- [Instructor] Can you believe what the tag tells you? Tammy Algood gets a nursery men's advice about the information found on plant tags. Annete Shrader checks out the transformation of an empty parcel in a subdivision. It's now the hub of outdoor exercise for the community. Plus growing tasty fruit in the backyard. Stay with us. Figuring out the expected mature size of a perennial shrub or tree, you see it depends. We're in Gallatin today at Long Hollow Gardens and Vineyards and Hartley Scott is the owner, and Hartley is gonna talk to us about something that can be kind of confusing which are plant tags. So Hartley, tell us a little bit about what we need to look for and what could be a little confusing for consumers. - Sure, Tammy tags are a lot better than they used to be, but they're by no means perfect. And when a lot of consumers come out to our place they wanna know specific questions. How big does it get? How wide does it get? Is it gonna die? Is it gonna live et cetera, et cetera. The tags are pretty good but you should not take 'em as hardcore rules. For example, this is one of my favorite shrubs right here. When he came up under the veranda out front, we have this lining out there it's probably been there for 15 years. This is Bordeaux dwarf, Yaupon holly and absolutely fabulous native to semi native shrub. And it gets according to the tag, if we look here, three to four foot tall. Now that may not be totally true, at least in this climate. And we think it's important to understand where your plants come from. So we're fortunate here. We don't import anything out of the West coast. So essentially all of our plants come either locally or semi-locally or regionally. So these came out of Alabama and Alabama the deep South, three to four foot on a Yaupon holly is probably a little bit more ideal. And here ours are probably two and a half to maybe three foot tall at the absolute most. And they're probably maxed out and we see that a lot with specific like real Southern varieties of plants, crapemyrtles and magnolias, and this climate of middle Tennessee. A lot of times those plants are grown in the deep South. They have a deep South tag on them, deep South information on them, that doesn't always translate perfect to middle Tennessee. - I got it. Okay and speaking of deep South, - Yes, let's look at this guy here, fresh off the truck. We just got him in. This is Pink Pig crapemyrtle. So it is a dwarf crapemyrtle. We love this plant. We've heard a lot about it as in the Gardener's competence collection. It is a really outstanding plant, but I did some research. So when I went out there a few minutes ago we have an average size and spacing of six to 10 foot and height. Now, first of all, that's a big gap. So at least they're covering the gap. Whereas before a lot of older style plant tags might just give the maximum size which was way misleading in a lot of different plants. So at six to 10 foot tall, this guy looks like to be honest with you, he'll struggle to hit the six foot mark. I just, from my experience, not sure as a new variety, I'm not sure it's gonna happen in middle Tennessee because of the winters that we typically have that will continuously set them back. - Right. - If that makes sense. - Exactly. So this six to 10 feet may be perfect for South Alabama--- - Correct. - But not so much for our area - That would be a size and a tag that I would kind of consider questionable. - Good. - Is it true? I don't think so. - And then we've got a little cousin--- - Absolutely. - Here. - So to put that in perspective, here is his cousin so this is a beautiful new crapemyrtle called a red rooster crapemyrtle. Now his tags very similar. He says eight to 10 foot tall. If you look at the growth habit, he definitely looks like he's gonna get at least part of the way there. It's not uncommon to see these red tone crapemyrtles hit that eight to 10 foot markish and middle Tennessee. But again a lot of it has to do with when they're established and how the winters are those first couple of years. You know if they're gonna continuously be knocked back like we've had winters three or four years ago, we're gonna have issues. But like the 2018, 2019 winter in quotation marks wasn't much of a winter at all. So a lot of those plants were not even affected by-- - And you know, it's hard to imagine that this little guy could potentially get eight feet and this little guy could - It's hard to imagine you know, good suppliers have come a long ways Tammy and they've really tried hard to make the tags better. They used to be terrible to be totally honest with you. We used to tell people all the time, you've got to look at the average size, you know, the average, you know what's the average human height you know, five, eight, five, 10, somewhere around in there. What's the average you know, is there a human that's eight foot tall that plays basketball? Probably. You know, but it's not realistic a lot of times in plants. So this is a plant we sell a lot of it's no secret to a lot of people. A lot of people see this plant. This is sky pencil holly, how big the sky pencil holly get, it can get, you know, eight foot tall. And that's what essentially the tag says the tag says on it, it can get six to eight foot tall. And I have seen them six to eight foot tall but here's the caveat. They're not very good looking when they're six to eight foot tall and it tends to be a plant that somehow finds it's way out of your landscape and out of your garden when he hits that six foot mark, because it kind of starts to V shaped spread out a little bit, you know - And not stay nice and straight up. - Correct, correct. - Got it, got it. - A lot of times people will see that and they're like, it's an arborvitae but smaller. But our answer is no, it is not. Well, and we have to remember these are growing things, - They are. - They change. - Absolutely. - So we've got another good example. - This is another brand new plant. This is Sugartina, a Summersweet