Episode 25 Gardeners' World


Episode 25

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Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World.

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As we come into October, I always really look forward

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to my favourite harvest of all, which are quinces.

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And I'm just testing to see if they're right,

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because they do tend to drop into the water.

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But just by putting my finger on it and levering up,

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you then get this lovely, downy fruit.

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And quinces are the most fragrant of all fruits,

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and add depth and subtlety to any apple dish,

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you can roast it with meat, they really, really are delicious.

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This week, Carol goes to North Wales

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in search of a statuesque wild flower, the eupatorium.

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When you examine these flat heads,

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you find they are composed of lots of separate florets,

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and every single one of them is rich in nectar.

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And we visit a grower in County Down in Northern Ireland,

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whose passion for daffodils has taken over his life.

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Now, as well as celebrating and harvesting quinces,

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October certainly is time to get daffodils into the ground,

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and as quickly as possible.

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And I shall be planting some lovely white ones into my writing garden.

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I'm also thinking, quite early on, I admit, about Christmas.

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I shall be planting up some bulbs that will flower at home

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at Christmas, and also some I intend to give as Christmas presents.

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Come on, Nige.

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Come on!

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Now, last week, I went to Rosemoor

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and saw apple trees trained as espaliers and stepovers,

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that were really productive, but took up very little room.

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Here at Longmeadow, 15 years ago, I planted this orchard.

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And the trees were tiny,

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but they were on very vigorous root stocks, because I wanted them to

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grow into what's called standards, that is trees with a bare trunk.

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But it does mean that collecting the fruit is quite a caper.

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I can't just reach out and pluck it,

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sometimes I have to climb up a long way.

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But I like to store as many apples as possible,

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and when you store an apple, it must be perfect and unblemished.

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This apple harvest isn't an event, it's a process, because when you've

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got a big tree like this, they ripen over a period of about a month.

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The ones that get the most sun come first,

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then the last ones will follow, four or five weeks later.

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So, I'll pick half a dozen times.

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And then, different trees ripen at different times, because they're

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in different groups.

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The very early ones will start ripening in early September,

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and the last in this orchard is November.

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So it's quite a long, slow harvest.

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Right, the next part of the process, having picked them,

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is to go and store them so they'll last well.

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What are you doing?

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Having gone to a lot of trouble to pick them carefully,

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now you must think how to store them.

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Now, for years, we've used this -

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actually, it's an old bread rack that a bakery used to use,

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that I think we bought for about a tenner, 15 years ago, and have

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used it for storage ever since, and it does the job really well.

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What you need is something that is slatted,

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so you can get air around them.

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And also, the whole point of storing an apple is to keep

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the moisture, to slow down the drying-out rate.

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So, somewhere cool, but not frosty, dark and reasonably moist.

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A shed, a cellar, anything like that would be perfect.

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As you store each one, just check that it's not blemished,

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and put it on a slat, like that. And I'm handling them really carefully.

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It's worth taking trouble. Because these will store

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right through until next spring,

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and actually, they'll probably be better around Christmas time

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than they are now.

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The critical thing is, they must not touch,

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there must be a gap between them.

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Now, you can see I've got one here, that's got insect damage on it.

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I couldn't see it when I picked it, so I won't store that.

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I'm going to put that on the ground,

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and that will get eaten straightaway.

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And the beauty of this is, if you've got enough room,

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it's really easy to store enough apples to eat them every day,

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right through until at least the following March,

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and they always, always, taste better than apples that you buy.

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This is a treat, and you can have a treat every day.

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Now, it's not only the season of apples,

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it's certainly time to be planting daffodils.

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But it can be difficult to know which ones to choose,

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because there are an awful lot of different types and varieties.

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And we went to Northern Ireland, to meet a man who grows a huge

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range and is passionate about every one of them.

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I'm a very lucky chap, in that I'm doing something I love,

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and I absolutely adore daffodils and I love breeding them.

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I became involved with daffodils

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after having sat beside a chap called Frank Harrison at dinner.

