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RADIO PLAYS "Tweedlee Dee" by LaVern Baker
Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World, and June has come to Longmeadow
and it's very welcome, even though it's a traditional English June -
a bit wet, a bit blowy, a bit chilly,
but the garden is loving it because everything is growing lushly.
This week I'm planting out tender annuals into the Jewel Garden,
as well as giving my elderly citrus plants
a thorough and long-overdue service.
Carol is helping a Wiltshire beekeeper
who wants ideas for shade-loving flowers
that will bring colour as well as nectar to her garden.
And Rachel is going to Wisley...
Look how beautiful they are! It's almost... Oh, you feel mean.
..to find out how your garden
can benefit from the miraculous Chelsea chop.
There's no doubt about it that there's a different kind of energy in the garden now.
In spring, everything is becoming - there is that electric thrill
that seems to run from plants into one's skin.
But now we go into summer, it's a bigger pulse,
and that promises much more richness.
Some plants, of course, span the gap
between spring and summer. The Geum 'Mrs Bradshaw'
has been flowering for weeks,
and next to it, the Anchusa 'Loddon Royalist',
both with fabulous colour, but both have
the freshness of spring and the richness of summer. But in general,
everything is going stronger and deeper
and growing more powerfully.
But sometimes that exuberance of growth gets carried away with itself
and plants start to flop. You can see a really good example here.
This is the poppy 'Patty's Plum'.
This one's going over, this is just about at its best,
but it flopped before I had a chance to support it
and although I've rescued it and put it upright,
it doesn't look great. It looks like
a drunk leaning on a lamppost.
Not only does it not look very good, it also does damage to neighbouring plants,
so the idea is to support them BEFORE they need it,
before they fall over.
And the main weapon in my armoury of supporting plants is cold steel.
Now the reason I go for cold steel to support my plants
is because it works so beautifully.
If you buy yourself
a length of mild steel bars - this is 6mm thickness -
you can make really nice supports.
They're cheap, they're easy to make,
and certainly much cheaper than anything you can buy.
This cost us, well, round about £2
and that is about half of what it would cost you anywhere.
Go to a steel stockholder, steel merchant.
You can look them up on the Yellow Pages or the Internet, there are lots of them.
Get them cut to length - this is a 2.5 metre length - and bend them round anything you like.
I've used this to bend them round, you can use a tree trunk.
this bin is quite good cos all you have to do is just roughly get them
in the middle like that,
and just bend it round following the contours,
take it round like that and there's your hoop, perfectly formed.
That's stage one.
Stage two, you need a couple of boards.
Lay your hoop
on the ground like that.
Put this across, stand on it,
bending it up a little,
and just pull it back towards you.
There we go.
There we are.
A perfect plant support.
Took, what, 15 seconds to make?
Now the key thing for any method of supporting
is to do it before the plant needs it.
This group of Heleniums
is fine, perfectly upstanding,
not battered at all.
But there's a real chance as it grows,
which it will do very fast now, that on a windyish day
or in a storm, it'll get battered,
so if I put this in like that
and then put another one on this side...
Not touching, not pinching it or corseting it in any way.
There's the protection, it's in place.
As it grows, if it leans outwards, it will be gently held up
rather than squeezed in,
and that's the way to stake plants.
Well, that's how I use these steel hoops,
but, of course, there are other ways of doing the job.
The simplest and perhaps oldest-fashioned
means of support is by using
canes or sticks and string,
particularly suitable for individual stems
like delphiniums or sunflowers. The thing to watch
is not to make it so tight that the plants are squeezed,
but not so loose that they're not supported.
I keep all our prunings, specifically for supports.
They can stand here, and what looks just like a pile of old wood
actually makes really good material for getting under plants.
That's hazel, pruned from the purple hazel in the Jewel Garden.
This is actually field maple, which is also nice and twiggy.
You can see that you can either use a big piece like that,
or you can even cut it right down and use it much more delicately
underneath smaller plants.
