Episode 15 Gardeners' World


Episode 15

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BIRDS SING

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Hello. Welcome back to Gardeners' World.

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We've been away for a few weeks, but here at Long Meadow, the garden has been growing and flourishing.

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It's been a lovely summer so far.

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We've had good weather, and the plants,

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from vegetables through to trees and all the flowers in the borders

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have been really healthy.

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There have been changes. Some things have flowered and gone over,

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other things are coming to their best,

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and there's quite a lot we can do at this time of year

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to make sure that display looks as good as it can right through to autumn.

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Now, tonight's programme is full of my favourite things.

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Carol is celebrating one of our most dramatic wild flowers,

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along with its cultivated cousins.

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Surely everybody recognises a foxglove!

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Every child who sees one of these plants

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wants to stick their fingers inside those bells and make their own gloves!

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Joe finds out what the world-famous garden designer Dan Pearson

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has planned for his own new garden.

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It's not about a grand design, imposing yourself on the landscape?

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No, it's about finding a meeting point between the ornamental garden which I'm going to make

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and this naturalistic space.

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I shall be revealing a brand-new area here at Long Meadow,

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but first I'm going to continue a job I've been doing for a week or so,

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which is really important at this time of year -

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to extend the flowering season in our borders.

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Now, the border at this time of year is full of plants that have actually done their stuff.

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What they're concentrating on is setting seed

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so that next year they can look really good.

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For example, these alliums, Purple Sensation.

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They look stunning in May and early June

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and are now setting seed.

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Now, if I wanted them to spread, I'd leave them,

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because that seed will develop new plants.

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But we've got too many alliums, so I'm pulling them up.

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They do just pull up really easily.

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Just gently pull on them, and that clears them.

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It won't harm the bulb, which will grow again next year,

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but it will stop them setting seed.

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So it'll also create some space.

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Because the Jewel Garden is planted so intensively,

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you can't get a foot in, half the time!

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And when you come to plants like the perennial geraniums,

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the hardy geraniums here,

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these are still flowering.

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There is a temptation to keep them going as long as there are any flowers.

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But don't! Because there are very few flowers on each stem,

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and these are all setting seed.

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So if I cut that back hard,

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I'll get a flush of regrowth and with it, a much more intense ratio of flower to plant.

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This applies to all the early-flowering perennials.

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So you've got hardy geraniums, Oriental poppies,

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delphiniums when they're over.

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Cut them all back to the ground.

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And you should get a repeat flowering in August and September.

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The other thing is how much space is created.

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So it's not just about making existing plants grow back strongly.

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It's also about creating room to put in new plants.

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At this time of year, the plants I want to put in are the tender ones.

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Zinnias, Cosmos, all of which can now be planted into this space I've created.

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So they will grow alongside the resurgence and regrowth

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of the earlier perennials.

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That way, we get a really rich tapestry of colour.

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No other plant has given me more pleasure over the last week or so

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than this foxglove.

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It's self-sown, a weed, if you like,

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in the cracks in the paving.

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Yet it's grown enormous, taller than the shed

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and it's just been filled with flower.

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I regard these kinds of things as a glorious gift.

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I take no credit for it at all.

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And Carole is also celebrating the foxglove, but looking at the kinds that you can cultivate

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in your garden.

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Surely everybody recognises a foxglove when they see one!

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These tall stems loaded with bells

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just announce its presence to all of us, and more importantly to pollinating insects.

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And once those insects arrive,

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they're guided in by these wonderful dots and spots within.

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Its common name, foxglove, denotes its connections with mankind.

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Every child who sees one of these plants

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wants to stick their fingers inside those bells and make their own gloves!

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Its Latin name, Digitalis purpurea, tells you a lot about the plant, too.

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Digit, like finger, and purpurea, this brilliant magnificent colour.

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It's typical of a woodland plant in that the bells are concentrated on one side.

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So it's searching for the light.

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And the structure is so beautifully and perfectly evolved.

