Episode 12 Gardeners' World


Episode 12

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Hello and welcome to Gardeners' World.

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Well, it's summer now, so having complained about spring

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for the last few months, we have a chance to complain about summer.

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But it does mean that a lot of plants need moving on

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or else replacing and I'll be looking at tulips

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and how best to deal with those today.

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Carol is not complaining at all,

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she's celebrating fabulous rhododendrons in Dorset.

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The whole place is packed full of rarities,

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brought here by generations of plant hunters.

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This weekend there's a special event in London where over 200 gardens

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open up to the public, and Joe has a sneak preview.

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I've lived in London all my life,

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and I didn't know some of these gardens even existed.

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I shall be planting herbaceous perennials in my cottage garden

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and looking at how to spend your money most wisely

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on these fabulous plants as well as tending to my sweetcorn and carrots.

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Just snapping off the seed heads of these tulips.

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I've never known tulips so late, but they are going over

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and they do need attending to.

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I know that for a lot of people that is a little bit of an issue.

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In fact, I've had a couple of letters

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of which this is a good representative.

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It's from Nick.

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"What does Monty do with his tulips after flowering?"

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I'm about to tell you, Nick. "I know about letting them die down

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"and drying them before replanting them.

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"But they deteriorate and the flowers are inferior.

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"Is it best to dispose of old bulbs and purchase new ones?"

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Yes and no, is the answer to that.

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Because tulips, when they die down, develop a new bulb.

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If they produce one big enough, that will flower

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but the chances are not as well as any of the tulips you have got.

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What you bought were the absolute pick of the growers' bulbs.

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The bigger the bulb, the better they flower.

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It can take a tulip two, three or even four years to produce

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a big enough bulb to produce the kind of flower you are used to.

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If I left these in the pot here now, and these were rococo,

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fabulous, gorgeous parrot flowers,

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they would not flower so well next year.

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So, if you are growing tulips in pots, always lift them,

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deal with the bulbs, and I'll show you how,

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and buy new bulbs for next year.

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So that answers that question. How do you deal with them?

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You take off the seed heads and lift them out of the pot. There we go.

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Here we are, you see, look.

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There's a nice example of a new one forming.

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That's never going to be big enough to produce a flower for next year.

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It's really important that the leaves and the stem naturally

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die back because that's what's feeding the bulbs.

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These ones are coming out easier.

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What I'm going to do with these, is to store them.

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I could throw them away on the basis

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they won't flower very well for a year or two

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and they've done a gorgeous display and it was worth the money.

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And that's a reasonable way to go about it.

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But actually what I try and do is store them and keep the best.

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I can either store them and dry them and use them as dry bulbs,

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or I can line them out so that next year if any produce flowers,

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I cut them and use them as cut flowers.

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I've got some actually in the cottage garden.

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That way you can develop your own stock.

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If you've got space and patience, it may well take three or four years.

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In the short-term I have got a place I'm going to put them.

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Store them somewhere dry with natural light,

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wait until the leaves have completely died back

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and remove the stem, clean off any soil from the bulbs

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and they can be planted in the autumn.

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Well, that's the tulips put to bed, but Carol paid a visit

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to Dorset to frankly revel in one of the season's best displays.

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She has gone to the home of the Digby family

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that across the past three generations

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have built up a staggering collection of rhododendrons.

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When you step into the gardens of Minterne House

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it's like entering a whole different world.

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It's almost as though you've woken up

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and found yourself walking along a track in the Himalayas.

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The whole place is packed full of rarities,

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brought here by generations of plant hunters.

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These intrepid explorers risked life and limb.

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Men like Joseph Hooker and George Forrest travelled all over

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the Himalayas collecting plants.

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Including many of the rhododendrons

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that now decorate this Dorset Valley.

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The Digby family inherited this estate back in the 17th century

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and each generation of obsessive plant collectors has left a legacy.

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The Honourable Henry Digby is keen to maintain the tradition.

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My grandfather, great grandfather

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and my father all sponsored many of the plant hunting trips to China.

