GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2007 show20
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Show #20/807
Olbrich Gardens-Madison Wisconsin


Introduction to Olbrich Gardens
ROBERTA SLADKY IS THE DIRECTOR OF OLBRICH GARDENS and welcomes Joe. Roberta has an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin which is just down the road and a Masters from the University of Delaware. She spent most of her career in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area but has recently returned. This garden is a public, private partnership between the City of Madison Parks Division and the Olbrich Botanical Society.

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Thai Garden
THEIR MOST UNUSUAL GARDEN IS THE THAI GARDEN. Never in a million years did Jeff think they would have a tropical style garden right here in frigid Madison. The University of Madison has a lot of graduates that live and work in Thailand and they wanted the country remembered in Madison, thus made a generous gift. The different plant material gives one a tropical feel. When crossing the bridge the foliage and everything else overwhelms you. Jungle-like vines and other plants create a canopy overhead, it's almost a tunnel-like effect when walking through. But, plants native to Thailand are not going to be plants that would be native here. So, they substitute plants that will survive and thrive here.

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Tropical-looking plants
JEFF HAS TRIED TO CREATE A PLAM TREE EFFECT and sought a hardy plant with as big a foliage as possible. Accordingly they've chosen a Gymnocladus dioicus 'Kentucky Coffeetree' and limbed it up. Planted in a clump results in tufts of foliage. The bigger they get the better they'll get, it will take a little while though.

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Rose Garden Design
JEFF AND JOE NEXT VISIT THE ROSE GARDEN. Joe is confused because although he sees roses there are annuals, perennials and bold foliage in this area as well. Jeff wanted a new concept for a Rose Garden. Because roses aren't in bloom all the time and when they're not in bloom they're not great to look at Jeff has mixed in other plants. He has utilized bulbs, annuals and especially perennials because they can bloom at times when the roses aren't blooming. Additionally he has utilized shrubs that bloom at different times of the year. Jeff has even used small-scaled foreign trees like Ornamental Crabapples which don't do well with Oaks or other shade producing plants because they create too much shade. Similarly, Roses want to be in the sun.

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Black Spot and Powdery Mildew
THE COMMON FOES OF ANY ROSE GARDEN ARE BLACK SPOT AND POWDERY MILDEW. Jeff believes the best way to combat these issues is to select disease resistant varieties of roses. They're out there and developing new varieties every year. So, rather than spray chemicals all over the garden to control those problems, try new Roses and those that perform stay, those that don't go. Plus many of the new varieties are repeat bloomers.
Problems with Black spot
Powdery Mildew


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Containers
JOE NOTICES THE CONTAINERS THROUGHOUT THE GARDEN ARE GREAT LOOKING. The containers in the Rose Garden mimic the architecture of the roof line. They've basically taken the same angles and turned them upside down to create pots. They have, of course, roses (Sunrise Sunset) planted in them but additionally have annuals included to fill them out. Angelonia angustifolia hybrid is purple, the little Spurges Euphorbia, Petranthis has beautiful burgundy foliage, there is Ipomoea Marguerite Sweet Potato Vine and a nice Phlox stansburyi Pink Phlox.

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Take Away
JEFF FEELS THAT TO HAVE GARDEN INTEREST 12 MONTHS OF THE YEAR ONE NEEDS TO THINK ABOUT USING THE ENTIRE PLANT PALLET. There are a lot of great plants out there, take advantage of bulbs for early spring bloom, summer annuals, spring annuals all these should be utilized to have color throughout the season. There are many perennials available that are great in flower but select those that have great foliage as well. Flowering shrubs, whether shrub roses or lilacs, should be utilized as backdrops for other plants to be against. Small flowering trees can be used for ornamental interest. Large growing trees can provide a canopy over the garden. Use them all together to create a nice composition but don't stop at the plants, think about the hardscapes. Have beautiful pots, benches, pergolas because all create outdoor garden rooms. If you use them all you can create the complete package. It's just like your home, it's just outdoors.

Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

Olbrich Botanical Garden

Mansion Hill Inn



Complete transcript of the show.


