Monty Don prepares to surround the courtyard garden with scented summer pots. Joe Swift visits a rarely seen private garden created by one of Britain's foremost designers.
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Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World.
And this week I'm back at Longmeadow after a trip to Malvern.
I brought back with me from Malvern lots of ideas,
inspiration and plants to put in the garden.
But, above all, the realisation that what matters most at this time of year
is to spend as much time out in the garden as possible.
This week I'll be planting out my tomato plants into the greenhouse
as well as preparing containers for summer colour and scent.
Carol offers some planting solutions for a proper pergola.
It's very grand, isn't it?
It is, really, yes.
And Joe visits a contemporary garden,
full of inspiring design ideas.
There's nothing better than visiting a garden when it's at its peak.
It's time to plant out my tomatoes but before I can plant them
I've learnt over the years that
it is worth making a really good support structure for them.
I used to just put in canes, like this,
but however hard you try and get the cane in, it's wobbly.
If it's wobbly now you can imagine what it's like come September
when it's loaded with tomatoes and that will be
falling all over the place and then you patch and repair it.
So, it's much better to invest in a bit of time
before you plant them to get a really good support system
and this kind of bamboo scaffolding, I do confess, I quite enjoy doing.
It has a sort of utilitarian beauty of its own.
I shall be planting one tomato plant for every cane.
These are close together because over the years
I've experimented with the spacing distances and I've found that
you can grow tomatoes very close together
as long as the roots have a certain amount of room in every direction.
OK, that'll do.
That'll support even the biggest crop of tomatoes I've ever grown
and there will be a lot of tomatoes.
There are 62 canes here
and towards that end I have prepared the soil fairly well.
We had salad crops in here until a few days ago and dug them out
and added a lot of compost.
I've got two main varieties of tomato.
One is San Marzano, which is the great Neapolitan tomato
and this other one, Costoluto Fiorentino,
we use for sauces, we use in salads.
It's a large tomato, not quite beefsteak, but a good size.
A really delicious, intense flavour and that's one of our favourites.
So, a whole wall of those and a whole wall of San Marzano
and that's out basic stock.
They're all grown in the same way. Let's start with San Marzano.
I grew these from seeds. I sowed them in January.
So, it's reached a decent size.
Now, the crucial thing when you're planting is don't plant back
to the same level that it's been in the pot.
And that's if you grow it yourself, or if you buy a tomato plant.
Plant it nice and deep, at least up to the first leaves
and it wouldn't matter if you went right up that deep.
What that'll do is encourage it to grow more roots
and because it's got more roots, it'll feed better, it'll be anchored better
and therefore you'll get a bigger plant with more fruit.
So, plant tomatoes deep and that applies
whether you're planting them in the soil or in the pot.
And it's worth remembering the history of the plant
to understand how they like to be grown.
They're not Mediterranean plants.
Yes, they've become synonymous with the Mediterranean diet,
but these come from tropical and sub-tropical
Central and South America and they like damp heat.
And a plant that I always put with them that comes from the same
kind of environment, although the other side of the world, is basil.
And is another tropical plant. I grow... Oh! The smell!
I tell you, you take the plant out and this rich, oily smell.
Oh, I love it. I love basil.
And basil and tomatoes make the perfect combination on the plate.
They also make the perfect combination when you grow them.
If you're growing tomatoes right, then basil will like it, too,
and they'll flourish.
What I'm going to do is plant a hedge of basil
either side of the path and it's a pretty good indicator
if the basil's happy, then the tomato's happy.
Now, this structure does need to be really strong, in fact,
it's pretty good, because the tomatoes I'm putting in here are extra vigorous.
Now, you can see that this is a very substantial plant.
This is a variety called Shirley, but this has been grafted
and what that means is that the Shirley part of the tomato
has been attached to a root stock that's different.
And the root stock is giving it extra vigour,
it's giving it an earlier fruit, it's making it last a little bit longer,
it's making it bigger and slightly hardier and this is the first year
these have been available in garden centres to amateur growers.
And the key thing
when you're planting grafted tomatoes is not to bury the graft.
So where I've said bury deeply the seed-sown tomatoes,
just put them in at the level of the pot.
I'll have to tie these in as I go.
Hence the importance of the structure and although this structure is handsome in a way,
and I like it, it's temporary.
However, Carol has gone to Wiltshire in response to a gardening dilemma
based upon a permanent structure - a pergola.
And the question that she's going along to try and solve
is how can it be planted to give you year-round effect?
Irene and her husband have lived here for four years.
The garden covers almost an acre but the first thing that greets you
at the front of the house is a wonderful cottage garden.
I've had a chat with Irene before coming to visit her
and I know that although many aspects of the garden are flourishing,
the planting around the pergola isn't.
-Very grand, isn't it?
-It is, really, yes.
