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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.
Now, I know we're coming to the end of August
and the school holidays are coming to an end,
and summer is disappearing.
But September's coming and I love September.
It's one of my favourite months. You still have glorious weather,
but cooler nights, and that lovely light
which just makes everything seem as though it's lit from within.
But, here at Longmeadow, it is the driest month of the year.
Because it's so dry here, we have to water.
And this is the harvest season.
We want to keep things going for as long as possible.
But it is important to water wisely.
Don't worry about brassica at this stage, or even root crops.
But water plants like courgettes, or lettuce, or sweetcorn,
where the moisture will actively benefit the condition
and quality of the harvest. And, also, never sprinkle.
Water in a jet, if possible, with a watering can or a hosepipe
at the roots,
so all the water goes into the roots and then into the plant.
Finally, if you can, water in the morning or the evening.
This week, we meet a gardener in Derbyshire who's been growing
and showing gladioli all his life.
The world of gladioli showing can get very competitive.
But those rivals are some of my best friends.
And Carol is at Glebe Cottage,
celebrating that late-summer jewel, the crocosmia.
How could you resist growing something like that?
I shall be taking cuttings from pelargoniums to make sure
I have a decent supply for next year, and also I've come up
with a solution to that age-old problem of dry shade.
We tend to think of bulbs as something that belongs to spring.
And we're soon coming up to the time when we'll have to be planting our spring bulbs.
But there are autumn bulbs, too.
Now, I've got here a bag of bulbs of colchicums
which flower September time.
This is Colchicum speciosum "Album".
White flowers for the white garden, or Writing Garden.
The meadow saffron, which is Colchicum autumnale,
is our native colchicum. SHEEP BLEATS
And... Thank you very much, noises off.
..and that grows in meadows
but tends to be eliminated because it's poisonous to stock.
If those lambs ate this, they really would be very unwell indeed.
In fact, after you've handled colchicums, wash your hands.
Now, they're not a bulb at all. In fact, they're a corm
but really singular because they've got this tail,
or rudder, at the base.
And these are whoppers.
Speciosum "Album" is especially big and it's a good plant
because not only has it lovely, white flowers, but it's robust.
And one of the problems with colchicums is that they tend
to be really bashed about by weather.
But if you want just one that's a bit more robust,
Colchicum speciosum "Album" is a good 'un.
What they really like is sunshine.
They open out in the sun, so if you choose a site,
whether it be grass or a border, make sure it does get plenty of sun.
Now, here in the Writing Garden, the sun is very bright
and it comes through. It's slightly shaded by these apples,
but I'm going to give these a bit of a prune in winter.
So, if I plant these on this side,
I think they should perform really well.
Now, these corms are enormous.
But they do need to be buried deeply.
At least four inches above the top, and six inches is better.
So, you need a spade, not a trowel.
And they're quite expensive, but not ridiculous.
They're about £1.50 to £2.00 or plus, each one.
By planting these today, they will flower this autumn,
so if you want to get some, get them in the ground quickly
and then you can enjoy them this year.
The soil needs to be rich and quite moist.
So although they like sun, they don't like very dry soil.
So if you've got very dry sandy soil,
add some leaf mould or garden compost.
But the cycle is very much a question of growth of foliage
in spring and early summer that dies back to nothing,
and then the flowers emerge.
And because the flowers emerge without any foliage,
their old-fashioned name was Naked Ladies.
# There was Adam
# Happy as a man could be
# To leave God a-messing with that old apple tree
# Ain't that just like a woman
# Yes, that's just like a woman... #
So, put the tail in the ground. Acts as an anchor.
And that will go on growing for years and years.
With many bulbs, a cluster or a group often looks much better.
But with these colchicums, you do need to give them room.
I would allow at least 12 inches between them
because they've fairly broad foliage.
# Ain't that just like a woman
# Ain't that just like a woman
# Yes, that's just like a woman
# They'll do it every time. #
Well, I think these will thrive here.
The sunshine, there will be more
when I've done my winter pruning, they're sheltered
so they won't get too bashed by the wind and rain,
and, of course, they've got marvellous white flowers
that will look great with the other white flowers in the Writing Garden.
And the great thing about colchicums is they are a marker of the season.
They say "autumn".
One of the celebrations of late summer, August, for me,
They are a plant that I find works well by using the richness
and the diversity of their colour range in borders,
but we went to visit a grower
who grows them on their own, by the hundred.
And he's a champion gladioli grower.
It's having that colour and brightness in my life
that gladiolis can provide that is the attraction.
It's the little tiny ones that are an inch and a half across.
There are big beauties that are eight inches across.
