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GardenSMART Episode

Show #48/7009. A Stunning Community Garden

Summary of Show

The Village Green
The VILLAGE GREEN is, in many ways, the hub of the community - hosting concerts and fun gatherings throughout the year that bring people together. There are more than 80 events hosted here every year from live music, dancing, nature series, Christmas, 4th of July celebrations, and the annual Leaf Festival. The Village Green started with 2 acres that were purchased by a few individuals in an effort to preserve some natural green space in the town center for everyone to enjoy. The beautiful gardens that now populate this park encompass 13 acres.
For More Information Click Here

Nathan Stewart Payne
Our contact today is NATHAN STEWART PAYNE, a landscape designer who's one of the caretakers of the Village Green. Nathan will be giving us a tour of the gardens and discussing his connection to this vibrant mountain community.
For More Information Click Here

Evolution Of Garden
Eric posits that the Village Green is a project that Nathan has been involved in for quite some time, and he's been able to see it EVOLVE over the years. Tell us a little bit about what the Village Green was when you first encountered this. Nathan started nine years ago. It was a park that was fairly well established, but they've added a slew of gardens to it including the new building, the Commons Hall building. They’re really trying to bring the community into the area and utilize the park more. And, he thinks they've succeeded in that.
For More Information Click Here

Hayes Fairchild Garden
Eric and Nathan visit the first garden, the HAYES FAIRCHILD GARDEN. Eric loves this kind of design. It has that kind of wild whimsical planting design, it’s kind of a secret garden. Tell us about the Hayes Garden. Nathan replies it's a dedication garden from some folks in Atlanta. They have a residence up here too, so they wanted to do something for their son and this is what they decided on. It has kind of a simple curved path that's bordered with two beds of really nice, mixed perennial and woody ornamental plants that lead back to this nice quiet, private seating area that has a rustic pergola over it.
For More Information Click Here

Once A Road
But Eric understands that this was ONCE A ROAD. It was. As one can imagine that's about the most challenging environment to build a garden on. Eric would like for Nathan to talk about how they were able to get the soil right for this space. Well the road went right through the center of the garden, and it was a gravel road that at one time had a little bit of dirt on top of it and some grass. When they first started with this site, they knew that. So when digging the holes for the plants they dug extra big holes, took out all that soil and put new soil in because the old soil was anaerobic and very compact.
For More Information Click Here

Plants In Hayes Fairchild Garden
Eric would like to talk about some of the PLANTS. I think this is a wonderful array of mostly native selections. One can readily can see all the wildlife, the bees, and the butterflies that it attracts. What are some of your favorites and ones that have worked really well here in the Hayes Fairchild Garden? Nathan loves the Verbena and then the Roseann Geraniums. In the summertime they're dripping with color, so they're some of his favorites. Verbena bonariensis is one that we don't see in many gardens anymore. It's a native and as people have moved in the direction of really dwarf compact plants, it can often be hard to find.
For More Information Click Here

Attracting Wildlife
One of the added benefits of having a diverse garden is all the WILDLIFE that it brings in - whether it's birds or butterflies or all the bees. We have to always remember how important pollinators are, not just to our garden, but to our ecosystem. Without pollinators, we don't have food for the most part. Eric loves collecting seeds from his perennials every year. If you find something you really love, it's a great way of transporting that plant to another side of the garden.
For More Information Click Here

A Full Year Garden
One thing to think about with our pollinator garden is we shouldn't be too hasty to cut all of these seed-heads down at the end of the season because they are a major food supply for so many of these animals and insects that come into the garden. So view it as more of A FULL YEAR in the garden of flowers for pollinators that provide nectar, all the way through the seeds that will later provide food for the birds. Nathan agrees. And if you have a garden like this you can let them go to seed and it helps to fill it out.
For More Information Click Here