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If you are a sponsor or a subscriber, then when the seed came back

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it was given to the sponsoring gardens,

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so we would receive the seed,

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propagate it in the greenhouses and plant it out in the garden.

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Some of the rhododendrons brought here are now

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on the edge of extinction in the wild.

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These detailed drawings, a record of Joseph Hooker's 1847 expedition,

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show many of the plants that have found a haven in this garden.

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They are very much technical books,

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although they are beautiful drawings, beautiful prints.

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All the stamens, the seed pods and everything,

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are meticulously copied or painted here.

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Here we are 160 years later and we are actually identifying them...

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-From these descriptions...

-..and from the technical book.

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'Head gardener Ray Abraham's task is to look after this unique

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'collection of historic plants.'

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This looks really special, what's this one?

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This is falconeri that came

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to this garden from the Hooker collection.

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He brought it over here to Minterne Gardens.

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The great thing about plant collectors is

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they love to keep everything secret.

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They didn't like divulging where they got it from,

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even in the Himalayas.

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Very often they would shoot at each other in the Himalayas

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if they saw each other across the valley.

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Because they did not want anybody else to collect that plant.

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This is just amazing, it is an absolute wall of rhododendrons.

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Yes, they grow like this in the wild

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and we try to replicate the way they grow.

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So that they can protect each other because they don't like the wind.

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-It obviously works, doesn't it?

-Yeah, that's right.

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I understood Dorset was limestone, how do you grow acid-loving plants?

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Our soil is special to this valley.

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This is a natural spring called Lady Abingdon's well.

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This is the nature of the soil here which is green sand.

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All the rhododendrons are grown on this green sand.

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-What is green sand?

-Green sand is a very acidic soil,

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through thousands and thousands of years of rotting matter

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and the green sand becomes acidic, if you like,

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as in natural leaf mould.

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Because the more acidic nature of it,

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the flowers produce brighter colours.

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And what a dazzling array of colours,

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the towering pink of King George.

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or the compact yellow of wardi.

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In brilliant contrast to the riot of purple augustinii.

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But Ray's not content, he wants to hybridise these amazing plants

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to create even more new varieties.

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The whole idea of this plant is to turn it red in the future.

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-You want this in red?

-Everything in red.

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The bottom of the leaves, and the flowers all in red.

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How do you go about it?

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You take pollen from these anthers here,

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and then you transfer that to barbatum,

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the stigma on the barbatum flowers.

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He can hybridise using the pollen of the barbatum right now,

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or store the anthers for use later.

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I can cut the anthers off so I can actually put that in the freezer

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and keep it for a year, then I can transfer the pollen in a year's time

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to a plant that flowers at a different time of year.

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And then create that hybrid.

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-So the possibilities are endless, aren't they?

-Yes.

-How exciting.

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For Henry Digby, one of the joys of this collection

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is that he is able to preserve rare and endangered varieties

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for posterity and make his own mark on the garden.

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I'm always thinking three generations ahead, which is

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actually extremely frustrating because whatever you do,

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you're not going to see it in your own lifetime.

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I take the view that I'm the beneficiary of what other

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people in my family have done in the past.

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So I can enjoy what they did now, so hopefully the next

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three generations will enjoy what I create now.

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If you still have doubts about the true value of this garden,

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just look at this, the renowned plant hunter George Forrest

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discovered Rhododendron hippophaeoides

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high in the mountains of Sikkim.

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But now this is possibly one of only two or three specimens

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left in the entire world.

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It just shows you the importance of the work that Minterne does

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both in growing these beautiful rhododendrons to perfection

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so we can see them as they are in their natural state,

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but perhaps even more importantly making sure that there is material

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there so they can be propagated and brought back into cultivation.

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I've got some perennials to put in the cottage garden.

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Now the cottage garden is evolving, and I am adding in the lovely

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medley, the random mix that comprises

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the heart of any cottage garden.

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So, for example, I have got white carrots here next to a rose,

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we've got pinks growing in a very informal mix.

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So, I need to add the next layer.

