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Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World
and welcome to my garden.
This is a new chapter for Gardeners' World, but obviously it's my home.
And we've been here 20 years, and my wife Sarah and I
have made this garden from scratch during that period.
Now, I love it,
and I hope that as you get to know it better,
you'll get as much pleasure from it as I do every single day.
Joining me this year will be old friends Carol Klein,
Rachel de Thame and Joe Swift.
Each week, Carol will be visiting some of the best gardens that are open to the public
and finding lots of seasonal inspiration.
This week, she's visiting the Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey
which is at its best right now.
The whole place is fluffy and feminine, it's absolutely lovely.
Joe and Rachel will be travelling the country, offering advice
and a helping hand to fellow gardeners.
This week, they're in Dorchester,
tackling unruly clematis and an overgrown pond.
-Oh, that's looking good, Joe.
-Yeah, getting there, getting there.
-And he hasn't fallen in yet!
But I'll always be here at Longmeadow,
working and looking after the garden,
just as I have done for the last 20 years.
Longmeadow was just a grassy field when we first moved here,
but it has changed dramatically since then.
Let me just show you round the garden briefly.
This is the Herb Garden,
blasted by the cold here, it got as cold -18 at Christmas.
The box balls there, which I've grown entirely from cuttings over the years.
And they just get cut once a year.
And this is the Lime Walk,
so-called because these tilia are limes.
And I bought them in a sale and they were 50p each.
And I put them in in 1993.
Now this takes us in to the Vegetable Garden
which has slowly got more and more formal over the years
to give it some winter structure.
I bought this hedge,
this is a Buxus sempervirens, 'Handsworthiensis.'
I bought it from a newspaper, someone was selling a hedge,
and I went and dug it up, couple of loads in the car,
and that's been here for about 16, 17 years.
This bit here...
is all evergreen. The idea is to have this corridor that is always green
and in the summer, we plant it up with annuals.
It's the gap between the Vegetable Garden and the Jewel Garden -
because it's planted in jewel colours.
And when we get to midsummer, this grows really tall
and stretches down,
so we just fill the whole thing with colour, intense colour.
And it's the core, really, of the garden. This is the centre.
This is what everything works round. Not the vegetables, but flowers.
And then, we come into this bit,
which is the Copse. And it's a hazel copse.
Then you've got all the flowers that you get in coppice woodland.
I've got my dogs buried in here.
That's Red, that's Beaufort and that's little Poppy.
Who knows, I might end up in this patch too.
This triangular slither of a garden is what we call the Spring Garden.
It's a piece that floods badly,
it's often under water,
but it's perfect for growing these very early flowers.
Starts with the aconites and snowdrops, which are now over.
And then we get the hellebores coming through
and every kind of early perennial and bulb.
There are plants to take out, plants to replace,
gaps to fill, every year is different.
But some jobs are repeated year in, year out.
And one of them is to divide snowdrops.
There we go, just tease them up.
Now you can see, when you dig up a clump of snowdrops,
they look like leeks -
all beautiful straight lines with their white stems.
And whilst they're still growing,
it's a very good time to move them.
Much, much more successful than trying to plant them as bulbs.
I'm going to start with some just right over here on the other side of the path.
Replant each clump at the same level in the soil as it was growing previously,
and firm them in well.
And I like to gather any single bulbs together
to make one clump which looks much more natural.
The great thing about a garden in spring
is that it's changing, every day there are new things being added.
It's growing and that's thrillingly exciting.
But if you want to get a garden looking good of a winter,
it's got to be solid and stay strong for weeks and even months on end.
And Carol went along to Anglesey Abbey
to see a winter garden at its very best.
This can be a really gloomy time of the year.
Sometimes, you don't even feel like venturing outside.
But in actual fact, there are some plants which excel
at just this time of year.
They really come into their own.
And Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire boasts one of the finest winter gardens in the country.
The Winter Garden is long and narrow,
but snaking through it is this winding path.
And at every twist and turn,
there's something new and exciting to see -
beautiful coloured stems
and glorious bark.
The garden's only been created for 13 years,
but already it's been a resounding success.
The Winter Garden relies for its dramatic effect
on the impact of these big blocks of plants,
lots of them, and wonderful combinations between the blocks.
But the point is that anybody could steal any of those ideas,
scale them down,
and take them home to their own gardens whatever their size.
When you think of winter colour you usually associate it with something
sort of macho, dramatic, stark,
but you come round here and the opposite is true.
The whole place is fluffy and feminine.
It's absolutely lovely. All this blossom burgeoning,
and it's very, very soft and that softness is taken up
by these gorgeous mounds of this Euonymus
and whoever planted this lot is definitely in touch
with their feminine side.
