- [Narrator] Blevins Japanese Garden at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens has been renovated and restored with greater accessibility to this place of serenity and tranquility. Phillipe Chadwick takes us on a tour. Sheri Gramer visits Almaville Bamboo and Troy Marden spotlights begonias all on this edition of "Volunteer Gardener", join us. Here's a garden, where each feature has been meticulously chosen then positioned or planted for overall effect. - We're here today at Cheekwood botanic gardens in the newly restored Blevins Japanese Garden. It is spectacular. This garden offers lots of tranquil spaces and some really amazing views. We're gonna take a look around and see some of the new plant material and the accessibility paths that it offers. When did this garden originally get established? - Phillipe, and thank you for being here. This garden became a vision of the community of Nashville and supporters of Cheekwood in the mid to late '70s. - [Phillipe] Oh, wow. - And actually rose out of the interests of a women's group in the local Ikebana Club. They were drawn to it Ikebana because unlike some of the other flower societies, plant societies, it was less based on competition and more based on just the free exchange of art forms and kind of developed over a period of time. The original master plan was rendered by David Harris Engel, who is now regarded as one of the most significant Western designers of Japanese gardens and landscape architecture, and then Cheekwood took its time engaging Engel the whole way and developed Shomu-en, the Japanese garden over the '80s and '90s, and I believe the original grand opening was in early '90s, 1991. - [Phillipe] Wow. - [Peter] So it translates loosely to pine-mist forest. - [Phillipe] Okay. - [Peter] And we do say that the Japanese garden is a Japanese or artistic abstraction of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. - [Phillipe] Yeah, that's very cool. So it kind of has that, in a Japanese style we get our own little version of our local Appalachian Mountains right here in Tennessee, that's nice. - [Peter] That's right, 'cause you kind of, you take someone very quickly out of a familiar Middle Tennessee landscape and transport them into this Japanese garden, but you also present them with something that they're familiar with and can relate to. - Yeah, so tell me we're standing currently in the roji, which is kind of the introduction to the garden. Explain to everybody what a roji kind of is. - Sure, so roji I understand translates directly to dewy path and is meant to be a setup to the experience in other parts of the Japanese garden, commonly associated with tea house or tea garden. So a roji in traditional Japanese garden design is always a conveyance, if you will, and that's definitely expressed here at the beginning of the experience and Shomu-en and is meant to, you're walking downhill, the path is crooked, it includes some stairs. So it's meant to draw your attention inward and to the ground, kind of leave the woes of the world behind and prepare you for the rest of the experience in the Japanese garden. - Yeah, so it's kind of a full immersion experience is kind of what they're going for. That's really neat. One thing that definitely stands out to me in the Japanese Garden is the plant material here. - [Peter] We were lucky enough to work with garden designer, landscape architect, Sadafumi Uchiyama, who is the curator of the Portland Japanese Garden, which is the preeminent Japanese garden in North America. So again, very much an honor, and not only did Sada render the master plan for this most recent restoration, he very generously shared all of his knowledge and experience himself being a third or fourth generation gardener, and so he helped me to understand many things about Japanese gardens, but in my experience in the Western landscape design and construction, you lay out the hardscapes, you define the fence line, you lay down the path and then you fill everything in with the plant material, right? - [Phillipe] Right. - But Sada helped me to understand in the Japanese Garden you want it to feel more like the plants were here first and the path is kind of laid into the forest floor where the path should be. So that's something that we've tried to definitely achieve with the new planting, and unlike some of the other gardens at Cheekwood where it is a little bit more not encyclopedic, but featuring a greater diversity of plant material the new installation in the Japanese garden is meant to be very dramatic and these large kind of consolidated sweeps. - What's some of your favorite plant material that's in the Japanese garden here at Cheekwood? - I have to start with the Japanese black pines. - [Phillipe] Right. - [Peter] Pinus thunbergii, which we're very proud of and have always been a part of this garden. So we established that Shomu-en has been featured at Cheekwood an important part of Cheekwood