Episode 14 Gardeners' World


Episode 14

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Transcript


LineFromTo

Good boy.

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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And welcome to the longest day of the year, June the 21st.

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And I always think of it not as a mountain with a peak which

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then drops down the other side, but as a plateau.

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We reach this point of summer

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and for the next few weeks the days are just flooded with lovely light.

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And of course the thing to do is to make the most of them

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both in ourselves and also how we manage the garden,

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just as a celebration of summer.

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Now, in tonight's programme I'll be planting up fuchsias.

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Carol will be looking at an understated woodland plant

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that will happily flower all summer long given the right conditions.

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Since its introduction centuries ago,

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the astrantia has become a real cottage garden favourite.

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It has wonderful stories to tell and an intriguing history.

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And Joe is getting a preview of a superb Japanese garden.

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The Japanese garden never really ends.

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It's about continually moving through the space

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and seeing different compositions as you go.

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I shall also be planting out the sweetcorn that I sowed

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some weeks ago and putting tender annuals into my writing garden.

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I've had tulips and wallflowers in these big pots over winter

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and last year we had a big display of dahlias and cannas

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but I've sort of repeated that in the other big pots in the Jewel Garden

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and this year I thought I'd try something completely different.

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And I'm basing it around fuchsias.

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You see, I've got this fabulous standard here

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and it's funny how fuchsias are really popular.

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Lots of people grow them, lots of people love them

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but they're not trendy.

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People slightly look down on them, I think, which is

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bonkers because they're really wonderful plants.

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I remember when I was a child my aunt had a fuchsia by her front door

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and when I was very little, I must have been about four or five,

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we would go in and pinch off the flowers and take off the green end

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and suck the nectar out and you could just get this hint,

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this ghost, of honey. And it was the most intoxicating thing.

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I remember being found by my aunt with a sort of

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a litter of her fuchsia flowers around me and looking rather guilty

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and of course she was furious that I'd destroyed her lovely plant.

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So that was my introduction to fuchsias

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and I want to get their richness and their intensity of colour

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because of course here in the Jewel Garden that's what I'm

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looking for and I think they'll make a dramatic display.

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This is 'Mrs Popple', and it's a standard.

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Now, a standard means it's got a bare stem

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and what will eventually become a round ball of flower at the top.

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This one's only a year old and not terribly expensive.

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This was about £25,

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which I think in the scheme of things is

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a lot of flower for your money

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and it will go on producing these relatively small flowers with

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rich, purply interior, crimson cherry colour on the outside

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from now right through into autumn, so I think good value for money.

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Now, as far as growing it,

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what we need to do is make sure it's got a nice loose well-drained soil.

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Fuchsias are woodland plants and they like dappled shade,

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so my main problem here is will it have too much sun?

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I think it'll be all right but I need to watch for that.

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And the soil mix I've put in there is a bark-based compost with

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quite a lot of leaf mould added.

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If you buy a proprietary compost add at least some perlite or grit

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and if you've got some leaf mould that's ideal

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because it'll make it nice and loose and a good root run.

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Now, if I put that in a little bit lower, about like that...

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There.

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And I'll top up around that. Really important to have a stake.

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I think I'm probably going to replace this stake with

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a longer one that'll go right down into this big pot

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because that's very sensitive to wind rock and you can get damage

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so that definitely isn't going to be strong enough.

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But fundamentally that's the easy bit. They don't need a lot of feed.

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They don't like to be waterlogged.

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Water them every day if need be but don't soak them.

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The water must drain away and they like rain.

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In fact, this one, 'Mrs Popple', is pretty hardy.

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This is tough. But if you're growing a standard the stem is very,

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very susceptible to frost damage

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so this will have to be brought into a greenhouse in November.

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That's my centrepiece.

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Now, I'm going to underplant this with more fuchsias because

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if you're going to grow fuchsias, don't do it apologetically.

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Go for it, revel in it and you get this lovely full-on blast of colour.

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Now this is one called 'Dark Eyes'.

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And this has got double flowers, whereas 'Mrs Popple' is single,

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and it's got a kind of violetish touch to its mauve and purple

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which contrasts with the red. I've put four in here.

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Now, these will grow to be three or four times their size.

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You can see that they've got lots of nice, healthy growth.

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When they finish flowering, which will be around about the time of the

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first frosts, I like to take even the hardy ones in, but if you take

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your fuchsias indoors they don't have to have any special treatment.

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You can put them in a shed, in a cellar.