In this episode Garden Smart travels to Madison, Wisconsin and visits Olbrich Gardens. Olbrich Gardens is beautiful, few gardens across the country rival its splendor.
ROBERTA SLADKY IS THE DIRECTOR OF OLBRICH GARDENS and welcomes Joe. Roberta has an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin which is just down the road and a Masters from the University of Delaware. She spent most of her career in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area but has recently returned. This garden is a public, private partnership between the City of Madison Parks Division and the Olbrich Botanical Society. This partnership allows Olbrich to do a lot for the community. They have concert series in the summer, concert series at the holidays, they have art exhibits year round, the Conservatory is getting ready for a butterfly exhibition, which they hold every summer, they have educational programs for children and families, this is a community meeting place, there are rooms available for garden clubs, they host weddings, they do a little of everything. It is great to see. But importantly they have great horticulture at this garden. John Worth is responsible for the Bolz Conservatory and Jeff Epping, the Director of Horticulture, is responsible for the outdoor gardens.
Joe next meets Jeff. Jeff graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a BS and Masters degree. While going to school he took several internships, one was at the Chicago Botanical Garden, the other at Longwood Gardens. Longwood really sold him on horticulture. Although one doesn't make much money in horticulture, that doesn't matter, he loves working here, every day is a pleasure to come to work. And he has a great staff, as well.
We start in the Perennial Garden which is sort of a free flowing garden. It takes one through ornamental grasses and free form plants with very bright colors. In contrast to this they have the Sunken Garden, which is a very formal English style garden with only cool colors and beautiful water features. Olbrich has over 10 specialty gardens that are intended to, at the least, give people bits and pieces of ideas that they can try at home.
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THEIR MOST UNUSUAL GARDEN IS THE THAI GARDEN. Never in a million years did Jeff think they would have a tropical style garden right here in frigid Madison. The University of Madison has a lot of graduates that live and work in Thailand and they wanted the country remembered in Madison, thus made a generous gift. The different plant material gives one a tropical feel. When crossing the bridge the foliage and everything else overwhelms you. Jungle-like vines and other plants create a canopy overhead, it's almost a tunnel-like effect when walking through. But, plants native to Thailand are not going to be plants that would be native here. So, they substitute plants that will survive and thrive here. For example, they like bold foliage which harkens the tropics, thus they have utilized things like Catalpa bignonioides which is completely hardy. It has big bold leathery foliage and gorgeous Orchid-like flowers. To take it another step they have used Paulownia tomentosa 'Royal Princess' tree which has gorgeous garbage can lid sized leaves, it gets 15 to 20 feet tall. Unfortunately it isn't hardy here so they cut it to the ground, then every spring it shoots back up, then dies back to the ground again in the winter. Paulownia in the South can be aggressive but not so much here. It grows large, doesn't produce fruit which is helpful from an invasiveness standpoint. Musaceae (Banana) trees are also present, some like Canna x generalis are true tropical plants that they bring in and out every season. They bring them in after the last frost, over winter them in a greenhouse, a basement would work, then start them out again in the spring and they will get bigger every year.
For a real tropical look, one must incorporate some Bamboo. In Thailand Bamboo will grow to 50 feet tall and it's everywhere. They're not that hardy here, they grow to only about 6 inches. But a perfect substitute is Spodiopogon sibiricus 'Japanese Frost' Grass. It will grow to about 4 feet tall and most can't tell it is not Bamboo. Joe feels this is a good lesson for everyone. If looking for a certain plant, look or theme but find that specific plant isn't hardy in your area, do some research, usually there is another plant that can be substituted. In this case if Bamboo is invasive in your area yet you want a Bamboo look, find a substitute. Japanese 'Frost' grass is a great substitute and importantly a clumping form, meaning it stays put.
The Thai pavilion up close is an amazing structure. This gift from the Thai Alumni Association is beautiful, it's hand-carved, painted by hand with gold leaf, not paint. Even in Thailand Jeff doesn't think one could find a pavilion with any higher quality. Since he's visited twice, he fells safe in making that statement. There are only about 3 outside of Thailand and this is the only one in North America. Jeff likes the fact that they've had the opportunity to build a garden around it, created a tropical or Thai feel, to create the whole package.
Top


