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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.
And now we've reached September, the garden enters a few weeks
because we have that combination of low light,
which has real delicacy,
and then rich, intense colours in the borders.
And for those few weeks,
the garden just glows, like at no other time of the year.
At Longmeadow this week, I've got tips on how to ensure
a superb crop, next year, from your raspberries and strawberries.
Carol is at Glebe Cottage, where she's increasing her stocks
of exotic bulbs for free.
And Rachel has a privileged tour from the art historian,
Sir Roy Strong,
around the garden that he spent 40 years creating.
They who plant a garden plant happiness.
And can anyone ask for more?
Of course, it's not just that we have rich colours
at this time of year, it's the combination of richness
that makes it so exciting.
So you have the red and yellow of the Dahlia "Bishop of Llandaff"
against the Cupani sweet peas.
Sweet peas, by the way, have just gone on and on this year.
And then fabulous sunflowers, all through the garden.
"Velvet Queen", which is brown, shot through with touches of orange,
and orange all over the garden,
particularly the Tiftonias, which I love.
From an almost blank canvas in March,
the Jewel Garden is now overflowing and vibrant with colour.
Now we've got to September,
it's the perfect time to prune summer-fruiting raspberries.
And summer-fruiting raspberries grow in a different pattern
to autumn-fruiting ones.
And the real difference is that summer-fruiting ones
produce their fruit on canes that were grown the previous year.
So here, these brown canes,
they were the fruit that provided this year's crop,
whereas the green canes
will provide next year's.
Whereas autumn-fruiting ones,
which I've got in a little row behind,
all carry their fruit on the current season's growth.
First thing to do
is to untie these
and then cut them down to the ground.
Once I've cut back the old growth,
then I need to thin the new canes,
leaving the strongest stems
and retaining about five or six per plant.
The next stage is to tie them in.
Obviously, I could use lots of individual pieces of string,
but I've found over the years that it's easier and more successful
to use the longest piece you can and keep it looping round.
And that stays strong and tight, whereas individual knots,
especially if you've got clumsy fingers like mine,
is more work and certainly no more successful.
So, when they're all tied in, that's it.
They're now ready for next year and they look neat and tidy.
However, I've got one more soft fruit job to do,
but that's down in the ornamental veg garden.
If you remember, a few weeks ago,
I pegged down strawberry runners to make new plants.
Well, now they should be ready for separating from the parent
and planting out.
Nice and warm, so they'll grow.
And if you do it in September, they get a chance
to get a decent root system before they go into autumn.
This is a variety called "Gariguette",
which has rather a long strawberry,
very sweet and quite early.
Now, in theory, we've made lots and lots of new plants.
And you can see, here is the runner,
so it's attached to the parent plant.
And hopefully, it's developed its own root system.
But once I cut it, it's on its own.
So, we cut that off there.
This is the moment of truth...
There we are, good root system.
Was slightly worried about that!
So I'll take about three or four.
Now, I've prepared a piece of ground just on the other side of the path,
because I want to plant these in a new bed.
And the reason you do that with strawberry runners is to stop
the build-up of viral problems in the soil.
Strawberries are very prone to viral problems,
especially as they get older.
I'm going to have a couple of rows here,
but if I put one there,
there's a temptation to try and fit the lot in -
they look nice and small -
and, say, put them that far apart.
That's too close together,
much too close together.
In fact, twice that spacing.
That's about right.
These will develop into decent-sized plants.
They'll stay here for three years.
And also, strawberry will grow, it will have fruit around it,
it wants light and air,
and it wants its roots
to have access to lots of soil and goodness.
So, be generous with space,
and it will repay you with generosity of fruit.
Other than that, dead easy -
just bung 'em in the ground.
I've got enough plants to give myself
two or three more rows, here.
And that builds up
the succession of strawberries.
In fact, they won't be at their best next year but the year after.
It's in their second year that strawberry plants
are at their most productive and healthiest.
But it's all part of the investment into the future.
However, Carol is looking at plants that are at their very best
at this time of year.
Plants that wait till now to do their thing
are particularly welcome,
especially if they're really vibrant and beautiful
and add that touch of colour to this time of year.
Many of the plants that grace our late-summer gardens
are from South Africa.
I suppose one of the most familiar are Crocosmias.
They mix and mingle so beautifully with other perennials
and with grasses, too.
Now, one of the best, and certainly the earliest of Crocosmias,
And you just can't beat these vibrant red flowers.
These flowers will last for weeks and weeks,
and even when they've fallen, they leave behind them
this really beautiful, architectural structure.
The whole plant is very graceful.