If I cut that off and cut those off,
you can just stick that in underneath a plant
and it grows through it and that works as a support.
Or even straight shoots like this.
They're flexible, so I can bend that round
and then that would go round a group of plants.
I can weave that, bend this in so it goes into the ground
and, hey presto, you've got another kind of support.
Of course, it doesn't have to be flowers.
It also works well with vegetables. Look at this.
Nothing supports peas better than pea sticks, which is just brushwood,
and these are all just prunings from the garden,
recycled and they work perfectly.
All this is about supporting plants now
so they can grow as big as possible and still look good,
but Rachel has been to RHS Wisley
to see the technique with which they reduce the size of plants now
so that they can look really good a little later on in the year.
The herbaceous borders here at RHS Wisley are world-famous,
with thousands of visitors coming here every year
to get inspiration from the colour, the shape, the texture
of these planting combinations.
But to keep the borders looking this good,
the gardeners here have a few nifty techniques up their sleeve,
including a radical technique called the Chelsea chop.
One man who's been using this crafty technique for years
is the curator of the garden here at Wisley, Colin Crosbie.
The Chelsea Flower Show nursery men and exhibitors
grew a lot of plants and got them flowering at Chelsea Flower Show time.
The plants they didn't use, they sent back to their nursery, pruned them back hard
so they could sell them in September cos they'd delayed the flowering.
We've adapted that to the garden environment.
We realise if you prune plants at Chelsea Flower Show time
you make them flower later, hence the name the Chelsea chop.
A wide range of perennial plants respond to the Chelsea chop.
We'll practise on Veronicastrums and also Sedums,
but there are a whole host that really do respond.
It seems almost sacrilegious because these lovely soft flowering spikes,
they're really getting there now and you want us to cut them all off!
You have to be brave. Cut it down by about 50%.
The plant will respond and will flower six or seven weeks later.
OK, I'm in your hands, so about 50%...
50%, down by half, don't be scared.
Right, I'll go for it.
You're in control of the border and the flowering period and the height of the plants.
If you look here, we've got this lovely Eupatorium.
What we'll do is prune three, leave three,
prune three, leave three,
and that way we're adjusting the height
so you can see right through to the back
and it makes the border far more interesting.
Actually, Colin, that doesn't look bad at all, does it?
Let's go and do some more.
These Sedums are ready to be done.
Look how beautiful they are! It's almost... Oh, you feel mean.
If we left them, they'd have big flowers in the late summer
and they'd pull the plant apart. By pruning them hard now
you've got a much shorter plant, lots of small flowers
and it looks really, really tidy in the garden.
So how far are we looking at going down here?
We've got to cut them by about 50% again.
OK, so the same thing again.
These shoots are perfect. You can see where I've cut that one,
I would trim it just underneath the leaves there,
put it into a general potting compost.
You've got a cutting, you've got a plant for free.
-It's a win-win situation, isn't it?
I know around Chelsea is obviously the optimal time to do this,
but is there a point at which it becomes too late in the year?
We wouldn't do it any later than mid-June.
Cos you've got to leave enough time for the plant to regrow
and enough energy to reflower.
Generally, the Chelsea chop works well with any herbaceous plant
that has leaves branching from their stems,
such as Heleniums...
So we're heading towards this clump of Pulmonaria on the corner.
They've finished flowering those lovely bluish-purple flowers,
they've gone over, and the foliage, that lovely mottling,
that's also looking a bit sad, isn't it?
It's looking tired, there's mildew on there, the foliage is brown,
-we've got to be ruthless, dive in, cut it down to ground level.
That reinvigorates the plant.
And it encourages it to send up fresh new foliage
which is really clean, you see the markings on it.
You'll continue to get flowers throughout the summer months.
What about people who've got a very small garden and they feel
they have to hang on to every bit of greenery that's there?
I think it's more important in a small garden
cos you want it to look good for as long as possible.
Rather than having something that's tired and dead in the summer,
you've got fresh foliage, which is clean, lovely markings on it,
fresh flowers coming up - far more important to do in a small garden.
