By Doug Schuster
Kingwood is often utilized by our guests as a place of retreat, to gather inspiration and refreshment. For those of us on the horticulture team at Kingwood, it is important for us to experience that same thing to continue with our ability to create beautiful gardens, and have Kingwood’s gardens be not only beautiful, but sustainable. There are several opportunities to gain inspiration throughout the horticulture industry, but one of the biggest is called Cultivate. Cultivate is organized by AmericanHort, a nonprofit that unites, promotes, and advances the horticulture industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research. We are fortunate enough to have Cultivate held annually in Columbus, Ohio, just an hour drive south of Kingwood.
Cultivate is comprised of a trade show, education series, new plant introductions and networking events. It is a place where we can be inspired with new plant varieties, attend sessions to refine our skills on the latest pest problems, diseases, and best business practices. This year there were a few things that stuck with me and hope to use at Kingwood in the near future.
If you are familiar with Kingwood’s annual flower display, you will know that Ipomoea (sweet potato vine) is a staple in our gardens. We use this plant as a border and in containers often. Sweet potato vine provides us with two vibrant colors to use in our gardens – a lime green and a rich dark purple leafed variety.
Up until now, this plant has strictly had a trailing habit. This year at Cultivate, Ball Plant introduced Ipomoea Solar Tower Lime and Ipomoea Solar Tower Black, a sweet potato vine which climbs. This brings a whole new light to this plant, and opens new ways of utilization. I have ambitions to get my hands on some for our 2018 annual flower display.
The other intriguing product that we saw at Cultivate was Sedum Tiles by Skagit Horticulture. This is a product they have been working on for the past several years. The plants used in the product are not new, but the way they are being utilized is revolutionary. These sedum tiles were developed for roof top gardens but can be used in other unique ways such as wall plantings and topiaries. Sedum Tiles are constructed in the following way: first. a layer of coconut husks keeps the tile intact while the sedum is rooting. Next, a layer of composted peat moss is added, and finally, sedum clippings are spread over the entire area of the tile. Once the cuttings have rooted, you end with a sod like product that is much prettier and drought tolerant. We have already created a topiary with this product, which is in Kingwood’s Succulent Greenhouse.