There's a vast range of Crocosmias in all sorts of colours
and with very different forms.
This one's "Dakar".
I picked it up in Ireland a couple of years ago,
so it's really new to me,
but I think it's got a great future.
This one's "Honey Angels".
I love its beautiful heads of yellow flowers.
And for bringing glamour to our late-summer garden,
it's not just Crocosmias that we've got to thank South Africa for.
Perhaps one of the most exotic and certainly one of the strangest
and most bizarre of all the South African bulbous plants
This is one of my favourites.
It's Eucomis vandermerwei and it's quite an unusual one.
But it does show some of the distinctive features of this genus.
Lots of them have spotted leaves and spotted stems.
On the top, there's invariably this little tuft of leaves.
You can see it distinctly on this one.
And that gives it its common name
of "Pineapple Lily".
Now, I love this one, here.
It's called "Sparkling Burgundy",
and no wonder -
it's such a handsome plant.
And if you look down here,
you can see from the top, almost a timeline.
You get these tightly closed buds,
and then gradually, as you travel down this stem,
they open up,
until you arrive at these very open, starry flowers,
full of pollen,
waiting to lure in all those pollinating insects.
And then lower down,
as these flowers mature,
you can see they've already been pollinated
and you can spot in the centre
these embryonic seed pods that have already formed.
Well, I can't resist sowing seeds,
so I've tried this from seed several times
and got some lovely plants.
Some of them are much like their parents.
Others are...distinctly different,
like this bright green one.
But if you want to propagate this and get exactly the same plant,
you need to do it vegetatively,
as a clone.
And one way of doing this -
it's not always successful, but it's well worth a try -
is to take leaf cuttings,
chopping one of these fully-grown leaves up, into sections,
and plunging them at their base
into sharp, gritted compost.
The edge that goes in
is the one that's nearest the base of the plant.
Eventually you should get bulbils forming
and then you can pot them on
and have some more of these beautiful, beautiful flowers.
This Agapanthus has to be one of the plants that's most revered
and most loved.
And there are all sorts of myths about Agapanthus,
that they're difficult to grow, that they're not hardy.
In actual fact,
they're divided into two main groups -
the praecox, or Africanus ones,
are instantly recognisable
by these great, big flowers.
But more immediately so
by the broad, evergreen leaves.
They're not a bit hardy.
On the other hand,
the major group of these beautiful plants
are these lovely campanulatus hybrids.
And they survived last winter's extreme conditions remarkably well,
because they're deciduous for a start,
so they hide under the ground during the coldest of the weather.
And they're also from high up in the mountains in South Africa,
so they experience much the same sort of conditions.
And they come in every shade of different blue,
from deep indigo through these lovely mid-blues
to these very pale -
I think, exquisite -
And they don't need any special care at all -
just good, fertile soil in the beginning.
And the great thing about them is that you can make your own.
They're so simple to grow from seed.
As the flowers fade, seed pods swell.
Eventually, they can be removed from the plants
when they're dry and brown
and beginning to split apart.
Remove the black, tadpole-like seeds
from the husks.
After filling trays with good, gritty seed compost,
firm down, then spread the seed finely on the surface.
Cover with a layer of grit,
and put them in a sunny, sheltered position.
And in a couple of years,
you should have a batch of plants like these,
beginning to come into flower
and to produce seed.
The cycle continues!
When Agapanthus have finished flowering, don't neglect them,
don't push them aside on the basis that they've done their stuff,
they're tough and they don't need any more attention.
The important thing
is to nourish these new shoots here
that are coming up - and those will bear the flowers -
by watering and feeding them.
In fact, a lot of people complain that their Agapanthus go blind,
they don't produce flowers, and, as often as not,
it's because they are too dry in the preceding autumn.
They must be watered right up until winter.
So, once a week, give them a good soak
and give them a feed.
Something like comfrey or seaweed that's high potash,
every three weeks,
and that will give you better flowers, next year.
It has been a very, very dry spell.
It's been dry, really, since last winter. But particularly the summer.
The ground here at Longmeadow is like dust.
Nevertheless, things that you would expect at this time of year
to be needing a lot of moisture are doing all right.
For instance, the squashes, which I planted on tripods.
The key thing is, I think, with these, as with one or two other things,
is that they've had lots and lots of organic material underneath them.
And that's held what moisture they have been able to have.
That's certainly the case with celery and celeriac.
Water, it hasn't had, but compost, it's had by the barrel-load.
I think I put three or four barrel-loads onto this bed
before planting these out, and it's repaid, because they are healthy.
They're looking and tasting good. Celery, we've been eating for the last few weeks.
