Show #27/2101. An Historic Site With A Great Fall Garden
Complete Transcript of Show
For many, fall is when the garden begins to fade. But that doesn't need to be the case. In this show GardenSMART visits an historic site that's been beautifully preparing for fall for over 170 years and we design a fall inspired container. Join us as we GardenSMART in Georgia.
Adairsville, Georgia is a small town between Chattanooga and Atlanta and the home of Barnsley Gardens Resort. Its romantic setting feels more like an intimate residence than a resort and that may well be because its history dates back to the pre-civil war era and to Godfrey Barnsley. In 1824, Barnsley sailed from his native England to Savannah, Georgia where he went to work as a cotton clerk with a cotton broker. Within 4 years he had started his own business, ten years after that, Barnsley had become one of the wealthiest cotton and shipping entrepreneurs in the south. In 1839 he traveled to north Georgia to view Cherokee Indian land and shortly thereafter began purchasing large tracts of land for a new home. Within a few years the estate had grown to 10,000 acres and he created a wilderness eden, called the Woodlands. It became one of the great showcases of the south. His gardens were meant to honor his wife Julia. Unfortunately Julia suffered from a respiratory ailment and died before the home was completed. But Barnsley and his 6 children continued on the sprawling estate whose centerpiece was a 26 room Italian villa with gardens featuring trees and flower cuttings from around the world. In designing this wonderful estate and gardens Barnsley was heavily influenced by Andrew Jackson Downing. Downing is credited with developing the art of American landscape architecture. Downing took elements of the English landscape garden style and adapted them to American landscapes. Downing died early, at the age of 36, but his accomplishments were many. For example, he designed and landscaped the grounds around the Capitol and White House. Downing was also heavily involved in residential landscapes and gardening, believing that country residences should fit into the surrounding landscape and blend with their natural habitat. He also felt that architecture should be functional as well as beautiful. Downing was as particular about the design organization of the exterior landscape as many were about the interior. In a sense, he created and arranged spaces, or rooms, in the landscape to function in the same domestic manner as a house. Rolling porches had become easier to construct due to the advance of building methods and Downing is credited with the popularization of the front porch. He saw the porch as a link from the house to nature. Downing believed that interacting with nature had a healing effect on mankind and wanted all people to be able to experience nature. The gardens at Barnsley Gardens are beautiful year round and they recognize today, as Barnsley did in his day, that fall is an important time for working in the garden, developing it and advancing garden design.
Dottie Wheaton is the horticulturist at Barnsley Gardens as well as a student of gardening history and our first guide. Dottie came to the world of horticulture a bit by happenstance. She came here years ago in an area not related to the horticulture department, but found she was drawn to horticulture and has found it something she's very passionate about. She's also a bit of a garden historian. Dottie feels it's not to be helped here, because this is a 19th century garden that is well preserved, to the state it was when Godfrey Barnsley was here. There are numerous historical features throughout but her favorite is the old Boxwood Partier Garden, which was planted over 170 years ago. Also, Godfrey had rock gardens, rockeries as they were called, and in their day were somewhat cutting edge. He would also move large specimens in because he was quite the collector. In fact, they have a Corcosuma tree that when they brought it here in 1857 was nearly as tall as the house when installed. It's a stunning specimen today. There is a tremendous sense of history here and a great combination of the old and new.
Dottie and Eric want to do some fall gardening, to get their hands dirty, thus get started. The first area visited is a highly representative perennial border garden. This is the time of year that Dottie and her staff reflect on the year, look at what worked in the garden, maybe what didn't, decide which color combinations have done particularly well together, address possible gaps in the garden and of course, work with the plants that have been too successful, plants that may be growing into other plants, then make changes for the next season.