JEFF HAS TRIED TO CREATE A PLAM TREE EFFECT and sought a hardy plant with as big a foliage as possible. Accordingly they've chosen a Gymnocladus dioicus 'Kentucky Coffeetree' and limbed it up. Planted in a clump results in tufts of foliage. The bigger they get the better they'll get, it will take a little while though.
Underneath is Loriapy spicata which is a hardy species in the north. In the south Loriapy Muscari is normally used but it isn't hardy here. This plant grows in full shade, a little sun, it's a perfect ground cover and a great alternative for lawns and doesn't require chemicals. Mow it once in the spring and you're done.
Jeff also has Aesculus parviflora 'Bottlebrush Buckeye'. It is hardy, its tropical, has bold foliage and the flowers are gorgeous. Some think there isn't a finer shrub than Bottlebrush Buckeye.
Top


JEFF AND JOE NEXT VISIT THE ROSE GARDEN. Joe is confused because although he sees roses there are annuals, perennials and bold foliage in this area as well. Jeff wanted a new concept for a Rose Garden. Because roses aren't in bloom all the time and when they're not in bloom they're not great to look at Jeff has mixed in other plants. He has utilized bulbs, annuals and especially perennials because they can bloom at times when the roses aren't blooming. Additionally he has utilized shrubs that bloom at different times of the year. Jeff has even used small-scaled foreign trees like Ornamental Crabapples which don't do well with Oaks or other shade producing plants because they create too much shade. Similarly, Roses want to be in the sun. There are traditional roses in this garden, for example they have Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Florabundas but the role of the rose is downplayed in this garden. They wanted to highlight shrub and landscape roses, so everything from the old fashioned Roses to the modern hybrids have been utilized. There are many new roses coming out all the time. Here they either succeed or they go. Roses have had a bad rap for perceived high maintenance. Jeff has the normal rose problems but one that has just showed up is the Rose midge. It's a very tiny insect that's difficult to see and it attacks the newly forming buds resulting in no flowers on those plants. So far they're treating it organically and using a parasitic nematode. Since it's new to them they're checking the progress.
Top


THE COMMON FOES OF ANY ROSE GARDEN ARE BLACK SPOT AND POWDERY MILDEW. Jeff believes the best way to combat these issues is to select disease resistant varieties of roses. They're out there and developing new varieties every year. So, rather than spray chemicals all over the garden to control those problems, try new Roses and those that perform stay, those that don't go. Plus many of the new varieties are repeat bloomers.
Problems with Black spot
Powdery Mildew
Other plants are utilized to create a type of mixed border which creates interest throughout the season. Jeff shows some of the perennials that are mixed in with the roses. Drought tolerance is a key. They don't want to be dumping a lot of water to keep perennials happy at the expense of the roses because black spot and powdery mildew thrive on too much water. Jeff is using plants like Nepeta cataria, Catmint, Nepeta Stachys byzantina Lambs Ear, Stachys. He also likes a lot of silver foliage and plants with burgundy foliage. Physocarpus opulifolius 'Summer Wine', Palace Castle Arnesia work well here. Along with different colors, textures, the darker colors show off whiter colors well. Jeff believes that when you design a garden play the flowers and foliage off one another. That's what they're thinking here with their garden design.
Top