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We put ours in the greenhouse underneath the bench

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and they're quite happy over winter

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as long as the temperature doesn't go much below about minus five,

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but a frost-free greenhouse is absolutely ideal.

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I'm filling the gaps with some vincas. This is Vinca minor.

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It's a lovely purply violet colour that we had in the spring garden

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and last year took lots of cuttings from.

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Just tiny little cuttings from the end

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and I've got about 50 of them which I was going to put under the hedges,

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but I think this will be nice trailing down over the side of the pot

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and of course the colour will pick up the colour of the fuchsia.

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A bit of an experiment, I've never thought of growing this

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in a pot before, but we'll see how it looks.

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Now, this is a big set piece,

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but Carol is looking at a plant that is much more modest in many ways,

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but really rich, both in the way it appears and also in its history.

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As summer finally takes over there's a great verdant swell

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all around the garden. There's not a patch of soil to be seen.

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Everything is beautiful coppers and verdant greens.

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The whole thing forms a backdrop for all manner of flowering plants.

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One of them, the astrantia, since its introduction centuries ago,

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has become a real cottage garden favourite.

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It has wonderful stories to tell and an intriguing history.

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MUSIC

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This floral beauty is Astrantia major.

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It's found all across Central Europe growing in damp meadows

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alongside other perennials.

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It was first recorded growing at the end of the 16th century

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in the garden in Holborn of one John Gerard.

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He was a herbalist, a botanist, but above all a good gardener.

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He'd gather plants from far and wide and grow them there.

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He recorded all these wonderful plants in a book that's come

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to be known as Gerard's Herbal.

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"To the large and singular furniture of this noble island

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"I have added from foreign places all the variety of herbs

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"and flowers that I might any way obtain.

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"I've laboured with the soil to make it fit for plants

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"and with the plants that they might delight in the soil

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"that so they might live and prosper under our climate

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"as in their native and proper country."

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Though Gerard's words were written centuries ago, his philosophy

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still rings true. It informs what we all do in our gardens.

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It's certainly what I try to do.

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MUSIC

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I love astrantias and they love living in this garden.

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The soil suits them perfectly.

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It's rich and deep and fertile and it's heavy clay underneath.

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Every winter they get a special treat

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when we lay a great big deep layer of muck all across these beds.

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I like to try and grow them in the sort of context where you'd find them

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in the wild, cheek by jowl with other perennials and grasses.

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First of all they're out with all these late spring flowering plants,

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things like the rheum here, that lovely lamium, but then

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they're around when the poppies pop and the peonies burst forward.

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MUSIC

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Of all the plants in these beds and borders

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including the astrantias seem to form clumps

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and sometimes it's lovely to contrast them with something

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with big foliage, a statuesque plant like this rodgersia.

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Its bronzed leaves are touched with pink, too,

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which picks up on the astrantia 'Roma'

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that runs through the centre of it. The whole thing is set off by

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the glaring white of this Geranium sylvaticum.

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This association, like so many in my garden,

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are inspired by Margery Fish, the Doyenne of Cottage Gardening.

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She loved astrantias of every description.

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In some ways, she reminds me of John Gerard.

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They both collected plants from all over the place, far and yonder.

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Astrantia 'Shaggy'.

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Isn't it aptly named?

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With these sort of long bracts and this rather untidy

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kind of flower, it has a real wild, rascally look about it.

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Margery Fish must have pounced on this plant.

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It's exactly the sort of thing that she loved.

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It would have fitted in wonderfully

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with her wild sort of plantings.

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People have called Astrantia 'Shaggy' "Astrantia 'Margery Fish'",

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a fitting tribute to a great plants woman with a real eye for a plant.

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Astrantias belong to the family Apiacea,

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which used to be known as Umbelliferae.

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Umbels are familiar plants - usually it's cow parsley that we

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see on country walks, growing in the verges and ditches

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and lining the roads with their flat heads and small flowers.

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Whereas, in astrantias, it's a hemisphere, a dome.

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Once the flower has pollinated, the seed is set.

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Eventually, it becomes brown and drops down onto these bracts,

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and then one day in late summer, on a really blustery day,

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the wind carries them off and they then become next year's seedlings.

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That's how nature does it, but if we want to,

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we can step in and play a part in the process ourselves.

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Growing astrantias from seed is so rewarding.

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You fill the seed trays,

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then you slide them underneath the mother plant

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and you wait for nature to take its course.

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The cold and the weather eventually persuades the seed to germinate.

