Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FAQ: How many Liriope spicata plants do I need?

Q. I have about 1,200 sqf area in the backyard to cover with Liriope spicata. It will replace the existing bermuda fescue turf. The goal is to produce a tidy, formal look and dense cover. I'd prefer potted plants of a sufficiently large size. I am looking at at least six vendors and you are one of them I have contacted. Please advise me on:
  •     How many plants do I need?
  •     When would be the best time to plant them, considering my location and zone (Norman, OK zone 6B)?
  •     Considering the large size of the area to be covered, what would be your best, competitive price?

A. The planting distance depends on your budget and how quickly you want the plants to grow together and cover the area. They will cover more quickly if spaced closer. You must balance one against the other.

  • You may plant those from 2-1/2 inch pots as closely as 8 inches apart, or as distant as 12 inches apart. 
  • You may plant those from 3-1/2 inch pots as closely as 12 inches apart, or as distant as 18 inches apart.

Plant spacing is measured from the center of one pot to the center of the next pot.

  • If you plant at 8 inch spacing, you will need 2.25 plants per square foot.
  • If you plant at 10 inch spacing, you will need 1.45 plants per square foot.
  • If you plant at 12 inch spacing, you will need 1 plant per square foot.
  • If you plant at 15 inch spacing, you will need .64 plant per square foot.
  • If you plant at 18 inch spacing, you will need .44 plant per square foot.

If you have irrigation available, plant in spring when danger of frost is past. If you do not have irrigation available, I suggest you wait until fall when natural rainfall is usually more abundant.

Return to Liriope at GoGardenNow.com.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner, SC

Bateau. Cypress Gardens, SC
14 February [19]35      
Villa Margherita, Charleston, S. C.

Dearest Papa Woojums,

It is a lovely Charleston but very lonesome, all your friends have been so sweet to us considering that they almost feel we didn't bring you, they don't see that we are the ones who suffer the most. Miss [Josephine] Pinckney was charming and intriguing and a little mysterious, the Dubose Heywards even more charming, so little mysterious that one felt that one had known them always and so loved them at once, and the unknown Mr. Ben Kittredge Jr. sat next [to] me at lunch at Oxford in '25 or '26 and he has a beautiful car but a marvellous garden, the famous cypress garden and we rode on boats on the swamp for hours this afternoon. This I tell you so that you may know what you are missing.
--Gertrude Stein, The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, 1913-1946

The "marvellous garden, the famous cypress garden" of Mr. Ben Kittredge, Jr., was actually owned by his parents - Benjamin R. Kittredge of New York and Elizabeth Maynard Marshall of Charleston, S.C. - when Stein visited. Cypress Gardens was created by the elder Kittredge after he purchased Dean Hall Plantation in 1909.

Dean Hall Plantation was established in the 1720s by Alexander Nesbitt of Dean, Scotland. It passed through the hands of several owners before Kittredge obtained it.The plantation had fallen into disuse. The reservoir which once held fresh water for the rice fields had become a swamp. Kittredge aimed to turn it into a duck hunting preserve. Trails were constructed around the swamp and the landscape was planted with ornamentals. He opened Cypress Gardens to the public in 1932.

Benjamin Rufus Kittredge, Jr. was the author of an unremarkable novel, Crowded Solitude, which he published in 1930. Perhaps his book, the fact that he was already known to Stein, and the famous garden included him in her itinerary.

Benjamin Junior sold the 162-acre Cypress Gardens to the City of Charleston in 1963 for $1.00. The city turned it over to Berkeley County about 30 years later.

Cypress Gardens was heavily damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, but a recent visitor would hardly know it. Time, hard work and money have healed much.

Just as Gertrude Stein, we visited Cypress Gardens in winter. Admittedly, it is not the time one would usually make a garden visit, even in the Lowcountry. Indeed, there were few other visitors, but the solitude enhanced the pleasure.

Indoor exhibits are nestled near the Visitor Center. Among the Cypress Garden attractions are the Butterfly House, Heritage Museum, Swamparium and Nature Center. A live bird exhibit, alligator display, children's and heirloom gardens are also nearby.

The Butterfly House exhibits a good number of plant species that feed butterflies or their larvae, but the Butterfly House was not alive with butterflies when we visited, at least in their winged form. We spotted one monarch and a caterpillar, but there were many chrysalides in protective boxes. The Butterfly House is also home to koi and a few birds such as the Diamond Dove, native to Australia, and the Wood Duck, native to the swamp just outside the door.

The Heritage Museum tells the fascinating story of Dean Hall Plantation. Many of the artifacts were unearthed thanks to DuPont™ , which bought part of Dean Hall for its Kevlar® fibers plant. Though it's easy to mourn the loss of the historic site, most of what we know of it would be mouldering still in the cold, cold ground if not for "progress".

Upon entering the Swamparium, one is greeted by the big, toothy grin of one of the largest alligators you've ever seen. Don't worry. It's stuffed. But it and the bronze image of a large alligator snapping turtle on the wall give some of idea of the dangers inherent in a southern swamp. For more creepiness, other live reptiles, fish and amphibians are also on display in the darkened rooms.

