside, Tim takes us outside. It obviously has an
entirely different look yet, as expected, is as beautiful as anything
we've seen. This is the front of the hotel, design wise similar to the
front of a house. It's a little more formal. Here they have straight
lines, where everything inside is informal, more flowing. As well here
they've created layers. At the bottom they have annuals and they change
that color 4 or 5 times a year. The next layer has evergreen shrubs,
then behind that another shrub that has as little different color, a
little different texture. Then, the upper canopy has big Phoenix
dactylifera Palms. Here is a good tip for homeowners. Oftentimes we
have Boxwoods and we think of them as formal, thus we sheer them on the
top and sides. There is another technique called pocket pruning. When
you cut across the top you stimulate new growth where you make the cut.
The better approach is to pocket prune. With this method you actually
reach in and create pockets or openings in the plant. The result is
that more air and light gets into center of the plant and it fills out
all the way from top to bottom.
Joe thanks Tim. He likes everything he's seen inside and out. Joe has
learned a lot and hopefully our viewers have as well. Thank you Tim.