-Was it here when you got here?
Yes, it was, but it had been neglected for several years,
the house had been empty and it was just a mass of greenery at the top, nothing on the uprights at all.
Erm, so the first thing we did was take it all down and then think,
"What do we want?"
We see this very much from the house,
so we thought it would be nice to have some green on it all year round
rather than just looking at a bare structure.
As you can see, the ideas were there but it didn't actually work very well in practice
and it just looks a bit bitty and needs some new ideas.
With something like this there are so many different kinds of climbing plants
and what's important is you have something that's actually going to suit the structure you've got
and something that's going to enjoy living there.
I mean, this beautiful Clematis montana is an absolute picture
but it's not really doing what you want it to do cos it's a scrambler,
what it wants to do is expand in every direction
and what you're presenting it with is this column.
And it just isn't in its nature to do that, really.
No, I can see that.
Now, this Clematis armandii I chose because it is evergreen
and I was hoping it would give us some colour all through the winter,
but obviously it's not quite right, either.
It's grown round and round in circles, hasn't it?
And to make it look right you're going to be out here
every five minutes tying it in
and getting it to do what you want it to do.
In terms of design I feel that, you know,
you're really going to have to do something fairly radical
and I'm going to suggest that you take everything out and start again.
I'm not surprised. I mean, it does, it does need a total rethink.
'If Irene's starting from scratch then ivy is ideal for this pergola.
'It's hardy, evergreen and it climbs incredibly well.'
Well, they're quite hefty these, aren't they?
I mean, it's a wonderfully sort of various group of plants,
you know, you say ivy
and immediately what springs to mind is this sort of thing.
Now, this is ordinary Hedera helix, our native ivy,
and whilst it's scrambling around on the ground it stays like this
but as soon as you introduce it to something it can climb up,
it changes its character and it starts to produce flowers
and therefore fruit and it's fabulous for wildlife.
But you can vary it, too, with texture.
Look at that one, that's called Green Ripple.
-It's got very different leaves.
-Do you like that?
Or you can go for something that's lighter and brighter
and that's one called Glacier.
It's just a form of Hedera helix, so eventually it'll flower, too.
So, what do you think?
-I think it could work, yes.
And if they're in pairs, matching pairs right the way down,
-it'll be dramatic. Shall we have a go at planting one?
-This soil's lovely.
Well, we prepared quite well for the previous plants,
even if they didn't appreciate it.
'Irene's ivies will take some time to establish,
'but planting annuals alongside them will add some vibrant colour
'throughout the summer.'
How about this Morning Glory?
I think this is a brilliant annual
for just clothing that, covering the whole thing with...
these rich deep purple flowers.
Oh, they're lovely, yes.
You could use all sorts of things. You've got sweet peas.
You could even think about using them.
I think the important thing is to use the same thing on both sides.
Are you happy with it?
I am, yes, I think it'll look good when it's grown a bit more.
Yeah, well, gardening's all about patience,
but also about giving these a drink, do you think?
I think in a year or two,
that pergola will be clothed in green the year round.
If you've got any garden problems or dilemmas
that you would like us to come round and try and help you with,
write to us, email us,
look on our website and you can find the contact details,
and we'll be very interested to hear from you.
Now, Carol, there, was looking for a solution to a fixture.
What I'm doing here now is something that is temporary,
seasonal, and also fluid, that gets shifted around,
because I want to plant up some pots
with wonderful scented Mediterranean plants.
Now, this is a very un-Mediterranean garden.
It's cold, it's wet, winters can be long,
and the wind can howl in. That doesn't mean to say that
I'm limited to certain types of plants if I use pots,
because I can move them around and protect them over the winter.
And at Malvern, I bought some pelargoniums.
And what I particularly want is fragrance.
Now, I saw Lady Plymouth at Malvern.
Not the person, but the plant. I've got her here...
Here she is. Doesn't look that remarkable,
but if you could smell...
you get this rich, slightly citrusey,
very exotic fragrance.
And the whole point about scented-leaf pelargoniums
is the slightest touch releases the oils
and that releases the scent. And to get the most of the flowers,
the roots need to be fairly constricted.
So, I'm going to put two in a pot like this.
And I've mixed up a potting compost,
which is a general-purpose, peat-free compost, some grit,
and about a quarter, or a fifth, of sieved garden compost.
So, if I take a terracotta pot like that.
Now, I also have some lavender to pot up.
Now, lavender actually is a true Mediterranean plant
which comes from right round the Mediterranean area.
I mean, this is Munstead, and this is a particularly nice example.
Now, lavender likes
really good drainage,
bright sunshine, soil,
it'd be as happy as Larry.
Now, I've made a separate potting mix for the lavender,
because I've added extra grit and no garden compost.
