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Hello and welcome to Gardeners' World.
This week, we're all on the road visiting all four
RHS gardens up and down the country.
We'll be looking for inspiration from their wonderful displays,
as well as garnering all sorts of tips
to bring back to our own gardens,
whatever their soil and climatic conditions.
All four gardens are vastly different from each other,
but nonetheless, the gardeners at each of them
not only produce wonderful, inspiring displays
but also lead the way - they're at the very cutting edge of horticulture.
I'm here at RHS Wisley in Surrey - it's the flagship RHS garden.
Joe will be at Harlow Carr, the most northerly RHS garden,
discovering tips on propagation and getting inspirational ideas from the borders.
I love this combination here.
Verbena hastata rosea and a wonderful pink aster that looks absolutely stunning.
Rachel heads east to Hyde Hall in Essex, one of the driest parts of the UK.
And here they've created a dry garden, specifically to explore
the huge diversity of plants that can thrive in the low rainfall.
And Monty is in the south-west, at Rosemoor, getting inspiration
for vibrant plant combinations in their iconic hot borders.
Most gardens at this time of year are thinning out and getting a bit weak.
This feels positively volcanic - the whole place is on the boil.
The soil here at Wisley is light and free-draining.
It's sandy and acid.
In the summer, it can be extremely hot here -
occasionally they've recorded the highest temperatures in the country.
And you'd expect, it being Surrey, it would experience fairly mild winters.
Not a bit of it.
Sometimes it's extremely cold here because it's low-lying.
This is a vast garden, and it's constantly evolving and going forward.
And also self-sustaining -
lots of the plans in the beds and borders here,
they grow themselves.
And to that end they've got a specially dedicated seed collection team.
And those seeds are sent not only all over the world,
but also, through a special seed distribution scheme, to RHS members.
In any case, I just can't help collecting seed
and growing new plants from it.
It's in my blood and when you've done it once, you can't help it.
I've had permission to take some seed from this lovely Centaurea.
It's a perennial cornflower, and I've never seen it before.
I'd love this lovely
big, wild plant in my garden.
It's packed, not only with flowers, but also with ripe seed.
At this stage and on a dry day, it's absolutely perfect
and I'm going to stuff a few of these heads into a paper bag and save them for later.
A lot of the seeds will drop out,
but what happens at that stage?
Let's try that one, see if I can show you.
All this light fluffy stuff which are the little parachutes
designed to take that seed away, they're just beginning to fly
so you can tell that seed is ready.
If you just go into the centre, you can see all the fluff
and amongst it, all these pale seeds.
What I'll do eventually is a bit of winnowing
so all the fluff just takes off, all those little parachutes
fly away and left in my hand are those precious seeds.
So, into there they'll go. I'm really looking forward to growing this.
Growing from seed is a great way to propagate.
But it's by no means the only method and Joe has been up north
to Harlow Carr to find out about a different way of growing new plants.
Harlow Carr sits on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
It's the most northerly RHS garden
and the weather here is really changeable.
I haven't been to Harlow Carr for too many years
and this is the weather
it has to contend with, really strong winds and tons of rain.
Looks like it's going to brighten up in a minute,
but I have to say the garden has changed considerably,
it looks absolutely stunning.
These late summer perennials mixing with grass is wonderful.
I love this combination here.
Verbena hastata rosea in the foreground is finishing flowering
and the wonderful pink aster, novae-angliae,
and the majestic Stipa gigantea at the back doing its thing.
It's been doing it for months. It still looks absolutely stunning.
But what's so important about this garden is scale.
There's many large trees and perennial planting
but it's the shrubs doing an important job of tying
those two elements together and also helping to see the garden right through the winter.
At 700 ft above sea level, winters can be harsh
and to ensure plants can be replaced if lost due to a cold snap,
the best thing to do is to take cuttings.
Andrew Willocks has worked here for 16 years and plays a key part
in the maintenance and development of the site.
I've got a couple of these Hebe sutherlandii in my garden and I've been fortunate,
they're still OK, but a lot of people have lost hebes over the last couple of winters.
We're quite lucky with hebes
because on this particular variety, there's loads and loads
of ideal material there and I've just taken a cutting with a small heel.
You're only taking a tiny little piece of wood?
Yes, they're fairly easy to do in that respect.
-Into the plastic bag is to keep the moisture in and stop it drying out?
And it's not just evergreen shrubs that can be propagated in this way,
there's a range of plants that you can take cuttings from at this time of year.
Here we have Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn'.