The Millstone Garden
Eric and Nathan move on to another garden. Eric wonders, over all the years that Nathan's been involved in this garden, he's been able to see it evolve, and areas that may have been a little tired or were not quite as interesting, he's had the opportunity to go in and really do something fun with them. The MILLSTONE GARDEN is a great example of that. This garden is between a couple of the structures and it's just a nice stop along the way, plus a really clever garden.
For More Information Click Here

Use Containers
This garden also provides a great opportunity to use CONTAINERS. Eric loves using containers in the garden, they act as focal points and add little splashes of colors. In these smaller, more like pocket gardens, it's a great place to let the containers shine. Another thing he loves about containers is they elevate the height of the plant. So when you're sitting on the bench, plants are basically right at a really nice level to enjoy them. And some selections here are great.
For More Information Click Here

Synthetic Turf
Eric would also like to talk a little bit about the SYNTHETIC TURF in this garden. We're seeing a lot of people use synthetic turf in design. He thinks it's great in so many ways. Turf can be very water, very fertility intensive and there's a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping it looking nice. Nathan agrees, there is. In the Hayes Fairchild garden, it has a nice little circle area, they've redone the grass there twice and it still doesn't look great. So in here they decided to use artificial turf. They put down a layer of crush and run gravel, packed it down, put the artificial turf on top of that, and then used a silica sand infill to help the grass stand up.
For More Information Click Here

Natural Turf
Eric points out, unlike the synthetic turf that we saw in the last garden, they have NATURAL TURF here. When you have thousands of people using your space, that sometimes will cause some maintenance issues. So what are some of the challenges Nathan has seen maintaining this area? Nathan explains - last year they had the Leaf Festival and it rained through the whole festival. So for all of the foot traffic and wherever the tents were set up for the vendors they put hay down so that people's shoes wouldn't get all messed up.
For More Information Click Here

Use Of Herbicides
One thing Nathan wants to point out, when he first started working here, when he first got here, the first year they treated the grass with HERBICIDES. They have clover and dandelions in here but just like he and Eric were talking about earlier with all the pollinators in this garden Nathan decided spraying this wasn’t a good idea, "Nope, I'm not doing that anymore.”
For More Information Click Here

LINKS:

The Village Green
Home - The Village Green Of Cashiers

Containers
https://michaelcarrdesigns.com/collections/

Plant List

Show #48/7009. A Stunning Community Garden

Transcript of Show

In this episode GardenSMART travels to the Blue Ridge Mountains to visit a garden that is the hub of its community. Cashiers is a popular vacation destination located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Only 10 miles from Highlands and about 60 miles from Asheville, it is convenient to so many amazing scenic destinations. Cashiers sits at a high elevation of 3,500 feet in the middle of the Nantahala National Forest and is a beautiful spot for a host of outdoor activities. Surrounded by mountain peaks of more than 5,000 feet. Cashiers averages 75 inches of precipitation, filling the region with rivers and waterfalls and making it a perfect place for gardening.

At the center of the community are numerous apparel boutiques, antique shops, and outstanding restaurants. The Cashiers farmer market sells fresh, local produce and delicious preserves and local honey. The year round population is about 2000 and swells to over 25,000 during the peak summer season when visitors flock to town to enjoy the many outdoor activities as well as its art and music scene.

The VILLAGE GREEN is, in many ways, the hub of the community - hosting concerts and fun gatherings throughout the year that bring people together. There are more than 80 events hosted here every year from live music, dancing, nature series, Christmas, 4th of July celebrations, and the annual Leaf Festival. The Village Green started with 2 acres that were purchased by a few individuals in an effort to preserve some natural green space in the town center for everyone to enjoy. The beautiful gardens that now populate this park encompass 13 acres. And have been evolving over the past 30 years with private donations from neighbors who believe in its importance to the community. It features walking paths, boardwalks over wetlands, a children’s playground, and a large pavilion that is home to Cashier’s weekly local farmers market that brings produce in from the surrounding area and allows residents and visitors the chance to meet local farmers and explore seasonal crops.