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We've got shrubs in and herbaceous perennials do that job brilliantly.

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To make it clear, a herbaceous perennial

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is a plant that dies right back over winter

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and then returns again the next year, sometimes for 10 or 20 years,

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sometimes a bit shorter lived and only for about three or four.

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Now, herbaceous perennials are wonderful

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and every garden should have as many as possible.

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The trouble is they can be quite pricey,

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particularly if you're buying a lot.

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If you buy a plant for six, seven, eight pounds

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and you want clumps of three, maybe three or four different types,

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you could spend 100 quid very easily indeed.

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But there are ways of spending your money wisely.

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The first thing to do is look for small plants.

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This is a campanula. Campanula lactiflora Pritchard's variety.

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Now it costs under £2.

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And it makes better economic sense to buy three of these

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and plant them in a group

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than to buy one that is three times as large.

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What you will be paying for there, as much as anything else,

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is the nursery man's time.

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They've got to water them, they've got to protect them,

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they've got to re-pot them. That costs money.

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Whereas if you let the time happen in your garden,

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you get the benefit of the plant and you get it cheaper,

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so that's tip number one.

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The second thing to do is to buy a large plant,

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as big as possible and divide it and make yourself more plants.

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You could make three, four, five clumps that by next year

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each would be as big as this plant.

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Effectively in one year it's cost you a fifth

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of what it otherwise would.

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This is a Michaelmas daisy.

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All you have to do is take it out...

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..and you can see that is pretty pot-bound.

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So, that plant has been in that pot for too long.

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Sometimes a really big plant will be going quite cheaply

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because of that, they want to get rid of it.

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And we simply break that up and you can use your fingers

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and thumbs, and get in there like that.

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And don't worry about damaging the roots too much

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because there's plenty of them, it's inevitable anyway. There we go.

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Now, that's two decent-sized plants.

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Immediately we have halved the cost of this aster.

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If I wanted to, I could break them down into individual plants,

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each of these will grow,

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I've got what, one, two, three, four, five plants

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just in that clump. I could either plant them individually in the soil,

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or pot them up and grow them on.

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What I'm going to do is plant about four or five asters in here.

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Which will stay separate this year,

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but by next year will have made one really big, dramatic clump.

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That way, for the cost of a relatively small plant

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which cost under £7, I've got something that would cost me

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£20, £30 to buy.

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Well, there we are, by breaking it up,

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I've got a really big clump that will establish itself this year

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and get better and better over the next few years.

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And that's the spirit of cottage gardening.

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It is about making the most of limited resources.

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Nothing flash but lots of effect without spending a load of money.

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Now, you may not be planting herbaceous perennials

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but here are some other things you can get on with this weekend.

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As broad beans grow, they get top-heavy

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and blow over very easily or simply fall under their own weight.

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They don't have tendrils to support themselves by twining

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but all you need to do is give them something to lean on

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and the easiest way to do this is use canes or sticks and some string.

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Now is the perfect moment to lift and divide primroses.

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Dig up a good-sized clump and break it into as many parts as you wish.

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You can replant it in the same place and it will regrow

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and flower with the same vigour. Or you can establish new sites.

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Remember that it is a woodland plant and likes dappled shade

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and moist soil.

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Some herbaceous perennials, like this Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker'

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can grow very strongly and dominate.

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If you cut some of it back by about half,

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it lets light and air into the plants around them.

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It staggers the flowering season of the lysimachia

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and also extends the pollinating season for insects.

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Come on then. Come on.

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By far the most dramatic thing in the garden at the moment

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are these alliums.

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This is Purple Sensation

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and in fact we planted 100 bulbs here 15 years ago.

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So most of them are self sown and they do look completely,

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dramatically stunning here at the beginning of June.

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What is surprising is that, if you read any book,

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they will say that alliums need really sharp drainage, blazing sun.

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Well, this is heavy Herefordshire clay.

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Although it's an open site, it hasn't been blazing.

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But for whatever reason they are happy.