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No one flower obscures the entrance to any of the other bells down here.

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Now, lots of us grow Digitalis purpurea in our own gardens.

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But they're just the start of the story!

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In the middle of the Wiltshire countryside,

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there's a nursery that I've always wanted to explore.

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I've met its owner many times at flower shows up and down the country,

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but this is the first time I've visited here.

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This place holds one of the national collections of foxgloves

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and I can't wait to take a closer look.

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I don't think I've ever, ever been to a nursery like this.

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You feel as though you're in the middle of the countryside.

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Yes, well, we are. This is the most southerly outpost of the Cotswolds.

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The wildlife has moved in. We've got a whole population of hedgehogs and rabbits

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and all sorts of things. We live and let live, pretty much.

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-I always had you down as a shrub man, initially.

-Yeah, woody plants.

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That's really why the foxgloves came into it

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because what grows better with shrubs than foxgloves?

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I think this is typical of the things that are all around your nursery,

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this lovely big mound of Euphorbia.

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-Which one is this?

-This is stygiana.

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It's got this marvellous honey scent.

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I wish everybody could smell it! It's so gorgeous,

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-and punctuated by - is this mertonensis?

-Mertonensis, yes.

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This is just one of how many foxgloves that you grow?

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Here we've got about 35 different named sorts.

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Is there any call for straightforward Digitalis purpurea?

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It's an absolute essential.

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It's got all the refined elegance of the wild plant.

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What a great idea, putting them all in a line so you can really see them.

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We have a thing called foxglove week

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-and all the digiologists in the country come and compare them!

-Digiologists?!

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They come to compare one foxglove with another.

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This seemed the most efficient way of doing it.

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They're all different forms, all different subtly from one another.

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That's QUITE different though, isn't it?

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That's Candy Mountain.

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Here, the flowerets are all pointing upwards.

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Essentially, they're edge of woodland or hedgerow plants, aren't they?

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They are, indeed. They like that sort of humus layer that you tend to get.

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In the garden, we can replicate that by using whatever humus or garden compost we've got

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just to create a nice moist layer on the surface of the soil.

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I love the way that in white foxgloves there's no trace of the purple, is there,

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in the stems, on the leaves, anything at all.

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If you want to create a mini Sissinghurst in your garden...

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-The White Garden?

-..the White Garden,

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you can do that in your own home garden.

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The best way to do it is to look through your seedlings and see how they're colouring up.

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I have a couple here which I was going to put in a bit later.

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See this one - no marking of purple on there at all.

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So that will go in with the white group.

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That's a purple foxglove, and that will go in the garden.

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It's plain to see, isn't it?

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I'll tell you what. I've always felt that white foxgloves have softer leaves, too.

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Digitalis purpurea are mainly biennial

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and they're essentially plants of northern Europe.

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But there are so many perennial foxgloves

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that can really grace our gardens and do things that Digitalis purpurea just can't do.

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Things like Digitalis lutea.

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Look at that with its tiny, dainty bells.

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Or this one, parviflora.

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Most of these perennial foxgloves are evergreen. Where they come from,

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the grow on the edge of woodland.

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But when you bring them into a British garden,

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you can put them out in full sun.

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Is this a shrub, or is it a foxglove?

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In actual fact, it's both!

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This is Digitalis canariensis, from high up in the mountains on the Canary Islands,

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where it's developed not only evergreen leaves

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which withstand Atlantic gales,

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but also this shrubby growth has no reason to die back to the ground in the winter.

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There are other ways of adapting to those sort of fierce conditions.

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It's Digitalis heywoodii

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and it comes from Portugal.

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It's got an entirely different way of coping with a hot, dry situation.

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In this case, its leaves are covered in this fine fur

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and it stops the leaves losing moisture.

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So, whether you want to create somewhere that reminds you of your Mediterranean holidays,

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or you want to recreate a woodland glade,

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there's a foxglove for you!

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Earlier, I said everything had grown really well and was healthy.

