Episode 21 Gardeners' World


Episode 21

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World on a glorious September day.

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I'm planting here in the walled garden some Japanese anemones.

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They flower from July through to October

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and this variety, Honorine Jobert,

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is fabulous white flowers with these orange centres

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that are produced on and on for months.

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They grow in practically any soil. They grow in full sun or part shade.

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Easy plant, big result.

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Today I'm planting a variety of plants here at Longmeadow

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designed to attract as many insects as possible into the garden throughout the year.

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Carol delights in the swathes of grasses

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and late-season perennials at Pensthorpe in Norfolk.

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This is wonderful! You're in the middle of it.

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You're part of the garden. You're experiencing it.

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You just feel part of the whole picture.

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Joe has been exploring

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the magnificent gardens of Marqueyssac in the Dordogne.

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There's no English influence here.

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-It's not English at Marqueyssac.

-There's a bit of English style.

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-We like to use our pots as well.

-Jardin a l'Anglaise.

-Ah, jardin Anglaise, oui.

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I love the way that the fennel looks at this time of year.

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These are all self-sown.

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The original plant was probably put here 20 years ago now.

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It seeds itself everywhere.

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We pull up some but leave as much as possible

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for precisely this effect,

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because at this time of year it's had a whole summer's growing.

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It's got height, it's got body, but also elegance.

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You can see through it

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and you get this incredible, zinging, green cloud of seed heads,

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forming and floating above the border.

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And the seeds as they ripen are a digestive, and I think taste delicious.

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These grass borders have come on really well

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in the last couple of months.

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Just think that they were replanted in late spring, early summer.

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They're now coming into their own.

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I'm going to add some asters to them because they will work in perfectly

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with the feel of the planting I want to get here,

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which is tall, loose, small flowers,

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and to invite in as many insects and butterflies as I possibly can,

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and no plant does it better than asters.

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Bees need late-flowering plants

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so they can build up their nectar reserves for winter.

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The first one that I'm planting is

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Aster umbellatus, or the flat topped aster.

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It's a particularly tall, woody variety, found in North America.

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You can see just by popping that in straightaway,

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these very small flowers which insects love and open daisy-like.

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If you have an open flower head, it means an insect can land on it

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and get at the nectar really easily,

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rather than one great gorgeous bloom that looks great to us

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but not so good for getting insects in.

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This group looks really handsome as it is.

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It works as soon as it's planted, which is a benefit

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because often you have to wait a year or two. And it will get better.

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But there are lots and lots of different asters to choose from.

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I've just got a couple more.

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Next is Purple Dome.

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This is a New York or novae-belgii aster.

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Although it likes full sun, like all the New York asters

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it can be prone to mildew if it gets too dry,

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so it is important that I keep the soil well nourished.

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I'm also planting Little Carlow,

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which is taller, with lilac-blue petals and yellow centres,

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and can be placed in dappled shade.

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Both of these plants will flower and attract insects well into autumn.

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Whilst asters are giving us good colour and wonderful food for insects in autumn,

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I want to do some planting now for next spring, and that's aconites.

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Aconites are among the first flowers at the end of January,

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beginning of February,

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and I love those bright, little yellow flowers

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surrounded by a green ruff that open out in the sunshine.

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They're best planted in the green, which is to say as plants after they finish flowering.

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The problem is that they look great as a great drift

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and if you want to buy hundreds of aconites or snowdrops,

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you're certainly looking at hundreds if not thousands of pounds.

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So it's beyond most of us.

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However, you can buy 100 bulbs or tubers just for £10,

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so it makes much more sense if you can make them grow

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to plant them as tubers now.

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I've got some aconites in the spring garden and I want lots more.

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I'm going to try and make a shortcut to that process

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by planting tubers into a container.

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You can see the tubers are these funny, little, chocolatey things.

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They're very dry. These are a plant that don't like to dry out.

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If you're going to grow them either in a container or in the ground,

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give them a good soak before doing so.

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I've got some here that have been soaking for the last day or so.

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That has made them swell up a little bit

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and there's much more chance of them growing now like that.

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So they're good and soaked.

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A little peat-free compost,

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a little bit of perlite in there to help drainage.

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So we've got those there.

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Then once in the ground, they will spread really well by seed.

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Then I can get that drift. That will build up over the years.

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But even one plant is good for insects.

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And Carol has been to the Millennium Garden, Pensthorpe,

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which not only is wonderful at bringing in a wide range of insects,

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but also is right at the cutting edge of garden design.