for several decades and the Japanese black pines as they're sculpted and very intensely managed are a result of that period of time. So really a defining feature in the landscape. Other important elements, I mentioned that Shomu-en translates to pine-mist forest, we referenced the Smoky Mountains, clouds, fog. So another important element is the native Cotinus, Cotinus coggygria or smoke bush and we've recently paired that with white cloud muhly grass. So from one of the most prominent perspectives that the viewing pavilion which we'll see, the Japanese Gardens presents a forced perspective across this mountain landscape, right? - Right. - We're meant to see a landscape that feels much larger and deeper than it really is. So the Japanese black pines as they've been manipulated, appear to be smaller in the foreground and then maybe larger trees deeper in the background of the garden and then that Cotinus with its flower and the muhly grass kind of add the smoke to the rolling hills of the terrain, and beyond that we also reached back in all of this, you mentioned and thank you that this was really treated as a restoration, because again, David Engel is historically significant. This is an historic garden at Cheekwood and so one of our primary goals in the restoration was to honor that original design intent. So a lot of the plant selections reached back to the original planting plan, which we have on record. - [Phillipe] Oh, awesome, yeah. - [Peter] So planted around the pond, we went back in with a lot of flowering azaleas, Gumpo azaleas. - [Phillipe] Right. - [Peter] There are lots of whites and pinks with a few pops of red. - Okay. - It's just something that I would never do a fill up anywhere else in the garden, white, pink and red, but I was helped to understand that that was appropriate here in the Japanese Garden. - [Phillipe] And they do flower for such a short time. It's kind of like a little mini bursts of color and then it's gone for most of the year. - Absolutely, and as I learned, the azaleas in Japanese gardens in a mountain landscape such as Shomu-en, are really not even featured for their flowers. They're sheared so closely. So they take these tight compact forms that they're actually meant to be sort of additional boulder expressions. - [Phillipe] Oh, okay. - [Peter] And kind of read like more stones in the landscape more so than then the flowers. - [Phillipe] Interesting, so I have to mention the bamboo forest. - [Peter] Absolutely. - [Phillipe] I feel like as kids, that's one of the most fun things that they see here at Cheekwood is the scale of one that, I don't feel like people understand the scale of bamboo until you're actually in there also. So that makes it really interesting. - [Peter] And it's built into the experience of the Japanese Garden right behind the roji as we discussed. So, again, you start at the top of the hill. The roji begins to establish your frame of mind, narrow your perspective which is even further compressed in the bamboo forest. - [Phillipe] Another element that just stands out to me are the ginkgos in the courtyard. Those are really spectacular in the fall. - Absolutely. - That burst of gold and they all drop at once. - And I get chills every time I think about that. That's one of my favorite moments at Cheekwood. The garden behind the Viewing Pavilion is carpeted with a bright green moss, and just as you said, when that yellow fall gingko foliage drops and falls on that green moss, it's just really wonderful. - Yeah, one aspect that really stands out in the Japanese garden is the placement of boulders. They seem very intentional and sometimes almost awkward on their placement, kind of standing upright. Can you comment about those? - [Peter] Absolutely, and the use of stones in the Japanese Garden is something that was done very intentionally, and quick story, if I may. - [Phillipe] Sure. - [Peter] We were honored to be part of this restoration, supported by a Japanese ministry that supports the restoration, renovation of Japanese gardens outside of Japan, and garden master Hiromu Terashita came to Cheekwood in advance of ultimately the October project, the October mobilization and he studied the dry pond at the base of the garden and after two days he handed me a map, and on this map it showed the location for seven proposed boulders. - Wow. - Okay, and then I arranged for Terashita's son and the rest of his estache to drive around to some of our local purveyors of stone to pick these boulders out and fill up. If this was me, I would have stood there and I would have said, "I think we need about seven boulders. "How many boulders can you get on a truck?" - Right. - Seven, great. Send me seven boulders in two months. Well, Terashita's son gets out of the van at J & R Garden and Stone and we kind of lose him. He just scurries off into the boulders and then we finally catch up with him, and after some period of time longer he just starts