It's really bendy.
That's what semi-ripe is, isn't it?
At the base it's just starting to harden,
that's a typical good example of semi-ripe cutting.
This is a deciduous shrub as opposed to the evergreen ones.
You want to get some of the older... it's all this year's growth,
but you want the earlier growth, as it were.
The softer growth, we tend to reduce that at the top.
So you're taking that off at the top?
Hopefully get a decent plant from that for the following year.
-You can take a decent shrub out of that in no time.
You've got the cutting material?
Yes, first thing we have to do is make sure the knife is as sterile as possible.
Shall we have the Hebe first?
Just tidy up the heel at the base.
It's important the heel at the base of the cutting
because it's the most dramatic or dividing tissue which is important
in the initiating root development from the base of the cutting.
So that's where it's all going to grow from?
-What compost have you got here?
It's just a 50/50 propagation mix of perlite and multi-purpose compost.
You've wetted it first?
And you just pop that in there and that's it, simple as that?
On to the misting unit or under a prop cover.
Hang on, misting units, most people at home don't have misting units and prop covers.
You can use one of these propagation tops on a standard tray, preferably on a windowsill
and that should provide the perfect humid conditions for cuttings.
How about the Viburnum? It's a slightly different technique, isn't it?
The trouble with this, it's got quite a large leaves on it
so the plant will naturally lose a lot of water through transpiration
but to reduce the transpiration rate we cut the leaves in half, like that.
The semi-ripe wood will develop quicker than a hardwood cutting?
It will do, yes.
The main thing is to make sure the conditions don't get too cold at night,
otherwise rooting will be held back.
It's been great coming back to Harlow Carr and seeing the fabulous gardens.
It's interesting to see how they're preparing for winter.
Because the last two winters have been so harsh,
so many gardeners have lost a lot of plants.
And taking cuttings is just so easy that it guarantees you can keep
the same plants in your garden next year.
Last winter was so vicious that I lost all my Penstemons,
every single one of them, stone dead.
This particular one has special significance for me.
It's 'Hewell Pink Bedder',
and it was the very first Penstemon that I ever grew.
I just love it, and I know that it's a good garden plant,
because it's received the Award of Garden Merit from the RHS,
a true sign of its garden-worthiness.
Here at Wisley,
there are four borders
which are devoted to growing just such award-winning plants.
Curator Colin Crosbie created the borders
to highlight the best AGM plants
from trials the RHS is running.
So these are your new Award of Garden Merit borders.
They're looking brilliant.
Certainly are. Really good, and just planted in April this year.
-So what are the kind of criteria
that these plants have got to fulfil?
These plants have been tested for various criteria.
One, they stand up to the weather conditions.
Two, they have a long flowering period,
and three, they're resistant to pests and diseases.
Those are the main criteria for gardeners at home.
So that's what you're telling people
when you put this little emblem on, a cup, an AGM.
You see it on a pack of bulbs.
We've got some in the wheelbarrow there. There's the logo.
That's what you're looking for
in garden centres and nurseries throughout the country.
So when you buy a plant that's been awarded this AGM,
you know immediately that that plant is going to do well for you?
They're plants that will perform and be reliable and good in the garden.
It's not every plant that's been tested,
but there must have been a lot.
How long has it been going?
It's been going for over 70 years.
We've tested annuals,
we've tested perennials, trees, shrubs, fruit trees,
vegetables, the whole range.
So there's a great range of plants that have got that award.
In these borders, they're mainly perennials, aren't they?
And what beautiful perennials they are too.
And I see quite new plants like this lovely Geranium 'Rozanne',
which is one of my favourites.
Geranium 'Rozanne' is wonderful.
But behind it, look at the blue Campanula.
'Pritchard's Variety'. That's been around for a number of years.
So new plants get tested, and old plants too.
I've been growing it a long time.
And the colour scheme that you've got here, the blues, the yellows,
we're going to add a little hydrangea
that's got creamy yellow flowers as well.
So are you going to change these borders, or keep them the same?
They'll evolve all the time because as new trials happen,
we'll take some out and bring new plants in.
We'll always be evolving
and adding bulbs to give a spring interest as well.
This is a real beaut.
In this case, why would this have been awarded?
This got the Award of Garden Merit following trials in 2008.
Big, big flower heads on it.
But the stem supports the flower head.
It lasts a long time,
and the flower fades to the most beautiful pink as well.
And the perfect time to plant it too.