More of nature is on display in the Nature Center. A stuffed Red Fox and Bobcat stalk upon a shelf, and hands-on exhibits provide tactile learning for everyone.

There are about 3.7 miles of walking trails and paths at Cypress Gardens. The paths are less developed. If you wish to explore as Stein did, boats are available for guided and self-guided tours.

Cypress Gardens Walking Trail
With a map of Cypress Gardens in hand, we set out. Swamps seem more dismal on cold, cloudy days. Buzzards spied upon us from ahigh. Cypress Gardens, however, was brightened by seasonable camellias and unseasonable azaleas, and scented with fragrant tea olive. The patterns and colors of crapemyrtle trunks and cypress knees looked more vibrant under the gray sky. We took our time, otherwise we would have overlooked the beauty of camellia-strewn trails, aquatics in black swamp water and the silhouettes of dried flowers against duckweed.

Cypress Gardens evokes nostalgia with its seemly structures: the wedding gazebo and Memory Garden gazebos, romantic pergola, stone span, a wooden Chippendale-esque bridge for sighs.

The garden is furnished to encourage wildlife. The bat hotel and Wood Duck nesting boxes are examples. I kept an eye out for fauna, especially Wood Ducks. If not sighting some, I kept my ears open for their distinctive calls.

I neither heard nor saw any.

Perhaps you are wondering, "What about the water-skiers and picturesque belles I've seen in postcards?" They were at another Cypress Gardens, now aka Legoland Florida Resort. This Cypress Gardens is at 3030 Cypress Gardens Rd., Moncks Corner, SC 29461.

In the words of Gertrude Stein, "This I tell you so that you may know what you are missing."  Visit sometime soon.

If you've enjoyed the images in links above, follow now to view more from Cypress Gardens.

Golden Shrimp Plant (Pachstachys lutea)

Flaming Glory Bower (Clerodendrum speciosissimum)
Camellia japonica
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'
Camellia japonica
Joggling board
Indica azalea
Indica azalea hybrid
Indica azalea hybrid
King's Mantle (Thunbergia erecta)
Heritage Garden

Have you visited Cypress Gardens? Let us know about your experience.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What plants do you recommend for cut flowers?

Dahlias and gladiolus in a cutting garden

Q. What plants do you recommend growing for cut flowers? I need something easy to grow, and I want to plant in spring.

A. Depending on your climate zone, try the following bulbs and perennials are recommended for cut flowers:

Anenomes - A. coronaria De Caen and St. Brigid are best.

Caladiums - While they're not grown for flowers, the long-lasting foliage works well in some arrangements.

Callas - These belong to the genus Zantedeschia. The waxy-looking, long-lasting flowers are very elegant.

Dahlias - Dahlias dominate. For inspiration, visit a nearby dahlia society show. They are usually held in September.

Gladiolus - Plant them after danger of frost is past. For a longer season, plant a few corms each week for several weeks.

Ixia - Sometimes called corn lilies, they are excellent for exhuberant country-style arrangements.

Liatris - They are available in blue shades to white, and have a feathery appearance.

Lilies - I'm referring to true lilies in the genus Lilium. There are lots of plants called "lilies", but not all are. For my money, the longer stemmed varieties are the best. The short-stemmed lilies are great for container growing.

Polianthes - The familiar tuberose lends a sumptuous fragrance to elegant arrangements.

Ranunculus - Ranunculus are exceptional in cut flower arrangements.

Many perennials are noteworthy for cutting, including the following:

Achillea - Commonly called Yarrow, the long-stemmed varieties are excellent for fresh and dried arrangements.

Convallaria or Lily-of-the-Valley - Just a few in a small vase are perfect for an intimate table setting.

Coreopsis - The long-stemmed varieties are best.

Daisies - Look for Leucanthemum.

Echinacea - Cone flowers are fine for fresh arrangements, but it doesn't end there. The dried seed heads sans petals are perfect for drying.

Ferns - While there are several species of ferns that will do, evergreen Polystichum acrosticoides - Christmas fern - provides the greenery you need all year long.

Iris - The best include Dutch hybrids (available in the fall as corms) and perennial Siberian iris. I wish the flowers lasted longer.

Kniphofia - These are stunning. You can use the flowers and foliage.

Rudbeckia - Black-eye Susans are excellent.

Scabiosa - Better known as Pincushion flower, plant them in your butterfly garden, too.

Return to goGardenNow.com.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Got a small yard with lots of shade?

Dwarf Mondo Grass Lawn

Q. I have a small yard that doesn't get much sunlight, and there is a lot of moss. What to do you suggest to get grass growing? I live in Columbia, MD.

A. Forget about grass. You should grow dwarf mondo grass instead. Mondo (Ophiopogon japonicus) is not true grass, but it looks like grass. Mondo performs well in full shade and in slightly moist soil. Maintenance is minimal. Mondo has few pest and disease problems, and tolerates poor soil. Dwarf mondo (O. japonicus 'Nana') leaves grow to 1-1/2 inches to 2 inches long, so mowing is unnecessary.

To learn more about growing mondo, read my article - Mondo Possibilities For Your Landscape.

Return to Ophiopogon at GoGardenNow.com.