Every colour you can imagine. Dark purples, dark red, pure white.
You've got everything that you could really want.
I've been growing gladioli now for close on 30 years.
The buzz for me is actually growing them to the best of my ability
and to the best of the flower's ability.
I think the first large show I did, I went to Harrogate.
And then that's when things really started taking off.
To be comfortable, they need a light, sandy soil, really.
They also need quite a bit of water because one of the criteria
we're looking for is the amount of buds on the actual flower spike.
The perfect show-flower will have a nice proportion of open flowers
and flowers in bud, and appears in a nice teardrop sort of shape.
A little trick of the trade to sort of try and achieve that
is you can actually get a little piece of cotton wool
and just pop it behind the floret and position it
so that it faces the right way.
And to actually accentuate the size of the flower,
you can actually pop some into the centre, there,
do it very gently in the warmth of the day,
not in the early hours of the morning,
because the petals'll crack, and that'll be the flower ruined.
Just spreads the petals out,
gets a good size onto the actual open floret.
Leave it for a couple of hours, take it out
and then it'll actually stay in that new position
and form part of what will hopefully be a championship bloom.
Years ago, we were always told that gladioli weren't hardy
and you should dig them out every winter.
For the show grower, that is still the case.
They dig them out every winter
but you can actually leave your gladioli in the ground
and you might get one bad winter where they may get hit,
but the rest of the time, they should come up, year after year.
This one's Andy O This is a small flower variety.
It is a personal favourite. I've been growing it for about 20 years.
It's not very widespread at all.
One of the reasons for that is it's quite prone to diseases and viruses.
And for every five you plant,
you may end up losing two or three throughout the season.
In a way, it's like a personal conservation project.
I like to keep it going. On top of that,
it really riles one of my rivals when I've got this one.
The world of gladioli showing can get very competitive.
But those rivals are some of my best friends.
We meet up probably every weekend during the summer months.
We like to see a good flower, whether it's our own or somebody else's.
Over a year, I grow 500 plants in the allotment,
but I've also got a small stash on my next door neighbour's garden.
A chap called Reg. Everybody should have a Reg.
He's kind enough to let me grow my Primulinus types on his garden.
They're little beauties, really.
And they're probably the closest thing to what exists in the wild.
I like them, A, because they're so different to the big blowsy ones,
but they're a type of flower that really has disappeared
out of commercial use now, and they've been kept going
by hybridists, so I sort of half grow them just to keep them
ticking over and keep them going so that they're still there.
There's two secrets to growing gladioli
successfully at a national level. One is TLC - tender loving care.
You need to put the time and effort in.
And the second one is a very, very understanding family.
They know it makes me happy,
and I suppose that rubs off on the rest of the family as well.
Seeing Nigel's gladioli in their rows
with their intense colour reminds me - actually,
I'd forgotten this for years -
that my mother used to grow gladioli as cut flowers.
And they were always grown in the vegetable garden,
each with a single stake in rows
and then cut in these sprays that used to be brought in. NIGEL WHINES
What's the matter? Oh, the ball's in here. Sorry.
Well, it's over here, Nige. There. Good boy.
Now, gladioli must have sunshine.
And one of the most common problems,
the most common letters we get here is the lack of sun. Shade.
What do you grow in deep shade? I've got a few letters here.
And these are just a small representation.
"I've got a small patch of garden approximately 2ft by 3ft long
"at the side of my house.
"And it's in shade for most of the year, except in high summer.
"I feel I'm not using it to full potential.
"Can you tell me what to grow there?" And that's Jane Shephard.
"I've got a spruce tree in my garden which has a protection order on it
"and underneath is total shade. Can you help please?"
Well, yes, I can.
Because we have exactly this problem here at Longmeadow.
This area, which is called, rather grandly, the Lime Walk,
and that's simply because of the lime trees that I put in there.
We had tulips here in spring, and then in summer,
it was followed by... It tended to be bedding plants,
but for the last three, four years, it's got shadier and shadier,
and nothing really thrives. I mean, you can see. This is it.
High summer. This is the display.
I want to restore it so it looks really good.
But to do that I've got to grow something
that will thrive in dry shade.
Ferns are the answer.
What I've decided to do is completely change
the feel of this part of the garden. This is not something to do lightly.
I thought about this for ages.
The Lime Walk is becoming Fern Alley.
And I've chosen two particular ferns,
so we have Dryopteris filix-mas
and then the very similar but subtly different, Dryopteris affinis.
In terms of growing, Affinis will tolerate more light.
Dryopteris filix-mas you can grow in almost total shade.
And both will grow about twice the height of that.
So, they'll get up to about 3ft tall.