A prime example of a plant that's been too successful is a SWAMP SUNFLOWER OR GIANT SUNFLOWER. It runs on its roots and has made its way to the front of the border. With its height it really needs to be towards the back of this garden. Dottie shows how she controls the growth by dividing this plant, thus keeping it in its intended area, towards the back of the garden. They definitely have a surplus of this plant. First she simply snips it off to make it more manageable, then takes the spading fork, and since its a shallow rooted plant, it comes up fairly easily. There they find the culprit, the roots, that cause the new plants to form. Any 2 to 4 inch section of the roots has little adventitious buds that form new plants. They make it easy to go in, cut off the root sections, then it's very easy to give the cuttings to a neighbor, etc. who would then, in a short period of time, have a nice clump or it is a natural plant to just plug directly into the border somewhere else. For use later in the season, one could take the root sections and store them in some peat moss in cold storage. Great lesson.
Eric, in his garden, has a nice stand of ASTERS. They're a wonderful fall plant, especially because of their deep blue color. However they tend to flop, especially in years like this when we've had a lot of rain. Hindsight is 20-20, had we realized the amount of rain this year we could have been more diligent in pinching them back. Dottie's Aster solution is to pinch the growth up to July 4th. Beyond that you take off the flower buds. A pinched plant makes more flowers. Because flowers will grow on the breaks below where it's been pinched, pinching makes a more compact plant, thus doesn't flop as readily. It, too, can be dug and divided very much like the perennial Sunflower. It's a perfect plant for that. In fact this plant was a pass along plant from a neighbor, it started with 3 small sprigs and it has spread quite a bit. It's now the time of year to dig and divide and spread the joy to someone else.
There are a number of wonderful perennials in this border garden. THE PEONIES ARE UNUSUAL, they are usually thought of as a northern plant, they're not commonly seen in the south. But, there are a few newcomers that are emerging, like the hybrid that's a cross between the tree Peonies and the herbaceous Peonies that look like they will be good down to zone 8. Nice foliage, great blooms. This is the time of year Dottie is evaluating Peonies, thinking about planting or moving them. Fall is a perfect time to plant a Peony, whether it be container grown or a mail ordered bare root. Always look for at least 3 to 5 eyes on a Peony, the bigger the plant, the sooner it will flower in your garden. It's important in the south to never plant the eyes deeper than 2 inches. A very common problem/question is about Peonies not blooming. The cause is often because it's been planted to deep. Also, take into consideration your selection, because in the south one needs to select mid season bloomers because the later one gets into spring, and the resulting hot muggy days, some of the later blooming flowers will never open. Select the varieties that do well in the south and you'll have many, many years of enjoyment out of the Peony.
Dottie has been very successful incorporating color into her fall garden. She shows us SEVERAL OF HER FAVORITE FALL PLANTS:
Camellia Sasanqua, grows about 8-10 feet tall, tolerates heavy shade and will be smothered in flowers throughout the fall. There are many colors and varieties available today, they range in color from white to pink to red and one can get single flowers as well as fully double flowers.
Dottie also has quite a few Camellia Japonicas. They are typically the larger blooming flower, not taking anything away from the Sasanqua, they're wonderful when used together in the garden. The Sasanqua will bloom a little earlier, Japonicas bloom a little later. As a rule of thumb and it doesn't always work out, but Sasanqua starts with an S and they usually bloom around September. Japonicas start with a J and usually bloom around January. Thus one might get as much as 3 or 4 months of bloom when used together.
Another great conversation piece in this garden is the Tea Camellia. Green tea, black tea and of course, good old fashioned Southern sweet tea comes from this plant. It's a neat plant with an interesting story. It's not as showy as the other 2 Camellias, but has little white flowers and is a very nice evergreen. It's well worth having in the garden.
Dottie also has some INTERESTING NATIVE PLANTS. The American Beautyberry or Callicarpa Americana has vivid purple berries up and down the stem. At some point when frost hits the plant, the leaves will come off and the stems will be barren and there will be nothing but berries. But they'll still be gorgeous. Another native is Euonymus Americana, which is called Cat's Paw because the little seeds protruding out of the capsule look like the pads on a cat's foot. Osmanthus fragrans Tea Olive is another great native, it's intensely fragrant. It looks like a Holly, it can fool people. It will grow in the shade or the sun but in the sun it tends to get a lot more flowers. It's fragrance really carries and that's a nice feature, fragrance is an important dimension in the garden. These natives provide a wonderful array of different colors and textures, a lot of diversity, they're a great group of plants that sustain color all the way into winter.
