- [Narrator] Did you know, there's a perennial that hits peak bloom starting mid-December through March? Philip Chadwick enjoys a winter garden stroll in this home garden that features Hellebores. Marty DeHart showcases some lesser known edible shrubs that perform well. Troy Marten visits with a home gardener who effectively uses banana trees in the landscape. And Jeff Poppin admires the terraced garden plots at Montgomery Bell Academy, where students gain hands-on experience. Join us. Provide a shady location and good moist soil, and these perennials will do well. - Hellebores really are one of my favorite all time plants, and just the fact that they bloom in the dead of winter is really spectacular. We're gonna go take a look at a collection of these easy care perennials you're gonna want to have in your garden. I'm here in Lewisburg, Tennessee, with Judith Luna and she has got an absolutely amazing collection of hellebores. You've clearly been collecting for quite a long time. - I have. - [Philip] Gosh, I don't even know where to get started with all these varieties. This one right here, I believe is pink frost? - [Judith] I believe so. - It's one of the original crosses, species crosses, and it's good and bad. It doesn't drop babies, but it's a sterile one because of its cross. It's really nice. Do you know how long you've had this one here? - Probably 2013. - Wow, so almost 10 years. Yeah, it's really wide. It's probably a foot-and-a-half, two feet across. And the cool thing too is it has a little bit of a dustier gray foliage, and it also probably blooms very, very early. - [Judith] One of the first. - [Philip] One of the first, do you know about when this one starts flowering? - Probably December 28th. - Oh gosh, so it's like a true... One of the nicknames is - It's very early. It's very early. The earliest I've had is December 13th, but not that one. Those there, the green one is about that time. - [Philip] So that's very early, yeah, you can see-- - [Judith] About December 13th. - [Philip] 'Cause most of them are in seed form right now, so it's bloomed quite a while back. - [Judith] I think I had 10 in flower by maybe January 3rd or fourth this year. Every year's a little bit different. - And that's, to me, that's the excitement of it, is it's dead of winter and there's flowers coming up, you know, just starting, just emerging, and that's the real magic of them. - [Judith] It's amazing how graceful they are in the snow. And after they're frozen overnight, they just pop back up when it hits 45 degrees, and they're amazing. - Yeah, and I see you have quite a bit of the hellebores Orientalis, which is the majority of the green ones, and that's where we get some of the really bright colors and the doubles and the amenities. This is a really pretty one right here. Do you remember the name of this one? - [Judith] I believe it was Apricot Blush. - Yeah, it's really nice. It's got sort of a pinkish yellow mix. And so this would've been the mother plant, and then you can see around where these dude drop babies, and you get little seedlings in there that'll eventually, you know, grow for a couple years, and then these are actually offspring of this mother plant. Look at that double flower in there. - [Judith] I noticed that this morning for the first time. - Yeah, that's neat. So yeah, so this would've been the mother colony, and it drops seeds and you start to get a ring of new plants around the edge it'll. And the fun of it too, is they could have... The bees will cross them with who knows what, if you're not doing it on purpose and bagging, the flowers, you know, you get all kinds of fun hybrids. - [Judith] I had bees the first week of January pop up. Oh, that's so fun. - And then it got really cold again. - Yeah, so we go from, you know, some of these kind of paler colors to some pretty dark ones over here, which is really nice too. I love the dark flowers. Do you remember the name of this one? - It may be Roman Red. - Roman Red, and it's really got a ton of flowers on it too. And this is a double form, with two to three sets of petals in there. And it's really happy right here. Yeah, that's really nice. So this is a really sought after one, this really clean white one, and it's also a double. It's really spectacular. This is, to me, this is one of my favorites, the solid double white. - [Judith] How does it compare with the Lenten rose, the classic? - So this is an Orientalis. - [Judith] Correct. - And to me, the classic Lenten rose is a helleborus niger, so that'll be a single white, and it blooms very, very, very, very early, and that was some of the ones we saw previously. It's also a little shorter, and they start white, the helleborus niger, and then they fade to green. So, the majority of these that we're seeing right here that are with this height are helleborus Orientalis. And you get a little bit of a bigger flower also. And most of the... These are the ones that will cross to the helleborus niger, typically won't seed out for us here. So this