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GardenSMART Episode

Show #52/7413. Gardening In Fall And Winter

Summary of Show

Fredrick Law Olmsted
George Vanderbilt engaged renowned architect, FREDRICK LAW OLMSTED to bring harmony and elegance to every aspect of the grounds. Olmsted had recently designed many other important U.S. sites, such as Central Park in New York. He was the perfect fit for this grand project. For More Information Click Here

Why Do Leaves Change Color
Eric asks Bill - As a horticulturalist, I'm sure you have all the information on WHY LEAVES CHANGE. Bill does have quite a bit of information, that's for sure. He explains, there's chlorophyll in leaves and that's what gives leaves that green color. For More Information Click Here

Scenery Is Important
Eric feels the long vistas at Biltmore were very important to Olmsted's design. He would like for Bill to talk us through the visitors' experience and the way Olmsted thought about those long vistas and fall color. Olmsted had what became known as seven S's, and one of those S's is SCENERY so any landscape that you look at is going to have scenery in it. For Biltmore guests, that starts on the approach road. As they come up the approach road, there's definitely a lot of scenery and in the fall different trees and shrubs provide that sense of peace as one is coming up to the house. For More Information Click Here

Trees Best For Fall Color
Eric would like to talk about the TREES that Bill thinks are the BEST FOR FALL COLOR, the most dynamic. Bill is always drawn towards the sugar maples. They give off some really outstanding fall color. Close behind would be the red maples, the hickories and the tulip poplars. There are also plants and trees that estate guests often don't know a lot about, for example Parrotia Persica, is a great example. For More Information Click Here

Ginkgos
One of Eric's favorites is the GINKGO and he's starting to see a lot more of them in landscapes in the context of fall color. Bill agrees they're starting to use it more here in the mountains. There's always that hesitancy about getting the male or the female? You definitely don't want the female. Eric agrees, you don't want the female unless you want a mess. Ginkgo's have that brilliant golden fall color that is really striking particularly when it's accompanied with some evergreen trees. For More Information Click Here

Utilize Shrubs For Color
Eric’s home garden is not very big, so he mainly relies on SHRUBS to bring in that really high impact fall color. And, there are so many great selections. He probably has 40 or 50 of them on a very, very small plot. And, in many cases they have as much punch as the trees, just in miniature. Bill agrees, the fall color and that leaf color for shrubs can be stunning. For example, think of the witch hazels. Bill thinks it is an underused fall plant. A lot of people use it for the spring bloom or late winter bloom, but the Fall color is just outstanding. For More Information Click Here

Berries
Eric would next like to talk about BERRIES. And, there are many, many shrubs that have wonderful winter berry displays. Callicarpa is the one that seems to always pop up and why not, that purple beauty berry is stunning. It has purple berries but one can find white berries as well. For More Information Click Here

Bark
We talked earlier about BARK when discussing trees. Eric has noticed as they've been walking through the garden that are quite a few of the yellow twig and red twig dogwood. Eric thinks those too are under utilized in the garden and again they can be hugely impactful. Bill agrees, they are hugely impactful, especially once you get into wintertime. For More Information Click Here

Preserving The Original Design
Eric has been visiting Biltmore Estate for over 25 years, and one thing that is always impressive is the ongoing work that goes into PRESERVING THE ORIGINAL DESIGN intent that Olmsted had years ago. Bill you're in the middle of a pretty expansive project right now that really underscores the importance of preserving original intent. Bill explains - The mission statement for the company is the preservation of Biltmore Estate as a privately owned, profitable working estate. That preservation is something they consistently look at, how can they maintain that original design intent of not only Hunt who designed the house, but Olmsted here in the gardens. For More Information Click Here

Fall Is The Best Time To Plant
It’s fall and Bill’s team is beginning planting. A lot of people love to do their planting in the spring and of course that's when we get the gardening itch, everything's popping out of the ground, blooms are happening. But Bill tells us FALL IS THE BEST TIME TO PLANT. You get that season of growth where the plant is going to be able to get established before summer comes. We all know what summer's like, hot, not a lot of rain. You want those roots to be well established, and the best way to do that is to plant in the fall, give it until spring time to get its roots established so that when summer comes, it's going to be able to sustain the heat. For More Information Click Here