Richard Todd's been head gardener here for the last 11 years
and is pivotal to the garden's development.
That looks like a really satisfying job, Richard.
-It certainly is.
-Can I give you a hand?
-Some secateurs? There we go.
-This is Salix alba vitellina.
-They call it the 'Egg Yolk Willow'.
-Very aptly name too.
It's a lovely yellow.
How often do you do this? Because those two over there are much,
-much more vivid than these, aren't they?
-They were done last year.
You always get the best colour on year one growth of anything like
-Salix and Cornus.
-So these are two year olds,
-so you can see they're slightly duller.
So anything you're growing for its stems,
that colour's brighter and much more vivid
-if you keep on top of it.
-In the first year, much brighter,
so that's what we're looking for now. We want to aim for next year,
bright colours in the winter,
but you've got to do it now.
This birch growth has to be one of the most iconic pieces
-of this whole winter garden, isn't it?
-It definitely is.
For everybody it's the sort of climax of a fantastic walk.
Yeah, it is just so... It's so magical and you come round that
corner and see it for the first time, it's out of this world.
You just gasp and have to say, "Wow! What have I come to? Is it Narnia."
I mean, they look incredibly natural.
I love the way they're swaying in the wind.
In the summer, we want shafts of light coming through here.
It's very important to pick out the stems and so,
there's a bit of tweaking from time to time.
So the odd one or two will come out,
and that's how you carry on with the garden. You've got to keep saying,
"What's the effect that we're looking for? How do I tweak it? What do I change?"
-So not just gardener but an artist as well.
I'll tell you what, it's really paid off, hasn't it?
Definitely. It's a pleasure to me every day.
I suppose you tend to think of garden visiting as being
a sort of summertime occupation, but visiting this garden
has just been such an experience. There's so much to see -
all these wonderful twigs and barks and the whole place pervaded
by this glorious perfume.
I really think it's inspirational.
If you're planning a garden visit this weekend,
there are plenty of other stunning winter gardens around the country,
and they're in their prime right now.
The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire
has a cracking display of plants from all corners of the world.
The winter garden within the 70-acre Cambo Gardens in Fife
has been expanded over the past 12 months,
and at RHS Rosemoor in Devon, the winter gardens
are looking truly spectacular.
For even more suggestions, go to our website -
I love the drama of Anglesey Abbey,
but winter colour doesn't always have to be dramatic.
I've planted this long strip with box, all from cuttings,
simply to give us green in winter.
And you don't have to do it on a big scale. In a small garden,
just a couple of green plants can give a lift
to the darkest winter day.
This is the dry garden.
It's very sunny, drains really well. We've got cardoons in here,
we've got Eremurus, we've got masses of tulips,
Mediterranean plants, but what we do in this place is let things seed,
so it's never the same two years running.
It's slow to start, nothing much will happen here for another month or so.
But there is one job that I need to get on top of right now.
This shrub rose is Rosa 'Complicata'. A species rose - lovely,
delicate pink flower, single,
don't last very long, but it's a joy.
I like it to grow quite big, so I didn't prune it all last year.
Now it needs a little bit of sorting out,
but if you're tackling an overgrown shrub like this,
the thing to do is to clear the tangle,
get rid of any crossing branches,
anything that's very old or anything that's damaged.
In general, you want to cut away the oldest growth
and cut back the weakest growth, which will make it grow firmer.
If you're cutting out a big stem on a rose, go low.
Go right down to the bottom and that will encourage regrowth.
Cut right back to the stem there.
We're now almost getting to the point where it's opened out.
I've cleared underneath it, so from now on in, I want to just
get a shape to it that I like.
That'll do. It's a vigorous plant. It wants to sprawl off
in lots of directions, as long as there's plenty of air in there.
That's the really crucial thing - air and light so it can grow.
Very often when I do a job like this, I'll clean it up, sort it out.
Come back a day or two later and think, "Oh, there's a bit more to take off."
A pair of secateurs in my pocket and I'll do it then.
I remember about five or six years ago when vegetable seeds
became more popular than flower seeds for the first time.
Well, in the last six years, flower seeds have increased a lot,
but vegetable seeds have gone berserk.
They're now 70% of all seeds sold. Now, that's fantastic
and here we grow as many vegetables and flowers from seed as possible.
This is the propagating greenhouse.
We have cold frames there.
Over there is the potting shed.
This yard really is the engine room of the garden.
The soil in my garden is still too cold and wet
to sow vegetables outside yet
but I like to get going with as many as I can under cover.
I'm going to sow some beetroot now. I sow the beetroot in modules.
I used to sow them direct, then in seed trays
but modules works perfectly.