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Pensthorpe Nature Reserve covers 600 acres of farmland and woodland.

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At its core, there are ponds and lakes, surrounded by gardens.

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But it's the Millennium Garden I've come especially to see.

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After 10 years of evolving,

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the garden has just been through a process of regeneration.

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The whole place has been completely replanted.

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It was designed by renowned plantsman and landscape designer

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Piet Oudolf in 1999.

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At over an acre and a half,

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it was the first major public garden Piet created here in the UK.

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Usually when you're thinking about a garden on this sort of scale,

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you think about standing back and looking at it from afar.

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But this is wonderful! You're in the middle of it,

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you're part of the garden, you're experiencing it.

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It undulates, up and down and round and about.

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And you just feel part of the whole picture.

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There are two incredibly dainty plants here,

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this lovely Lythrum virgatum,

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which is a close cousin of a purple loosestrife.

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And then in the front, this grass, called Sporobolus.

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I think it's a complete delight.

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Look at these lovely, twinkling, little inflorescences.

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Imogen Checketts is head gardener here at Pensthorpe.

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She has the responsibility of taking care of all of it.

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As well as looking after this vast place, Imogen,

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I gather you were very instrumental in bringing about these changes that have been made.

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Well, we had to do something with the garden.

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When I first came here in 2007, it was in need of some attention.

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Some things were going a bit rampant and spaces were appearing.

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We decided with the owners and myself that it needed rejuvenation, I guess.

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We decided to get in touch with Piet, who designed the garden,

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and ask him to come back

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and consult with us and see what to do with it.

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How much stuff went back in?

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About 70% of the original plants. We cleaned them up and put them back in.

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Then about 30% of new stuff has gone in.

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It must have completely different combinations.

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Yes, it's completely livened up the garden.

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It's changed the way it looks and given it a new lease of life.

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When you look at it, it's become possibly a bit more romantic,

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a bit sort of softer.

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-A bit more feminised?

-Yes, a bit more feminised.

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Let's have a look at some of them.

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Look at this bold and beautiful Sedum. I love this.

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This is a good example of why we did the renovation.

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We've got some plants at the back, this big Persicaria

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and the Panicum grass in front.

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They were two plants that were getting way too big for themselves

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-and taking over the whole bed.

-Too big for their boots?

-Yes!

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So we've added in these Echinaceas and the Sedums,

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so very popular with the butterflies and bees.

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That was one of the reasons people started prairie planting,

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cos it was supposed to be easy to maintain

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and you put things in and they get on with it themselves.

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If you put the right plants in, they do.

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They form a nice thick carpet of perennials.

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The grasses are very good for that as well.

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And they are all strong growers. These are all good strong plants,

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you don't need to spend too much time fussing about with them.

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Well, there's no staking. There's no prissing with them at all.

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They're all close to the species

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-so they're pretty disease resistant, trouble-free?

-Yes.

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And most of them are plants from northern climes, aren't they?

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Shorter day length actually induces them to flower.

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It does. And this is their time to flower.

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The garden looks stunning at the moment,

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it's absolutely full of flower.

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It just goes on and on through the autumn.

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I think it's one of the nicest times of the year,

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the colours are just going over but the grasses are doing their thing.

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We leave all the seed heads on. We leave it up as long as possible

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so then the birds can benefit from the seed heads.

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-When do you cut them down?

-February usually.

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It takes a couple of days, but just cut the whole lot with a strimmer.

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-Straight through the lot?

-Yes.

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The great majority of these plants would enhance any garden.

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They're easy, straightforward, robust, beautiful.

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I grow this Agastache in my own garden.

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You can start it easily from seed. It epitomises a garden like this

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cos it's got this long season, it's wonderful for wildlife

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and it changes marvellously all the time.

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Whatever you call this style of gardening,

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whether you refer to it as prairie gardening or naturalistic,

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there's absolutely no doubt that it's been the most influential

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style of gardening during the last 15 or 20 years.

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Now, the Millennium Garden's just reopened

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and you know that this garden is going to provide

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not just a feast for our senses, but a feast for all those creatures

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who are lucky enough to live here.

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It certainly does look beautiful

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and I love the way those great drifts of grasses and species plants

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with their small flowers have such a big impact.

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Not just the way it looks too, it's the effect it has on the whole ecology of the garden.

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They do attract in masses of insects that feast on the pollen

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and the nectar that they produce.