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These are the sweetcorn that I sowed a few weeks ago and you can see

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that they have all germinated successfully and grown really well.

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But they have exhausted the goodness from this seed compost.

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And seed compost doesn't need to be rich.

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Its sole purpose is for the plant to establish.

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And sweetcorn really needs rich soil, lots of sun and good drainage.

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If you've got that in your garden, these can go straight out.

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If I take one out of its plug,

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you can see that it's got a nice root system.

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That's a perfectly good plant.

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It's starting to get a little bit root-bound so needs moving on.

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But, in this garden where you've got heavy soil and the nights are still

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cold, and if it's cold and wet at the same time, sweetcorn hate that.

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They really, really need heat to thrive.

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So I'm going to put them on and then I will plant them out and I don't know when that will be.

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It could be another month, it could be in a couple of weeks' time.

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I've mixed up a really nutritious mix which is bark-based

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potting compost which I have bought mixed up with sieved garden compost

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and some grit and actually a little bit of leaf mould too.

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The grit gives it better drainage, but the critical thing is

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garden compost is not only giving it more nutrition, but also it's adding

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that bacterial fungal relationship with the soil which is so important.

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Just pop the plug in, fill around it and shake it.

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Don't push and prod the plant in

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because that will just damage the roots.

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That's absolutely fine like that.

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Now, although this is a very busy time of year,

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it is worth finding time to go and visit other gardens.

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You always come back with something that will improve your own garden.

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But London is, although full of gardens,

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not full of many that are accessible to the public.

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But this weekend there is a special event

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where hundreds of gardens are opening up and Joe gets a taster.

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London is packed full of gardens, many of them

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the preserve of the very wealthy and locked away from prying eyes.

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Others are hidden gems set amongst the community.

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And this is our chance to find out what is behind these high fences

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and these gates.

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Park Square is one of the largest of the traditional garden squares

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opening all over the city. Kevin Powell is the head gardener here.

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-This is a treat.

-Welcome to Park Square.

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-This dates back to the Regency times, doesn't it?

-It does, yes.

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So how's that reflected in the design here?

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The idea was to create the country in the urban setting

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as a respite to the hustle and bustle further down in Regent Street.

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The planting design of the time was to have a lot of green with

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definitions, punctuation of the odd spire of colour.

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I'm so glad you are opening it and you can get in here.

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I've driven past it a million times.

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I've driven pretty much all the way around it but never got in here.

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But it is not just traditional spaces here in London

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that are throwing open their gates to the public.

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Garden Barge Square is a unique collection of gardens moored on the Thames.

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This is great. It is what a garden is all about, really.

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A sense of exploration, finding something new at every turn.

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And you are moving from one barge to the other. Good evergreen planting.

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This is Geranium maderense.

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This is not a hardy plant at all, this is from the island of Madeira

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and obviously it has got through the winter completely unscathed.

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It shows what a microclimate they have here.

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These seven barge gardens have been designed by architect Nick Lacey.

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It's quite a challenge to make a garden on a boat, I can tell you.

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Where do you start?

0:21:310:21:32

Well, this was the very first one that we did.

0:21:320:21:35

It had been used for dredging, I think,

0:21:350:21:37

so it had some silt in the bottom of it.

0:21:370:21:39

And, bit by bit,

0:21:390:21:41

it began to create its own ecology which was absolutely fascinating.

0:21:410:21:44

-Things started growing?

-All sorts of things started growing, very surprising things.

0:21:440:21:48

I mean, the obvious things like buddleia but some very unexpected

0:21:480:21:53

things like irises started growing

0:21:530:21:55

and ducks started nesting in it and it was a sort of lovely

0:21:550:22:00

little ecosystem of its own so I decided to kind of formalise

0:22:000:22:06

the thing by doing it in a rather more ordered way.

0:22:060:22:09

Your roses are already in flower here and I live just up the road in Hackney

0:22:090:22:12

and mine aren't yet so you are ahead of schedule.

0:22:120:22:16

Well, it is quite mild here.

0:22:160:22:17

I think the river acts as a sort of air conditioning unit in a way.