So now, Colin, from now on, every year, I'll be thinking of you
at about Chelsea time,
and getting out in the garden and giving it a good chop.
# Tweedlee tweedlee tweedle doe
# I'm a lucky so-and-so
# Hubba hubba honeydew
# I'm gonna keep my eyes on you
# Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee doe... #
At this time of year,
I start to plant out the tender annuals
that have been growing in the greenhouse
for the last couple of months. They've been through stages
of germination, pricking out,
putting into the cold frames, hardening off.
And now we've reached June, they're ready to come into the garden.
I really like using annuals in a mixed border.
They take on the baton from the early bulbs.
These have been grown for a while, they're ready to go out.
This is a Cosmos, it's called 'Dazzler'.
You can see the plants have been growing in plugs...perfect.
The roots are well-formed, but not pot-bound at all.
I can put these out in groups.
Pop them in.
These won't flower for quite a few weeks,
but the whole point about annuals is to bring on the succession,
add variety to the border and spread the colour,
spread the flow of plants.
These are grown from seed. You can buy trays of annuals.
But the beauty of growing plants from seed is you can grow so many.
You can get real volume in here.
We've got hundreds to put in
for the same amount of money it would have cost to buy dozens
as plants. And there's bound to be some left over.
I intend to bring those along to
the bring-and-buy stall at Gardeners' World Live,
which is in two weeks' time.
I will be bringing plants from the Jewel Garden
and some vegetables.
And if you bring any spare plants you've got,
it really doesn't matter what kind.
Donate them to the bring-and-buy stall
and then you can buy other plants
that you would like to have in your garden.
All the proceeds for your purchase will go to Children In Need.
'There are plenty of other tender annuals that can be planted out
'now the weather is warmer.'
Cerinthe 'Purpurascens' is elegantly beautiful.
Its glaucous blue foliage and its rich mauvy-blue flowers
last for ages. It will seed readily but not invasively.
Tithonia, with its intense orange daisy flowers,
is one of the key plants in our late summer border
and will flower bravely on till the first frosts.
I'll get those in.
It all adds to the rich variety of the border.
Of course, that border is not just plants. It's insects,
it's butterflies, all attracted to the nectar and the pollen.
And Carol has been to Wiltshire to see a beekeeper
who contacted us with a garden dilemma.
What are the best plants to put in your garden to attract bees?
Bees have been around for millions of years,
whereas human beings are fairly recently on the planet.
But we rely on bees.
Over a third of our food production depends upon them.
But during the last few years,
bee numbers have experienced a serious decline.
And that's prompted a renaissance in the art of beekeeping.
'One of our viewers, Jane Ranger,
'who's recently started keeping bees,
'has written in and asked me to come to her garden
'to give her a few ideas for planting the perfect flowers
'for her bees.
'We had a chat on the phone,
'and I brought along a selection from home
'that should do the job.'
What gorgeous chickens!
And I love your garden, it's really laid-back.
-Love the daisies.
-Thank you, Carol.
We try and keep everything as natural and comfortable as possible.
The main problem I've got is down here with the bees.
I'm no good at bees!
LAUGHING: No, it's the plants!
It's the plants I need your help with
because we've got this shady area down here
where there's a nice lot of weeds coming through.
But we'd like your thoughts about what plants we could put there.
-It is a real corner, isn't it?
-It does, it goes to a point.
All this deciduous shade. But you've got lots of things around here.
You don't think of brambles being blossom bushes,
-but they are, really.
They flower over a long time, hugely attractive.
-I think we ought to keep those.
Your cow parsley's wonderful.
And your poppies, full...
-Lots of poppies.
-Yeah, and packed with pollen when they come out.
If we have a really good clear-out
whilst leaving the things that are useful.
It still looks very rough,
but for our purposes it'll do.
-Can you grab the rose?
-I will, Carol.
If we just sort of place these.
I think the rose ought to go at the foot of your damson, there.
Will it climb up into it?