The Village Green also features many wonderful sculptures from renowned artists many of which honor those who have made meaningful contributions to the garden such as the kinetic wind sculpture that greets visitors at the entrance to the garden placed there in honor of Judy Freeman, a long time board member.

Our contact today is NATHAN STEWART PAYNE, a landscape designer who's one of the caretakers of the Village Green. Nathan will be giving us a tour of the gardens and discussing his connection to this vibrant mountain community. Eric welcomes Nathan, thanks so much for joining us. Welcome to the show. Nathan reciprocates, thank you so much for having me.

Eric notes that Nathan been designing landscapes and installing landscapes for what, 25 years? Actually 20 years. Wow, 20 years in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Nathan agrees, and it’s the place he calls home. Eric wants to know about what got him into garden design? Well, Nathan started with a company and worked for them for four or five years and fell in love with it, then went off on his own, he started doing his own thing. But doing rock work and hardscapes is kind of his passion. Are you doing mostly commercial installations, or kind of a mix of both? A mix of both, for sure.

Eric posits that the Village Green is a project that Nathan has been involved in for quite some time, and he's been able to see it EVOLVE over the years. Tell us a little bit about what the Village Green was when you first encountered this. Nathan started nine years ago. It was a park that was fairly well established, but they've added a slew of gardens to it including the new building, the Commons Hall building. They’re really trying to bring the community into the area and utilize the park more. And, he thinks they've succeeded in that. Eric agrees, it's a wonderful thing and it seems like the community has really embraced it. GardenSMART visited several days ago and there was this great little farmer's market that was happening, so we got to see some of the folks that we met in earlier days. Great folks that bring their produce and dahlias and whatever to the farmer’s market. So it's neat to see the way that the community has formed a relationship with this property and Eric is sure that Nathan's work on the landscape and the gardening side of this, making it more beautiful, making it more of a destination has been really impactful.

Eric and Nathan visit the first garden, the HAYES FAIRCHILD GARDEN. Eric loves this kind of design. It has that kind of wild whimsical planting design, it’s kind of a secret garden. Tell us about the Hayes Fairchild Garden. Nathan replies it's a dedication garden from some folks in Atlanta. They have a residence up here too, so they wanted to do something for their son and this is what they decided on. It has kind of a simple curved path that's bordered with two beds of really nice, mixed perennial and woody ornamental plants that lead back to this nice quiet, private seating area that has a rustic pergola over it. It’s a really, really simple, but elegant design.

But Eric understands that this was ONCE A ROAD. It was. As one can imagine that's about the most challenging environment to build a garden on. Eric would like for Nathan to talk about how they were able to get the soil right for this space. Well the road went right through the center of the garden, and it was a gravel road that at one time had a little bit of dirt on top of it and some grass. When they first started with this site, they knew that. So when digging the holes for the plants they dug extra big holes, took out all that soil and put new soil in because the old soil was anaerobic and very compact. They thought that would do the trick but the soil didn't perk. Those big holes they dug for all the plants would fill up with water. Since they have so much rain in this area the plants started to drown. At that point they took all the plants out of the garden and excavated the whole area. They went down probably two feet. Then put in a series of drainage lines, then put all new top soil back in. There's a source for compost in this area, from Cherokee so they put compost in all the holes and everything worked out great from there. The Shasta daisies were six feet tall the first couple of years. They were loving it.

Eric comments, that's a common theme we hear from landscape designers and installers all across the US. In America. There are so many either compacted sites or ones where the top soil may have even been removed and sold, or the builder will excavate a foundation and throw that clay into the front yard. It doesn't really matter how good you think you are at growing plants, if you're growing in a heavily compacted soil, the plants are always going to struggle. Eric tells people all the time, if you want to have a successful garden, spend most of the money on the site prep. If you have a budget of $10,000, put six grand into the soil and let the plants happen in time, because you can't have beautiful results like this without really getting it right the first time. And of course, that's what you learned the hard way on this one. Nathan agrees, it is. And they knew that going into it and tried to circumvent that from happening.