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Well, that's not quite true,

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because my garlic has got leek rust.

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You can see these orange pustules. It's a fungus.

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It affects the leaves and eventually they die back.

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It's not a disaster, but it does mean that it's over for that garlic.

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They need harvesting now, because it won't get any better.

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The bulb won't grow any more if the leaves are dying back.

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But the really interesting thing is not the fact that it's got rust,

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but it's so variable from variety to variety.

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So Vallelado, which I have here, is hit really badly,

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but the Elephant garlic hasn't been touched, right next to it.

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And on the other side, we've got Germidour, which is hit badly,

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just a foot away from Cristo, which is not too bad.

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It's thought that different strains of the fungus exist,

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so it's worth trying different varieties of garlic

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to see which is most resistant in your garden.

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I'm going to have to clear the ground later on,

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but I just want to try one, because it may well be

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that they're ready for harvest anyway.

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So, if I take that up - these were planted in October -

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you can see that we've got a small bulb

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but perfectly edible.

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Mmm, I love the smell of garlic.

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I love the smell, the taste, the health aspect of it.

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I never understand why people don't like it.

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Nigel, do you like garlic, Nige? How about that? Does that smell good?

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"Sort of"! Good boy. We'll harvest those later.

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In fact, I didn't come up here to look at my garlic.

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I came up to see how my potatoes were going on.

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Remember that I did a trial?

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These are Charlotte potatoes, second earlies,

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which can be treated as first earlies,

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which I've grown here in the soil, ridged up, earthed up,

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grown very conventionally.

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And I've also grown them in a raised bed very close together,

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and I haven't earthed those up or done anything to them at all.

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The point being, if the raised bed ones create as good a harvest as the conventional grown ones,

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then that's how I'll do them in future because it's really easy!

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Now, you don't harvest potatoes of any kind until they flower.

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But when you see them flowering, that's an indication

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that they're forming tubers.

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So obviously if they've just begun to flower, they're only just forming tubers.

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But if you want big baking potatoes or you want maximum harvest,

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wait till the flowering is finished or is finishing

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and then you can harvest them.

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OK.

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Make sure we don't damage them too much.

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The ground is quite dry.

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Pull that out. Look at that!

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These are less than three months old. That's less than 90 days,

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and here we go.

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That is not bad, is it?

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So this is two plants.

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Now, I would stress that if I left these for another week or so,

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each individual tuber would be bigger.

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But that's a good starter.

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Let's see how they got on in the raised bed.

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Let's pull out the tops.

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One...

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They seem to be a bit smaller.

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First impression.

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Which is what you would expect, because they've got less room.

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OK. I think that's the lot for there.

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So let's compare the two.

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Now, on the evidence of these first plants,

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and it is early days, you can't draw conclusions until you've checked them all,

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there's a very nice harvest from the conventional method

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and the tubers are good and big.

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But there are more potatoes in the raised bed

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and they've a good size if you're eating them as new potatoes.

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But certainly it's much less work growing them in a raised bed.

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You literally just make a hole and pop them in.

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Grow them in a grid and that's it. Do nothing else to them at all.

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So I would definitely suggest, if you've got good raised beds,

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grow new potatoes in them

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and save your open ground for main crop.

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Now, we can't harvest potatoes without doing one special thing.

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Nigel!

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Potato trick time, Nigel!

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Sit.

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This is a very beautiful thing.

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By the way, you shouldn't give dogs raw potatoes.

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But...

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Go on!

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Good boy! Don't eat it!

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Don't eat it. Good boy.

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Good boy.

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Right. You may not have potatoes. You may not have a dog that catches them off his nose!

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But here are some jobs you can be doing this weekend.

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Good boy!

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If you grow cordon tomatoes,

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you'll notice that side shoots form between the stem and the leaf.

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These grow at 45 degrees very vigorously.

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If you leave them, you'll get a tangled mess

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and not many extra tomatoes.

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Pinch them out when they're young.

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If you do the job in the morning,

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use your fingers and snap them off

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because they're turgid and full of liquid.