It's not strictly speaking a climbing rose,
but I've got one at home, Rosa rugosa,
that goes right up into my apple tree and uses it for support.
-It's got these fabulous, almost single flowers.
The trouble with double flowers
is that very often they don't produce any pollen or nectar,
and even if they do, it's hardly accessible to any insects.
-So single flowers are always the best.
Flowers for a long time and it puts up with rough conditions.
-So it's just the thing.
And this Geranium nodosum.
-This is a shade-loving geranium.
And again, all crane's-bills are great for bees.
They're all over this...
-And it's open again, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
And can you see here, it's already made seed.
It will flower on and on, right into the autumn,
and it'll chuck its seeds around all over the place.
-And it's evergreen, it's a handsome plant, isn't it?
This Lamium, too, it belongs to the family Lamiaceae,
they used to be called Labiates cos they've got lipped flowers.
Yeah, I can see that.
So there's a nice landing stage for the bees.
They can access all the nectar that's in there.
I think this will just scramble everywhere.
-As it goes, chuck a bit of soil on top of the stems...
..so that they'll root from each of these nodes.
And then you can just detach a few pieces later and move them around,
-out into the rest of the garden too.
It might not be a Chelsea garden, but I reckon it's the bee's knees!
It is fantastic.
'The shady corner should now offer a feast for Jane's bees.
'But I've also brought along some more plants for a sunnier position.
'They will help with the period that both beekeepers
'and gardens struggle with - the June gap,
'when the spring flowers are fading
'and the summer ones have yet to bloom.'
I bet the bees have been all over these Alliums, haven't they?
They certainly have.
-This is Anchusa. Bees love borage.
Every description. It is in that family.
It's going to...
withstand this poor ground.
But it's here, this is the vital bit.
These wonderful blue flowers.
Good colour for bees, isn't it? Blues and purples and whites.
Just look at this one.
Oh, I know what that is, that's a clover, isn't it?
-Yes, but it's a big clover.
It's Trifolium ochroleucom,
and it'll make a great big bushy plant,
absolutely smothered in these gorgeous blooms.
-Right the way through June into July, on and on.
It's not just your honey bees that are going to love it.
All bees will love it, as they will all these plants.
-Is there any chance of us having a look at them, Jane?
Can't stand on one foot!
They're very happy bees, aren't they?
-They're quite calm.
-They really are.
There's the queen.
Oh, look at her!
-What's that bright blue?
-I've marked her.
-You've marked her?
-So you can tell. She is quite a lot bigger.
She is bigger, especially her abdomen where all the eggs are.
She is the centre of the hive and the one who...
Without the queen, you know, your hive dies, basically cos you get no more babies.
So, why do they need pollen and nectar?
Pollen's mainly used for growing,
the nectar is a sort of carbohydrate,
the energy food that they use to fly around and everything.
Isn't that why it's so important to have masses of plants that flower over a really long period of time?
So they can have a steady flow coming in, definitely, yeah.
-You don't just have to keep bees to care about bees, do you?
Our gardens cover a greater area than all our nature reservations.
-So, what we all put into our gardens is important.
-And it's going to help.
A few weeks ago I potted up Pelargoniums and lavender
to make the most of this very warm, sunny wall on these steps.
They're growing fine, they're great.
I also added in these citrus, these are very trusty old plants.
This one I've had for about 15 years and this one for over 25 now.
They're not quite the right place for them
and actually they're not looking that healthy, I have to confess,
they need some TLC.
So, if I take this off to the potting shed
I'm going to give it a bit of attention and now is the perfect time to do this job.
Also, the perfect weather to go indoors.
All right, just come in the dry.
Gently lower this down, so I don't break the pot.
Even a citrus plant that's ailing a little bit is still a wonderful thing.
I think that combination of the brilliant green leaves,
the fruit - a bright orange, a bright lemon,
a terracotta pot and preferably a blue sky is as lovely as anything.
Now, this has lived all winter, indoors.
It needs winter protection because it's not really frost-hardy.