pointing. He says, "That's number one." - Wow. - That's number seven, that's number three and four. So here is this garden master having spent two days in a foreign country in a garden that he's never been to before, studied the landscape very closely, decided exactly where he wanted to place additional stones and then 20 miles away upon seeing a stone knew exactly where he wanted to put it in the garden. - Wow. - And I have no doubt exactly how he wanted to articulate that stone in the garden. - [Phillipe] I do have to say it shows that much attention to detail has been put into this whole garden. It's very peaceful. It feels natural and calm. It feels kind of very comfortable to be in at any point. Well, thank you again for showing us around the Blevins Japanese Garden here at Cheekwood - [Peter] Thanks for coming out Phillipe. It's always good to see you and helping us to share this very beloved garden with all of our guests and the people across Tennessee. - Well, Jimmy I recognize the blue tips, I don't recognize the form and we are rather shady. What is this? - Okay, it's an unusual looking Globosa blue spruce. Most people know him as a rounded, low-growing, in fact, they look good in pots. I've got one in a pot somewhere else. - Yes. - Low-growing blue spruce dwarf globe. - Like right here. - Yeah, down no higher than about there. Well, over the years this got shade, more shade and it loosened up. It wouldn't stay as tight and so I finally just pruned it out and made a little tree out of it, and of course your moss got onto the trunk on it-- - [Annette] That's just character. - [Jimmy] And I think it made a very nice looking little chest high tree here and I pruned out to interior growth, which wasn't doing that good in the shade. So i just had to peak of it. - It may have been. - For the season because all the new growth is bright blue. - The question is now, this is gonna grow maybe another inch. - Yeah. - What is your plan for the future? What are you gonna do? - Well, probably nothing because at my age I'm probably not going to matter if it gets another three feet tall. Well, as long as I can reach it, as long as I can reach it and it probably won't in a lot of years because it's just about finished its growth for the year. - Yeah. - And this bright, - In that blue? - Yeah, this bright blue is the peak of the attraction on it. It'll gradually lose some of that bright color over the summer. It doesn't require virtually no maintenance, except to be cleaned out if there's any leaves and stuff get in there in the fall. - [Annette] Nice little nest in place for bird. Well, that's a neat thing to know because I have these myself and I had not thought about that process. - Yeah, and I do a lot of plants that way. When they get too big for me for a shrub, I'll make a tree out of it. - Good. - And in that way you plant more stuff under it. - Okay, thank you. - We are in Almaville Bamboo farm. We are with Chris Buker today and he's gonna tell us or maybe show us why we would want to choose bamboo over some other choices. Maybe some shrubbery or perhaps some trees. Chris, give me some attributes of why we should choose bamboo. - One of the reasons people select bamboo is because they're interested in disguising or hiding something that's offensive. It might be a school bus next door, there might be a particularly offensive neighbor and the bamboo does this number one effectively, number two, inexpensively and number three with almost no maintenance. If you put up a privacy fence, with most HOAs, you're limited to six feet. You can go 20 feet pretty easily here in a narrow band and that's an issue too. If you were using a Leyland or an arborvitae they're gonna grow in every dimension. You can have bamboo provide a nice screen if you've only got two or three feet. In fact, I had a customer last week that did it in a nine inch wide planter because all he was trying to do is soften. - That's not very wide, is it? - I tried, it didn't, but what he was looking to do is to soften a sharp hedge. It does that nicely. It's virtually completely disease resistant. In our soil up here, where you're standing is really a great big rock with a little dirt on top of it. Bamboo will thrive in that condition, whereas that would kill a tree. That's why there weren't any trees on this property before we started to grow bamboo. - And so you were mentioning that you trim some of your bamboo. Can you talk about that to us? - Yes, most people don't have any idea that bamboo can be trimmed to virtually any height you want, and what you'll see here is not specific to this species, you can do it with any of them. We're standing in an area that's mowed with a lawn mower, but it's got rhizomes underneath here. We're right next to a portion that's 20 something feet high. This is 20 years old and we had an issue, wide overhead we have some power lines. So the power company, which has a 20 foot right away came in here and it's