Eric would like to talk about some of the PLANTS. I think this is a wonderful array of mostly native selections. One can readily can see all the wildlife, the bees, and the butterflies that it attracts. What are some of your favorites and ones that have worked really well here in the Hayes Fairchild Garden? Nathan loves the Verbena and then the Roseann Geraniums. In the summertime they're dripping with color, so they're some of his favorites. Verbena bonariensis is one that we don't see in many gardens anymore. It's a native and as people have moved in the direction of really dwarf compact plants, it can often be hard to find. Eric also loves the Joe Pye Weed. Eupatorium is another great native plant. Eric thinks Nathan has included many of his favorite woody trees and shrubs too. Amelanchier leavis, serviceberry, he thinks is one of the most underrated small trees in the garden. The variegated redbud is amazing too. Unusual natives, but also unusual versions of those natives and it really, really adds quite a bit of interest here, it's great. Nathan responds - They have a landscape architect in the area, she did the plant selection or a lot of the plant selection for this garden, and she loves working with natives.

Eric wonders how often are you changing the plants out in this garden? Is this more or less an established design that you're maintaining? Or, is it one that's evolving? It is established. Nathan doesn't think they’ve added anything in the last few years. They do have a few bare spots now, but usually it's very full. They didn't do any annuals this year, but most years they utilize annuals and fill in holes. Eric says, well, there's nothing wrong with getting it right the first time.

One of the added benefits of having a diverse garden is all the WILDLIFE that it brings in - whether it's birds or butterflies or all the bees. We have to always remember how important pollinators are, not just to our garden, but to our ecosystem. Without pollinators, we don't have food for the most part. Eric loves collecting seeds from his perennials every year. If you find something you really love, it's a great way of transporting that plant to another side of the garden. But without pollinators, you don't have viable seeds. For that seed to be viable, you have to actually have a pollination event. And so from a standpoint of just the survival of many of these native plants that we love and especially ones that are endangered, it's important to have these protected pollinator areas to help those wildlife populations and give them something to eat and to thrive.

Eric also loves all the asters. And native asters are great, especially in that blue lavender space. But then things like the Shasta daisies, which are in the Aster family, are so important and of course they're stunningly beautiful and there's so much diversity. Echinacea is another. As a family it entices finches and sparrows and small songbirds into the garden but it additionally attracts bees, bees love the coneflower. Eric also likes the Rudbeckias, the Brown-Eyed Susan's the Black-Eyed Susan's there are so many great examples of those here. And then so many things in the Helianthus family too. All of the different native sunflowers and even some of the non-natives are super interesting. And also a great food source for birds.

One thing to think about with our pollinator garden is we shouldn't be too hasty to cut all of these seed-heads down at the end of the season because they are a major food supply for so many of these animals and insects that come into the garden. So view it as more of A FULL YEAR in the garden of flowers for pollinators that provide nectar, all the way through the seeds that will later provide food for the birds. Nathan agrees. And if you have a garden like this you can let them go to seed and it helps to fill it out. You get volunteers. Eric agrees and sometimes those volunteers will be some of the most interesting plants in your garden because you get all of this additional genetic diversity, especially if you buy a cultivar of one of our native plants. It was selected for very specific traits but you might find something that's particularly dwarf or a different color, and maybe it does even that much better in your garden. Nathan finds it interesting how that works. For sure.

Eric and Nathan move on to another garden. Eric wonders, over all the years that Nathan's been involved in this garden, he's been able to see it evolve, and areas that may have been a little tired or were not quite as interesting, he's had the opportunity to go in and really do something fun with them. The MILLSTONE GARDEN is a great example of that. This garden is between a couple of the structures and it's just a nice stop along the way, plus a really clever garden. Tell us about it. Nathan explains, this area was turf and trees until they built the building. The landscape architect came up with a couple of different gardens on either side, so this one was created as another dedication garden. It is outlined in Orchard Stone, has a nice little seating area with annual color. The individual behind this garden had millstones at her house and wanted to incorporate one of those into the garden. So they created a fountain, it's on a pedestal, has a small little pump and is very soothing. People come out here and sit, they love it.

