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Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World.
Pruning the limes that are pleached around the vegetable garden
is a very symbolic action here at Longmeadow,
because it feels like spring can't really begin until
all last year's growth is cut away, we're left with the bare bones,
and then the new growth can come in and follow it.
Over the years it's a job I've learnt to love,
because it's so symbolic.
I'm not going to be up here just pruning limes,
I'll be showing you part of Long Meadow that you haven't seen before
and yet it's probably one of the most important bits of the lot to us as a family.
I'll be repairing the lawn in there, I'll be sowing some hardy annuals,
and also pruning my figs.
Carol will be visiting the Gibberd Garden in Essex.
There's no route around this garden,
it's all done with a clever placing of objects and sculptures.
And Joe is dealing with a problem that has affected a lot of gardeners
over the last hard winter.
-Did it have orangey sort of...?
-Yes, it was running down the trunk.
Oozy, orangey, yellow...
-It looked as if it was foaming as well.
This is the walled garden.
It was the first piece of garden that we made when we came here 20 years ago.
It's always been our domestic space, there's been a paddling pool here,
a trampoline and this is where we eat in the summer.
It comes into its own round about mid-May
and is really nice from then till mid-September, I suppose.
We planted lots of roses, everything here is soft -
pinks, mauves, lilacs, yellows. It's a gentle, very, very relaxed place.
Today I want to sow some hardy annuals which will add to that floral mix.
Annuals are brilliant at filling the ground and adding colour
and texture just as well as perennials, although for a shorter term.
Now if I just broadcast them, they will grow and they will grow fine,
but they would also get completely mingled up with the weeds.
So I need some way of knowing exactly where I've put my precious seeds.
The simple way to do that is just rake over a piece of ground,
and make a pattern of some kind, it doesn't matter what.
If I draw a cross like that, and then sow my seeds in that cross,
as they grow I'll be able to see very clearly a cross of little seedlings
in amongst any weeds that grow.
So I weed everything but that cross.
Then I thin them, and as they grow up you lose the pattern.
It doesn't matter if it's a cross, a circle, a square, a zigzag,
any old shape you like, just something you can recognise.
My choice of seeds is dictated by the colour theme in this part of the garden, which is soft.
So I'm going to put some cornflowers in here.
These will have a lightish blue, we don't want harsh, intense colours.
We've got the jewel garden for that.
And I just put them in thinly.
It's much better to have fewer healthy plants,
not competing to much for nutrients or water,
than lots and lots that are struggling to survive.
You'll get just as many flowers as a result.
And I will have to thin these slightly as they grow.
So I'll probably end up with only four or five plants in this spot.
Then just cover them up gently with my fingers like that.
And now, mark it.
Which is why I'm clutching these prunings.
These are lime prunings, and...
You see that lovely red.
Right, that's one little patch.
And I'll do this all over the walled garden, filling the gaps.
Hardy annuals tend to come from the northern hemisphere,
which means that they respond to light as much as they do to heat.
So by sowing them now as the days are getting longer
I'm giving then the maximum opportunity to grow really fast,
set flower ideally round about the longest day or before,
then that gives the seeds time to ripen and fall as the days get shorter.
By adding hardy annuals to this piece of garden
I'm building up a tapestry of colour.
Sometimes a scent with it, sometimes its individual flowers work,
but overall it's a sensual, floral experience, and I love that.
But Carol's been to the Gibberd Garden in Essex
which has been created through a love of sculpture, architecture,
and dramatic design.
The Gibberd Garden in Harlow, Essex is considered to be one of
the most important post-war gardens in the whole of Great Britain.
It was designed in the late 1950s by the famous architect, Sir Frederick Gibberd.
He was also responsible for such iconic projects as the Catholic cathedral in Liverpool,
and the design and development of the new town of Harlow.
Gibberd created his own private fantasy with a number of garden rooms,
that tempt you in different directions,
using sculpture and landscape design.
He had a clear vision of what he wanted his garden to become.
It really begins as garden design in the core and then
it extends into landscape design out into its surroundings,
so it really expands from architecture, which is the house,
into garden and then into landscape.
Sometimes Sir Frederick modified his house,
building these enormous windows to frame views that already existed outside,
and enabled you to see them from the house.
And always there was this organic relationship
between the inside and the outside.
There's no route around this garden,
Sir Frederick was a past master at luring you in,
enticing you this way and that.
It's all done with a clever placing of objects and sculptures,
the way a gap is created between a hedge...
..or the way a tree is pruned.
And it's something that everybody can think about
and aspire to in their own gardens.
Gardens are, in its simplest form, it's the art of picture making.