their right they fled everything to the ground. I decided we better make lemonade out of this lemon. So what we did is we came in here and began to groom it. The area behind me is trimmed at four feet high. That's all we do is take a hitch-- - The one directly behind you is where you trimmed - Directly behind me. - [Sheri] The four feet, okay. - We trim that with hedge shears one time a year, very simple and it stays that way for 10 months. The end of the-- - It doesn't produce new shoots to go up? It just stays there where you-- - It just stays that way until the following spring. - It's a perfect hedge. Yeah, perfect hedge as well. - Perfect hedge, that's right. If this was privet, God forbid, you'd be trimming it all year round. - Absolutely. - Just like we have to do around the edge of our pastures. In the distance, we have some that's much taller. That's hand-trimmed once a year. It's as simple as pulling a piece over, taking your Felcos, clipping the top off and you're done. It stops right there. There's no terminal bud. Bamboo only expands telescopically. No cambium layer. - [Sheri] But you mentioned rhizomes. - There are rhizomes, that's where the food is stored. - Okay. - So it's stored underground and if you change your mind, again, like we did right here, this area used to come out further and I just simply cut it to the ground. So now, let's say in that position. - That brings me to a good point. Say, my neighbor planted some bamboo and it's invading my property. So you're saying that if you cut it back, keep it mowed, you can keep it contained that way? - But there's two answers to that and I get that telephone call dozens of times. - I bet you do, 'cause that's the worst thing you hear about bamboo. - [Chris] That's what they're afraid of, that's what they're afraid of and there's really no need to be because they visualize bringing an heavy equipment and removing all that, it's not necessary. What you have to do is understand how the plant grows. It expands under the ground with rhizomes, and yes, it can go a long way, but do you know-- - [Sheri] What's a long way? - [Chris] 20 feet in a year. - [Sheri] Wow, okay, that is a long way. - That's right, so we have areas on the property where we have two groves of different species that are closer together than that. So how do we handle it? How do we keep them from mixing? I take a can of spray paint I mark it in February of each year and I have guys who wait a couple hundred pounds with a special nursery spade, go along and insert that six inches on the ground. What you've just done is severed the rhizome and potentially those new shoots from its primary food source-- - [Sheri] How deep are the rhizomes? - They're normally in the top four to six inches of the soil a little bit deeper with timber, but plants. - [Sheri] Okay. - So under normal circumstances, you're gonna catch those rhizomes simply by root pruning and that's all you have to do. If you want to get rid of it on your side, you just continue to mow it because there's a limited food supply in the remaining rhizome. Now, if you wanna go further than that, if you're right next to somebody's flower garden, then you wanna consider putting in a tree root barrier. It's the same kind of root barrier that are used for trees in an urban setting and when that tree root hits it, it stops because it cannot penetrate 60 mil HDPE arising-- - [Sheri] What's 60 mil HDPE? - [Chris] High density polyethylene, I'm sorry, mostly pots. - [Sheri] Okay, all right, that's all I needed to know, okay, okay. - [Chris] And we keep lots of that. - [Sheri] I'm learning here, so you got it. - [Chris] That's quiet all right. - [Sheri] Talk it down. - It's heavily used. The biggest installation I've seen is at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati. They've got a lovely botanical garden outside and they've probably got 17 or 18 bamboo rows, surrounded by flowers and shrubs and you might think why are these not mixing until you see about three inches of plastic sticking up. So this is a large scale use of rhizome barrier or tray root barrier to contain the bamboo. Very successfully done for many years. - So basically two ways to contain it is what you've told us, correct? - It's two, if you look around the other parts of our property, we just mow around as most places. It's only if you're close to something that you would wanna reprune it. Where you're standing we don't reprune that, we just run over it with a lawn mower, but if you've got a neighbor and that's an issue, yes, you wanna take more aggressive steps. - Well, you've given me a lot of choices, some options. I'm still a little apprehensive, I have to say, but I think I might try container first because-- - [Chris] That's perfectly fine. There are many people who can't put something on the ground. They might not even have enough soil to do that. - [Sheri] Correct. - But you can catch to make a planter. We've got some in green