Mums
The pattern garden which is located just above the conservatory is a great place to see seasonal color. We've been talking about trees and shrubs, but this is where a lot of perennials and annuals get to shine. The walled garden is just a little over a 10th of an acre. The whole garden is four acres, so there's plenty of opportunity to plant seasonal plantings. In fall we typically can't think of anything but MUMS when it comes to annual plantings. Mums add a bold character of color when you think of their big plumes of blooms. When you plant them in mass, you can't go wrong. For More Information Click Here

Extending Seasonal Color
One of the most impactful, iconic color displays at Bellingrath Gardens are the wonderful AZALEAS. They're literally everywhere. As one walks in through the gates here, it's one of the most inviting grand entrances. And of course, it’s an enormous explosion of color that lasts for, what, maybe two weeks or so? These are mostly the classic Indica Hybrids that would have been part of the traditional Southern garden. These azaleas were introduced probably more so into Charleston in the 1800's. They made their way to Mobile over time. For More Information Click Here

Containers
Eric thinks when considering pillars, the main show of the CONTAINER, ornamental grasses work great in containers. They are awesome in containers. Bill has found that the key is to get them started early so that they have time to get their roots established. Then the show for those grasses is the seed heads themselves. Make sure to give them plenty of opportunity to mature as we go into the fall. Couple that with the fall plants of Calibrachoa along with some mums and snapdragons, you can really make an awesome container with just a few plants. For More Information Click Here

LINKS:

Biltmore Estate
Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina

Stay At Biltmore
Stay on Biltmore Estate

Plant List

Show #52/7413. Gardening In Fall And Winter

Transcript of Show

Just because it's fall or winter doesn't mean that there's not plenty to see in a well planned garden. When George Vanderbilt found the property that he built his home on, he declared, "When I came to this spot, I found the prospect of it finer than any other I'd ever seen." The rolling hills and ample water with incredible views of the mountains, plus the gardens of Biltmore Estate are second to none.

George Vanderbilt engaged renowned architect, FREDRICK LAW OLMSTED to bring harmony and elegance to every aspect of the grounds. Olmsted had recently designed many other important U.S. sites, such as Central Park in New York. He was the perfect fit for this grand project. Biltmore Estate remains the largest privately owned home in the US and is a national historic landmark. The team at Biltmore works tirelessly to preserve the past while ensuring the future of this beautiful place.

The gardens of Biltmore Estates are some of the most impressive in the region and have been designed so that regardless of what time of year it is, visitors can enjoy a spectacular show. While much of the garden sleeps in the winter, there are many ways that we can add interest to the coldest months. Today, Director of Horticulture, Bill Quade shares a host of tips for keeping the fall and winter garden lively.

Eric welcomes Bill. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to the show. Bill thanks Eric and GardenSMART. Thanks for allowing him to be a part of the show.

First we're talking about fall. It is one of Eric's favorite seasons of the year and millions of people get out onto the roads this time of year to find the best leaves in the country, it is a fantastic time to experience the change in the seasons. And Biltmore is a wonderful place to visit during this time of changing leaves. Bill agrees they have 8,000 acres for the guests to explore and to see beautiful fall color, whether from the house or through the gardens.

Eric asks Bill - As a horticulturalist, I'm sure you have all the information on WHY LEAVES CHANGE. Bill does have quite a bit of information, that's for sure. He explains, there's chlorophyll in leaves and that's what gives leaves that green color. During the shortened day lengths that we get in fall the chlorophyll starts to break down exposing the true leaf color. When you see a yellow leaf, that's the actual, the true leaf color, it just doesn't have that chlorophyll that has been masking it.