This garden also provides a great opportunity to use CONTAINERS. Eric loves using containers in the garden, they act as focal points and add little splashes of colors. In these smaller, more like pocket gardens, it's a great place to let the containers shine. Another thing he loves about containers is they elevate the height of the plant. So when you're sitting on the bench, plants are basically right at a really nice level to enjoy them. And some selections here are great. Classics like Margarita Sweet Potato and the Euphorbia Diamond Frost are each one of Eric's favorite container plants. They're great plants he thinks every gardener should consider using.

Eric would also like to talk a little bit about the SYNTHETIC TURF in this garden. We're seeing a lot of people use synthetic turf in design. He thinks it's great in so many ways. Turf can be very water, very fertility intensive and there's a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping it looking nice. Nathan agrees, there is. In the Hayes Fairchild garden, it has a nice little circle area, they've redone the grass there twice and it still doesn't look great. So in here they decided to use artificial turf. They put down a layer of crush and run gravel, packed it down, put the artificial turf on top of that, and then used a silica sand infill to help the grass stand up. It has a couple of different colors, even has thatch in there. So it's great and doesn't wear out. Eric agrees synthetic turf has come a long way. People who are thinking about old school astroturf, that you might have had in the mudroom in your home, it's so different from that. Like Nathan said, they even simulate the thatch in it. You can get different heights and even things that look like different types of grass. So if you haven't thought about synthetic turf in a while and you want a nice little turf area, go take another look at it. Nathan agrees, it's a great option. They have so many different selections out there right now, some of them are more expensive than others.

Eric and Nathan move on. Green spaces for communities are so important, and Eric loves that's a significant part of the design here. This is a place to bring everyone together, and he's sure there are wonderful concerts and festivals and things like that that they're able to do here. Nathan agrees, for example, they have Grooving on the Green, it's a free music concert for the community. They have the Leaf Festival, which is a popular event every year. And they have weddings here, an antique show where they set up a big tent in the green space.

Eric points out, unlike the synthetic turf that we saw in the last garden, they have NATURAL TURF here. When you have thousands of people using your space, that sometimes will cause some maintenance issues. So what are some of the challenges Nathan has seen maintaining this area? Nathan explains - last year they had the Leaf Festival and it rained through the whole festival. So for all of the foot traffic and wherever the tents were set up for the vendors they put hay down so that people's shoes wouldn't get all messed up. When everything was taken down and all the hay was pulled up they had little squares of dead grass. So, when the festival was over they had to go in, aerate, overseed, fertilize and lime to get that grass back up to par.

One thing Nathan wants to point out, when he first started working here, when he first got here, the first year they treated the grass with HERBICIDES. They have clover and dandelions in here but just like he and Eric were talking about earlier with all the pollinators in this garden Nathan decided spraying this wasn’t a good idea, "Nope, I'm not doing that anymore.” So eight years ago they stopped using herbicides and now they have clover and dandelions and more of the natural grass, which he thinks is better for the environment for sure. Eric totally agrees plus clover and dandelions are very durable, especially clover, it can take quite a beating. And it's just one more place that can provide food and nectar for pollinators and for wildlife.

Eric thanks Nathan. We've had so much fun touring this garden. What an amazing space. And what a treasure it is for the city of Cashiers. There’s so much work that goes into creating and maintaining the spaces that we love and enjoy. Thank you so much for spending the time with us.

LINKS:

The Village Green
Home - The Village Green Of Cashiers

Containers
https://michaelcarrdesigns.com/collections/

Plant List


   
 
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