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In the spring, you've got a tray full, hopefully,

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of little seedlings which you can prick out and pot on.

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All these astrantias here were grown from just one collection of seed.

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John Gerard, Margery Fish

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and countless other gardeners have celebrated astrantias.

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They are such easy, accommodating plants that bring beauty to

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all our gardens for months on end.

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Astrantia is actually one of my favourite plants, too.

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It's a lovely, lovely plant,

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and I'm going to put one here in the writing garden.

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I've got one called 'White Giant', a new variety, which has got

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a perfect combination of silvery white and touches of green.

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Exactly fits the theme that I'm trying to build up in this new garden.

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When you're planting astrantia,

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just remember, it's a woodland plant.

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It likes light shade and above all,

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does not like very dry soil.

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It needs moist soil.

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The only point that I would reiterate that Carol made

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is that they do drop their seeds and they seed themselves everywhere.

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Fairly locally to the plant, but they certainly will increase.

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And the root of the parent plant does get pretty woody

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and quite hard to divide,

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so if you want to constrain it in any way,

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remove the seedlings as they appear.

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But that's beautiful, I don't want to constrain that.

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I want that to spread right through this garden.

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An astrantia is an herbaceous perennial.

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It'll die back in winter and then regrow the following spring

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and go on doing so for a number of years.

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But obviously, annuals do all their growing,

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all their flowering, all their seeding in just one short season.

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I've got two annuals here which really show

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the difference between the seasonal variations of light.

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Today of all days is the balancing point of the light of the year.

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So, I've got Ammi majus,

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a wonderful umbellifa plant which is growing.

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It's flopping all over the place round here. I've also got Cosmos bipinnatus 'Purity'.

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Ammi majus is what we call a long-day plant.

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It comes from the northern hemisphere and it responds to light.

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As the days get longer, it grows more and more vigorously

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and is more and more inclined to produce flower.

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As they get shorter, that urgency increases and also to set seed.

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Because it knows its time is up, it knows it's got to do

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everything it can to reproduce before the dying of the light.

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Whereas the cosmos, which comes from closer to the equator,

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and that includes plants like the zinnias, sunflowers, dahlias,

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don't respond to light because the light remains pretty constant around the equator.

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It responds to heat.

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And by coincidence, the heat tends to increase round about the time of

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the longest day, so it's a brilliant time for planting out tender annuals.

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Put them out now, they'll grow well because it's warmer,

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particularly the nights, and they'll go on growing

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and flowering right through to the cold weather.

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Quite a few more to get in the ground.

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But, if you're not planning to plant any annuals this weekend, long-day or short-day,

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here are some other things that you can be getting on with.

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Strawberries are now starting to turn from green to red.

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And it's infuriating when the birds get at them

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before they're ready to harvest, so a net put up now will protect them.

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Make sure it's stretched taut so birds can't get tangled in it

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and also make sure it's fixed securely to the ground,

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because they will slip underneath it if they possibly can.

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It's important to support your tomatoes before they need it.

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You can either put a cane in and then tie the plant as it grows,

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or attach a string to the base of the plant and then tie it off,

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either to the roof of the greenhouse or to a wire strung out across it.

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And then, as the plant grows, you simply twist it around the string.

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To keep box hedging and topiary looking at its best,

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it needs cutting now.

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Either use a lightweight electrical trimmer or else really sharp shears.

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In either case, the secret is to keep moving.

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Just cut lightly and in as flowing an action as possible.

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Then, when you gather up the trimmings,

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they can be put onto the compost heap.

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Of course, nobody is better or more meticulous at pruning

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and trimming trees and shrubs than the Japanese.

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For them, it is a highly developed artform.

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A few weeks ago, Joe went to visit one of the very first

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Japanese gardens that were ever made in this country.

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You would expect to find a beautiful garden in the heart of rural Hertfordshire,

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but what you might not expect to see is a garden like this,

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a traditional Japanese garden.

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The maples are just coming into leaf,

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beautiful purple maple here,

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creating a lovely dappled shade beneath,

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and look at these beautiful, sculptural, ancient pines that

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were planted back in the 1920s. I feel as if I'm in Kyoto.

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I've always wanted to go to Japan to see the gardens -

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I don't really have to.

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There's a whole philosophy behind a Japanese garden like this.

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The idea is to bring together the most beautiful plants

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and conjure up scenes so tempting

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that they'll bring down the gods from heaven.