And the reason why I've chosen this and the other Dryopteris is
because they're so architectural.
And with the fronds creating their shuttlecock shape...
..and catching the light, this will look fantastic!
This is an opportunity rather than a problem.
The border is very narrow. The hedge has grown out,
the lime trees have grown, the roots are sucking up all the moisture.
Of course, if you have only a small area, 2ft by 3ft,
you could fill it with ferns.
There's no need to feed it. No need to add any compost.
If your soil is very heavy clay,
then maybe adding a bit of leaf mould will help,
just to lighten the root run and increase the drainage,
and remember to water them in,
and if they look particularly dry,
until next spring, just give them another water.
These plants are not evergreen,
so that they will die back and get a bit ragged.
Ferns always get a bit beaten about by the weather
but then they can be tidied up and of course the new fronds will appear
in spring, and what I realised this is doing
is it's changing part of this garden.
It's becoming something else and I think that's exciting.
And it's all part of the fact that ferns are not second-class citizens.
They're strong, beautiful plants and should be celebrated as such.
And of course, the perfect answer
to what seems like a really tricky part of the garden.
Now, you might not be planting ferns this weekend
but here are some other things you can do.
Unlike redcurrants, which are best pruned in spring,
I like to prune blackcurrants immediately after fruiting
and certainly by the end of summer.
The idea is to prune out the oldest growth,
cutting right down to the ground,
which leaves more room for the first and second year shoots
that will bear the most fruit next year.
Spring cabbage needs to be sown as soon as possible if it's to stand
any chance of growing into healthy, young plants.
Sow them thinly into a seed tray or individual plugs,
and put them somewhere warm to germinate.
They can then be potted on
before transplanting to their final position later in October.
Another job that is small but well worth doing
is to dead-head buddleias.
This not only improves the appearance of the plant
but also encourages a second flush of flowers which will provide
an important source of nectar for bees and butterflies.
The Jewel Garden really comes into its own at this time of year.
At the end of summer, all the colours are richer and more intense.
That's partly for the choice of plants,
whether it be the dahlias and the cannas,
buddleias and crocosmia, these all intrinsically have rich colours
but it's also to do with the light,
because the light at the end of August and throughout September
is lower and it picks up the velvety richness of these tones,
and it is important when you're planning the colour scheme of a garden
to think the light that hits it is going to affect it just as much
as the choice of colour itself.
Talking about brightness and colour, there's scarcely a colour
at any time of year in any kind of garden that is brighter
than the crocosmia Lucifer.
Down at Glebe Cottage,
Carol is celebrating crocosmia in all its glory.
As summer progresses, the garden develops.
Everything becomes richer, fuller, riper.
The soft pastels of June and early July are replaced by fiery reds,
sizzling oranges and brilliant yellows.
Crocosmias have arrived.
Crocosmias come from South Africa and they just remind us
of the debt our gardens owe to plants gathered from all over the world.
This is Crocosmia "Gerbe D'Or",
sometimes called Coleton "Fishacre".
Just look at these glowing golden flowers
and these beautiful bronze leaves.
If you rub the leaves, they smell of saffron
and that's where crocosmias get their name.
From "krokos", Greek for saffron.
They have this wonderful wandering habit.
It's very gentle but it fits in perfectly
with a naturalistic approach.
They just want to be themselves
but how could you resist growing something like that?
That's "Emily McKenzie". Perfection.
Mark Walsh has been captivated by crocosmia for almost 15 years.
He's been collecting, growing and hybridising new varieties
at his nursery in Cornwall,
and made frequent trips to see the species growing wild in South Africa.
What did you feel like, the very first time you saw a crocosmia?
I had a shiver down my spine when I saw them.
After growing them for so many years in my own garden
and then finally going to see them in the wild, nothing better.
Have you brought any of them back with you?
Seed has been sent for me.
I go to photograph them and then later on of course the seed comes,
so maybe a year or two later some seed will arrive,
and a few years after that you'll get them into flower.
There's one crocosmia in particular that's got a bit of a bad reputation though.
You'll be talking about Montbretia, won't you, or the common name.
It was bred back in late 19th century by a chap called Victor Lemoine
and he's down in Nancy in France,
and he brought together these two.
This one is one called pottsii,
with its pretty little tubular flowers,
it doesn't even really look like a crocosmia. So dainty.
Beautiful. So somebody collected this and sent this to you?
Yes, they did, and then the cross was made with this one,
which is a wide, different flower.
This lives in the forests of South Africa.
So graceful. Is this aurea?
What did each of them contribute to Montbretia?
Well, this one is an incredibly vigorous plant
and that's what brought the vigour into Montbretia,
but this one brought the beautiful large flowers,
and it was a combination of the two that created what we know today.