I think my best example is the view of a Roman temple.
If you stand at X and look, there it is, a perfect framed picture.
Sir Frederick loved this nut walk, three parallel lines of coppiced hazels.
He felt that it needed at its end some focal point.
He wanted a white sculpture.
He couldn't find anything, so in the end, he had this lovely lady commissioned.
She looks perfect at the end of there
and it's typical of his desire to integrate sculptures and artefacts
within the garden that he was designing.
Gibberd believed that once you look at a garden as design,
and put it into practice, it becomes an art form.
You are concerned with first of all an art of space,
then you're concerned with form, colour and texture.
And it's all complicated because it changes over the season,
and it changes over the year.
I think it's probably the most complex art and most difficult art
that I certainly have ever worked in.
Long ago in my youth I was trained as a painter,
and it's true that I tend to see everything in terms of two dimensions.
I think about my garden and it's like a flat plan.
But one thing I'm really going to take home from this garden
is this wonderful use of space, of volume, of vertical structures.
I'm going to go home with all sorts of new ideas.
If you're planning a garden visit this weekend,
the Gibberd Garden has just opened its gates
for the new season.
But if you can't get to Essex,
There's Little Sparta in Lanarkshire,
the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St Ives,
and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield.
All are stunning and well worth a visit.
For even more suggestions, got to our website.
I do so agree with Carol about the importance of height in a garden.
And when we came here to Longmeadow, it was completely flat,
nothing really taller than the grass.
I've tried to get as much height as possible.
And you can do that in quite a small space.
This walk is very narrow.
It's clipped back now but it will grow another two or three feet
and I've tried to get the hornbeam hedges as high as I can.
What you get, if it works, is the same effect you get
in a church or a cathedral.
You have these great, tall aisles going through the garden,
which even in a little garden seems to expand the space.
The primroses are coming to an end in the coppice
but they are replace by another flower that I love.
This is the wood anemone
and you can see the outside of the plant
is flushed with a sort of mauvey-pink steak.
But the inside, when they open, which they will do in the sunshine,
is almost pure white with this delicate,
almost citron yellow, interior.
And although each individual plant seems almost fragile,
the massed effect can be really dramatic.
They've spread obligingly from the dozen or so
that we originally planted.
And for a few weeks in April,
they are the heroes in this part of the garden.
The lawn here, in the middle of the walled garden,
is no great shakes. I'm very aware of that.
I don't worry too much about grass.
If it's green, it's clean and it's soft then I'm happy.
But there is a divot here in the middle.
We had a cherry tree here, 'Tai Haku'.
It stayed here for about a year, it didn't really work.
We've moved it to another part of the garden.
Turfed over, but because it was dug for the tree, it's dropped.
And you can see, if I put this board over it,
There's quite a gap underneath there.
But to repair that,
I've actually decided to replace the turf.
Because my turf won't match, I'm going to make a feature of it
and have a square of different turf in the middle.
So, the first job is to mark out the area
and remove the turf.
If you're removing turf, the best way to do it
is in sections that can be handled,
so that you can re-use it.
Cut strips or squares with a turf cutter or sharp spade...
..carefully sliding the blade underneath it
and then lift the sections one by one.
Pile them up carefully and make a turf stack.
And a turf stack is where you'll stack the turf
grass face to grass face and build it up and leave it.
And then you slice down through it and that give you beautiful loam
which is great either as part of potting compost
or if you want to use it fill in soil here and there.
Either way, it's very useful.
After lifting the turf, I prepare the soil by forking it over.
Then I bulk up the ground by adding sieved soil,
compost and sharp sand...
..because if you want a healthy lawn,
you must have good drainage.
The next phase is to tread it all over.
You always do this whether you're sowing or turfing any soil,
just tread it over like this, firming it but not compacting it.
Now, I'm going to turf this,
but, of course, I could do it with seed.
And, a packet of grass seed, like that, costs about £3 or £4.
And this turf costs three quid a roll.
Obviously, a packet of grass seed will do a much bigger area
than the surface of the roll.
But it takes longer and, also,
it's harder to get exactly the type of surface you want.
For a large area, I'd go for grass seed.
It gives, in the long term, a better result.
But, for patching, I think it's turf every time.
And it doesn't matter if you're doing an area this size,
or a football pitch, exactly the same procedure,
which is to lay your rolls out, having kept them damp.
And butt them tight to the edge
cos you can always cut the edges to fit.
And unroll it.
And lay them in courses.
So, make sure that the joins, which are here, don't meet.
And the other thing is, I've got a gap there.
Never put your short sections at the edge.