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If you try and snap them later in the day,

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often they'll tear the stem.

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So it's a good idea to use secateurs or a knife.

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If you have a greenhouse or conservatory,

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you'll do much more harm by letting it get too hot and dry

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than by keeping it well-ventilated and moist.

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Open all the doors and windows

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and water the floor as well as the plants.

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Apart from keeping the atmosphere cool and moist, which is healthy,

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it'll also keep problems like red spider mite at bay.

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To keep your roses flowering as long as possible,

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it's important to dead-head them regularly,

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and this is particularly true of all repeat-flowering roses.

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Don't just pull the petals off, but prune them back

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to the first leaf bud,

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even if this means taking off quite a lot of stem.

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This, in turn, will promote fresh growth

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and with it will come fresh flower buds.

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By dead-heading this particular rose regularly,

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it goes on flowering right into autumn. One word of caution.

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If you're growing roses that have really good hips

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and Rosa moyesii is a really good example of that,

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don't dead-head those flowers as you'll be cutting off the hips.

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Now, about the time that we started to make this garden, some 23 years ago,

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I was introduced to a brilliant young garden designer.

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His name was Dan Pearson

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and he's since gone on to become one of the leading designers in the world.

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He's been London-based during most of that time,

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but a couple of years ago, he bought a place in the country

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and started to make a garden for himself.

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A few weeks ago, Joe went down to Somerset

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to see how he's getting on.

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It took ten years to find,

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but finally, Dan Pearson has a landscape of his own to transform.

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And it's a real challenge.

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20 acres of rolling countryside.

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As a designer, Dan's created all kinds of gardens

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from an urban oasis for cancer sufferers

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to his work at the Millennium Forest in Japan,

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a space that aims to delight and surprise for 1,000 years!

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Oh, lovely cup of coffee. Thanks, Dan.

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This is such a beautiful spot.

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It's wonderful. It's the reason we came.

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Having gardened in London for years,

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suddenly you've got no boundaries.

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Your horizon is different. You think completely differently

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through having space around you, and garden in context with somewhere

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rather than within a box.

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I've planted an orchard and a nuttery.

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I did that straightaway so that that will be growing for the future.

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So you're feeling your way?

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It's a slow burner. You're in absolutely no rush!

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That's a good way of putting it.

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At the front of his house are some of his favourite plants.

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This is lovely as well. This is lovely!

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This is starting to get together things which might look nice together.

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The bronze fennel, this really beautiful Oenothera suphurea,

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and I thought it would be a beautiful thing to start naturalising here in drier places.

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This is a wild barley

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which I brought back from Greece as seed.

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I think it's perennial.

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I want there to be plants that grow in the planting year

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that make it look like a garden that was here many centuries ago.

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Almost as if it's self-seeded from the fields.

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From the fields into here. I've always gardened on the naturalistic side.

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I'm wanting to push it a bit further this time.

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'At the side of his house, he's developing a trial garden

0:20:330:20:36

'to see what plants will thrive here.'

0:20:360:20:38

Oh, wow!

0:20:400:20:42

This looks like fun!

0:20:420:20:44

It is an enormous amount of fun.

0:20:440:20:46

-This is your Noah's Ark of plants?

-Absolutely.

0:20:460:20:49

-This poppy...

-Isn't it beautiful?

-It's beautiful! What is it?

0:20:490:20:53

It's an opium poppy that I found when I was 19, down in Hampshire.

0:20:530:20:56

I was on a cycle ride. I sent a letter to the person in the house,

0:20:560:21:02

saying, "Please can I have some seed?" They wrote back and said, "Help yourself!"

0:21:020:21:05

The scale of Dan's ambition is truly impressive.

0:21:070:21:11

He's got so much space to play with.

0:21:110:21:13

I started using some of the garden plants which I'm growing here

0:21:140:21:18

which are man enough to deal with it

0:21:180:21:20

amongst the natural vegetation here.