Eric feels the long vistas at Biltmore were very important to Olmsted's design. He would like for Bill to talk us through the visitors' experience and the way Olmsted thought about those long vistas and fall color. Olmsted had what became known as seven S's, and one of those S's is SCENERY so any landscape that you look at is going to have scenery in it. For Biltmore guests, that starts on the approach road. As they come up the approach road, there's definitely a lot of scenery and in the fall different trees and shrubs provide that sense of peace as one is coming up to the house. But then once they get to the house, a lot of guests think that the house is the final arrival sequence. But the way Olmsted designed everything is it's not the house, instead that distant view. You walk through the house, you look out the back of the house, you go to the South terrace or the library terrace, that's the ultimate guest arrival sequence, the end of the guest arrival sequence that Olmsted specified.

The estate originally was 125,000 acres. But today most of it is National Forest so the original vista is still what was here at the beginning with the house and primarily what Mr. Vanderbilt's guests would've seen.

Eric would like to talk about the trees that Bill thinks are the BEST FOR FALL COLOR, the most dynamic. Bill is always drawn towards the sugar maples. They give off some really outstanding fall color. Close behind would be the red maples, the hickories and the tulip poplars. There are also plants and trees that estate guests often don't know a lot about, for example Parrotia Persica, is a great example. It smells like cotton candy, when the leaves start to fall. Then there are the deciduous evergreens as well, the metasequoia or the dawn redwoods, the bald cypress and the larches. But don't overlook the bark, the shag hickory, exfoliating bark, the shedding bark that'll come off of it is stunning. And then the crepe myrtles are impressive.

One of Eric's favorites is the GINKGO and he's starting to see a lot more of them in landscapes in the context of fall color. Bill agrees they're starting to use it more here in the mountains. There's always that hesitancy about getting the male or the female? You definitely don't want the female. Eric agrees, you don't want the female unless you want a mess. Ginkgo's have that brilliant golden fall color that is really striking particularly when it's accompanied with some evergreen trees. And that's another important aspect - guests will see from the vista that Olmsted made sure that there was an evergreen backdrop throughout the woods so that during the fall color season and even in the winter it's not just a blank canvas. There's some evergreen, and with the deciduous trees amongst those, that green color really helps the changing of the leaves stand out. Fall is a great time to see leaves, but more importantly it's a great time to see the plant itself. As the leaves start to change, you're drawn towards those trees a little bit more and you start to notice the other textures of them that you may not see earlier in the year because you're more or less directed by the annuals and perennials in the landscape. In the fall you get to see the trees.

Eric’s home garden is not very big, so he mainly relies on SHRUBS to bring in that really high impact fall color. And, there are so many great selections. He probably has 40 or 50 of them on a very, very small plot. And, in many cases they have as much punch as the trees, just in miniature. Bill agrees, the fall color and that leaf color for shrubs can be stunning. For example, think of the witch hazels. Bill thinks it is an underused fall plant. A lot of people use it for the spring bloom or late winter bloom, but the Fall color is just outstanding. Couple that with the sweet shrub. It’s great summer blooming, but the fall color is just outstanding with it as well. There are a lot of shrubs that have just as much impact with their fall color as they do with their bloom color. Eric loves mixing different gradients of fall color. Imagine oak leaf hydrangea with that deep, deep red, then plant that with some spirea in front of it and you get more of those yellow oranges. Thinking about planting different fall color foliages in concert is really a great way to create beautiful vignettes. Additionally think about succession planting, that way you can have fall color from early October through mid-November. You can do that if you look at certain plants in certain places. That all goes back to that right plant, right place. It's not just what's going to make the plant grow the best, but where are you looking for that color to be.

Eric would next like to talk about BERRIES. And, there are many, many shrubs that have wonderful winter berry displays. Callicarpa is the one that seems to always pop up and why not, that purple beauty berry is stunning. It has purple berries but one can find white berries as well. Let’s not forget hollies. Deciduous hollies have got some really nice color, great looking red berries. Even viburnums, especially when you pair them with that evergreen backdrop. That really helps those plants that have smaller, intricate fall color to really stand out and pop.

We talked earlier about BARK when discussing trees. Eric has noticed as they've been walking through the garden that are quite a few of the yellow twig and red twig dogwood. Eric thinks those too are under utilized in the garden and again they can be hugely impactful. Bill agrees, they are hugely impactful, especially once you get into wintertime. Paper bark maple, a smaller tree, one could even consider it a larger shrub is a beautiful plant in the fall with its' exfoliating bark, as are the Crepe myrtles. Bill and Eric agree there are so many ways to make winter and fall fun.