One aspect of garden design important to both Barnsley and Downing was the combination of practical and beautiful, blending utilitarian and wonderful gardens. There are some great examples on this property. One is the Vitis rotundifolia Muscadine arbor. It is based on Downing's version of a summerhouse. Pre-air conditioning everyone needed a little respite from the summer heat, so they would create structures, oftentimes arbors, then grow vines over them. Even front porches of that era would have a lot of vines growing all over. They were nice places to retreat from the hot summers.
This structure has a living tree in the center with a network of chains or trellises extending out to 8 posts. Each post has a different variety of MUSCADINE which helps with the fruit set, a lot of cross pollinating going on and also a variety of flavors. This past February they severely cut the vines to replace the posts but by next season, it will be a completely covered canopy again. Fall is a great time to be planting any kind of vine, especially Muscadines and if they do need to be cut back for pruning purposes, winter is the best time for that, when they're totally dormant. Fall is a great time for maintenance of these plants.
Another plant that is practical and beautiful is the FIG TREE. And there are many Fig trees throughout the property. Generally they will be planted against a structure and that is to protect it from the cold. Dottie and Eric discuss one that is planted against the smokehouse. The variety is Brown Turkey. It is a good, dependable producer and an excellent sweet tasting fig. It has great fruit and great foliage. It's an all around good plant for the garden.
Eric has seen some of the WONDERFUL ANNUAL BEDS in bloom during the spring at Barnsley Gardens. In fact they might well be the star of the show, they're incredible. Dottie and crew have just put in their fall beds and they take a look. Dottie discusses how these are created. They change their annual display beds twice a year and each time they change out the plants they add a lot of compost. Compost is important because the organic matter adds water-holding capacity for the soil and adds an organic tilt, it provides minerals, nutrients and makes the plants very happy and healthy. With their annual plantings they like to multi-layer their beds and that involves a lot of bulbs. There are multiple species in a bed, providing a lot of variety, a lot of different heights and a lot of different textures. Eric thinks it sounds complicated thus wants to know more. Dottie explains. The first thing to go in are the annuals. In this case, the Pansies go in around the 1st two weeks of October, which is the ideal planting time here. In November the bulbs arrive. One doesn't want to plant bulbs too early in the season, the soil temperature needs to cool down to about 60 degrees. That prevents them from pushing growth and blooming ahead of time. To get the layered effect, place the taller bulbs in the middle, then work your way out with successively shorter bulbs. Here they have some Tulips, one, a nice, tall Tulip will grow to about 12 to 14 inches, then on the outer fringes plant a miniature Tulip which will only grow to about 8 to 10 inches. It's important to mention that miniature Tulips make excellent naturalizing plants - they come back every year. They kind of colonize in the garden, they're good repeat bloomers from year to year and are much more reliable than trying to plant and grow the average Tulip year after year. They also have planted the Blue Star Flower, they will be very small, only about 4 inches tall thus are placed on the outer edge of the bed. The Anemone will grow to about 8 inches tall thus is mingled with the miniature Tulips and close to the edge.
The bulbs are different sizes and Eric wants to see how Dottie would plant each one. A rule of thumb that applies across the board with bulbs is, the rule of thirds. That refers to the planting depth. One should always plant the bulb three times the depth of the size of the bulb. So, one bulb is 2 inches long, therefore it needs to go in the ground about 6 inches. The same rule applies to smaller bulbs. A 1 inch bulb should go in the ground about 3 inches deep. The bulb should always be planted, pointed side up with the exception of the Anemone. The Anemone is misshapen, thus it's hard to tell top from bottom, even for a seasoned gardener. The way they've gotten around that here is to plant the bulb in the ground sideways. And Eric thinks that's a great tip. The Anemone is also a bulb that benefits from being pre-hydrated. They're tubers and kind of shrink up a bit, but by putting them in water they get nice and plump and will sprout much quicker.