In fact, if I cut one,
you can see that they're hearting up quite nicely.
There we are.
Now, this is a self-blanching variety which is called Daybreak.
Self-blanching celery doesn't need to be buried.
It's planted on the surface of the soil in blocks,
and each one will shield the light from its neighbour.
And around the edge,
the hedge acts as a barrier to light and that keeps them nice and sweet.
And that will be finished within a month or so.
It's not particularly hardy. A sharp frost will reduce it to rags.
But celeriac is hardier and it's delicious. I love celeriac.
It's got that celery taste, it's earthy, it's rooty.
You can mash it, you can puree it, you can mix it with potato,
you can roast it, you can have it with stews, makes a fabulous soup.
A really, really good vegetable. If I dig one up now...
They're not ready to eat yet, they haven't swollen up.
And there's another six weeks or so for that to go on growing.
Now, if I cut the leaves off and cut the roots off...
Oh, it smells good. That's all I'm left with.
So we've got to swell that out. Which means I need to water.
Water a lot.
The more you can get water in, and that lovely, rich soil
and the compost I've put in will hold the water, and they'll swell out.
One of the ways of helping them grow is to strip the leaves off,
gradually over the next month.
So if we leave just enough to keep the plant healthy
but let the light and air in, and also space,
so the water can get to the soil
where the roots will take it up, and then it will swell up.
I'll repeat this process in a couple of weeks' time.
If we left a mass of foliage,
we'd find that the resulting celeriac would be smaller.
By the time we come to harvest them, there will just be
a little tussock of leaf sticking out the top.
The last traces of it. And all the goodness will be in the basal plate.
Now, I'll take these to the compost heap,
and that's a good little job done.
But even if you don't grow celeriac,
here are some other jobs that you can do this weekend.
At this time of year, many plants are starting to produce seeds.
It's a good idea to go round the garden regularly
and collect them as they ripen
and before they fall to the ground.
Put them in a paper bag or envelope.
Label it clearly and store it in a cool, dark place
for sowing when you are ready.
If you notice unripe fruit on the ground that looks like this,
then it's a sure sign of brown rot,
with affects pears, apples and plums.
This is a fungal problem that will spread unless you take action.
So don't leave any lying on the ground, but bin or burn them.
Then check over the tree to make sure there are no more.
Sow some spinach seeds this weekend
and you should be able to enjoy the crop right through till Christmas.
First, I always add a little compost before any sowing.
Rake it in
and then draw a narrow drill in which I sow the seeds,
spacing them widely apart.
Cover it over and water it well.
The seeds should now germinate very quickly
and grow fast in the warm autumn soil.
Just cutting out a few of the remaining dead pieces
in these box hedges in the Jewel Garden.
If you remember, they were drastically hit by the cold
last winter and they looked awful as we came into this spring.
Now, that was because we cut them very late.
We've been doing that for years,
so that all winter they'd look really crisp and sharp.
But it was too fine a thing.
We cut these the end of October, early November,
and then the cold weather came in December, and poor things just got slaughtered.
Anyway, this June I cut off about a foot of the top of the box,
cut out as much of the dead growth as I could,
so in some cases, there were great big holes in the middle of the plants.
And then waited.
Well, they've regrown with incredible vigour.
They're healthy, strong and vibrant.
That means there's no hint of box blight.
What I would say is, don't cut your box hedges after September.
Get them done this month and then leave them.
And I shan't be cutting these until next June.
But I am very confident that in a year or so,
these will look as though they've never had any problems at all.
When I first moved to Herefordshire in the 1980s,
I didn't know anybody else making a garden.
But then I heard that Sir Roy Strong was making a large garden just south of Hereford.
Roy Strong was an incredibly iconic figure back in the 1980s.
He was director of the V&A,
and his wife was a famous stage designer.
So, with the arrogance of youth, I rang him up
and said, "I'm making a garden - can I come and see yours?"
And very kindly, he and his wife invited me down
and showed me The Laskett, his garden.
He gave me a piece of advice, which I've always remembered.
If you're making a garden from scratch, get the structure in first.
He was a great influence on me.
I've never been back since, but Rachel went the other day
to see what it was looking like in its maturity.
Roy, the first thing that strikes you about the garden is the structure.
All these evergreens, the hedging, it's really very strong.
Well, I've always been mad about topiary.
I loved it, I love it, like stroking a pussycat or something.
I just think they're wonderful. When I started it in the '70s, it was out of fashion.
Yes, it was, it was all island beds and rockeries.
That's right, all that kind of stuff.