Eric has been visiting Biltmore Estate for over 25 years, and one thing that is always impressive is the ongoing work that goes into PRESERVING THE ORIGINAL DESIGN intent that Olmsted had years ago. Bill you're in the middle of a pretty expansive project right now that really underscores the importance of preserving original intent. Bill explains - The mission statement for the company is the preservation of Biltmore Estate as a privately owned, profitable working estate. That preservation is something they consistently look at, how can they maintain that original design intent of not only Hunt who designed the house, but Olmsted here in the gardens. When they looked at the Italian garden they realized there's a hemlock hedge that wasn't original to the estate. Doing more research they found an original manuscript from Olmsted talking about how the holly hedge should be brought up in the Italian garden. And they know that it should have been American hollies. They went through the painstakingly tedious effort back in 2018 to take 500 cuttings from an original American holly hedge they have in the wall garden and sent those to a nursery in Georgia. They got them propagated, then sent them to another nursery in Georgia and will be getting those back next week in 15 gallon containers, five feet tall. Eric is impressed. It is amazing to see the amount of forethought that goes into these projects and it's all very thoughtful and very intentional. Bill concurs, it is intentional, and it's their desire to be as authentic as they can. They very well could have gone and bought the holly somewhere else, but having that authenticity, tying back to an original holly hedge that they know was specified here was very important to them and what makes these grounds so important.

It’s fall and Bill’s team is beginning planting. A lot of people love to do their planting in the spring and of course that's when we get the gardening itch, everything's popping out of the ground, blooms are happening. But Bill tells us FALL IS THE BEST TIME TO PLANT. You get that season of growth where the plant is going to be able to get established before summer comes. We all know what summer's like, hot, not a lot of rain. You want those roots to be well established, and the best way to do that is to plant in the fall, give it until spring time to get its roots established so that when summer comes, it's going to be able to sustain the heat. Eric agrees, what a lot of folks don't know is that the lion's share of root growth happens in the fall, winter and spring. Right before flush, we get that big root flush. Then you're going to get the vegetative flush. If we plant in spring after everything's already up you don't get that root growth so the plant's going to struggle through the summer. If it can make it through the summer into the fall, you're generally good. But fall is the best time to plant.

The pattern garden which is located just above the conservatory is a great place to see seasonal color. We've been talking about trees and shrubs, but this is where a lot of perennials and annuals get to shine. The walled garden is just a little over a 10th of an acre. The whole garden is four acres, so there's plenty of opportunity to plant seasonal plantings. In fall we typically can't think of anything but MUMS when it comes to annual plantings. Mums add a bold character of color when you think of their big plumes of blooms. When you plant them in mass, you can't go wrong. Eric wonders what did the mum design look like this season? The mum design this year had some rays that shot off of it. It's kind of hard to explain, they try to do something different every year. One can get a good feel for it from the ground about what it's going to be, especially when you have beds this size. They’re always looking at yellows, reds, purples, whites, bronzes, plus some of the lilacs as well. Mums are a very versatile plant because you've got early bloomers, mid bloomers, late bloomers. You can really get a long season out of chrysanthemums. Bill tends to go with the early late and the late just because they want those blooms to be in October. You can definitely get mums from the garden center that are going to bloom the 1st of September. Just keep in mind if they're blooming the 1st of September, they're generally not going to be blooming in October, so you might have to go out and purchase more.

Bill’s team is very involved in the design component of the Biltmore gardens. Bill wants to make sure that the gardeners and staff have an interest in and a direct connection to what they’re doing. They try to stay about one year ahead. Currently they’re working on fall of next year so they can get that ordered through their growers. The gardens turn over 4 times a year. Once the mums are done they start planting 125,000 tulip bulbs in the garden. Then once they're done blooming in the middle of April, they pull those out and go ahead and plant frost-tolerant annuals, things like poppies and snap dragons. Then once they're done blooming after May 15th, which is their average frost date, they plant summer annuals.