Eric thanks Dottie for her time. This has been a wonderful experience, we've learned a lot and picked up some great tips for fall planting. But there is more to do.
We get a lot of questions from viewers about how to spruce up the front entrance to their home. Many consider this a real problem especially in the fall. We next take a look at some wonderful fall containers that provide impact for the front door. As mentioned earlier Downing was a huge proponent of connecting where we live with nature and he loved front porches. Of course, one of the best ways to bring nature right to the entrance of a home is with containers. Susan Franklin joins us. She works with a local garden center and teaches a course on container design. Eric welcomes Susan to the show.
Susan discusses her considerations when DESIGNING THE CONTAINERS for this home. This home was fun, it's an upscale home in a rural neighborhood but they do have challenges. There are deer to contend with, it's a shady area, thus cool underneath the overhang, she wanted to present fall colors that pop but at this time of year the plant palette is somewhat limited. So she wanted to find beautiful evergreen shrubs, perennial plants and colors that pop.
They decide to dive right in. First they move the old ferns out of the way. THE MAIN EVENT is the Black Dragon Cryptomaria. It is evergreen with lots of architectural interest. It's important to note that different plants could be utilized for the main event or "thriller." If someone wanted a different color or texture in the middle, say make this a Christmas interest container, a red berry pyracantha could be utilized, it's a nice plant. A Red Giant Mustard is utilized as a filler. Cool season vegetables should last throughout the winter, its purple foliage provides great color. They next add Pansies, another great filler. Hellebores are another plant that would would work in the fillers capacity, they are a deer resistant plant and has winter blooms, which isn't found with many plants. Next Susan and Eric add the spillers. For these, Susan has chosen several plants - Creeping Jenny provides a bright, light green, which Susan feels is important for wintertime and a variegated Ivy, Gold Child. Gold Child is a great trailing plant, the variegation provides a little brightness and importantly, it's deer resistance.
THIS CONTAINER WORKS BEAUTIFULLY in this setting. It has a simple elegance, it fits in, it looks like it belongs here. The beautiful shrub holds its own architecturally. It adds some height, it breaks up the stone wall and yet the colors are warm together. It's very inviting. The contrast of the darker colors in the pansies with the little flickers of light in the variegated Ivy provide a lot of interest, a lot of nice, rich textures. Importantly, most of the plants are perennials. So with very little work one can pull out the pansies in the spring, for example, then plant summer annuals and be set for another season. Most of the work involved with a container is getting it set or planted. It's a great idea to utilize plants that will be there year round, then simply add a handful of new plants periodically to make it season-relevant. Another great thing about this arrangement is the container itself, the pots are beautiful. These pots are Vietnamese pottery, they're frost proof which is a fabulous asset in these hills where it does freeze occasionally. Susan also utilized a great soil mix. It has moisture retention crystals which makes watering easier, an important consideration since under a roof. Containers do use a fair amount of water and the crystals provide a little more time before getting the hose out, thus it's a nice timesaver. The containers have done a lot to warm this area up. When walking down the path to the house they make the entrance look inviting. Sometimes it's the little touches that spruce up an area. The little bistro table and chairs are an example, they add a nice touch. Eric can see himself siting there with a newspaper and coffee and enjoying the morning out in the open. Another nice touch Susan incorporated is the wonderful little container. The container is complimentary but has different plants, it's filled with edibles. The herbs and vegetables will last all winter and since it's located in reasonable proximity to the kitchen, it's functional and convenient.
Eric thanks Susan for her great work and helpful container tips. Wonderful job.
Barnsley Gardens Resort
Bistro Table and Chairs