0:22:170:22:23

It protects us from some of the extremities of the weather.

0:22:230:22:26

-This one is gorgeous.

-Yes, so this is one of our orchard barges.

0:22:260:22:30

As you can see, medlars, which have done incredibly well.

0:22:300:22:33

They are very happy. And very productive as well.

0:22:330:22:37

We get a tremendous crop off these in the autumn

0:22:370:22:40

-and lots of lovely medlar jelly.

-I'm just so impressed.

0:22:400:22:44

It's a real garden here.

0:22:440:22:46

It's got trees, it's got shrubs and perennials and edibles,

0:22:460:22:49

everything you want here, really.

0:22:490:22:51

It's amazing how well things do, isn't it?

0:22:510:22:53

And down here, am I right that you've got some bees somewhere?

0:22:530:22:56

Indeed we do. Some bees which have turned out to be very happy here.

0:22:560:23:00

They have managed to deal with two big tides a day.

0:23:000:23:04

They go up and down by seven or eight metres, 25 feet.

0:23:040:23:08

-And they find their way home.

-Indeed they do.

0:23:080:23:10

On the other side of the river is the Lillington

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and Longmoore estate, and urban housing development

0:23:170:23:19

built in the '60s with open spaces in mind.

0:23:190:23:23

They've taken part in Open Garden Squares for eight years now.

0:23:230:23:27

Jim Myers looks after the communal spaces.

0:23:270:23:30

Jim, this estate is known locally as the Hanging Gardens Of Pimlico.

0:23:300:23:33

-That's right.

-But there are several gardens within this estate.

0:23:330:23:37

Here is the exotic garden and then we've got what

0:23:370:23:40

I call Med beds with the Mediterranean-style planting.

0:23:400:23:43

There is a century garden which deals with smells, feels.

0:23:430:23:48

There is a more woodland-style garden at the far end which is

0:23:480:23:51

left to grow a bit wild.

0:23:510:23:52

Yeah, there is a multitude of gardens besides all

0:23:520:23:54

the gardens that people have in their balconies.

0:23:540:23:57

Yeah, then you've got the balconies and everybody overlooking it

0:23:570:24:00

and gardening on their rooftop spaces and everything.

0:24:000:24:03

It's fantastic.

0:24:030:24:04

Many of Lillington's residents are keen gardeners, including Sancia.

0:24:060:24:10

She was attracted to the estate because of its gardens.

0:24:100:24:15

Wow! It's a little paradise in the sky, isn't it?

0:24:150:24:18

-Yes, my little bit of paradise.

-You are a bit of a plantaholic, I can tell.

0:24:180:24:21

-Yes, yes.

-And you've got an orchard at the back here as well. Plenty of trees.

0:24:210:24:25

And lots of fruit as well.

0:24:250:24:27

Feels like proper horticulture is going on here,

0:24:270:24:29

it is not just mowing lawns and cutting a few trees back.

0:24:290:24:31

No, the gardeners work so hard and keep them looking great.

0:24:310:24:34

And that was another attraction when I came here.

0:24:340:24:38

There obviously were gardeners all over the place.

0:24:380:24:41

There is a myriad of gardens to experience during this Open Garden Square weekend,

0:24:440:24:48

whether it's Lillington, barge gardens on the Thames

0:24:480:24:51

or traditional squares like Park Crescent.

0:24:510:24:54

I've lived in London all my life

0:24:550:24:57

and I didn't know that some of these gardens even existed.

0:24:570:25:00

It just reflects the diversity, not only of horticulture,

0:25:000:25:03

but of the communities that come together

0:25:030:25:05

and get to know each other through gardening.

0:25:050:25:08

The Open Garden Squares weekend means that there are over 200

0:25:130:25:18

gardens open this weekend, many of them normally closed.

0:25:180:25:22

You can get details about all of them from our website.

0:25:220:25:25

Now, moving from wonderful gardens that are only open occasionally

0:25:260:25:30

to the everyday task of growing vegetables.

