Monty Don gets going with some autumn garden maintenance whilst looking back over the year and reviewing his borders to see which plants have done well and which haven't.
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Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World.
At this time of year, it's only natural we should look back and take stock,
and make sure the things that worked really well this year
get carried forward, and perhaps those things that were not so successful are not repeated.
On top of that, there's lots to do to make sure the garden
is looking at its best next spring.
As well as looking back over the successes
and failures of my Jewel Garden, I'm also planting tulips
for the first big splash of colour next spring,
and gathering up my favourite autumn harvest - fallen leaves.
Collect them now and you'll have a superb soil conditioner
next year which money literally can't buy.
Carol is at Glebe Cottage with tips on how to tame
and prune an unruly rambling rose.
All that growth has been made this year, and that's the growth that will flower next summer.
Joe is at the Alnwick Garden in Northumberland,
where the superb underlying structure guarantees it looks
spectacular all the year round.
This is gardening on a grand scale, but it's not grand gardening,
and that's what I like.
There's something for everybody here.
Now, I say I'm going to review the Jewel Garden,
but it's still going strong.
It's still pouring out flowers into the autumn days.
It has evolved across the year.
You have to remember in March, this was a blank canvas.
Because the Jewel Garden had become very dominated by a few thuggish plants,
and more critically, overwhelmed with bindweed.
The only way to deal with that was take everything out,
which in itself was a big job, and dig through it inch by inch,
removing every scrap of bindweed root.
On the whole, that's been a success, but we had to replant.
So to think that all this has been achieved in six months
is something that makes me very pleased.
One of the heroes has been sweet peas, but their day is done.
They can't be expected to go on any more so I need to remove these to create a bit of space,
so then I can start thinking about bulbs for next spring.
This is Cupani, and there are no seeds on at all
because we kept picking the flowers.
I'll just cut that off and this will all end up as compost.
One of the strange things about this year,
and it has been quite a strange year in many ways, is what has
done well and what hasn't done so well here in the Jewel Garden.
For example, the Mexican and South American tender annuals like these zinnias,
which have just been incredible all summer, and the salvia guaranitica,
the cosmos and tithonia have all really been superb.
Couldn't have asked for more.
But a plant I always grow with this bunch, a key Jewel Garden plant,
leonotis leonurus, which comes from South Africa, has done nothing.
I've dotted them around, none of them are more than a foot tall,
and they should be right up there with those lovely orange flowers.
All I can guess is they didn't have heat at a crucial time.
It's not just the quantity of heat, it's the timing.
July and August were really cold here.
These plants were able to weather that storm,
and when it got warmer in September, they came into their own,
by which time it was too late for leonotis.
Take these out.
Another thing which I've noticed this year is that
when we planted the shrubs in the Jewel Garden, in my mind,
they were fairly substantial structural elements in the borders,
but we put them in really small, and they've stayed small.
They haven't thrived at all.
That's partly cos it was cold, but also because the perennials
and the annuals all around them have swamped them.
The whole idea in the Jewel Garden is to let things spread,
ramble, grow really strongly within a tight structure.
Joe has been to Northumberland, to a garden where structure is
taken to another level, used in a dramatic way right through the year.
Alnwick is all about design on a grand scale.
What sets it apart from other historic gardens
is it's 100% contemporary.
It's got permanent structures throughout the garden
holding it together, such as this wonderful hornbeam walkway.
It's the proportions that are impressive.
It's so tall, so wide, lets the light through.
From outside, it's got that lovely domed top,
and this green architecture is a hallmark of Alnwick Gardens.
This is the ornamental garden,
and it's one of the most exciting spaces here at Alnwick.
It's packed full of plants with some great combinations.
It's set within a very traditional walled garden,
but what's interesting is everything here has a modern twist.
There's a strong geometrical layout combining squares, rectangles,
circles and triangles to form a structured framework.
U buttresses planted against the old brick walls are a really nice touch,
adding a simple rhythm and sense of solidity to the space.
What really excites me about this garden is at first you
look at it and it feels familiar, but then you look a bit deeper
and the plants used here are really quite unexpected.
For a start, these wonderful pleached crab apples defining this area here.
I've never seen crab apples pleached like this,
but they're a brilliant choice, because they've got great
autumn colour, look at them at the moment.
Wonderful fruits all over them, they look absolutely perfect.
Precision is key, cos they're the tallest element in the garden.
