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Give your plants a lift! A garden trellis adds vertical height and interest along with functional support, and is simple enough to make yourself. “You can grow a multiple of vining or climbing plants, ornamentals like flowering vines, or vegetables—even tomatoes—on a trellis,” says Adam Cressman, Senior Gardener.
Cressman explains that, unlike an arbor or pergola, a trellis is usually a two-dimensional structure. He recommends evaluating your plants’ needs as the first step. “Match the material to what you’re growing,” Cressman advises. “A large perennial or woody vine like wisteria requires a substantial structure. Something temporary or seasonal doesn’t need a frame as large or sturdy.”
Materials don’t have to be expensive. “You can use a variety of things you might have around or get free,” says Cressman, “including bamboo and wood. I recommend cedar because it’s naturally rot-resistant and lasts a long time. You can use it year after year for a variety of applications.
“Copper is another good material, either when it’s new or has developed a patina,” adds Cressman. “But smooth surfaces are harder for plants to climb, so you need to add cross-pieces to the structure or tie your plants as they grow.”
Trellises are practical as well as pretty. Dwarf fruit trees with brittle rootstocks benefit from the support. Same with vegetables that get heavy as they ripen. And just think how much easier it is to pick beans without bending over!
Aesthetics are limited only by your imagination. Trellises lend themselves to styles from traditional to Art Deco to contemporary. Kits are available if you don’t want to start from scratch. From a purely visual standpoint, a well-designed trellis covered with blooming clematis or roses can be a stunning outdoor focal point.
Visit the vegetable and vine areas in the Idea Garden for inspiration. “We have a variety of trellises using different materials to demonstrate what you could use as a home gardener,” Cressman says. “That’s a good place to start.”
Do-it-yourself instructions are available online at http://www.the-landscape-design-site.com/directory/trellis.html.
Santa’s elves are good with toys, but when it comes to installing outdoor Christmas lights, nobody beats Longwood Gardens’ arborists. Starting on September 7th, five full-time staff members and one part-time student helper will be up in the trees stringing bulbs to prepare for the November 25th opening of Longwood’s spectacular Christmas display.
In 2009, it took 1,630 man-hours to put the lights up, 324 hours to maintain them during the display period, and 492 hours to remove them. The effort in 2010 is expected to be similar. That should come as no surprise, considering that more than 210,000 of Longwood’s 500,000 outdoor bulbs are hung in the trees by the arborist crew; gardeners, students, and volunteers arrange the remaining lights on low shrubs and specialized displays closer to the ground.
Plans for this year began as soon as the switch was flipped last year. “We looked at what we liked and what we didn’t like,” says Merton LaBare, Arborist. “A lot of things are icons, like the white lights on the Beech Allée, so we’ll just ask, `Do we still like the white?’ So far, the answer has been, `Yes!’ We don’t mess with staples like that. Other things get tweaked and refined.”
With those notes in hand, the Outdoor Christmas Lighting Committee met in February to finalize plans; orders for lights were placed mid-April. Along with an arborist, members of the committee include representatives from Horticultural Display, an electrician, and Display Designer Jim Sutton.
LaBare says that visitors will experience a more unified look with the lighting this year. “You’re not going to see fifteen different colors all in one place,” he explains. “That can be kind of chaotic. We’re going to have more of a traditional approach, with large areas of one color or color family. As you move into different spaces, the look will change.”
The other new development is in the lighting itself. “For the first time, we’re going to be one hundred percent LED. The power and energy savings are unbelievable,” LaBare says. Light-emitting diodes use less energy, last longer, and are sturdier and smaller than incandescent bulbs. Multiply that times half a million and you can see how important the choice of bulb is.
Energy savings comes in other forms as well. “We’re limiting our use of bucket trucks,” says LaBare, “because they use diesel fuel and are noisy. Our team of arborists can accomplish a lot just using rope and harness. We send supplies up inside the tree and then go up ourselves, carrying about 25 pounds of gear.
“Safety is key,” he adds. “You have to make sure you’re careful with the electricity and are trained in ladder safety.”
The result of all this hard work is a breathtaking display that seems to get more dramatic every year. Conical arrangements of lights impose a conifer shape on any type of tree; huge snowflakes dangle as a backdrop to the Open Air Theatre; lights snake along tree limbs, illuminating their forms when the sun goes down.
When the event ends in January, everything has to be taken down and put away for next year. Ah, but how does Longwood keep the cords from getting tangled when they’re stored? “We have a group of twelve to fourteen volunteers who wrap them up,” LaBare says. No word on whether these cheerful folks wear pointy-toed shoes and tasseled hats.
Visit http://www.longwoodgardens.org/Christmas.html for information about Longwood’s Christmas display and associated events. The display runs from November 25, 2010 through January 9, 2011.
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Enjoy family-fun activities, an outdoor concert, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
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Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
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Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
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