0:21:200:21:23

So I get that slightly heightened naturalistic look.

0:21:230:21:27

Are you trying to create surprises here

0:21:270:21:30

that you wouldn't expect to see in a natural landscape to a degree?

0:21:300:21:33

Absolutely. I don't want to see that there's anything ornamental going on here from a distance.

0:21:330:21:38

But I want to discover it when I get down here.

0:21:380:21:41

You'll suddenly see that it's iris Gerald Darby with the dark stems

0:21:410:21:45

and that amazing blue flower,

0:21:450:21:48

or there'll be a giant meadowsweet from Japan

0:21:480:21:49

which is three times the size in terms of its leaves.

0:21:490:21:54

-So they've got to be able to battle it out in there.

-They have.

0:21:540:21:56

-It's the survival of the fittest!

-Totally.

0:21:560:21:58

This is part of the big experiment.

0:21:580:22:00

'And on a site this big, there's plenty of room to encourage wild flowers.'

0:22:050:22:10

I'm experimenting with some old pasture

0:22:100:22:13

that I've over-seeded with yellow rattle.

0:22:130:22:16

It's a semi-parasite.

0:22:160:22:18

It's an annual and it weakens the grass

0:22:180:22:21

which then allows this window of opportunity

0:22:210:22:24

for the wild flowers which are growing amongst it to take a hold.

0:22:240:22:29

My ultimate aim with this is to get orchids self-seeding, which are in other meadows nearby.

0:22:290:22:35

And if I can get the orchids in here, I'll start to feel like I'm really achieving something!

0:22:350:22:40

It's about finding this meeting point between the ornamental garden which I'm going to make

0:22:420:22:46

and this naturalistic space, so the wild places come up as close as they can to the ornamental garden.

0:22:460:22:52

Gardening is a fascinating process

0:22:530:22:55

and really it's not the end result,

0:22:550:22:57

it's being in it and doing it that is the thing that really makes me tick.

0:22:570:23:02

So I'm very happy for this to run another 30 years.

0:23:020:23:05

There's an exhibition of Dan's work at the Garden Museum in Lambeth in London.

0:23:130:23:17

It's open from now till October 20, so do go along and see it.

0:23:170:23:21

And for more details about that and anything else on today's programme, go to our website.

0:23:210:23:26

I really like the way that Dan is allowing the garden to evolve

0:23:280:23:33

and he doesn't know where it's going to go or how long it'll take, but enjoying the process.

0:23:330:23:37

That's what we've done here at Long Meadow over the last 23-odd years.

0:23:370:23:40

But no change has been bigger than here at the Mound.

0:23:400:23:44

Over the years, this is just a pile of soil that's built up

0:23:440:23:47

from paths and ponds and building work

0:23:470:23:49

and with quite a lot of rubble underneath, too.

0:23:490:23:52

And for the last few months, behind the scenes,

0:23:520:23:54

we've been transforming this into a new garden in its own right.

0:23:540:23:58

So it's got a fire pit where we can have our bonfires

0:23:580:24:01

and also sit round a fire on a winter's night,

0:24:010:24:03

a fabulous view over the countryside,

0:24:030:24:05

what will be a meadow on top,

0:24:050:24:08

borders down below on a lower terrace,

0:24:080:24:11

and then steep banks which we'll plant up.

0:24:110:24:13

And all the plants here, whether they be hedges, shrubs, wild flowers, herbaceous perennials,

0:24:130:24:20

will be native.

0:24:200:24:22

And this is the perfect site.

0:24:220:24:24

You've got the fabulous view out into the countryside,

0:24:240:24:26

and it means that you have plants that blend and drift out into the landscape.

0:24:260:24:31

And the final thing that I love about native plants

0:24:310:24:34

is they are the best way of attracting insects into your garden.

0:24:340:24:38

And the more insects you have in the garden, the healthier it will be.

0:24:380:24:42

The real planting, the flower planting,

0:24:450:24:47

begins here

0:24:470:24:49

on what will be a wildflower meadow.