There are 4 reasons to visit Biltmore Estate and Gardens every season. Eric loves visiting Biltmore as a gardener he gets so many ideas and loves these kind of pattern gardens because each little section is small. Eric's garden's small and as a homeowner he can look at the small plantings and designs and oftentimes it's like, "Okay, wow, I can do that at home, I can take those design ideas back to the garden center and then back to his garden." Bill explains, they have a lot of small gardens on the property. The walled garden can be rather large, but there are small gardens everywhere, thus guests and homeowners should be able to look at those and say, "I never thought of that. I never thought of using that plant this time of year, but if I use it this time of year, it’s going to carry over to summer or fall, and I'll only have to plant that once instead of maybe three different times."

Eric thinks there are other ways of EXTENDING SEASONAL COLOR. For example, containers are a great fit. They work with any size garden and there's so much we can do with them. They're a great fit for folks that have a small space, on their decks, their patios, containers are a great option for folks that have just limited space or maybe even limited mobility. Eric loves what Bill has done with one container in particular, the centerpiece is an evergreen. We think about extending color into the fall and into the winter and making the pillar, if you will, be an evergreen, a Cryptomeria, in this instance is a great choice. And, there are many others, for example camellias work great. Bill feels camellias, really any evergreen that's going to be hardy in their zone is a candidate for what you see with this Cryptomeria, that’s a centerpiece. They start with tropicals, of course, during the summer, but once they get to fall they're going to transition into evergreens that provide a fall presence and a winter presence, plus will then carry into the spring, meaning they will get three seasons. It's just less change they have to do. Under plant with fall plants like ornamental cabbage, vinca, even snapdragons. At Biltmore they can change out for the winter planting, then will change that out again for the spring planting. It means they are getting a lot more bang for their buck with one plant. And Eric likes to think the container itself is a wonderful color addition. When noticing the cobalt blue containers that are spaced throughout his area mixed with some of the reds, they really add a sense of color, a pop, if you will. Even if you just have a dark corner of the landscape where you want to put a container, but might not be sure about the plants one can almost guarantee that you can add color just with the planter itself. Eric wonders how often throughout the year at Biltmore do they change the containers out? On the average, they change them out about four times a year. There are some they only change out twice. They have summer plant material and then the winter plant material. But most are changed four times which means they're looking at the fall planting, the winter planting, a spring and then a summer planting as well.

Eric thinks when considering pillars, the main show of the CONTAINER, ornamental grasses work great in containers. They are awesome in containers. Bill has found that the key is to get them started early so that they have time to get their roots established. Then the show for those grasses is the seed heads themselves. Make sure to give them plenty of opportunity to mature as we go into the fall. Couple that with the fall plants of Calibrachoa along with some mums and snapdragons, you can really make an awesome container with just a few plants. One thing Eric tried in containers a few years ago was yellow twig and red twig dogwood. The bright red or yellow dormant twigs look fantastic in a container. And, that's something one can actually plant in the Spring, then use the bloom during the late spring, early summer and then you're counting on that red or yellow twig during the fall going into winter. Being able to couple that with some really nice plants in an understory role is awesome. More importantly, once you get some snow on those red and yellow twigs, that too really makes it stand out. And, if you don't have red or yellow twig dogwood, you can basically just find dormant limbs and paint them yourself, then put those in the container. A lot of people do that. Or they'll find pine cones and paint them. At Bill's house they used pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed to help feed the birds during wintertime. You can find a lot of things in your landscape and use that for your containers. Clippings from other evergreens work well, put those in, whether they have berries, striking foliage, even exfoliating bark. Any of these items can be successfully used in containers during the fall.

Eric says it would be hard to resist putting some ornaments on these containers when it comes time for Christmas too. If that happens Bill is somewhat concerned that Santa Claus might not visit Eric visit this year. Bill may have a point.

What a wonderful day Bill, we’ve learned so much. Eric loves learning about new ways to keep the garden lively year round. And Biltmore does a great job of keeping things exciting through all four seasons. It’s been so much fun spending the day at Biltmore and talking fall and winter. Thank you Bill.

LINKS:

Biltmore Estate
Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina

Stay At Biltmore
Stay on Biltmore Estate

Plant List


   
 
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