I've got home-made compost but I do buy compost sometimes.
I'm not too obsessive about it.
This is a mix of leaf mould, vermiculite,
a bit of sieved compost
and a little bit of soil
because I think that helps the root relationship
with the soil when they go out.
Right. I'm going to sow some Bolthardy.
This tastes good. Easy to grow. It doesn't bolt too much.
Just scatter them in each module.
Normally when you are growing in modules...
..you try and sow as thinly as possible
and then thin them out so there is just one plant in each module.
But with beetroot, the reason I don't thin them
is because I think that they're best grown as a cluster.
So if I can have a clump or cluster
of half a dozen golf-ball sized beetroot,
that actually tastes much better than one big whopper.
Very often at this time of year
you can have sunny days but the ground is still cold and wet
or even not prepared because you haven't had a chance to get at it.
But it is important to plant out onion and shallot sets.
I've got some shallots here.
This is a variety called Jermor.
I'm a great fan of shallots because they taste so good
and they store very well.
This is the root end and the sprout comes from the top.
Get some potting compost and simply pot the shallot.
They are not going to stay in here for very long,
maybe a month or so at the most,
but it does give them a chance to grow because they have
a long growing season.
In order to ripen in time in summer, we want to get them into the ground
as soon as possible.
I've got some here that I did in the middle of last month.
You can see that they've got a decent foliage coming out of the top.
Their roots are firm. I can't pull those out.
Those will be ready to plant out in a week or two.
This time of year, there's so much to do -
seeds to sow, the winter to tidy up from, some pruning to be done.
But there are some people, who not only do all that work,
but also open their gardens to the public.
Heather Robinson down in Dorchester is opening her garden as part of
the National Gardens Scheme this Sunday on the 13th.
Joe and Rachel went down to Dorchester to give a helping hand.
Heather, it's quite challenging to open your garden in March.
-What made you want to do that?
-Each season, to me,
has such a lot to offer.
But I think after,
especially the last few winters that we've had,
to see the beginnings of spring coming, it's lovely.
The other thing is not many people do
so I don't have the competition.
-Get in there quick!
You also other times throughout the year as well,
which I think is a lovely idea
-because you see a garden progress throughout the seasons.
You've got a lot of height. Wonderful height. Silver birches,
lilac, some evergreen trees.
People are scared of putting trees in gardens of these size.
The trees we put in to break up areas.
I'll tell what really shows is there's a love of clematis here.
A lot of that height is with clematis going over arches.
I can't stop buying them.
I really can't!
There are many worse things in life to be addicted to than clematis,
in my view.
You've got a big day coming up so we're here to help you.
Are there any specific tasks that you want us to deal with?
The pond area certainly needs to be looked at,
pruning of the clematis, putting a little bit of compost round,
Absolutely Well, we can certainly give you a hand with that.
-Let's crack on.
-You're good at barking.
Are most of these plants grown in pots?
-Certainly the irises are.
I'd look to repot the ones that are really pot-bound.
The first thing to do is to get this frogspawn out of the way.
-Do you want to leave me to it, Heather? I
OK. See you in a bit.
It means that when I pull this iris out,
there'll be no frogspawn attached to it.
Now, it's pretty much a case, as with all herbaceous perennials,
splitting it, dividing it up and repotting it.
But before I repot it, I really want to give it a good wash
because it's covered in duckweed and it's one way of getting
the duckweed out of the pond completely.
OK. Now, that's ready to pot up.
The first thing I'm going to do
is put some gravel at the bottom of the container...
..just to help bed plant in and weigh the pot down.
Then I backfill it with some special aquatic compost,
which is very low in nutrients.
That is absolutely key
because if I start feeding nutrients into this pond,
I'm going to encourage algae in spring
and it's going to make a right old mess
and upset the balance of the water.
As I put it back into the water,
this soil will all just float away,
unless I weigh it down with something.
The ideal medium is some of this gravel.
There you go. That's one iris repotted.
But before I put them back in,
I'm going to give this pond a really good clean-out.
It needs it because there's decaying foliage in there,
and there's lots of duckweed as well.
-That's looking good, Joe.
-Getting there. Getting there.
-And he hasn't fallen in yet.
-No, there is that.
Not yet. I know you both wish I would.
-Round about here?
You can see where I've got so far with it.
I can also see great big chunks of chalk.
-Do you lose a lot of water through the soil?
-A tremendous amount.
With that water draining through,
you're also going to find nutrients leeching out all the time.
-I think mulch is a good idea.
This is your lovely home-made garden compost
so it's beautiful stuff, this.