-A lot of this is yew, but you've also got these clipped Amelanchier.
-They began as small trees here,
they got too large, so what do you do?
Get the shears out and make it into a nice dome.
Fantastically pretty flowers in spring.
Leaves brilliant scarlet in the autumn, good value.
Although you've got this formal structure,
I can see things have self-seeded everywhere.
-You've got a Verbascum there and Stachys...
-I think that's marvellous.
It gives a relaxed quality, which offsets
this very strict, cut, geometric feeling.
And do remember, you'll probably find all of these hedges
and things which look so geometric are all slightly off.
-All the greatest formal gardens, in fact...
-Are a bit wonky.
Except in Germany.
'Apart from creating a remarkable garden, Sir Roy and his late wife
'have kept a hugely detailed archive of their garden.'
I think there is.
So this is a record of the development of four acres
over 30, 40 years?
This gives you an idea of what it was like at the start.
-That's the yew garden, unbelievably.
Here we are, that is the beds cut.
That is the yew beginning to grow.
You look very dapper.
-Which part is this?
-The winding serpentine wall.
It'd only been in a year or so.
It's at its apogee now.
Full of flowering plants and grasses, lovely,
brilliant colour of the Crocosmia "Lucifer".
The Lythrum behind, you've got Astrantia, you've got Nepeta.
I used to say, flowers in a garden are a sign of complete failure.
I'm afraid it doesn't work any more!
-Grasses, which I've fallen in love with, much to my surprise.
-Did you not like them before?
No. I thought, oh, those grasses!
But now I'm keen on them.
All the bills were kept.
This is the serpentine, the first planting,
this is all the shrubs planted either side of the winding walk.
-You kept all these.
-What date is that?
-I can't believe that many people have made a garden
and kept this sort of archive.
I would like to lay claim to the fact that
I think it is utterly unique.
I think the beauty of the garden is you turn a corner,
-and there is another view drawing you in.
-I'm mad about vistas.
This garden is about vistas, and also, ornaments help vistas.
That urn could be a mile away.
And there's an excitement, you want to go to it.
We're standing at the point... this was the great other cross -
it used to go the whole way back to the rose garden and orchard,
and this way, you end up in what we call the Ashton Arbour.
There is a piece of the old Palace of Westminster, which burned down in 1834.
But these are repro ornaments. With ordinary house paint.
-Really? That's just painted on stone?
-That is just painted on the stone.
They look incredibly impressive and very, very expensive.
But you say with a bit of ingenuity,
you can make something appear perhaps what it isn't.
Gardening is the art of fudging it, isn't it?
But you've got to have a focal point.
It is wonderful how the eye is then drawn
right the way down across the length of the garden.
If you took the statue away from that, you wouldn't be drawn into it.
That's the beech line avenue. I mean, that's how it started.
Now, this is something to behold.
Well, it's one of, I suppose, the theatrical big set-pieces.
And it evolved over 30 years.
What I love is you see in the gaps there above the hedge,
you get these glimpses of colour, very tantalising.
But within this, it's so green and calming.
And cool, and then all that excitement which you can't get to,
and you're thinking, what goes on in there?
You'll see, there's a little entrance in the back.
People suddenly come through that arch, and wham, does it hit them!
-All that is there. And it's totally unexpected.
Well, this, Rachel, as you can see, is the rose garden.
There are a few roses, and in particular, this rather lovely rose
-called Valentine in the middle, which is a repeat flower.
-It is a lovely shell pink.
What I like about this part of the garden,
this strong structure and the arch. What is the inscription on the top?
-It says Conditor Horti Felicitatis Auctor.
They who plant a garden plant happiness.
And can anyone ask for more? I don't think so.
Well, you can't argue that the fact that if you make a garden,
you create happiness.
Doesn't matter if you've got four acres or four square yards.
The pleasure you get back is always greater than the work you put in.
Fascinating that he's kept all those records.
And I would say that, whatever type of garden you've got, take pictures.
In this day and age of digital cameras, it's dead easy.
It's a really good idea to take lots of photographs of the garden
as it is now, whilst it's in full song.
Then next spring, when planning planting,
you'll be able to remember exactly what works
and what wasn't quite so successful,
so that the garden will look even better.
You see how this Cosmos...
This magenta colour is picking up the colour
of the Geranium "Ann Folkhard" and the Knautia.
And click, you've got it.
As you take pictures on a regular basis,
you build up a history of the garden
and also accumulate a really useful tool,
so that next year, you can make it look even better.
I don't know about next year, but I'll be here next week.
Join me here at Longmeadow at the same time. See you then, bye-bye.
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