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That's so important in our gardens.

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Certainly, the key thing is that all of us gardeners can take part in this.

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We can plant something in our garden that's going to draw insects in.

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And at this time of year, it's not too bad.

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There are lots of plants they love,

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but when you get very early in the year, it's much more tricky

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and there are far fewer flowers open

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and fewer insects so the combination of the two becomes more crucial.

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I'm planting crocus here in the Dry Garden which is very good

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for pollinating insects,

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particularly in February when they open.

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This is Crocus tommasinianus,

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one of the first to open.

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Like all crocus, the flowers will open out in the sunshine

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and then they're available for the few insects that are about.

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By the way, we have to change our mindset,

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that insects are part of the goodness of the garden,

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they're not a problem and that includes aphids.

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Every insect has a role to play and we should be welcoming them into the garden.

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Of course, it's not just for the insects, however important that is.

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They're beautiful. Crocus are part of that song

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that comes out at the beginning of the year and draws you in

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to the sort of slow movement from winter to spring.

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Now, they're very easy to plant.

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They need to go down about two or three times its own depth.

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They're little corms, flat, and if you get them in flat down

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about an inch or two down in there, they will flower.

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Of course, not forgetting to go underneath plants like this Acanthus

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which will have died right back next February.

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Now you can hear the stone, this is very stony ground,

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but that means good drainage and they'll like that.

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While I'm busy doing this, Joe is away sunning himself on holiday

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but he's found time to visit an amazing garden in the Dordogne

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which is about as different from this as could be imagined.

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It takes a lot to get me up this early, crack of dawn,

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when I'm on holiday,

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but what an incredible spot this is.

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It's amazing looking over the River Dordogne,

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the mist is rising,

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the light is just perfect

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and look, we've got hot air balloons on cue.

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It's magical.

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Marqueyssac is a 17th century castle in southwest France

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built on a ridge 130 metres above the valley floor.

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Originally, it had very formal gardens. Then its design was changed

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by Julien de Cerval who planted thousands of box.

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The gardens continued to thrive

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until just after the First World War

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when gradually they fell into disrepair,

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until Kleber Rossillon bought the land in 1996

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and in just one year restored the gardens to the masterpiece that you see today.

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So a year's restoration and an incredible amount of work obviously happened here to turn it into this.

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But what was it like originally, this area of the garden?

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Well, it be used to be mixed borders but the box grew very tall

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so I came with a chainsaw and cut everything

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and you had just a piece of wood that tall

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and from that, it grew with round shapes.

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The garden developed itself. I said, "Oh, that's nice".

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And after that I just told it, "Just do it more round, more round, more round". That's all.

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When de Cerval was laying out the space originally, what was he aiming for?

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Was it a traditional French style, would you say?

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It was at that time the new style, which we call Napoleon III,

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Napoleon trois.

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At that time, they designed the round layout of the paths.

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Everything's always curved, there are very few straight lines.

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Curves everywhere. And he had his ideas from Italy.

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You can see the influence there as you look back at that with the trees.

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It's so simple, isn't it? But again it's just a stunning view.

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So there's no English influence here?

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It was called the English style, but it is not English. I don't think so.

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Oh, there's a bit of English style here! We like to use our box.

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Jardin a l'Anglaise.

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Ah, jardin a l'Anglaise, oui.

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Were these yuccas here originally?

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They were here but the gardeners wanted me to cut them

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because they say that's not proper for a chateau,

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but my idea was to keep them cos the spikes contrast

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with the round shapes of the box... That's Marqueyssac.

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Marqueyssac is a combination of the highly manicured and the completely untamed,

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surrounded by some of the most stunning views in France.

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The woodland covers the majority of the park with plenty of views

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and little corners to rest or take in the atmosphere

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and they're all linked together with the original box-lined alleys.

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I love this long tunnel here, again created out of box,

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but it's nice and cool when the sun beats down on you, isn't it?

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So how did this come about? Was this already here?

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It was the small box hedge

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that grew loose for 150 years so it became 20 ft tall.

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And you just tied them together at the top?

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And we just tried to bend them. It is quite difficult to bend them

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but we did it to make this arch.

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Yeah, it's beautiful.

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I love this part of the garden, Kleber.

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It's putting the same elements but in a different order, in a way,

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and creating a real feeling of space. It's stunning.

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We had to cut and prune the trees

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in order to have the light coming on the esplanade.

