Category Archives: Articles from our Gardeners

The Fraser 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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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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Putting Tender Herbs to Bed in the Fall

By Glenna Sheaffer

One way to keep herbs for years – especially tender perennials and shrubs – is to dig them and pot them up and bring them into the house over the winter. Of course, this works best for smaller plants that do not take up too much room. Clean off all the old discolored and dead leaves and flowers so they look tidy. This is now a houseplant in your home so it should look nice. You can cut off some far-ranging stems so the plants are more compact and will fit well on your windowsill. Try to leave about 2” of foliage left on the stems. The plant can be further cut back as it puts out new growth lower down the stem. Finish with a plant that has good foliage and maybe flowers to carry it through the winter. Herbs need direct sunlight in the winter so setting them in a South, East or West window would be ideal. Sunlight is weak in the winter so the longer you can have them in the sun the better.

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Herbs & Cuttings

By Glenna Shaeffer

When you need to take tender herb plants indoors to keep over the winter, you can dig the whole plant in Mid-September and bring it in.  If you do not have enough room indoors for larger plants, you can take cuttings to bring in.  Late August is the best time to take cuttings of herbs that are Mediterranean in origin.  The plant is still in active growth during this month which helps in rooting.  Later when the weather cools the plants prepare chemically for going through winter and do not root out easily again until spring.

herb

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Hedge Trimming

By Shawn McClain

The grounds crew trims many hedges on Kingwood grounds. One particular hedge, is the hornbeam just outside of the greenhouse. Botanically known as Carpinus betulus, the hornbeam is a fast growing deciduous tree that can grow up to several feet per year. We like to maintain it using a traditional European style of pruning, so it has a nice, sculpted appearance. This means, it’s crucial that the hedge be trimmed regularly, so it doesn’t look overgrown and unruly.

It is quite a chore, but the end result is awesome.

Hedge at Kingwood

Hedge at Kingwood

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