0:25:300:25:33

I've got some carrots growing here and they've germinated

0:25:330:25:36

and are growing up but although I tried to sow them

0:25:360:25:39

as thinly as possible there are the odd clumps

0:25:390:25:41

and they are a little bit thick and I want to thin them.

0:25:410:25:44

The reason why you thin carrots is

0:25:440:25:46

so that the ones that are left behind are a decent size.

0:25:460:25:50

If you have a mass growing together in a clump, they will all be small.

0:25:500:25:53

So if you want them to be a little bit bigger, you need to give them

0:25:530:25:56

a bit more room. The process is dead easy.

0:25:560:25:59

You just sort through them

0:25:590:26:01

and you want to leave about a finger's width between them.

0:26:010:26:05

So start pulling them up gently and you can see the size of carrot

0:26:050:26:09

I'm pulling out is absolutely minute.

0:26:090:26:12

You can do this job at any stage but, like this, the earlier

0:26:120:26:15

I do it, the sooner the other ones left behind will grow.

0:26:150:26:19

Now, this thinning process is not difficult

0:26:190:26:22

but it is fraught with one big problem

0:26:220:26:27

and that is that carrots have a wonderful carrot-y aroma so even

0:26:270:26:33

something as tiny as that has got the most delicious carrot-y smell.

0:26:330:26:38

And as well as pleasing you, it is thrilling the carrot fly.

0:26:380:26:42

The carrot fly can smell carrots apparently from as far away

0:26:420:26:46

as half a mile. So they smell it and they come zooming in.

0:26:460:26:50

They know where to lay their eggs.

0:26:500:26:51

They lay their eggs on the surface of the soil

0:26:510:26:55

right next to the carrot. They hatch, they go down

0:26:550:26:57

and then the grubs eat through the roots as they grow.

0:26:570:26:59

You end up with

0:26:590:27:01

the familiar holes that go right through it.

0:27:010:27:05

Carrot fly are a nuisance

0:27:050:27:06

so you want to deter them. There are two ways of doing this.

0:27:060:27:09

One is to do as I've done which is to grow a baffle.

0:27:090:27:12

So I've put shallots in here simply to provide another sent

0:27:120:27:17

and alliums of all kinds are traditionally used.

0:27:170:27:20

Chives, onions, shallots,

0:27:200:27:22

garlic, in amongst carrots to deter the carrot fly.

0:27:220:27:26

The other thing you can do is to provide a barrier

0:27:260:27:29

because carrot fly only fly about four foot high.

0:27:290:27:31

So if you have a barrier of some sort around the bed of carrots,

0:27:310:27:35

that works to some extent.

0:27:350:27:37

Finally, do your thinning at dusk

0:27:370:27:40

because the carrot fly are much less likely to fly at night.

0:27:400:27:44

Put all that together and you shouldn't have too much trouble

0:27:440:27:46

but be aware of it. If you can smell a carrot, so can a carrot fly.

0:27:460:27:50

This is only a little job but it is worth keeping on top of this sort of thing.

0:27:510:27:55

In fact, that is the key to good vegetable growing.

0:27:550:28:00

Lots of attention to detail but in small doses.

0:28:000:28:04

You don't have to have heroic tasks.

0:28:040:28:05

20 minutes here and there is usually enough, especially at this time of year.

0:28:050:28:09

Of course, at this time of year we are starting to get harvests.

0:28:090:28:12

It's starting to deliver as well as take our time and energy.

0:28:120:28:16

Anyway that's it for this week.

0:28:160:28:18

See you next week here in Longmeadow. Till then, bye-bye.

0:28:180:28:23

Come on. Good boy.

0:28:240:28:27

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:440:28:47

Monty Don shares some clever tips on how to save money when buying herbaceous perennials and tackles that annual dilemma of whether or not to hang on to tulips once they're over.

Meanwhile, Carol Klein continues her plant hunter series with a visit to a unique display of rhododendrons at Minterne House in Dorset and Joe Swift gets a taster of what's on offer at the Open Garden Squares event in London.


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