So, what we'll have to do is cut that
and put a short section in the middle.
Because, before turf bonds,
it dries out unless you're very careful.
And the edges curl like a stale sandwich.
So, the smaller the piece, the more the edges are likely to curl.
So, we want to keep that join there nice and big.
Now, I don't need to worry too much about it knitting at this stage
cos, obviously, it has to grow to do that.
I just want to make sure it's level, remember there was a great big dip.
Well, it's not there now.
Although it looks like finished grass,
we should treat this like seed and not walk on it
for at least two weeks.
And a good rule of thumb is, when it's growing strongly.
And keep it watered.
These figs have been here now for 16 years.
I put them in, actually, a day before my 40th birthday.
I remember, I went and bought them and popped them in.
And they've become a feature of the walled garden
and we love them. We love them mainly for their trunks,
which looking like elephants' legs.
And I prune them clear
so we can enjoy just these as structural features
and also, the shade they give in summer.
However, they've been hit really hard by the last two winters.
And if you look here, for example,
you can see that you've got absolutely dead growth.
If I snap that off, it just breaks.
However, the fig itself will be fine.
I know that. I've just got to prune it and tidy it up.
Now, of course, figs aren't native,
and they've learned to adapt to our climate
and it's not a wonder that they have a hard time
but not nearly as bad, it seems, as cordylines have had
over the last couple of years.
I've had loads of letters,
the programme's had masses of letters coming in.
What on earth is happening to our cordylines and what can we do?
Joe's been along to Walsall
to have a look at a particularly damaged cordyline
and offer some advice.
Last year, Maureen's garden was at the height of its beauty
with stunning cordylines and other exotics creating a wonderful display.
It's a garden that she's nurtured for the past 18 years
and the structure and form of the architectural plants
are key to the impact that the garden has on all the senses.
A year on, and after the coldest December on record,
the garden has suffered badly.
I've had a long chat with Maureen before coming to visit her
and I suspect that the damage is not solely down to the cold weather.
-Ah, so this was the cordyline you were telling me about?
Ah, you must be quite upset.
It was beautiful!
-It WAS beautiful.
-It was beautiful, yeah.
-It's looking quite damaged now, isn't it?
And it's got a funny smell as well and I don't know what to do with it.
It's major damage on it, isn't it? You can see how hard it's been hit
by, well, the coldest December on record.
Plus, last winter was cold too,
so it's had a double hit.
But, actually, I think the problem with this goes deeper.
There's this bacterial infection called slime flux.
In fact, the RHS have had lots of letters
and people enquiring about it and so have we.
Cordylines right across the board have been damaged severely
and I think this has got classic symptoms of it, really.
This slime flux is actually a soil-borne bacteria
and through the winter,
the bark will crack and it allows this stuff to get in there.
Did it have orangey sort of...
-Yes, it was running down the trunk.
-It was foaming as well.
THEY LAUGH Exactly.
And now you can see it's really damaged the trunk and it's left this black residue around the base,
-which slightly smells, as well.
-A slightly fishy smell,
which is never a good sign of a plant, really.
I've never heard of that before.
-No, well, you get it in trees and you can get it in clematis as well.
But this year it seems to have jumped on to cordylines.
Will that infection spread to the rest of the plants I've got planted around?
Most of these plants will be absolutely fine with it.
Most healthy plants can ward off most infections.
It's because this has been hit by the frost
that it's become susceptible to it.
The good thing about cordylines is that they will generate from the base. It's called epicormic growth.
-It comes from the base and they start all over again.
-Which is great.
We've got to take this down to quite low, almost at ground level,
take all the structural damage out.
-And hope that it regenerates.
-Yeah, OK, then. That'll be fine.
-You up for that?
-Are you going in?
-I'm going in!
Heavy, that bit, cos it's full of water.
It's amazingly fibrous and wet still.
Well done! But you can see here, it's a nice, clean cut now
and that's quite important, that you don't end up with lots of bits sticking out.
-It's a nice, single, clean cut through it.
-Can we treat that now, or do you leave it as it is?
It doesn't need treating with anything at all.
Just protect it in the winter if I have any new growth?
It's important that you protect it, because it'll be young and tender.
-And if we have another severe winter, it's just going to repeat,
so the idea is to really try and establish some woody growth
-that can get through a winter.
-But it will probably split.
Rather than having a single trunk, you'll probably have two or three,
which can look fantastic. I prefer cordylines when they split a bit.
And, actually, the old timber, what I would do is put it in your green bin
for the council to take it away because they compost it
at a much higher temperature than you do at home and what they'll do
is they'll chip it and then compost it
and it's so hot that they sterilise it all the way through, whereas,
you're not going to reach those temperatures
and you run the risk of re-introducing slime flux back into the garden,
-so you're better off getting it out.
