The Faser fir

By Shawn McClain

Thinking back on the years of selecting Christmas trees for the Kingwood traditional display in the house, many have questioned why we haven’t tried other types of Christmas trees in the house. Let me reassure you that we have tried a blue spruce once in the dining room. It was extremely heavy and hard to work with in the stand, not to mention that the needles didn’t make it through the season. Hence, the desired effect was less then satisfactory. The next attempt was to try a Douglas fir for the foyer tree as you walk into the house. It was so much better to work with and filled the requirements for the height and space available.   The reason for this selection that year was finding a suitable Fraser fir tree. We determined that in a pinch  this could be a good alternative to our all-time favorite Fraser fir.

Christmas tree production in the mountains of North Carolina

Christmas tree production in the mountains of North Carolina

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Best Evergreens for Wreath Making

By Glenna Sheaffer

When you are making your own wreath out of fresh greens, there are some things that make the job easier.  One major item to look for is evergreens that have smaller stems like Taxus [yew], Juniperus [juniper],  Pinus [particularly white pine], and Thuja [arborvitae].  These choices make wire wrapping the stems to add to the wreath so much easier and assures that the observer will see only the greens not the brown stems.  Using only 6-10” stems of these evergreens keeps you at the tips of the branch where the stems are smaller and easier to use.  Another excellent choice is Abies fraseri [fraser fir] with it’s wonderful fragrance.

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Ornamental Grasses

By Karen Frazier

The end of October, beginning of November is the perfect time to focus on putting your landscape beds to sleep for the winter. This should include deciding on what to do with your ornamental grasses. Should I or should I not cut them back. Is it bad for them, good for them, or does it even matter. Whether your grasses are big (Arundo donax, Giant Cane) or small (Pennisetum orientale, Oriental Fountain Grass) there are a few things you should consider to help make the decision easier.

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Moving & Planting Trees

By Shawn McClain

Spring planting gives the trees all summer to grow and get ready for winter. Developing leaves to make food for the plant and new roots. Both of these growth processes require sugar reserves that are stored in the roots and stems. Trying to grow both leaves and stems at the same time is taxing for the plant and can cause the processes to suffer. A limited root system, can also create problems getting enough water causing the newly planted tree to drop some or all their leaves after planting. They are unable to actively absorb enough water, requiring routine watering to compensate during dry periods.

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Garden Sculpture at Kingwood

By Chuck Gleaves

By my count Mr. King had eleven garden sculptures on his estate, twelve if you include the bronze “Duck Baby” fountain by Edith Parsons in the foyer of the house. We don’t know where they all came from, but we are privilege to some background information about the two pieces Mr. King commissioned with sculptor Anton Vozech. Years ago, a volunteer interviewed the models giving some unique insight into the creative process, but what I thought was most amusing was how intent each model was on distancing themselves from the impression that they modeled in the nude.

"Lady Of Gaillarida" one of two original pieces sculpted by Anton Vozech for Mr. King.

“Lady Of Gaillarida” one of two original pieces sculpted by Anton Vozech for Mr. King.

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The Importance of Fall Clean-up

By Mona Kneuss

Fall maintenance is one ways to keep your plants healthy so lets get started.
By now most of your plants are looking tired and ready to be put to bed for the winter. All of the annuals in your pots will need to be emptied and the pots emptied of their soil so they don’t freeze and brake. The soil can be stored in a plastic container with a lid of some kind to be used next year.

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Hardy Fall Blooming Perennials

By Chuck Gleaves

I searched all the pictures I have taken in October over the last six years and found far more blooming perennials than I could mention here. Many of them begin blooming in August or September but carry on well into October such as Japanese anemones. One of my favorites is Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’. There are also lots of different Asters and ornamental grasses that meet this descripton. For example, I particularly enjoy my ground hugging Aster ericoides ‘Snowflurry’ in combination with various upright stonecrops like Hylotelephium x ‘Autumn Joy’. Curiously, despite the name (Autumn Joy) the upright stonecrop is finished blooming by October, but remnants of the flowers still make a nice companion for my Aster.

Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ flowering with Hylotelephium x ‘Autumn Joy’ on October 14th.

Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ flowering with Hylotelephium x ‘Autumn Joy’ on October 14th.

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Over Wintering

By Laura Mast

This is the time of year when the temperature starts to drop, and plants begin to go dormant for the winter. There are numerous plants that you can bring in for the winter to keep from dying.  At Kingwood, we start bringing in plants from the gardens that we will use in our designs for the next year’s garden displays. One of the plants that we bring in to save is Pennisetum (ornamental grass).

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