You want to put it on about two to four inches thick
so that, gradually, it acts almost like a slow-release fertiliser
And it does other jobs too.
You're going to find that, when it rains,
that the water's going to be retained, much better moisture retention,
also, fewer weeds.
And, finally, because you want the garden to be looking good
for all of these openings, it sets off all of the plants beautifully.
-Yes, it's that backdrop, isn't it.
Well, that's one job done.
But Heather also wanted help with pruning her beloved clematis.
Now, with clematis, they fall into three groups
when it comes to pruning.
One, two and three. And it's the group threes
that we can prune now.
Now among the group three clematis are the tanguticas
which have golden yellow bell-shaped flowers.
And the viticellas which are, I think, my favourite group
They're incredibly easy to grow.
Basically, they produce flowers on new wood.
Growth that's made this season rather than last.
So, all of this, that's not going to flower.
So we're going to cut this
pretty much right down at the base here.
And you can see all these lovely new stems.
They've already emerged.
We've got three good strong ones.
So, I'm just going to cut this.
I like this idea, just putting this netting on
to give it something to hang on to as it goes up the silver birch.
You've got to keep on top of this duckweed
but I'm sure it's diminishing.
-There is less of it than when I started.
-A lot less.
It doesn't feel like it!
I think if you get a finer mesh actually in your net.
-I'm sure it's just going round in circles...
-Are you blaming your tools again?
Well... Yes, I am actually.
Anyway, over to you now.
-And good luck with the open day.
It is such a lovely garden and there's so much interest here.
I think visitors are going to be delighted.
Thank you, both of you, very much.
The great thing about the National Gardens Scheme
is you get a chance to see all kinds of gardens
that wouldn't normally be open.
And if you'd like to share your garden with us,
we would love to hear from you this year.
Particularly if you've got a dilemma
that you think Rachel or Joe may be able to help you with.
So, send us a couple of pictures by e-mail to -
And, who know? We may be round to see you.
Now, here are some jobs to get on with this weekend.
I like to get my bare-root roses in the ground, certainly by the end of March if I can.
The great advantage of bare-root roses over containerised ones,
is that they're much cheaper, they tend to have a better root system
and because they're field-grown, they're tougher.
When you receive a bare-root rose
give it a good soak in a bucket of water while you prepare the hole.
I like to plant my roses deep
so that the grafting point is below ground level
as this seems to reduce suckering.
I also add some mycorrhizal product
which helps the roots develop quickly.
Backfill it, firming it in well.
Give it a good soak and then mulch it quickly.
This year's potatoes are now on sale.
And even if your ground isn't ready for planting them yet
It is time to prepare them by chitting them.
Chitting simply means placing them in a box or on a tray,
in a bright, sunny place
so they can develop hard, knobby sprouts
which will give them a head start when you do plant them.
If you have some rhubarb plants,
it's not too late to force a crown or two.
Forcing produces sweeter, tenderer shoots
than those that are left to grow naturally.
Cover them up with a flower pot,
making sure that all light is excluded and leave them.
And, in a few weeks' time, you'll have delicious, tender stems.
One job I should be getting on with this weekend is finishing pruning my apple trees.
These are standard, so they grow fairly loosely
but they got a big tangle in certain places.
And it's something that really should have been done by now.
And you prune in winter to clear them out cos you can see.
There's no leaves, no fruit. You can see what you're doing.
And also, it stimulates growth.
If you pruned every winter, you'd never have any fruit
because the new growth, and this is growth from last year
hasn't developed any spurs. And you can see, here are the spurs.
This is what will have the apples on it.
That takes a year or two to form.
And then, as it gets more mature, and you follow it back to older wood,
you can see you get quite a few spurs coming off.
All these will bear fruit.
So, I'll just get the saw,
do an undercut like that.
So, that when I cut down, it doesn't tear.
And, at a slight angle...
First thing to do is to clear the tangle,
starting by getting rid of anything that's dead,
or diseased or any branches that are rubbing or crossing.
Just allow it so you can imagine a pigeon would be able to fly through.
I want to get at this one
because that's coming down through.
And, if I again do my undercut.
This is a tree called Jupiter.
And it's a delicious eater.
And, in fact, it keeps pretty well too.
And I've got a few left.
That's a Jupiter.
One of it's parents is Cox's Orange Pippin.
That's a little leathery but it's beautiful fragrance still.
And a really good tree and masses of fruit.
Loads and loads. And when I put this in,
it was a tiny little thing.
At least I'm seeing some light and air in here now.
If I keep at it, I'll have the whole lot finished by the end of the weekend.
It's another job ticked off.
Well, I hope to see you back here at Longmeadow next week
and have a good gardening weekend yourself. Bye bye.
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