This is a great time in gardens,
because the soil is warm. Whether you're planting perennials,
trees and shrubs, the roots will grow out and establish,
and you'll get better results in your garden next year.
I think people are quite shy of autumn planting,
because now that everything's containerised,
you always tend to think about spring planting and early summer.
-But it's just the job now, isn't it?
-Just the job,
and even better doing it at this time of year for many plants.
I've just got to get a hole dug here.
I'm rather envious, you know.
It's lovely soil.
-It's warm, it's moist.
If you could knock that out of the container for me?
-There you are.
-Brilliant. I'm going to tease the roots a little
to help them establish.
There we go.
If you could just hold that a second for me.
Certainly. I'm not used to being the apprentice!
I've got to put some mycorrhizae,
-which are beneficial fungi, on the roots.
-Got to be in contact
-with those roots for it to work.
-They must touch the roots.
These just help the plant to establish.
Make sure it's facing the right way, so you get the best side.
Yes. I always believe in that, showing people your best side.
It's important, isn't it?
Do you think I'd get an Award of Garden Merit?
You'd get an Award of Garden Merit and a gold medal at the same time.
The great thing about the AGM is that it highlights to gardeners
plants of special excellence.
Most of them are very tolerant.
But what happens if you garden in extreme conditions?
Rachel's been to Hyde Hall
in Essex to find out how they cope with a dry and very exposed site,
and to take a look at an exciting new project.
Believe it or not, if you take an average rainfall,
there are places in the UK that are drier than Beirut or Jerusalem.
With just 600mm of rain per annum,
Hyde Hall in Essex is the arid sibling in the family of RHS gardens.
So this is the ideal place to look at gardening in parched conditions.
Here, they've created a dry garden specifically to explore
the huge diversity of plants
that can thrive in low rainfall.
Ian LeGros is the curator here at Hyde Hall,
and the dry garden is just one area he's responsible for.
This is fantastic, the view over there. It's great.
Ian, talk me through the main characteristics
of drought-tolerant plants?
A lot of them have very small leaves and a small surface area,
so they're not losing lots of water.
Some of the plants have bigger leaves with a thick,
waxy cuticle to them, which helps them hold on to moisture.
Other plants tend to grow quite low to the ground.
If you look around here,
there aren't many trees or very tall shrubs.
Things like the juniper over there
have thick, resinous sap as well as needle-like leaves.
Then you have plants like the Euphorbia,
which has a number of characteristics.
You've got the silver foliage to reflect the harmful rays of the sun.
Very thick sap, and it's able to store a bit of water.
So just in the dry garden, you can see a number of adaptations
which make them very good at living off our rainfall in Essex.
So does that mean you never have to irrigate this garden?
We only water plants here if they've been new introductions
or a bit of replanting. With the new section we're making,
we will irrigate that through watering cans or hosepipes.
We won't use sprinklers or anything like that.
After its first season, it'll be alone, waiting for the rain to come.
-They're on their own.
-They're on their own.
So the dry garden's been such a success
-that you're making it bigger?
We've doubled in size.
-It's half the size of a football pitch,
I suppose, this new section.
-It's going to be impressive.
Seeing it at this stage is fascinating
because you go right from the beginning
with the boulders here.
What else do you do to the soil?
The soil, we've mixed in about 50% sand and grit.
It really adds to the drainage.
That also overlies some rubble that we've put in.
Yes, you can see in the bottom of the hole,
it's a little bit more wet.
This has got a lot of grit in it.
If you live in a part of the country where the rainfall's much higher,
can you still do this sort of dry garden?
I think you could.
You might have to work harder at the drainage
to improve it and build the soil up.
But there's a great selection of plants.
We grow them very hard here, so they will accept more rainfall.
But the key is getting the drainage right for the winter months.
It's the winter wet that they really dislike.
Yeah. They can put up with the cold temperature and the wet,
but not both together over that prolonged three-month period.
So you've already got some of the key plants,
you've got the Cupressus over there
and the beautiful Stipa gigantea, which will look marvellous.
Look at this sedum.
Yeah, the pink flowers and foliage go really well together.
Sedum's one of those plants that will
very much hold on to water.
If you want to try some plants for dry gardens,
here are a few that really caught my eye today at Hyde Hall.
The coral coloured blooms of Zauschneria californica
smother the plant
from the height of summer to the first weeks of winter.
For one of the best blue flowers
at this time of year, you can't beat Ceratostigma plumbaginoides.
Resist the temptation to treat the plant too well, as it looks best
when it's grown hard in poor soil.