Once you've had to remove a large architectural plant from your garden,
what can you do to fill the space that's left behind?
Well, I've come up with a very simple design solution
that will fill the gap whilst the cordyline re-grows.
I was wondering... This, this black willow, um...
obelisk, something like that. Cos obviously it's a temporary solution
so it just needs to be there for a year until the cordyline comes back.
And you could grow some annual climbers up it for a shot of colour.
-That's nice, yeah.
-There's lots of great climbers that you could use.
I could use morning glory, because it's a nice bluey purple
-and it would go with the Philadelphus.
-That'd be lovely.
Set off by the Philadelphus and the bamboo behind.
And it'll take your mind off the cordyline not being there!
Once the cordyline grows up,
you can take this and use it somewhere else in the border
-and use it with annual climbers.
-That's a good idea, yeah.
It's just a big shock when you lose a big plant, you know.
I know, I know! I'm trying to take your mind off it!
-You've had it from when it was that big and...
-It's going to come back!
There must be such a lot of disappointed people
-who've lost the same things.
-But you've had many good years out of it.
-We have, yeah.
-And it's coming back.
-Yes, it is.
I don't grow cordylines, but I'd be devastated if this fig was to die.
But it's good news it'll grow back and, personally, I like cordylines with multi-stems.
And thank you for writing in to us. If you've got any problems,
any dilemmas that you think Joe or Rachel could help out with,
please do write to us.
And if you go to our website, you'll get all the details.
This fig, as I say, I'm pruning for its aesthetic qualities.
And it's a question of not just cutting off the dead material.
I'm pruning this fig to make the most of its structure and form.
However, I do love the fruits and want as many as possible.
To maximise fruit production you need to prune it
in a slightly different way.
I've got one round the corner that is a good example of that.
This little fig is planted against what is a south-west-facing wall.
It's only been here for a couple of years and it's not very well pruned,
but the idea is to let it grow against this wall
and not get any bigger than the space of the stone around it.
And if you want fruit from a fig,
there are two things that you have to consider.
One is to restrict its root growth, so it puts its energy into fruit
and the other is to prune it appropriately.
As far as root growth goes, you've got the wall on one side,
stopping it going that way and you've got stony, thin soil here
So this is a good position, and lots of sun.
As far as pruning goes, we're trying to create short,
rather knobbly sections, rather than long growth.
I'm going to start by removing the suckers at the base of the plant
because they will be very vigorous,
but be sapping energy from the plant.
We'll take all these off and that will need re-doing every year.
As we come up, we'll take that off
because it's growing against the wall.
I'll take this branch off because it's growing outwards
and I want to keep everything as flat as possible.
And these are crossing and eventually they are going to rub
and that's no good, so some of these are going to have to go.
Now, there's no system to this.
I'm making this up as I go along. I'm using common sense.
What I'm thinking is I want a two-dimensional plant
that is growing laterally and not out into that direction.
So what I have now is just the basis
of a fan-trained fig, nothing too formal
And that should bear plenty of fruit, especially when I tie it in
and let lots of light and sun get to it
and bake those figs and get them ripe.
Which won't be until September at the earliest.
These are the beetroot that I sowed four weeks ago.
They've germinated, they've come through,
but they need to be hardened off before I can plant them out.
They've come from the hot bench to this cool part of the greenhouse.
Next stage is to take them to the cold frame.
There are lots of other things to be do this weekend
and here are some ideas you can do at home.
If you're raising plants from seeds, it's important to prick them out
as soon as they develop true leaves.
Hold them by a leaf and ease them gently from the soil,
taking as much root as possible
and you'll be surprised at how much root there is. Put them in a new,
slightly larger container, gently pressing the soil around them
and then water them in well,
which will also help to consolidate the soil around their roots
Recutting lawn edges in early spring
stops the grass spreading into beds and borders and redefines the lawn.
Use a plank as a straight edge and make cuts cleanly,
using a half-moon edging tool or a sharp spade.
The beetroot go into here, where it's open during the day
but closed up at night so they get some protection.
And then, from here, they go and stand outside,
day and night in this slightly protected space
so by the time they are ready to go outside, they are hardened off,
robust and they can take whatever the weather throws at them.
At this time of year, that rhythm of seeds and seedlings
and hardening off and planting out just rolls along and I love that.
And that's pretty much what I'll be doing this weekend.
But I'll see you again next Friday, here at Longmeadow.
Till then, bye-bye.
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