is in the Clethra family which is native throughout the Southern United States. It is a absolute beautiful and fragrant plant. But you know, Tammy, I looked at the tag just a minute ago. This is a great one, two to three foot tall. Now not saying that's not correct. This is a new variety, but most Clethra varieties are significantly taller than that. And he looks like he's happy. And it looks like it's gonna keep on moving. I would have expected just visually laying my eyes on this our professional opinion was I that it's probably a five to five to six foot tall shrub. So I was a little bit concerned when I saw the tag but it doesn't mean it's wrong. It just means that you've got to take everything with a little bit of a grain of salt. - That's right. So this is only a guide. - It is a guide. - And I think it's really important to talk to your retailer... - Absolutely. - when you're buying because we can't know everything. So, but you can be a good help with that. - Absolutely. - And then let's look at this little guy, cause I love him. - This is one of our favorite shrubs, we sell a lot of these. This is Whitealbum Euonymus. Now here's the funny part about his tag Tammy, the tag says one to two foot tall and wide. Now here's the thing about anything in the euonymus family. I would never trust the tag. So you euonymus it's known to be an invasive species. A lot of gardeners right now may love it. It may stay in that range. It may not, but he definitely comes from a family that likes to move in and claim a whole area. So it's kinda like my dog in the kitchen at dinner time. Not saying it's a bad dog just saying I don't trust it. - Right. I think I completely get it. So that's the takeaway from this is that tags are important. - Correct. - They're there to be your guide, but they're not the law. - They are not the law. - And so perhaps get to know your retailer really well and tell them exactly what you're thinking about. - A lot of it will boil down to conditions, soil conditions et cetera, weather, - Exactly, perfect. - Yep. - Hartley, thank you for this as being quite informative. - Very well done. - Think with me for a moment, if you're familiar with what happens when a subdivision begins they have the undesirable lot that cannot be built down. They have the trash trees that are no good for the site of the new homes that are coming and they generally are pushed back and pushed back out of the usable land. What we have here is what can happen when the members of the homeowners association and in this community come together to produce a really great thing. And beginning with Rochelle Wasserman and her husband Richard Powell. - It all goes back to around 2007, when the subdivision was first coming on up and the developer was gonna put in a nature trail that never happened. What did occur is the whole area that you see here was filled with a scrub, construction debris, kids were playing at anyhow and it was it was unsightly - [Annette] And dangerous. - And dangerous to the kids. After a while. Me and Chris Williams, one of our my next door neighbor who was you know, the president of the board said, "Hey, you know we really, no one's gonna put in the nature trail. There's plenty of good bones around the place, beautiful trees. We just need to, you know, spiff it up." So Chris and I are doing something that was along the lines of Stanley and Livingstone, you know, expeditions. Then we were surveying a trail around here that would be gentle enough slope that you know, you could push a baby stroller and, you know, people of all ages could enjoy it. But interesting enough that, you know people wanted to pleasant chalk it would be an interesting change of terrain. - And you had to also consider watershed? - You know, exactly. There were a lot of areas where there was like some runoff. So we wanted to control erosion with rip rap and putting in some dry bed drainage and preserving some of the natural characteristics that were already present here. So once we got it surveyed, we got together about 30 members of the community and actually built the original trail. And over time it's been added to, in terms of new plants, new activities, a little bit of natural sculptures around the areas, repurposing like the trash that was from the construction, like the little bridge over there. Some of the things that we did when we were designing this trails to think of some of the areas as outside rooms and different purposes. So in some of the sunnier areas we've put out deliberate pollinator beds. And that serves the purpose of one just naturally helping to bounce the ecology. But also a lot of us have a little backyard garden. So by promoting the pollinators there, it helps with us backyard gardeners, you know, get better yields from the crops that we put on in. And we have a neighbor on the other end who has beehives. So the neighbor who's there with the beehive and us planting the pollinators for them it's been a win-win-- - Absolutely. - All around. - We've got it. - Put your wings out put your wings out - The children were really super interested. And I think they felt really proud of it because it was something that they contributed to. So based when we first put it on in, based on your abilities and your physical skill sets and so on, some did the heavy lifting, others were handing out water and, you know, putting the initial mulch down and it was really fun. And you know what I thought was great? Because the kids were involved in making it when they saw other kids come around doing things like pulling plants or tossing trash they says, no, no, no, that's that's our trail. So they were really invested in it. - Protecting it. - And protecting it. And we've done things that the kids like it also kids of all ages like the adults we have like a Halloween trail walk on here. So that's always looked forward to in the community. The other thing is it's a sort of a learning experience for some of the older kids. Like for example