But when you keep it indoors, it always tends to get a bit tired
and then when you put it outside in spring, the whole plant perks up.
You get lovely new, green growth,
you get the flowers coming out that smell fantastic,
got fruit forming and you have flowers and fruit at the same time,
the whole thing is a joy.
So, to get a full measure of joy from this plant
I want to give it a boost and about every five years it's a good idea to re-pot them.
That's what I'm going to do now.
I don't quite know what to expect because... It's not too bad.
If you look at that, the roots are growing round the edge of the pot,
they've run out of space.
Let's put that down for a minute, it's heavy.
Best time of year to do this is early June.
So, your normal topping up and light pruning
you want to do about March, April,
but leave this until growth is really getting going.
And just tease off the old compost without damaging the roots.
Now, I've mixed up a compost mix for it,
it's a combination of a proprietary, organic, peat-free potting compost,
a good bucket of grit
and a generous bucket of sieved, well-made home garden compost.
And that combination gives it the right amount of nutrients.
They need sustenance.
But they also need drainage and that's what the grit's for
and they MUST have good, quite quick drainage.
When you water them, you want to see the water coming out the bottom of the pot.
OK, let's put a layer underneath the plant.
There we go.
Now, this is where I know whether I've got to trim the roots or not.
Yeah, I think I am.
Just going to trim those back.
I don't want them touching the side of the pot
so all I'm going to do is snip them off a little bit.
I have not done this for six years and that's probably enough.
If you did this every year to your citrus they would not be happy.
So, if in doubt don't prune the roots.
The main reason I'm pruning them is to fit them into this pot.
I must stress - that root pruning is not something you do every year.
Just do it about every five years and then every year
you just need to add a mulch, the compost
and then pinch out the growing tips so you keep the shape.
But this has lost its shape a bit,
so I'm going to prune slightly more radically
because I've taken roots off
and now I'm going to take a bit of the top off.
That's a goner.
That's looking much better.
Next stage will be to give it a good soak, a bit of a feed,
top-up with mulch and find the right spot for it.
That reminds me, I've got in my pocket a letter from June Lucas, if you're watching, June,
it says, "I have a couple of citrus trees which I think are grapefruit
"which I grew from pips about 10 years ago and they're very green and healthy, the trouble is
"they've never flowered and I'm wondering why."
That's an easy one - they're ten years old.
Grapefruit grown from seed don't flower for about 20 years.
You're halfway there, June, hang on.
It's a good idea to give any citrus a feed of liquid seaweed once a week throughout the summer months.
And here are a few other things to be getting on with.
When June arrives I know it's the best time to sow climbing beans.
I put two seeds at the base
of each support of their frame and by the way, it is important
to make sure that the support is good and strong.
When they've germinated, I'll weed out the weaker of the two.
And now the nights are getting warmer,
they should germinate and grow very fast indeed.
One of my favourite flowers of all, the foxglove,
is in full glory at the moment. You can buy these at garden centres
but they're quite pricy when bought as individual plants.
A much better way of growing them is to sow seed
but like all biennials you need to do this now for next year's display.
Sow the seed in the seed tray and put them somewhere protected.
It doesn't need to be in a greenhouse.
When they're big enough to handle,
put the seedlings either into a corner of the garden where they can grow on or into pots.
And then they can be planted into their final growing position in early autumn.
Although it's showery at the moment here at Longmeadow,
for most of us it's been a really dry spring and our ground is parched
and we need to water.
The secret of effective watering in the garden
is to give things a really good soak.
Far better to water thoroughly once a week than lightly every day.
Try and get the water to roots of the plant, not just on the foliage,
water in the evening and if you're going to use a sprinkler, leave it on for at least an hour.
That's it for this week. Next week I'm working in my herb garden,
building up a range of delicious herbs for the kitchen.
I'm also paying a visit to Claude Monet's garden
at Giverny in France which is looking staggering.
I'm there to meet the new head gardener,
the first one for 35 years who is an Englishman.
So, see you then. Bye-bye.
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