Perovskia 'Blue Spire' is a tough little plant
with beautifully serrated grey leaves
and spires of mauve blue flowers.
Don't be too quick with the secateurs,
as the stems bleach to a stunning white in winter.
That is the first few in out of 20,000.
So we might be here for a few hours.
A few hours, I would have thought so, yeah.
On the other side of the country, Monty's been to another RHS garden,
where the conditions and climate couldn't be more different.
I'm in north Devon at Rosemoor, the RHS's West Country garden.
Conditions here are mild.
The seasons are long, and it's very wet.
This means that there's a wide range of plants here,
and they all grow well and lushly.
The soil here at Rosemoor is a heavy, acidic loam,
which fundamentally means clay.
That's hard work for the gardeners, but it holds the moisture.
And it's exceptionally good for roses,
even this late on in the year.
About 20 years ago, I stayed for a weekend near here.
I remember thinking "I must go into Rosemoor", but I never did.
So this is my first visit,
and I want to see as much as possible.
But the part that I especially want to see on this trip
is the hot garden.
I like the way the path is curving round,
so it feels it's flowing through.
The whole feeling is like being in the middle of a border.
And what's particularly good, which adds to the sensation of heat,
is these great big clumps,
these enormous swathes of heleniums.
Anybody can pop some reds, purples and oranges in the ground
and call it hot planting. But this is more. It's got energy.
It's got a kind of subterranean richness,
whereas most gardens at this time of year
are thinning out and getting a bit weak.
This feels positively volcanic.
The whole place is on the boil.
I love the way that the garden is full of subtleties as well as power.
This Kniphofia, 'Bees' Sunset' which I've not come across before
and shall definitely get for my own garden,
looks fantastic next to the Pleioblastus
with these stripes of green and yellow.
That's really subtle and rich and strong and will endure,
that's the key thing. It is not just a one-hit wonder.
You could look at that for days, and enjoy it.
Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' is a familiar plant.
Lots of us have it, but it looks fabulous here.
It's none the worse for being well known.
But this is even better.
This is Coreopsis 'Schnittgold'.
It may not be a beautiful name, but it's a fabulous plant.
You've got this rich, intense buttercup yellow,
borne on these tall, curving stems. They've woven it through the garden.
I'll definitely be growing this in the Jewel Garden next year.
The great thing about going to visit a wonderful garden
is that it doesn't matter if the soil is different from your own
or the climate is completely different,
because there is bound to be something there, a plant combination,
a new way of doing things,
that you can take back home and apply to your own garden.
And that's exactly what I shall be doing now
when I get back to Long Meadow.
One idea that I'm totally blown away by
is this lovely combination of Malus hupehensis
with Clematis tangutica climbing up into its branches.
Lovely, pale yellow flowers and these rich red berries.
It's a quandary for a lot of people how to support that clematis,
but you couldn't do better
than this lovely, natural sort of association.
It's certainly going to inspire me.
Well, that's something for next year,
but there are plenty of practical jobs
that you can be getting on with this weekend.
Now the evenings are getting colder, it's a good idea
to lift and store your pumpkin crop.
Only choose sound fruit with no sign of rotting.
Cut the pumpkin from the parent plant
and ensure you have a good length of stem
so that if any rotting does occur, it won't die back into the fruit.
Then place the harvested fruit in a warm, dry position
such as a shed or windowsill,
and enjoy throughout the autumn and winter.
Now that the birds have flown the nest,
it's an ideal time to clean out nesting boxes.
Any debris left inside can harbour parasites, so a good clean
will make the boxes great places
to roost and set up home next year.
Gooseberries are the first soft fruit
you take hardwood cuttings from.
Select a healthy shoot 30 to 45 centimetres long.
Tidy up the base by cutting just below a bud.
Remove the soft tip by cutting at an angle, just above a bud.
Strip off the foliage, but leave the top two leaves.
Snip off all the thorns to make your cutting easier to handle.
Make a slit in prepared soil with a spade,
and push the cutting in to half its length,
and you should have roots by April.
In itself, dead-heading is not a big job, but it's probably
the most important thing you can do at this time of year.
If you can cut back faded blooms
every couple of days,
your garden will be full of colour right through to the first frost.
What a treasure trove Wisley is.
Not just of seeds, but in common with all the RHS gardens,
it's just so packed full of brilliant ideas and inspiration.
Next week, we're on at the earlier time of eight.
Monty will be back in Long Meadow.
But meanwhile, get out there, collect some seeds
and above all, enjoy your gardening.
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