The yew hedges are half the size of the crab apples and a cornus hedge,
which I've never seen used formally before, that's half the size of the yew again.
Then within these spaces, you take a look,
and there's something being reinvented here.
We see a traditional rose garden, standard roses,
which normally has soil underneath.
But here, it's been planted with blueberries,
which creates an under-storey to the planting
and you get berries all summer.
But look at them now.
Fantastic autumn colour, extending the season of interest.
The structure is familiar,
but the plants in it feel fresh and right up to date.
We often introduce water into our gardens
for a sense of tranquillity and serenity.
Here, it's a completely different story.
It's about drama, volume, and the wow-factor.
The grand cascade is incredible.
It's a modern take on an Italian classical cascade.
It's sinuous, curvaceous in its lines,
which echo beautifully in the hornbeam tunnels on either side,
which have these views through the windows onto it too.
I could be a snob and say, "It's a little bit chunky
"and the finishing is not that detailed and refined", but that's not what this is about.
It's about fun, interacting with the space
and bringing people of all ages to the garden.
And for that, it succeeds really well.
Either side of the cascade are two identical areas which uses slope very cleverly.
I think they're my favourite areas, as the composition
is incredibly pleasing and satisfying, relying on simple elements.
The two water features with the rill just connecting them
and running between the two is brilliant.
We've got the oaks all the way around the lower pond,
and they give a cathedral-like effect.
They're incredibly tall,
and then there's this lovely beech clipped hedge.
It's very stylised and deep, but as the season turns,
it'll go a lovely rusty brown.
The changes are very subtle in this area. Lots of green and just water.
The composition is satisfying, rewarding, balanced. I love it.
The serpent garden is about sinuous curves.
Tall yew hedges enclosed modern stainless-steel water sculptures
to enhance a sense of discovery at every turn.
This is playful part of the garden.
This is gardening on a grand scale. But it's not grand gardening.
That's what I like about it, there's something for everybody here.
High-end horticulture, bold design, a wow-factor. But it's fun.
Kids love this garden and are encouraged to run around.
The wide appeal and the strong green architecture of this garden makes it accessible all year round.
Now, one part of this garden that changes all the year round
is the lime walk. It was one of the first bits we made.
Then I pruned the limes in spring, which delays the growth
and it means that right into May and even June
there's still plenty of light coming into it.
That gives an opportunity to grow spring flowers,
and we've always had tulips in here.
I love tulips, I love everything about them.
They're probably the most voluptuous of all flowers.
Also they bring to spring that first flush of really intense colour.
They have a silky vibrancy that almost no other flower has.
And certainly no other at that time of year.
In fact, here in the lime walk, I'm planting white tulips.
Last year, I planted some Nicholas Heyek which is a new tulip on me
lovely ivory, pale, pale yellow.
And some of that will stay in there,
but I'm going to top up with White Triumphator,
that's a tall simple tulip
with perfect white flowers that lasts for weeks and weeks.
So next year I get the mixture of the two.
Now tulips aren't cheap, so if you can buy them in bulk,
they'll be a lot better value.
What you're looking for, however you get them,
is a nice healthy bulb, firm, no sign of mould and looking fresh.
And...a tip to get them looking reasonably natural is to put
the same number in each bay, but don't try and plant them
uniformly, just squeeze them in between the plants.
In this case it's the wallflowers.
OK, now they're spaced out and I would do the whole lot,
I'd lay them all out on the ground before I planted the first one.
Now there's a big debate about the best way to plant tulips.
You can either treat them as annuals,
in which case you might as well just bury them under the soil
and they'll do fine and they'll like the top soil and feed well from it.
Or you can treat them as a perennial,
coming back year after year.
That's tricky, you can only do that if you have really good drainage,
if they get a good summer baking,
and even then it doesn't always work.
But if you want them to come back year on year,
you must plant them deep.
That means at least four inches and, if possible,
six inches under the ground.
Now to do that, a bulb planter is a real help.
This is perfect for tulips, the right size.
So we take out a plug, and that's the start,
but it's not really deep enough.
So I want to work that out, get in there,
and you can see already it's a bit of a fiddle.
And then get them in the ground.
And that goes in and it's covered over.
Now, that's fine on sandy soil, not too difficult.
But over the years I've come to the conclusion
that it's best to treat tulips as an annual
and if they flower again the following year, that's a bonus.
That way you get a really good display every year
and then you can top it up as the years go by.
Planting them is dead easy.
Simply with a trowel loosen the soil, pop them in, that's it.