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It's very different from the more busy box in the garden,

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it's got an identity all of its own.

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Yes, in the park you have real different places

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with different atmospheres.

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This is much more contemporary, this part of the garden here.

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Yes. It's in contrast with the round shapes of the bastion

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and these blocks, they have just tumbled over the box hedge.

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That's just blocks which I designed with my sugar cubes at breakfast.

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-So you designed this part of the garden?

-Yes.

-You're responsible?

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I think it fits perfectly. There's so much box in this garden.

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How much clipping is there to do here?

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You must use machines to do it?

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No, it's just with the hand shears all over,

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and it takes about, I would say,

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eight people three months, the whole park.

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But around the castle, we do three or four times a year.

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What about the ones down on the side, because it also spills

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down the mountainside, so how does that get looked after?

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We have to clip the man on a rope...

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in order to ensure that they do not fall.

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I was wondering how they maintained those.

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Also, the whole garden is made up, predominantly, of box and of trees,

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but here I can see you've actually introduced some flowers.

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Are you softening now? Are you going to put more flowers in?

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We just have these plumbagos

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and naturally we have the cyclamen from Naples

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and these are the only flowers that we have.

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-That is it?

-That is it.

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You look at the shapes more than look at the colour.

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It's an evergreen garden which we can visit

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at any time of the year,

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even in winter, it's very beautiful.

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I thought that looked fantastic and certainly I shall make my way to Marqueyssac as soon as I can.

0:21:330:21:38

If you want to see it, it is open every single day of the year.

0:21:380:21:41

What I love most about that was the way that a simple idea

0:21:410:21:45

was taken and then carried to an extreme.

0:21:450:21:47

It wasn't really about box, it was about having a thought,

0:21:470:21:51

a notion, and just making it fly.

0:21:510:21:53

That elevates gardening above the humdrum

0:21:530:21:56

into something truly creative.

0:21:560:21:58

This is obviously very different but I hope there's creativity in it.

0:21:580:22:02

I'm doing a very practical job at the moment

0:22:020:22:04

and that's moving a large herbaceous perennial.

0:22:040:22:07

Normally, you think of doing that in November or around March time,

0:22:070:22:11

but there are a couple of advantages of moving herbaceous plants now.

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The first is the soil is warm, so the roots from their new home

0:22:160:22:20

will start to grow immediately which means that next spring,

0:22:200:22:23

there's a good root system to support the new growth.

0:22:230:22:26

The second advantage is because it's fully grown and in flower,

0:22:260:22:30

you can see what it looks like in its new home.

0:22:300:22:33

But the disadvantage is that it's very dry at this time of year.

0:22:330:22:37

So having dug a hole, I'll now fill it full of water

0:22:370:22:41

and let it soak away before moving the plant.

0:22:410:22:44

The plant I want to move is a lovely one.

0:23:100:23:13

There's nothing wrong with it at all except that it's in the wrong place.

0:23:130:23:19

So by moving it now, I hope to keep its loveliness

0:23:190:23:22

and give it the home that it should have and look best in.

0:23:220:23:26

Now it's this... this perennial helianthus.

0:23:280:23:32

This is Helianthus "Lemon Queen"

0:23:320:23:35

with these beautiful tiny little sunflowers

0:23:350:23:38

with a lovely lemon colour

0:23:380:23:40

and it's the lemon colour that's the problem.

0:23:400:23:42

This is the Jewel Garden. We want rich jewel colours in here.

0:23:420:23:45

The walled garden is planted up in pastel shades and white

0:23:450:23:49

so this would work perfectly there,

0:23:490:23:50

and to move it,

0:23:500:23:52

I do need to cut it back.

0:23:520:23:54

Let's cut the support off.

0:23:540:23:56

And get in there.

0:23:560:23:58

These will make good cut flowers anyway.

0:23:580:24:01

Now what's surprising is how relatively small

0:24:290:24:33

a root system is supporting such an enormous amount of top growth.

0:24:330:24:37

That's a really good reason for doing it at this time of year,

0:24:370:24:40

because if you move that in March, you'd have to be very experienced

0:24:400:24:44

to judge exactly how much space it was going to fill.

0:24:440:24:48

Anyway, this means I don't have to split it,

0:24:480:24:50

it will go straight into the hole I've made.

0:24:500:24:53

That's it there.

0:24:570:25:00

Firm that in gently.

0:25:000:25:03

Now, give that another really good soak. That's it.