one, they call either semi-double, or anemone form, and you've got that pronounced regular pedal out here, but you get this double ring of little miniature pedals in the center that's just really charming. It almost looks like a little neck brace around the stamens and pistils. But this is a whole collection of a series I believe right here, right? - Yes, ah-huh. - [Philip] What series is this? - [Judith] This is the wedding series, wedding party series, I believe. - [Philip] Okay, yeah. I see some of the tags, the first dance, which is kind of a yellowy, which is a really nice soft yellow, I believe there's like a bridesmaid and a, is it dark and handsome? - [Judith] Would this be the groom? - [Philip] That looks like the groom, yeah, kind of that dark bow tie color. Yeah, these are really pretty. There's been several series of them 'em out in the past 10 or so years that are really fun. And that's, to me, that's kind of the fun of 'em too, is collecting the ones with the different fun names. You see even the leaves have a bit of purple and dark in them. - [Judith] And those are seed pods coming already. - You can almost see on the edge of the leaf, it has a bit of a dark purple in it. - Oh, I see that. Yeah. - Yeah, that's neat. This is a really pretty full white one right here. Tell me about this. - I liked it because of the model leaf, and it has really been a good bloomer. - [Philip] So we've got a different species right here. This is a helleborus foetidus, and it pulls up these big stalks right here. So this is a new stalk of a new growth. And then next year it will actually bloom out the top and you get this mass of little bitty bellflowers, it's a really cool different species of helleborus foetidus. Some people also call it bear's foot hellebore, or stinking hellebore. It doesn't really smell that bad, but it does have a bit of an earthy fragrance to it. So we're under this big gold grand tree. - [Judith] Osage orange. - It's an Osage orange tree? Very cool. So it's kind of a perfect location that gives you some direct sun, and then some protection during the heat of the day, which the hellebores love. What's your maintenance routine for the hellebores? - As soon as it's sort of warm enough, I come out and cut all the dead leaves all off from the winter time, and I kind of wait until the flowers start up, and have a base, and then I surround them with composted manure. And then I feed them with just maybe one, or two doses of the tomato Miracle-Gro food about 50%. And I water 'em with that, and then I mulch around them, but not on 'em and that's it. For the entire year. - Right, right. - [Judith] So that's why they're so easy. - [Philip] Yeah, and I know they're deer resistant, they're rabbit resistant, which is the... I mean, here, that's such a great thing, 'cause you don't have to worry about, you know, keeping animals from eating them. - [Judith] Yeah, I plant hosta, the large dark green hosta up there, all through here and here, and then astilbe in there and the ferns, and-- - Yeah, of course ferns. All these hellebores will stay what? A foot-and-a-half. - Not much taller than this. - Yeah, they stay pretty low. - And then when they get all the leaves mature, they get a little heavy and... But it protects that undergrowth, I think. - Right, right. So in the late Springs throughout summer, this is just a whole nice big lush yard over these big green leaves. - All year. - Which is beautiful too. So it's whether they're flowering in the winter, and looking spectacular, or just being a really nice lush green scape. Well, this has just been so charming. I really have enjoyed, you know, you sharing your collection with us, and just, you know, talking about these wonderful little gems. - Thank you for coming, and I probably have a few more questions to ask you too. - Yeah, we could probably talk for a couple hours about it easily. - Probably. - Musa basjoo and several other bananas are hardy here in our area of Tennessee, and I am with Richard Smith this morning, who is an expert banana grower, as you can see behind me, he has a forest of bananas. And while I'm guessing that these bananas are hearty, he actually digs all of them up. Everything that you see behind us here comes out of the ground and into his garage for the winter. So tell me about this process that you go through every year. - [Richard] Well, first of all, when I dig 'em up, I put 'em in a plastic bag, put them in the garage. - [Troy] And you have a unique for doing that. - [Richard] Just line 'em up like this on saw horses, and I water 'em about once a month, during the winter time. - Just to keep 'em not from drying out, and desiccating and shriveling up. - And they actually start growing. - Still growing if they're warm enough, sure. - And so it's... And then when time to come, put 'em back out. - You just plant 'em back out, They reestablish themselves. You cut the leaves off when you take 'em in, just take the tops off? - [Richard] I cut most of the leaves off all. Probably