JOE NOTICES THE CONTAINERS THROUGHOUT THE GARDEN ARE GREAT LOOKING. The containers in the Rose Garden mimic the architecture of the roof line. They've basically taken the same angles and turned them upside down to create pots. They have, of course, roses (Sunrise Sunset) planted in them but additionally have annuals included to fill them out. Angelonia angustifolia hybrid is purple, the little Spurges Euphorbia, Petranthis has beautiful burgundy foliage, there is Ipomoea Marguerite Sweet Potato Vine and a nice Phlox stansburyi Pink Phlox. Again, when the roses are not in bloom there is always plenty to see. Joe notices the containers that mimic the roof line are included down a walkway and railing. Accordingly, they provide interest when walking up or going down. But they have great looking containers throughout the garden and Joe and Jeff take a look.
The next group of containers line a walkway or alle. The pairing of the plants here is clever. The Hosta and the Hakenachloa aureola both will deal with some sun but thrive in the shade. Although a simple combination, it is effective. The Krossa Regal Hosta comes up, it's an upright grower, then the Golden Japanese Hakonechloa macra 'Areola' (Giant Nipple Grass) fills in the bottom of the pot, softens it but it's bright. The color keeps the eye moving to the focal point at the end of the walkway.
This is a new container and filled with many plants. The container is recycled and was at one time a double copper boiler that was used to make candy. A salvager came by one day and asked Jeff if he wanted it before he sold it for scrap. Jeff jumped at the chance. It is big, has a lot of presence and a lot of plants will fit in, including a beautiful Cycad encephalartos which has a lot of architectural presence. The container planting now represents a caldron so they wanted to create a flame looking effect around the base. To do that they have a lot of linear foliage plants with bright golds and burgundys. It doesn't have a lot of flowers but there is a lot going on.
Joe and Jeff next visit a shadier location. They feel lucky to be in this cool place today and it appears the plants do as well. This is a collection of Coleus. One, Solenostermon ' Coleus', really stands out. The collection looks good here because there are several hard surfaces. Brick on the pathway meets the stone wall. The coleus really soften the area. Jeff says that they are truly plant collectors thus couldn't help themselves and kept getting different varieties. It's a great venue to show off different varieties to visitors and by putting them next to each other allows them to play off each other and accents their color and texture.
Jeff feels that one of the first things gardeners need to address after a good soil mix is fertilization. Here they use a slow release fertilizer on top of the soil right after planting, that way every time they're watered a little fertilizer is released. Later in the season that fertilizer may run out. If one has a particularly hot summer and you've watered a lot one might want to supplement with a liquid fertilizer. Do this when the plants stop growing. Whether foliage plants or flowering plants, one always wants the plants to be growing. If they stop, it's time to give them a shot of fertilizer. Here they're always pruning and always pinching the flowering plants or going in and deadheading the plants. Jeff likes to alternate different stems, thus not do it all at once. Instead pick away at it each week, that way there is always something in bloom and something looking good. And, one plant doesn't swamp another, that's very important.
The guys go from the shade to the sun and these plants are not your ordinary containers. But, they're a lot of fun. These are carnivorous plants. Sarracenia purpurea 'Pitcher' plant and Dionaea muscipula 'Venus Flytraps' are two of the plants in this container. These plants grab insects to obtain nutrients because they come from infertile soil. Jeff started them in hypertufa troughs that are filled with Sphagnum moss. After the initial success they got so excited about them that they ended up building a small bog garden that has a rubber liner in it. The plants are completely hardy, so they're good all winter long. The containers are rubber lined because they want to keep the moss very wet which these plants like, coming from a bog situation. The pitchers are what attract insects and kids love that. They're always sticking their nose in to see if an insect is in there and they're rarely disappointed, there are always a few dead insects to look at.
Jeff and Joe now look at flowering plants that do well in the shade. Two plants are, Impatiens 'Spellbound' which is orange and Begonia boliviens 'Bonfire" which is named perfectly. It's not a typical Begonia, very exotic. The foliage sets it off, there is a lot of texture and the flower is great. Containers are a great idea for the shade. If you want to brighten a shady area bright plants in containers is a good idea. Often in shady areas there is a lot of root competition with big trees and containers work well because they are self contained and can be moved if necessary.
Top


Joe tells Jeff that he and his volunteers have done a wonderful job adding extra interest to each garden room. JEFF FEELS THAT TO HAVE GARDEN INTEREST 12 MONTHS OF THE YEAR ONE NEEDS TO THINK ABOUT USING THE ENTIRE PLANT PALLET. There are a lot of great plants out there, take advantage of bulbs for early spring bloom, summer annuals, spring annuals all these should be utilized to have color throughout the season. There are many perennials available that are great in flower but select those that have great foliage as well. Flowering shrubs, whether shrub roses or lilacs, should be utilized as backdrops for other plants to be against. Small flowering trees can be used for ornamental interest. Large growing trees can provide a canopy over the garden. Use them all together to create a nice composition but don't stop at the plants, think about the hardscapes. Have beautiful pots, benches, pergolas because all create outdoor garden rooms. If you use them all you can create the complete package. It's just like your home, it's just outdoors.
Joe thanks Jeff. This has been information packed and a great time. Thanks Jeff.
Top



LINKS:

Olbrich Botanical Garden

Mansion Hill Inn


   
 
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