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One of the elements that it has to contain is a bridge.

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This one is based on a sacred bridge in Nippon.

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There are three wonderful, red, lacquered bridges through this garden,

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really singing out against the green backdrop.

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But it's more than that -

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it's about the journey and the way you cross the water.

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A Japanese garden never really ends.

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It's about continually moving through the space

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and seeing different compositions as you go.

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So how did this piece of Japanese paradise get here?

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This garden was created in 1905 by wealthy china merchant

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Herbert Goode after a visit to the country.

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To make his garden truly authentic, he brought back 20 Japanese workers

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and a garden designer.

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These spaces are notoriously high maintenance - they need to be

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polished, pruned and brushed and that's the job of Caron Lawton.

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How do you approach planting a garden like this?

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There's four seasons, there's four sections to a Japanese garden.

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And the first one is the spring planting, which are very much to do

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with the cherries.

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Then there's the wisteria, that's the summer.

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Then during the autumn time, we have the Acers, the beautiful reds

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and oranges.

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And then during the winter time, we have the structure and hopefully

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if we have a huge fall of snow,

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it just looks an absolute picture.

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I can imagine. I think that's so interesting that each season is just

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-depicted by a single plant, almost.

-Yes.

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And the structure is so important in a garden like this, quantities.

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Quantities, it's always odd numbers. Threes, fives, sevens.

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That is a sign of prosperity.

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Everything is all about getting the best out of the garden.

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You couldn't have a Japanese garden without a beautiful cherry blossom.

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-Absolutely not.

-It's a culturally significant plant.

-Absolutely.

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During the Second World War,

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the Japanese Kamikaze pilots would fill their cockpits

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full of Japanese cherry blossom and then open their windows

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and all the blossom would just pour out of the cockpit.

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-Just before they plummeted down.

-Yes.

-Wow! I didn't know that.

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-So this is the authentic teahouse.

-It was imported in 1923.

-Wow!

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-Piece by piece.

-You can sort of sit here when it's raining outside.

0:21:300:21:34

You've got somewhere covered in the garden to look out into the beautiful landscape here.

0:21:340:21:38

It's amazing vision to realise it was going to mature like this.

0:21:380:21:43

I guess when the plants first went in, it can't have looked like very much.

0:21:430:21:47

Not at all. I've got a picture here.

0:21:470:21:51

It's an old newspaper cutting in 1939 of the garden

0:21:510:21:54

when it was ten years old.

0:21:540:21:56

And everything is really tiny.

0:21:560:21:59

Yeah, the bridges and the buildings look

0:21:590:22:01

so big in comparison to the plants.

0:22:010:22:04

It looks almost like they're almost Bonsai, the plants.

0:22:040:22:06

Yeah. Hundred years on and we've got what we've got now.

0:22:060:22:10

And this natural piece of land, was there already undulations

0:22:100:22:13

and this sort of topography here before the garden was built?

0:22:130:22:17

No, it was a field, originally, and they dug out the three ponds by hand

0:22:170:22:22

and it put it over into a huge mound over there, which they

0:22:220:22:25

now call Fuji Mountain.

0:22:250:22:27

-So this is it, then?

-Yes, it is. Mount Fuji.

-The crowning glory.

0:22:320:22:37

Yeah. You're supposed to light a fire to create the eruption of the volcano.

0:22:370:22:42

-The volcano!

-Which is supposed to come out of here in smoke.

-Right.

0:22:420:22:48

-Really?

-Yes.

-Does it still work?

-Yes.

0:22:480:22:51

You can imagine back in the Edwardian days how amazing that would be.

0:22:570:23:01

-Oh, yeah.

-It's an authentic Japanese garden,

0:23:010:23:04

but they obviously had a sense of humour too.

0:23:040:23:06

Now, the garden is not normally open, but it is this Sunday,

0:23:160:23:20

so if you want to go and see it, go along.

0:23:200:23:23

And you can get all the details from our website.

0:23:230:23:26

I have been lucky enough to go to Japan and see the gardens,

0:23:260:23:29

particularly in Kyoto, and they were staggering.

0:23:290:23:32

It was a life-changing experience.

0:23:320:23:34

And the overriding thing that impressed me

0:23:340:23:37

was the incredible attention to detail.

0:23:370:23:40

Talking of which, the attention to detail on these tomatoes is

0:23:400:23:44

a bit lax, but interesting things are happening because,

0:23:440:23:47

if you remember, I'm doing a little trial.