we put in some paw paw trees and wherever we would put like a native variety to spiff up the trail for both color practicality, provided food for the wildlife like some of the Mulberry trees serviceberry trees and preserving some of the blackberries. And you know the kids learn about nature just coming on this trail. - [Annete] Well, and you also have taken in into mind the fact that we need pollinators and you have some sunny area that those plants are there and you also have bird houses? - Yes along the trail. So that's been very helpful to bring back some of the Bluebirds. This is second growth type you know, forced cause there used to be a lot of farms. There's still another one on the other side. - Yeah this is sort of might have been an undergrowth to the big tall trees, the hardwoods. - [Annette] For the most part, we tried to go to some of the nurseries that are local that propagate the natives and you know, put them around the place. And one of the things that I really like, I'm an Azalea fan. So we've unfortunately passed the season where they're blooming but we always have something that's blooming in this garden three seasons. So the azaleas bring in a little bit of a spring color and now we have the daylilies. And we've also tried to think about having views where people can stop and see different vistas along the trail. And you can see a little area that the pollen area that also has a bench precisely for that purpose. Some of the bigger challenges that have been around here is trying to think in advance. What sort of things can you plant that couldn't take care of themselves with the actual rainfall don't require you know, a lot of fertilization or anything else and then-- - [Annette] Take over naturally. - [Wasserman] Yeah so one of the things we do is for the most part when the leaves you know, fall we leave it alone. That's like natural - You don't or anything. - No we let the leaves, you know, feed the plants. - [Annette] So the funding and how you get some of your mulch, how does that work? - Well, we try very much to repurpose and recycle things to be cost effective. So we often are able to get mulch for free from taking it from the County. So their trash is our treasure. They need to get rid of the wood chips and we put the wood chips down. - That's county and then you have camera electric membership. - Oh yes. - They all tip up trees and they're looking for a convenient place too. - Yes. We helped them out a lot on occasion. In terms of maintaining the trail, in addition to Richard and myself putting in a lot of effort into it, the neighbors help, but also this has been an outstanding opportunity for a number of our boy scout troops around here to get their community service hours. A lot of the teenagers for high school, they work on the trail doing maintenance. I was very impressed. They moved about 10 tons of riprap to reinforce the North limit that drain. - [Annette] Okay now, so in actuality, this land that you're sort of camping on is part of the right of way that belongs to the entire homeowners association, right? - That is correct. This is a no build area because it's a natural drainage single area. - Yeah. Well, I can see the multiple hours that you as a community have put in, but on the other hand I can see the multiple hours of pleasure education. And just imagine during, you know, we've been sort of close to home lately and I can imagine how this trail has been such an asset for the people living out here in this community. - [Wasserman] There's always been some people who were always using it from the get go but you know, when the COVID pandemic came out and so many of us have had to stay put, this has been a wonderful thing for people to get out of their homes. And, you know, you can stay far enough apart in and enjoy nature at the same time. - [Annette] And I commend you for being part of that early brainchild to put this together for the good of this community. - [Wasserman] Well, thank you very much, Ann and I also wanna put out a thanks as well. I did a lot of the thought I wanna send out a thanks to all the other members of the community, especially my husband, Chris Williams and a few others who made this trail, what it is today. - Well, it's hard to believe, but this used to be a field in fact, just two years ago. And now it's a really incredible garden and a wonderful testament to how, if you get the right information especially from the agricultural extension service and you really follow that information and all the steps you will come up with something wonderful. Well, we have this beautiful plant here for example, buckwheat, which I've always thought of as a cover crop, but here in Old Hickory with Jim Semmons, I've already learned some more about it. - Is that a dragonfly? - Jim you're seeing dragonflies. Yeah there's a dragon fly right over there on the buckwheat. - So beneficial insects are attracted to buckwheat? - Yes, they are. They're attracted to the pollen in the buckwheat and then they go and lay their larva on our vegetable plants, such as the tomatoes. And there's a bug called a hover bug. And hover bug loves the tomato plants for laying larva. And when they hatch, they eat all the aphids they can find. - Wow, okay so buckwheat, definitely on my to do list. - Yes. - Now, blueberries. Certainly we love them, but I know the birds love them too. So what are your secrets and what have you learned about how to deal with blueberries. - Well two years ago, I went to the extension office in January and David Cook the extension agent talked to me for two and a half hours. I wanted to learn how to grow vegetables. I wanted to learn how to do my fruit trees and I wanted to do it the proper way. And he not only answered all my questions but then he told me about the master gardener class. And then I was walking out the door. He said have you heard of a book called New Square Foot Gardening? So all this information kind of got me started and I took the class. And the