So, it's much better drainage. And it is important,
with lavender especially, to use a peat-free compost,
because they like alkalinity.
I want to leave some room for water -
you can actually kill a lavender with drought.
Good drainage but regular watering.
Now, I've got pinnata here.
And you can see the reason why it's called pinnata
is because the leaf shape is pinnate.
This comes from the Canary Islands, Madeira, very beautiful,
and it's got this slightly grey, milky texture,
and these long stems.
All right, that's pinnata. And there's a third lavender,
and this is stoechas.
and in fact this is a variety called Regal Splendour.
And the thing about stoechas is that not only does it have
these rabbit's ears at the top, that stick out,
and they look very distinctive and you get these really rich colours,
but also, they grow more upright,
and they will tolerate a little bit of acidity.
So if you don't garden on chalk or limestone,
but you do have good drainage, this will grow well outside.
I don't know if that's in the right positions or not. It feels right.
I like the idea of the scented pelargoniums running down the steps,
so as you go up and down you get that scent and that mix of fragrances
which is so Mediterranean, and so exotic.
Maybe it doesn't quite work, but I can move them.
That's the whole point of pots. You can move them around.
But I do like to group pots together
if for no other reason that it makes them easier to water.
And if it's easier to water, you're more likely to do it.
Because particularly lavender, you can lose them if you forget to water them.
But this is a very, very sunny spot.
And it will give us our own touch of the Mediterranean.
I want to show you one of my favourite things
that's been flowering in the garden for the last week,
before it goes.
Rosa moyesii forms a really vigorous thicket,
these are three plants, grouped together,
can be about twenty foot tall.
And it is spangled with these single, bright red flowers.
And that makes a combination which is dramatic but also elegant,
Like a filigree of flower, evenly spaced over it.
And that's beautiful, and that lasts for about 10 days,
and then when it is over,
it forms these incredible hips,
orange wasted flagons that by late summer look just as good
as the flowers did in late spring.
So you get double the value for your money. Fabulous plant.
This garden is a series of enclosed spaces
and although we're surrounded by agricultural landscape,
on the whole we close ourselves off from it,
and just allow views, as much anything else
to protect from the wind that sweeps across here.
But Joe went to East Sussex to visit a garden
that not only embraces the landscape,
but draws design inspiration directly from it.
The Society of Garden Designers is 30 years old this year
and to celebrate it has teamed up with the RHS
and launched Open Gardens, where the general public
get an exclusive view of some wonderful gardens
created by the country's top designers.
This house and garden are nestled in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The garden was completed 18 months ago
with a contemporary sunken area
forming the centrepiece of the design.
Flowing limestone paths seamlessly transform into a snake-like deck
which takes you through to a wildlife pond.
From here, borrowed views can be seen of the surrounding landscape.
This garden has certainly got a wow factor
and it's a highly designed space.
But it still fits in the landscape so comfortably
it feels like it's always been here.
There are no straight lines, it's all built on curves.
The elements are nice and simple and interlock beautifully together.
I'm not sure if this is talking to that
or the landscape is talking to this garden.
It's blurring the spaces and I think that's why it works so well.
The garden has been created by Ian Kitson,
a designer renowned for his free-flowing, organic style,
often inspired by the wider surrounding landscape.
The trigger of this garden was the extended landscape
that you would never want to block out, never want to ignore.
No. Whatever garden design you might come up with here,
you will never be able to experience that garden without,
at the same time, always experiencing this larger landscape.
And of course, people look at landscapes and go,
"Isn't that beautiful?"
So, for me, it was thinking,
"Well, how do I do a garden
"that kind of shouts back at that landscape, and goes,
"Actually, look at me, I'm quite beautiful, too!"
And you know, just stands up to it.
Stands up to that and stands up to that house, as well,
and sits here with, you know, a good personality.
-An identity all of its own.
-You've got it. Yeah.
The development of the material vocabulary here
is very specific to this site,
if you've travelled around this landscape, it's a chalk landscape,
you look at the buildings and the village, and the roads,
and how they're put together,
and you then look at the house, which is brick and flint.
A huge effort has been made with the materials,
to be very sympathetic to the house.
But, still, try and use the materials that actually say,
look, you can use these materials differently.
Let's move on to the water.
Because that is such a bold design. Classy, slick pond.
There you go. I get no texts from newts saying,
"I'm not happy with the aesthetic language of this pond."
It works very well, yeah! So...
It does work very well, yeah. I like that.
And it's part of the... There is a journey here,
coming out of the house, into the sunken garden,
you can sit over there, you can sit here, the wall comes down here.
Obviously it's lower than this wall
so it's just letting you experience those views more.
From the outset I did feel that a sunken garden here,
even though we've had to raise the levels to create the sunken garden, was absolutely the right thing.
It's really lovely being in this quite intimate space.