0:24:490:24:51

When you're preparing any area of meadow,

0:24:510:24:55

you still need to dig it over as though you were preparing a border.

0:24:550:24:59

So this has been dug, it's been raked once,

0:24:590:25:03

and I'm just raking it again to get the worst of the stones.

0:25:030:25:06

Now, what I'm after here is long grass

0:25:120:25:15

absolutely packed with wild flowers.

0:25:150:25:18

And you can buy all that. If you tell the supplier, and in the days of the internet, it's dead easy,

0:25:180:25:24

whether it's chalky soil, heavy clay, sunny, shady, whatever,

0:25:240:25:28

they will supply you with a mix that fits that set of circumstances.

0:25:280:25:34

Now, it's really important to follow the instructions

0:25:340:25:38

and particularly not to sow the seed too thick.

0:25:380:25:41

This is recommended to be sown at about four grams per square metre.

0:25:410:25:46

We've got roughly 20 square metres there.

0:25:460:25:49

So that's about 80 grams.

0:25:490:25:52

Now, 80 grams looks something like that.

0:25:520:25:56

And a tip to make it easier,

0:25:560:25:59

is then to add about nine times as much sand.

0:25:590:26:04

Like that.

0:26:040:26:05

And then mix it up thoroughly.

0:26:050:26:08

I'll be able to see where I've sown

0:26:080:26:10

and if the sand is spread evenly, then so is the seed.

0:26:100:26:14

It will seem scary if you haven't done this before.

0:26:150:26:18

You won't believe that it will make a really decent display of flowers and grass.

0:26:180:26:24

But believe you me, it will.

0:26:240:26:26

Now, if you're very particular, you can divide the area up

0:26:280:26:33

into metre squares, using bamboo or string.

0:26:330:26:36

But I prefer to just do it by eye.

0:26:360:26:38

Now, this seed does not want to be buried.

0:26:490:26:52

It wants to lie pretty much on the surface of the soil.

0:26:520:26:54

So just rake it lightly to make sure that it's spread evenly.

0:26:540:26:59

Now, what I'm holding in my head while I'm doing this

0:27:030:27:06

is that this is going to be a tall, beautiful, wispy, colourful meadow.

0:27:060:27:14

A flowering meadow is about as lovely as any border could ever aspire to be.

0:27:140:27:20

And that's what you're making from this unlikely beginning.

0:27:200:27:24

This time next year, I think this will just be looking stunning.

0:27:240:27:28

Now, the next stage, and the final one,

0:27:290:27:31

is to firm the seed into the soil.

0:27:310:27:34

So I'm going to use my feet and just tread it gently.

0:27:340:27:37

Contact with the soil is really important

0:27:380:27:41

to ensure good germination.

0:27:410:27:44

So this is not about levelling the soil at all.

0:27:440:27:47

It's all about pushing the seed tight up against the ground.

0:27:470:27:52

If you've got a roller, that would do the job perfectly well.

0:27:530:27:56

It is really important to keep your seeds watered

0:28:080:28:13

every day.

0:28:130:28:15

And keep on watering it until it's properly germinated and is growing strongly.

0:28:150:28:20

You don't have to sluice it down, just a fine mist will do,

0:28:200:28:23

but just keep it moist. Don't let it dry out.

0:28:230:28:25

We shall be back at the normal time next week,

0:28:260:28:28

but Carol, Joe and myself will also be at Tatton Park Flower Show.

0:28:280:28:31

So join us at Tatton and Long Meadow. See you then. Bye-bye!

0:28:310:28:35

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:440:28:47

Monty Don makes a start on his new wild flower garden at Longmeadow and at last gets to taste the first new potatoes of the year. He also demonstrates how a radical chop of some border plants now can rejuvenate them for later in the season.

Carol Klein celebrates a cottage garden favourite, the foxglove, and Joe Swift drops in on world renowned garden designer, Dan Pearson, to find out what he's got in store for his new garden.


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