And it does mean that you can get a lot in the ground pretty quickly.
Now, like all the jobs that we're doing in the garden at this time of year
I shan't see the effects of this for months
but it's guaranteed to make the garden look all the better next spring.
And that's exactly what Carol is doing down at Glebe cottage.
The autumn winds are really beginning to bite now.
Some of the branches are already bare.
But my rose beds are coming on a treat. I'm quite chuffed with them.
I've sown seeds, I've divided plants.
I've planted so much down there
but there are still loads of things to do.
I took cuttings of this lovely, handsome Lamium orvala
way back in April and now they've made fine, strong plants.
And this is going to be their final destination.
I think they're going to look just the job in here alongside
this Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'.
It's a member of the lily family
but people call it black grass.
In amongst this other lamium,
this is Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy'.
It's flat, prostrate.
You needn't take basal cuttings to propagate this,
you can just push those little shoots down into the ground, gently,
and they'll root all the way along the stem.
This wonderful ground cover and a beautiful backdrop for this lamium,
which is a big, statuesque, strong plant. Quite different.
Now, they've made absolutely brilliant roots by now
and this is the perfect time to put them in the soil.
It's lovely and warm.
This soil is so easy to plant into.
And those roots will grow out, extend, and by the spring
there'll be a whole load of new shoots coming out there.
And we should have quite a show, even next year.
But there's a plant over here in the background
which I think is going to make a wonderful backdrop and set the scene for all of it.
Let me introduce you to Rosa Veilchenblau.
I planted this rose, maybe ten or more years ago,
and it used to grow along an old fence that was here.
The fence fell down, I've re-erected this new one.
But, unfortunately, I neglected the rose
and it did what was in its nature.
It's a rambler and it rambled all over the show
with its enormous trusses
of violet-blue flowers during June and July.
It's absolutely beautiful with this fantastic orange scent.
And it's the perfect rose to make a backdrop.
But if it's going to do that, first, I'm going to have to train it.
Wiring is the best way, whether you've got a wall or a fence.
It's really worth putting in the time to create a firm structure.
On a fence like this, I need about four wires, about 18 inches apart.
I'm using vine eyes, threaded with galvanised wire
and, at the end, there are eye bolts to create tension.
The very first thing you want to do when you're pruning any rose
is to identify what it is you want to keep.
Then you know what wood you've got to get rid of and take away.
In this case, I want four big, strong shoots on either side,
to go along horizontally on the wires I've already put up there.
So there's one, there's two
and then there's two more whoppers over the top. Non-flowered shoots.
All that growth has been made this year
and that's the growth which will flower next summer.
So I want to retain those and I want to start by chopping away
any really dead old wood around the base of the plant.
I want too move on, so I identify anything that's already flowered.
Cos this is never going to produce more flowers.
So I've got to get rid of that completely.
Working with roses can be fiddly and a bit hazardous.
But this variety, thankfully, is just about thornless.
I'm a bit vertically challenged for doing this!
Now to tie in these new bits.
I'm just using soft twine
and I always tie onto the wire first,
do a double knot and then tie round the stem.
Some people use a figure of 8.
The whole idea of doing that is to make sure you've got a buffer
in-between the stem and the wire so that the stem doesn't get damaged.
The whole reason for training horizontally is that
all plants head for the sky. They all want to reach upwards.
But what WE want to do is persuade this plant
that it should spend its energy, not on making great tall, long growth,
but on flowering all along its stem.
You can take out the tips of these
at the beginning of next year if you want to
because that will get it to concentrate even more
on producing flower.
You know what? It looks pretty good, that!
I hope I've given this rose the opportunity
to operate at the peak of its performance next year.
I'm expecting to see that whole fence dripping with glorious blossom.
A perfect backdrop
to what I hope is going to be the glory of these new raised beds.
Now, this lovely, powdery...
sweet-smelling stuff is not compost, but leaf mould.
I always feel that leaf mould is one of the unsung heroes of the garden.
We all make compost, we know how to do it and we celebrate the fact.
But not enough people make leaf mould.
For a start, it's really good if you add it to potting compost.
Things like bulbs in containers love the loose root run it gives.
It makes a very good mulch, particularly for woodland plants.
It's a soil improver.
It just makes everything grow better because it enables the roots
to get down in there and reach in and find all the nutrients.
And it's so easy to make. Much easier than garden compost.
All you have to do is gather up your leaves and leave them for a year.