You can look at the minute detailing of the leaves and the flower,
and then you turn around and you've got a five mile view.
And I kind of like that tension, yeah, I like that.
Is there anything you would change?
-Other than me not living here...
-That would be good, wouldn't it?
As a garden designer, if this is it,
if I have to occupy this garden for the rest of my life,
you know, really, I'd be happy. I would be happy.
There's nothing better than visiting a garden when it is at its peak.
Walking round it, letting it draw you through,
and experiencing it fully.
But as you can imagine, gardens like this don't come cheap,
they cost thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But the great thing about Open Gardens is you can visit places like this,
you can experience them, and take home all their inspiration.
This garden will be open for one day only on the 26th of June.
But if you can't make it to East Sussex,
there are lots of other private sanctuaries around the country
that you can visit on the same day.
Including gardens in:
For more information, go to our website:
The most noticeable thing about that garden for me was that there wasn't
a straight line to be seen whereas, of course,
Longmeadow is dominated by straight lines.
Now, the inspiration here is simply to grow
as many delicious vegetables as possible.
The potatoes, Charlotte, are growing nicely. We've got radish in-between.
They're a little bit small yet, but smelling deliciously of radish
and by thinning them we'll soon be picking those.
Rocket, which I've put in-between the crop as a catch crop,
perfectly ready for harvesting. I'll just cut them.
Handful of rocket like that, delicious and fresh.
There's no point in being precious about these because
the potatoes will soon shade them out
so I want to use them up quickly.
We've got cavolo nero here which just snaps off.
This is the Tuscan black kale.
And the beauty of this is it's fresh and will take lots of cooking,
so it's great to add to a soup or stew or a sauce.
And by taking a few leaves from each plant you're encouraging
new growth and at this time of year you want it to be small.
Ooh, can you hear the cuckoo?
We've got shallots, garlic, onions - they're not ready -
but the peas are coming on very nicely this is Kelvedon Wonder,
an early variety but this is very early for us.
We've still got ten days of May to go
and the peas are coming through well.
Here's a pod. There aren't many full ones like this.
You can see baby peas. Ah, that's great.
These just have a sweetness you cannot buy, literally can't buy.
But there are enough broad beans to make a meal.
This is Express Eleonora,
which is a variety I haven't grown before but it's meant to be particularly early
and we've got nice young pods in here.
Have a look at this.
The beans inside, actually, these are very small,
but completely delicious.
It doesn't matter if you haven't sown any vegetables at all yet,
it's not too late!
Whether it be potatoes, broad beans, peas, onions,
anything - get them in the ground, particularly salad crops.
This is a perfect time of year.
So, get on with it, you'll catch up with the cycle and enjoy the harvest and if you don't grow vegetables,
there are still lots of things you can be doing this weekend.
If you grow clematis, particularly the late-flowering kinds,
they're putting a lot of energy into growth before producing flowers.
And this growth does need tying in to stop it getting damaged.
So, carefully untangle the tendrils and tie them in as they grow.
If your dahlias are about to come into flower it'll mean
you'll have some large blooms early on in the summer
but not so many later when perhaps you need them more.
So, pinch out the growing tips
and this will encourage vigorous side-shoots
which will carry a massive flower right into autumn.
Now is the perfect moment to lift and divide
any clumps of primroses that you have.
Dig up your thickest clump and break it up into individual plants.
When you replant them, add a bit of compost to give it a boost
and give them enough room to grow away with new vigour.
This weekend I'll be planting out my courgettes and I'll do them
underneath the wigwams that I'm growing my climbing beans up.
There's plenty of muck in a pit under the wigwam which is great
for the climbing beans
and also great for courgettes and the beans won't shade out
the courgettes too much and they'll work off each other.
As long as I keep them well watered, it's a good system,
saves space, looks good.
These can go out any time over the next few weeks
but I would hang on a little bit for pumpkins and squashes
unless you're in the south of the country.
Because they don't like cold nights, courgettes are a little bit hardier.
Just pop those in the ground and the important thing for courgettes
and for beans is to really water them well.
Now, don't forget we shan't be here next week because of Chelsea
but I'll be back here at Longmeadow in a fortnight's time.
See you then. Bye-bye.
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As roses herald the real arrival of summer, the jewel garden starts to show signs of the abundance of colour that is to come.
Monty Don prepares to surround the courtyard garden with scented summer pots.
Joe Swift visits a rarely seen private garden created by one of Britain's foremost designers. It will open for the first time as part of collaboration between the RHS and the Society of Garden Designers. This wonderful contemporary space has a free-flowing organic style inspired by the surrounding landscape.
Carol Klein tackles a gardening dilemma that will be of interest to all those who have a passion for climbers. She travels to Wiltshire to help a couple who have lost most of the plants on their pergola to the harsh winter and have failed to get others established.