0:23:470:23:50

They're Gardener's Delight and I planted some in a grow bag, some

0:23:500:23:54

in plastic pots and some with very little compost in terracotta pots.

0:23:540:23:59

And thank you, by the way, for all of you who've written to me,

0:23:590:24:02

telling me and often showing me

0:24:020:24:04

with pictures the ways that you grow your tomatoes. As things stand,

0:24:040:24:08

the ones in the grow bag are growing very strongly, the ones

0:24:080:24:12

in the plastic pots are also growing strongly,

0:24:120:24:15

whereas the terracotta pots are way behind and much smaller.

0:24:150:24:18

But I'm not surprised at that and anyway, the whole point is to

0:24:180:24:22

test which produces the best fruit, so it's early days, but interesting.

0:24:220:24:26

But now, I'm going to plant my sweetcorn.

0:24:310:24:34

I sowed these a couple of months ago.

0:24:350:24:38

Potted them on and you can see they've made nice healthy

0:24:380:24:42

plants and they've grown hugely. They've trebled in size.

0:24:420:24:45

They've got a nice root system, ready to plant out,

0:24:450:24:48

particularly now the nights are getting warmer.

0:24:480:24:51

That's the key. Warmer nights.

0:24:510:24:53

Now, with sweetcorn, there are just two things to remember.

0:24:530:24:58

The first is to give them enough room.

0:24:580:25:00

These are going to be big plants, they could be 6ft tall.

0:25:000:25:03

So if I put one here,

0:25:030:25:06

put that in nice and firmly,

0:25:060:25:09

the next one wants to be at least 2ft away.

0:25:090:25:14

And I'm not going to measure, I'll just work it out, do it by eye.

0:25:140:25:18

But that's about right for me.

0:25:180:25:20

So, you do your first row in a line like that...

0:25:220:25:28

Put that in, and then this one.

0:25:300:25:33

But never plant sweetcorns in rows.

0:25:400:25:44

You must always plant it in a block.

0:25:440:25:47

And I would say never plant less than nine, ie, three by three.

0:25:470:25:52

I'll get 12 in here.

0:25:520:25:54

And the reason for that is that sweetcorn is wind pollinated.

0:25:540:25:58

Now the wind tends to come from over there.

0:25:580:26:00

So if I had just that row, the wind would blow and take the pollen

0:26:000:26:04

that way, where there are no sweetcorn waiting to be pollinated.

0:26:040:26:07

I would have no cobs at all.

0:26:070:26:10

So if you want to produce lovely golden sweet cobs,

0:26:100:26:14

you must plant them in a block.

0:26:140:26:16

I've got masses of room and traditionally,

0:26:390:26:42

particularly in South America, sweetcorn was always

0:26:420:26:45

grown along with beans and with squashes of some kind.

0:26:450:26:50

I've got courgettes, I'll put in there, and the rest of the space, I'll fill up with lettuce.

0:26:500:26:55

And by the time the sweetcorn start to shade out the ground, I will

0:26:550:26:58

have long harvested the lettuce and the courgettes will be fine.

0:26:580:27:03

This is going in here.

0:27:060:27:08

Nothing like a shower to speed up the planting process.

0:27:220:27:26

Right, I'm going to do the lettuce later. I'm getting too wet.

0:27:260:27:29

Well, the rain can't dim the beauty of the roses.

0:27:420:27:46

This is Madame Gregoire Staechelin.

0:27:460:27:48

It's one of the first to bloom in this garden and it's a good example actually,

0:27:480:27:52

if you get a decent framework on a climbing rose, you then get

0:27:520:27:56

really good flowering shoots coming off these horizontal stems.

0:27:560:28:01

And this is a repeat flower, so it will go on producing these

0:28:010:28:05

great voluptuous blooms all summer long.

0:28:050:28:08

I'm afraid we're not here all summer long because we've got Wimbledon coming up and then the Proms,

0:28:080:28:13

but I'll see you back here at Longmeadow on July 19th.

0:28:130:28:17

Till then, bye-bye.

0:28:170:28:19

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:240:28:27

With the season well under way, there's plenty of work to be getting on with in the garden at Longmeadow and there's plenty to enjoy too. Monty Don will be undertaking some timely tasks to make sure the garden remains beautiful and productive all summer long. Joe Swift visits a garden transported, lock, stock and barrel to Britain from Japan around a hundred years ago and Carol Klein tells us the fascinating story behind one of our most graceful cottage garden plants - astrantia.


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