lived up three or four. - [Troy] At the top. - [Richard] And when they come back there, they start right off. - They just start right off. - Yes. - [Troy] Interesting. What about fertilizing, watering through the summer, that sort of thing? Maintenance-wise on your end. - I've got a irrigation system that waters most of it, but I probably water 'em maybe once a month at the most. - And do you feed 'em? - No. - No? - No. - They just no grow like this, - They just grow. - This big on their own. - On their own. - That's amazing. - They sure do. - Do you get fruit? - Every now and then. - Every now and then. - Never know when one's gonna do it. - Right. - But it is delicious . - So the general rule of thumb that I can tell you is, that it takes about 15 to 18 months for an individual tree to fruit, so-- - Probably. - Yeah, if you're over wintering them in the garage, in theory, if their trunk lives over the winter, they should have the ability to fruit that following year. You may not always get fruit, but-- - Yeah, maybe. - Yeah. - You just never know. - Yeah, I know, when I had a big clump in the garden outdoors, I would cut it back to about four feet, mulch it heavy. And if I got new stems out of that old growth, the following year, a lot of times I would get a clump of bananas, but they very rarely ripens, 'cause they just didn't have enough time. There are a few species of bananas that are hearty here in middle Tennessee. One is called the Japanese fiber banana, or Musa basjoo. Another one that is fairly reliable, is Musa velutina, or the pink velvet banana, and it's a fun one because it produces a really ornamental pink flower cluster, and little pink fuzzy bananas that are really sweet. They're full of seeds, you just end up spitting out a mouth full of seeds, but they're edible and they're very good. There are a couple of others, but those are the two that are most reliable here that I have found in Middle Tennessee. And in fact, the Japanese fiber banana will grow all the way up into St. Louis, Kansas City, Louisville, hearty in the ground. But I will say the other thing from a maintenance standpoint, and I know you go to a lot of work to haul all of these in and out every year, but I love the way that you have 'em distanced and spaced out so that you can really see their form. If you leave them in the ground, you get these huge clumps that, and this is no joke, after four or five years, you would need a backhoe, to pull them out of the ground, if you ever wanted to move them or remove them. And a lot of work and a lot of labor. So any other tips about bananas that you can give us while we're... - That's about it. It's pretty simple. - That's about it. - Pretty simple. Just hardest part is moving 'em in and out, I would imagine. - Yes it is. - Most laborious part anyway. - Yes, and watch 'em grow. - Well, thank you for imparting your knowledge to us today about growing bananas, and obviously you do it very, very successfully. - Well, thank you very much, appreciate it. - School gardens are sprouting up in many places, and that's a beautiful thing. A few generations ago, almost all schools had gardens and that was part of the curriculum used to teach the children. Today, we're at the Montgomery Bell Academy school gardens with my friend, Chris. - Chris. - Hey Jeff. - Good to see you again. - Good to see you buddy. Thanks for coming out. - And I just love the way you've used terraces here to sprout. You're growing a garden on a place where you never could possibly go a garden 'cause it's too steep. This is gorgeous. - It's extremely steep, and yet this is one of the few undeveloped areas of the campus. And so we really wanted to get a outdoor classroom going and gardening's part of that, so we're really grateful to the school for giving us some spot. - [Jeff] Yeah, and so you have a student gardening club. - [Chris] We have a garden club, and I garden with the eighth graders in class, and the gardening club has really taken off for the past few years. Always love to come out here and work. - [Jeff] Well, I've met several of them, and they seem very excited about gardening. - [Chris] Students love to get out here. - [Jeff] Well, I can't help but admire your beautiful soils. I mean, I wish I had soils that were that dark and fluffy-looking. How do you do make such good soils? - We add a lot of compost. We're constantly on the search for organics to put into the soil, and we make our own, we just hustle, we hustle organics. It's really important. - Yeah, well, I'd love to see your compost operation. - Well, let's go. Yeah, I do wanna tell you, Jeff, that these were built with one of our dads. - Oh, really? - And his sons, and he had a shop, and he thought he could contribute. So these are probably eight years old. And we're looking at a replacement system, but-- - [Jeff] Wow, this worked really well though. - [Chris] It's really cool to have that involvement. - [Jeff] A little hardware, cloth, and I see where they got it hinged, so you can-- - [Chris] And it's