more I learned, the more questions I asked. And so this Naty is not my idea. I mean, that's there. We had a class on fruit and fruit trees and this is one of the techniques to keep the birds from taking all of your blueberries. - Well, this is really so easy in the way that you have it supported up here. It's going to make it easy to take off so you can harvest. - Yes. - And it's going to keep all those little birds out of there. - [Jim] It's keeping the birds out. - [Julie] Well, these Blackberry plants are amazing and you haven't had them all that long, have you? - No I haven't I started off with bare roots two years ago. - Wow, now okay. The system that you have to hold them up, I see you've got them supported in two places? - Yes well, the book that I read had them supported at a taller place and I realized I had smaller plants and because they're kind of growing and getting started I added the support on the bottom. - [Julie] Well, I think that's very clever and I like the way it looks and it looks like a clothesline. - [Jim] Yes, it's definitely a clothesline. - [Julie] Well, that's a great idea. Now, the thing that always has mystified me a little bit about blackberries is how do I know which parts to prune? - [Jim] You actually wait until after the fruiting, because if you look at the berries those are actually from last year, last year's stems or I guess you would call it. And last year stems is what gives you this year's fruit. Then at the end of the season, after they fruited these other stems are gonna be next year's fruit. So the pruning would actually be the ones that produce the fruit this year. - [Julie] All right, well, that is a great tip. I'm going to remember that one as well. I feel like I'm taking a lot of notes today. You tell me you started with 50 strawberry plants but this is clearly a lot more than 50 strawberry plants. And I'm just curious did you plan all of these individually? How did you get them so nicely arranged? - Well, I took the master gardener class and they recommended if you wanted to start a bed that you use what they called a matrix pattern and stagger out your 50 berries. And then with the proper techniques, the berries would then multiply. And you would end up with over 200 in less than a year. - Well, I know that they recommend you cut the blooms off that first year and you let them go ahead and send out the runners. So I guess that's gonna fill in. Well what does this system that you've made for yourself? - Well, like I say it's something that I learned in the master gardener class but that's called a matrix pattern. And so if you start off and plant two berries back here and then two more plants here and then go on up and repeat the pattern, you're end up with a 50 foot bed and 50 plants that eventually will fill in if you follow the proper technique. That is fantastic and clearly that's working very well for you here. - Yes, it has. There was beautiful berries this year and my neighbors enjoyed them. - Well, Jim, with all these great gardens here I would assume you have fantastic soil to start with. - No, we're in middle Tennessee and like everybody else, I have at least two feet of clay. And so to try to grow vegetables you've got to get your soil tested. That was one of the first things they told us in the master gardener class and it's a $7 kit and you send it off and they come back and tell you what your soil and then how to amend it and how to proceed from there. - Well, and clearly you're doing things right. So here I see a compost pile. And what have you been putting into this compost pile? - Well, it was a combination of brown leaves and grass clippings and a little bit of horse manure and just the natural stuff that's around here in the seasons. And then the secret to it, I turned it three times a week. The more that you actually turn it the more active it gets and the quicker, it actually turns out to be compost where you actually can't recognize what the original materials are. Now I have, there's one little secret about that pile that everybody should know. And that is, I not only learned at the master gardeners but went to the Lawn and Garden Show, the State Fair all those shows, there's lectures, there's people talking in the Barefoot Garden Jeff Poppen was there. And at the end of his lecture, he had a little bucket and he said, bring up some sandwich bags. And he gave us some fungi from his compost piles. And I put some of that fungi in this pile. And if you put the right amount of browns and greens, the fungi go to town. - Well, Jim, you have certainly learned so much in such a short period of time. And you know, it looks like following the directions actually works. - Following the directions or asking other people's experience. In fact, when Jeff Poppen comes to talk he doesn't have a prepared lecture. He says, he's gonna take his farming practices and try to put it down to the backyard gardener to answer our questions with, and you learn a lot that way. And there's lots of people in Tennessee, that are willing to share their knowledge and to help. And it's just a fantastic place to learn how to garden. - Well Jim, you are certainly testament to all of that and to all of the wonderful information that we have available to us especially from the agricultural extension agent. And of course, all of our friends and neighbors and other gardeners. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours growing tips and garden projects visit our website volunteergardener.org or on YouTube at the Volunteer Gardener Channel and like us on Facebook.
October 08, 2020
Season 29 | Episode 08
On this episode of Nashville Public Television's Volunteer Gardener, Annette Shrader sees how a community has come together to create an outdoor walking trail. Tammy Algood heads to a favorite plant nursery to ask about the reliability of plant tags. Julie Berbiglia visits an enthusiastic new home gardener who shares what he has learned about composting and growing berries.