I tell you,
that was growing on the trees 12 months ago.
There's obviously the start process.
It's just to collect up leaves.
The big mistake is to think of leaves somehow as litter, or waste.
It's not. It's so, so valuable.
And raking them up is dead easy.
Especially when they're dry like this.
There is something rather therapeutic about it too.
I'll tell you another little tip,
get two bits of wood, just rough bits of planking,
and they make fantastic holders for leaves.
Even if you've just got a few leaves, small garden,
and not much space,
you can still make really good leaf mould in a bin bag.
Just a normal black bag, like that, and put the leaves in it.
Then, when it's about a quarter full,
soak it, give them a real good wetting.
Because the leaf mould will make much, much quicker
if the leaves are wet.
If you get them wet and keep them wet, that's when they rot down really quickly.
The fungus loves those wet conditions.
So, soak the bottom quarter, add some more leaves...
..give it another really good soak,
and then about once a month, check it and soak it again, if need be.
All the leaves should be moist and recognisably wet.
Then when it is full, and nice and wet,
just give it some drainage holes.
Because you don't want the leaves to be sitting in a puddle,
you just want them to be moist.
Now, that will drain out.
Put it behind a shed, in a corner,
and if you want to make leaf mould
you can use as part of your potting compost,
it needs to be left for a full year, kept wet.
On the other hand, if you want to use it as a mulch,
and it makes a very good mulch
around spring-flowering perennials, for example,
next March, or April, just take it out the bag,
the leaves will be half-decomposed, spread them on the border,
and they work really well.
The worms will drag them into the soil
and that will improve the quality of the soil
as well as suppressing weeds.
All you have to do to make leaf mould.
If you have a lot of leaves,
and plenty of space,
then a leaf bay is the way to store them.
The easiest way to make it is with some posts and chicken-wire.
This is because it lets the air in, and the combination of water and air
will make the fungus work much faster.
And this will fill up right to the brim.
As it rots down the space will diminish, so don't worry
if it's very full.
That will go down to about half its volume.
However, there is one more tip
that will dramatically reduce
the amount of space that your leaves take up.
'If you can mow your leaves,
'you'll find that not only does it make it very easy to collect them
'but it also chops them up,
'and this speeds up the decomposition process dramatically.'
Collecting leaves is a job that rolls on for months.
But here are some other ideas to think about
right through winter.
Having gone to the trouble of protecting your greenhouse
and bringing in tender plants
check them every day.
Remove any dead material and make sure the plants are healthy.
Open the doors and vents if it is mild,
and go steady on the watering.
In fact, all Mediterranean and South African plants
like to be positively dry over winter.
If you do have plants you need to water, make sure they don't drip
on others that need to be drier.
Valuable terracotta pots are easily damaged by cold weather.
So before the frosts get too high, bring them in.
Give them a really good scrub to get rid of any lingering pests,
virus, or disease,
dry them carefully,
and then put them in a frost-free place,
ready for when you need them next spring.
'If you've got some empty pieces of ground on your veg plot
'it's a good idea to start to dig them now.
'This can be done steadily across the winter,
'and the main purpose is to break up any compaction.
'Leave the soil roughly dug - frost and rain will break it down,
'so that by next spring, it'll be surprisingly easy to prepare.
'Root vegetables like parsnips and carrots,
'can be left in the ground over winter.
'But when the soil freezes hard they can be nigh-on impossible to dig up.
'But by laying down a generous mulch now,
'you'll help to both insulate the soil and the plant.'
Well, that's it, not just for tonight's programme,
but for this series.
Carol, Joe, Rachel and myself will be back
for a Christmas special in December,
and I'll be back here for a new series at Long Meadow next March.
Don't forget that the clocks go back on Sunday morning,
so less time for gardening than ever,
but make the most of winter.
See you again next spring. Till then, goodbye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Monty Don gets going with some autumn garden maintenance whilst looking back over the year and reviewing his borders, checking which plants have done well and which haven't. As he clears annuals that are past their best, he plans a colourful display for late spring by planting up the garden with tulips.
Carol Klein is at Glebe Cottage continuing work on her new raised beds and taming an overgrown and unruly rambling rose, explaining how to prune and tie it in for maximum flower performance next summer.
Joe Swift visits The Alnwick Garden in Northumberland and looks at how its strong structural design ensures the garden stays looking good through the winter.
And Monty extols the virtues of making your own leaf mould, as well as recommending several jobs we could all be doing in our gardens this winter.