cedar. - [Jeff] And it was cedar, so it lasted pretty well. Yeah, tell me how you work this. - [Chris] Well, we move the organics. We try to get a mix of green and browns, and we work the organics from this looser, very early stage composting. - [Jeff] Yeah, that's an old pepper plant, or something isn't it? - [Chris] It is probably a pepper. And this composer's a little more layered, a little more rotted down. At depth, there's some pretty good compost. - [Jeff] Oh, yeah. - [Chris] Down here. - [Jeff] Yeah, I can see that. Yeah, that's, I think, about ready to use, isn't it? - [Chris] Get a little worm in there. Yeah, that's a... Oh, that smells so good. - [Jeff] Oh, I love compost. - [Chris] It holds together pretty well, It's kind of loamy. - Beautiful. And then so, about how long does it take to go from this pile here to get over to this one? - It's probably a year. - Oh, so you let that set for about a year? - Yes. - Oh, okay. - But then this here-- - But actually, depending on need, if-- - Right, yeah. - If we have... If we're retooling a whole bed, we'll empty one and start a new cycle. - Gotcha, gotcha. So then this stays a few months in here, and then this is the final area. Well, look at this, show me what you got here. That's the final product, right? - [Chris] That is the final product. - [Jeff] Oh boy, so I see you've got... - [Chris] Good mix of soil. Some of the leaves are-- - [Jeff] Yeah, I got leaves and well, just because of the trees right here, you're getting, you know, fresh leaves drop. - [Chris] We opened this last week, and there were earthworms falling out of that cut. So they're probably a little more. Goodness gracious. - Chris, I see some hills here, what you got planted? - [Chris] We have some zucchini squash, and some straight neck, yellow summer squash. - [Jeff] Okay, and how did you incorporate the compost here. - Again, we wanna get it at root level. Once these plants get a little bit of root throwing down, and a little bit of green throwing up, we want them to get into some nutrients quick. - Yeah, so you put regular soil on top, and then the compost underneath. - Correct. - Yeah, good. Well, it's about time to plant some butternut squash, isn't it? - It it's. You wanna do some? - Yeah. - Okay, let's do it. - The soil here at MBA is naturally good soil, it's along Richland Creek, and Richland Creek, the area here, Richland Park, is named for how rich the soil is. - [Chris] How's that? - [Jeff] That looks good. And I'll now we'll put this half a bucket, about two gallons, I guess, of that really nice finished compost in there. That'll be good, yeah. - [Chris] All right, and then we're gonna top it back over with our... - [Jeff] With you richland? - With our rich land. - Yes. - Even the clay is as wet as it is, it crumbles pretty readily. So, I know we're on the right path, as that breaks down and becomes a little ion factory. Oh, yeah. - I can tell you're in the science department. He uses words like ion and such . - Firm it up. - That looks pretty good, - Don't it? - Yeah, it looks great. - You know, I usually make a little circle like that. - All right, you wanna put seeds in Jeff? - Sure, be happy to. This is Waltham Butternut. It's the big butternut squash you see in the grocery stores, and we really like these. I've grown 'em for many, many years. They store really well, I mean, they'll keep all winter long, and they're a big plant, so we've got plenty of room for them to vine here. So I usually just plant what? How many plant seeds? Six or seven, something like that. And then thin 'em out later. And I'm really love to press the seed in the ground, and firm it in. That way, it ensures good soil to seed contact, and then just sprinkle a little soft soil on top, so it's not too compacted, and that'll sprout even if it done rain. - We'll water those in, and we'll keep a good eye on 'em. We'll select the most robust of the seedlings as they come out, and keep those with us, compost the rest, and maybe put a little mulch on it, to keep our moisture in the soil. Not just leave it bare to the sun. - [Jeff] Keep the weeds down too, and that's always helpful. Just anything you can do to stop extra weeding . - [Chris] I'm all about it, don't like the weeds. - [Jeff] Yes, well, thank you so much for having us out here at Montgomery Bell Academy. I mean just these gardens are just gorgeous, and I'm sure everybody here is proud that you have students out here working in 'em. - [Chris] Well, Jeff, thanks for coming out. It's always a pleasure to be in a garden with you, and thanks for your support of school gardens, and gardening in general. - Thank Chris. - This gorgeous little valley is home to Hidden Springs Nursery, and nestled in this beautiful place, is a really unusual business that specializes in plants for the edible landscape, and some really unusual fruits here. And this is Annie Black who runs this place, and grows these wonderful things, and she's gonna show us what she's got here today. And Annie right here, I'm looking