0:25:050:25:10

Leave all the growing to go on underground

0:25:100:25:13

and then next March or April, that enormous above ground growth can begin.

0:25:130:25:17

Right, that's a good job done.

0:25:170:25:19

Here are another couple of slightly smaller jobs

0:25:190:25:22

but just as important that you could do this weekend.

0:25:220:25:25

Now that the days are getting shorter and the nights cooler,

0:25:250:25:29

tomatoes are taking longer to ripen. To speed this process up,

0:25:290:25:33

remove all the remaining foliage

0:25:330:25:35

so the plants' energy is solely directed towards the fruit.

0:25:350:25:39

This might seem very dramatic but the plants won't suffer

0:25:390:25:43

and it will definitely help any green tomatoes to ripen.

0:25:430:25:46

At this time of year, bad weather will cause a lot of damage

0:25:460:25:49

in your borders, especially to tall plants

0:25:490:25:51

that aren't properly staked. So check all your staking now.

0:25:510:25:55

If need be, add extra support or raise the stakes up.

0:25:550:25:59

Not only will this support the plants,

0:25:590:26:01

it will also keep the garden looking spruce right into autumn.

0:26:010:26:05

Now a job I'll be doing if not this weekend certainly over the next week

0:26:080:26:12

is repairing the bare patches in lawns

0:26:120:26:15

which inevitably occur after a hard summer like this one.

0:26:150:26:19

This is a good time of year to do it

0:26:190:26:21

because the seed will germinate very quickly and start to grow

0:26:210:26:25

and then by next spring when it warms up,

0:26:250:26:28

it will very quickly become thick and ready for mowing.

0:26:280:26:32

Move out the way, Nige.

0:26:320:26:33

The first thing to do is just loosen it.

0:26:330:26:37

The secret of all good grass is drainage.

0:26:370:26:40

I'm going to add a little bit of sharp sand just for that reason,

0:26:400:26:45

to improve the drainage.

0:26:450:26:46

Come out of the way, there's a good boy. Go and get an apple.

0:26:460:26:51

This time of year, Nigel goes around hoovering up apples.

0:26:510:26:55

And eating a huge amount every day.

0:26:560:26:59

So it's just mixed in lightly.

0:27:040:27:06

Rake it off.

0:27:100:27:11

The next stage...

0:27:130:27:14

..is to sow it.

0:27:160:27:18

Much better to sow than use turf in this sort of instance

0:27:180:27:22

because seed is really cheap

0:27:220:27:23

and also, and this is the critical thing,

0:27:230:27:26

you can choose what type of seed you use.

0:27:260:27:28

This is actually a shady mix.

0:27:280:27:30

It will grow well in the lee of this hedge.

0:27:300:27:33

Whatever type you use, just sow it thinly.

0:27:330:27:36

That's perfectly OK.

0:27:380:27:41

Rake it in.

0:27:410:27:43

Right, I'll keep that moist and it'll germinate really fast and grow strongly

0:27:470:27:51

and by next spring, you won't know that it's been repaired.

0:27:510:27:54

This technique applies whether you're preparing a small worn area

0:27:540:27:58

the size of a saucer on a path, or making a brand new lawn.

0:27:580:28:01

Sowing seed in September is the quickest way to establish grass.

0:28:010:28:06

Now we've run out of time and we shan't be back next week

0:28:060:28:09

because there's athletics on.

0:28:090:28:11

But I'll be back here at Longmeadow at our normal time in a fortnight

0:28:110:28:15

so I'll see you then. Bye bye.

0:28:150:28:16

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:360:28:39

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:390:28:43

With bees in mind, Monty plans for spring by planting some early nectar sources for them using bulbs which flower early in the year, namely crocus and winter aconites. He also selects some asters which will not only give colour for autumn but will also help bees build up their nectar reserves to help them survive the winter.

Carol is in Norfolk at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve taking a look at the borders designed by the renowned plantsman Piet Oudolf who has recently reworked his planting there. She finds out how he has combined over 100 different types of perennials and over 20 types of grasses to produce some stunning combinations which are also good for the insect population.

And Joe Swift discovers the remarkable overhanging gardens of Marqueyssac in the Dordogne where over 150,000 hand-pruned, one hundred year-old box trees have been sculpted into curves and shapes to mimic the surrounding countryside.

Back at Longmeadow, Monty begins the task of repairing and reseeding his grass paths and recommends lawn seed to cope with shade and heavy footfall.


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