So as much as Montbretia is notorious,
I suppose the most famous crocosmia is Lucifer.
It certainly is, and if you see any other crocosmia in somebody's garden
then it's sure to be those bright fiery red flowers of Lucifer
standing at the back of the border.
So what are its parents?
You know, they came from two different species in the wild.
One of them is this one here, this is paniculata.
Sometimes it's golden or sometimes it's red, like this one here,
but both of them always have these burnt ember-type buds and also
these elegant flowers, very different to the others we've looked at,
and those flowers are shaped just the same shape as the beak of the
Malachite Sunbird, which flutters around them and pollinates them.
It's a wonderful sight to see.
The other parent that created Lucifer was this one here - masoniorum.
Just look at the shape of the flowers.
This time you've a long arching stem with up to 30 buds on there.
Just a gorgeous plant, ready to grow in the garden.
And all opening in succession from the base stem.
If you really want your crocosmias to perform,
then it's essential to carry out a very simple operation
every couple of years.
Crocosmias make chains of corms.
The new one builds on top of the old one.
You do this in March so there wouldn't be any shoots there,
but the corms would be big and fat and raring to go.
Here are the old corms, probably two years old, three years old.
On top of that, a new one was made that produced last year's flower
and all you do is literally snap that top one off.
Dig your hole, make sure it's full of good compost, sink the corm in,
cover it over, and plant them just a few inches apart,
so you get this lovely, natural, flowing effect.
Crocosmias have evolved for thousands and thousands of years
in their native South Africa,
and they bring brilliant colour to the late summer border.
Just when you think it's all over, they say "it's just getting going".
This is the best time of year to take cuttings.
That's because plants have put on new growth,
so it's got lots of energy, they've hardened off enough
so that they don't just wither and die within minutes,
but they've got enough freshness in them to react
if they're put in the right conditions to produce roots
and what's good about taking cuttings now
is that they will root and then you can store
quite small plants over winter, ready for growing next spring.
Whereas on plants like pelargoniums,
storing them in any quantity can take up a lot of space.
The secret of taking pelargonium cuttings is to take your cutting
as near to the growing tip as possible.
There's no virtue... If you have this, this is Lady Plymouth,
one of the scented leaf pelargoniums,
and just for your benefit, you'll have to believe me...
That smells wonderfully fragrant.
Lemony, musky - fabulous.
And if I took a cutting, this is new material here, right down to there
I'd have a big cutting but it wouldn't necessarily give me a bigger plant.
What we're looking for is new, non-flowering growth,
and as near to the top of the growth as possible.
So if I just snip this off there.
And if I left it like that, there's an awful lot of leaf
and that's going to lose moisture, so I need to reduce
the amount of leaf to give it a fighting chance until
it's produced roots, which then can feed moisture back into the plant.
So, as ever, with a sharp knife, I take that leaf off there...
..and this one off here.
Now that's fine.
We've got plenty of foliage to feed it, but not so much to stress it
and strain it before it's got roots.
Now the compost mix for any cuttings wants to be very free draining.
What I've mixed up here is some compost mixed with grit
and vermiculite. Take a pencil.
And pop that in the edge there, like that.
And I would expect that to root.
Now, if I take another cutting from here, like that.
I'm just going to cut this below the leaf.
In my experience - that will take easily.
However, I have been told that to boost the striking rate and also
the root growth of pelargonium cuttings, you can use vitamin C.
And all you do is take a vitamin C tablet,
the type of which you can buy almost anywhere.
Pop it in some water. So it dissolves.
And then dip your cutting into the water.
What I'm going to do is do one whole pot of identical cuttings
that have used vitamin C, and one pot that hasn't.
We'll monitor and see which one grows better plants.
This pot, they've been dipped in vitamin C.
This pot, they haven't had anything at all. We'll see.
Now I shall water those but put them somewhere warm and dry
because it's important to keep the roots moist when they form
but the leaves dry,
so don't put them in a polythene bag or a mist propagator.
Then, when you see new growth, we can think about pricking them out
and growing them on.
But that's it for this week, and we're not on air next week
because there will be athletics instead.
However, we are back in a fortnight's time,
so I'll see you here at Long Meadow then. Bye-bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
As August draws to a close, Monty Don turns his attention to autumn and tackles that perennial problem of what to grow in the shade of a tree or shrub. He also takes cuttings of his favourite pelargoniums - an essential task at this time of year.
Carol Klein takes a closer look at that late summer jewel, the crocosmia, and we meet a gardener in Derbyshire who has spent a lifetime growing and showing gladioli.