at pawpaw? - Yeah, baby pawpaw trees. - Ah, a wonderful native. North America's largest fruit, I believe. - [Annie] Yes, yes, and largest one native. - And these are... You graft these, correct? - [Annie] Yes, they're selected from the wild, or hybridized by collectors to get better fruit, bigger seeds, bigger and better taste. - Okay, cool. - Kind of like people have selected apples over the years. - [Marty] Understood, and pawpaws are really an unusual texture and flavor that people-- - [Annie] Kind of like eating vanilla custard. - It is, they are incredibly delicious. Annie, this is a plant about which I know almost nothing, and I love of shiny leaves, tell me about it. Aren't They beautiful? - Yeah, very ornamental. It's called jujube, and it has, kind of, when the fruit is hanging on the tree, and towards ripe, it tastes kind of like a sweet crab apple. - Oh yummy. - And once it's dried, it has more of a date-like consistency. So, it gets really rich, and that sugar is concentrated. It does really well here. It doesn't produce as much as it does in some other climates. I think it doesn't really like our humidity. - [Marty] A lot of things don't me included some of the time. - [Annie] Yes, exactly. But it does produce and because it's so ornamental. - [Marty] Oh, yeah. How big does it get? - Yes, people should this. Most of the varieties that we sell grow in a, on almost like a little column shape, so they're kind of a narrow habitat, but they can get pretty tall. - [Marty] Okay, so for a confined space, this isn't the best plant. Looks really good for that. - It's not healthy. Yes, yes, nothing bothers them. - Well, that sounds good. - No disease. - [Annie] There's not many insects at all that nibble on 'em. - [Marty] Annie, I see another thing that you grow are persimmons. - Yep, this is a variety that's actually a cross between the American and the Asian persimmon. - [Marty] Oh yeah, look at that. - [Annie] And the it's name is Rosseyanka. - [Marty] Is it is tasty is as the-- - Very good, it's late, it's almost after frost, like most persimmons, but even a little later than that bright orange beautiful fruit. - Oh, I know, even the wild persimmons are such beautiful things to look at in the fall. And you have lots of varieties of persimmons also? - Yes, a bunch of different ones. - Wow. - They've also been selected just like the pawpaw for less seeds, and larger fruit. - [Marty] Media fruit, yeah. And heaven knows they grow well around here. - [Annie] Yes they do. They enjoy a Tennessee climate. - [Marty] They do. This is a fruit I've heard of, and never clapped eyes on before, medlar. - [Annie] Yes, it's was very popular, medieval England. Tastes kind of like apple butter when it's ripe. - [Marty] Yummy. - [Annie] And it's ripe at an interesting time of year for around here in December, when there's not much other local fruit available. - [Marty] Ripe, fresh. - [Annie] Fresh fruit. - [Marty] Yeah, and I know the reason that I've heard of this is it is one of the few, if not the only, Northern European native fruit that they had available to them before all the fruit from the tropics in Asia made it to Europe, back in the middle ages and stuff. And you can see, it looks kind of like a quince, it does. This is Russian kiwi? - Yes the variety name is Ananasnaya, also known as Ana. - [Marty] It's beautiful. - [Annie] And you don't have to peel them like a regular Kiwi. They don't have fuzzy outside, So you just pop 'em in your mouth. - [Marty] Yummy, now of course these aren't quite ripe. - [Annie] Not quite, they'll get a little soft and wrinkly when they're ripe. - And the flavor? How would you say it compares to a grocery store kiwi? - [Annie] Much more intense and better flavored? less watery, and has a tiny hint of pineapple in there. - [Marty] Oh, yummy, that sounds awesome. And they're about the size of big green grape. - [Annie] Yeah, exactly. - [Marty] Yeah, and I know Kiwis, you need a male and a female vine, right? - [Annie] Yes, yes. - [Marty] So this is obviously the girl. - [Annie] Yep, that's the girl surrounded by a couple of boys. - [Marty] And I'm astonished at how big this vine is. I mean, it's seriously large. - Yeah, they... I mean, considering what I start with, you know, small little rooted cuttings that I sell to people, and they do just go crazy. - Yeah, okay, so if you're gonna get one of these big, big structure to put it on, 'cause they get big and heavy, and give them lots of rambling room. I've really enjoyed it, it's been great. - Yeah, thank you, thanks for coming. - It's been fun. - My pleasure. - Yeah.
May 19, 2022
Season 30 | Episode 20
Phillipe Chadwick enjoys the variety of colorful blooms on a collection of hellebores in a home garden. Marty DeHart showcases some lesser known edible shrubs that are good garden performers. Troy Marden learns what it takes to plant and maintain banana plants in zone 7. Jeff Poppen admires the terraced garden plots at Montgomery Bell Academy where students gain hands-on experience