hills that are 20 feet long, custom built by builders, and you can google corrugated metal planters and you'll find some lovely ones that would work just fine and we carry some. Well, Chris, I wanna tell you thank you. I've learned a lot. - Good. - Kind of spark some ideas running around the back of my head and things do. I'm already thinking about where I could place 'em. So I appreciate that and I hope our viewers getting excited about bamboo as excited as you are. It's your life passion at this point, right? - [Chris] That's right. - [Sheri] Yeah, cool-- - Just come out and walk the property to see what we do. - [Sheri] Well, thank you very much for sharing, Chris. - The begonias make great houseplants and I can't think of a better place to be on a chilly Tennessee morning than inside of a tropical greenhouse with Calvin Owen of Tennessee Tropicals. Thanks so much for letting us come by today and tell me a little bit about these begonias, popular houseplants. - [Calvin] Very popular, they come in all different colors, sizes, shapes, very easy to maintain. They like bright indirect light. Most of them do really well in containers. - [Troy] Right. - Allow them to dry out a little bit in between watering which makes it easy for some of the forgetful gardeners out there. - Yeah, well, and this is a plant that has seen a little bit of a renaissance in the last few years. I mean, I remember as a child my grandmother growing Rex begonias and Iron Cross begonia and the old beefsteak begonias, those kinds of things and now we're seeing them kind of have a little comeback. - Right, right and indoor gardening, houseplants kind of made a big comeback over the last couple years. - Right. - And begonias are one of those things along with several others that seem to really, really have taken hold and caught the millennials. - [Troy] Right, several of these are kind of low-growing, short to the pot, and they look like they kind of spread by a stem that sort of goes across the top of the ground. - Right, right, lot of them they're rhizome begonias, or very low-growing Rex begonias that make some even better for indoor gardening 'cause they're small. - They are small, they stay kind of bushy. - They stay compact. - Yeah, almost a window sill type of thing. - Right, right, definitely. - But then we've got a couple of unusual ones here that have more of an upright growth habit. - And this one would be more of a specified situation begonia. You need high humidity for this type of begonia. This is called the fern leaf begonia. Likes high humidity, well-drained soil and it'll get larger compared to the other Rex begonias. - [Troy] And then we have this guy also growing more upright and I saw some further back in the greenhouse that actually are a couple of feet tall. So this one actually will be a little taller, grows more on an upright stem. - [Calvin] Right, and this is a shrubby begonia, it's gonna need again high humidity, so that's going to be more of a specialized situation bright light, the brighter the light, the better to color on that one. - So for something like these two that need more humidity, maybe a nice bathroom situation where you've got a good window, but get that humidity from the shower or the tub? - Most definitely, most definitely. The bathroom is probably one of the better spots in the house to get good humidity for plants that are like that. - Right, so, beyond begonias, even things like some of your orchids and that sort of stuff, if you've got light in the bathroom. - As long as the light is bright, even a little sunlight, especially in the winter wouldn't hurt. - Right. - These plants just need bright light, high humidity and just be careful with the watering. - Sure, and the other thing that I noticed about these begonias in particular, all the different leaf forms and color patterns, it's not just green, it's just almost every color in the spectrum except blue. - Right, you can find anything with the begonias that kind of patterns, the colors, the leaf shapes, some of them have strange hairy leaves. - Yeah. - A little bit of everything. - [Troy] Right, right, well, if you're looking for a really good, pretty easy to grow house plant that will really reward you with a lot of color and beauty, like begonias are one of the ways to go. - Most definitely, I agree. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips and garden projects, visit our website at volunteergardener.org or on YouTube at the Volunteer Gardener channel and like us on Facebook.
August 13, 2020
Season 29 | Episode 03
On this episode of Nashville Public Television's Volunteer Gardener, Phillipe Chadwick tours the newly renovated Blevins Japanese Garden at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. Sheri Gramer is considering a living privacy screen so she pays a visit to Almaville Bamboo Company to learn the many attributes, and methods of containment, Troy Marden showcases begonias as houseplants.