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He said that he bred daffodils, I said I loved daffodils,

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but I was particularly keen on Narcissus.

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And he looked at me and he said, "They're both the same thing."

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Anyway, after that, he said, "Come and have a look at my daffodils,"

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which I did, and I was hooked.

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I was amazed by the variety, the amount of colour,

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the different forms and everything, and from then, I never looked back.

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We've been breeding for, I think, 16 years now.

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Frank Harrison always said that I should never lose

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track of the fact that a daffodil is a garden plant,

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it's not something that has to be nurtured in a hothouse, a softy.

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It has to be a tough flower.

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He would pick a flower and he would just wave it, like this.

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And if the head came off, he said that was absolutely no use

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as a garden plant, because it's got to be able to stand up

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in the wind and rain. And this is a nice one,

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known as 'Connelly', one of his breeding,

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so I'm very glad the head stayed on!

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Daffodils, for ease of classification,

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are listed into divisions.

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Now, there are 13 divisions, but there are only really nine

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that are of import to the average gardener.

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Division one are the large trumpet daffodils,

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that's where the trumpet is as long as the petal.

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Division two are the large-cupped daffodils,

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so their cup is over a third of the length of the petal.

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Division three are the small-cupped, where the cup

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is less than a third of the length of the petal.

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Division four are the doubles -

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doubled like a rose, almost.

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Division five is the hybrid of the triandrus species, and it usually

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hangs its head, bell-like flowers, and often 2 to 3 to the stem.

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Division six is the cyclamineus hybrids.

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It should have a nice, long trumpet,

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but should also have the petals swept well back.

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Division seven are the hybrids of the jonquilla, they have a very

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sweet and nice scent, smallish flowers, two to three to the head.

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Division eight are the tazettas,

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that most people know as 'Paperwhite'.

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They are the ones that the Scilly Isles are well-known for.

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Division nine are the poeticus,

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everyone knows the 'Pheasant's Eye' Poeticus recurvus.

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People have preconceived ideas about daffodils,

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they all think of Wordsworth and waves of yellow daffodils.

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But there are very nice white daffodils,

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there are very nice pink daffodils.

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I always say to people, if they look at something and say, "Ooh, that's not a daffodil,"

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I say, "Well, look at it. It's a lovely flower, isn't it?"

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This particular flower is a seedling, it hasn't got a name,

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and is yellow and pink.

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This one in particular, although it's small,

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for the last few years has been winning at the RHS shows.

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It's very flat, smooth, the petals don't tear,

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and if you look at almost every one,

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it's the same, they're virtually perfect.

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This is the double, it's a variety known as 'Crackington',

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the interesting thing about this is the challenge to the breeders.

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Doubles have a problem, in that they are like a sponge and they soak

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up the water, so if you haven't got a strong stem, they just collapse.

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This particular variety doesn't, this actually stands up to it.

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I'm now trying to shrink the plant, so you get these lovely

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daffodils which can fit into pots, or into small gardens.

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I'm also very keen to develop a replacement to Tete-a-tete.

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I think people are beginning to get a bit bored of Tete-a-tete,

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which appears every Christmas, and if I can produce a nice

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variety which is different to Tete-a-tete and have plant breeder's

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rights on it, I can retire and drive my Rolls-Royce around the place!

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Do you know, even if Nial made a vast fortune from his new

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type of daffodil, my guess is he wouldn't stop work,

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because he clearly loves them. And what's surprising about that?

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We all love daffodils.

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And there is bound to be one, out of that huge variety,

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that works almost in every situation and every kind of garden.

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And here in the writing garden, I obviously want to add white flowers.

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No daffodils planted as yet,

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so I've chosen a variety called 'Thalia', which is

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from group five, the triandrus group,

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so it's got an elegant stem, multiple heads and then

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fairly small, but really charming, white flowers.

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Now, it doesn't matter what type of daffodil you're going to plant,

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the technique is much the same.

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These are going in a border, so the soil is essentially soft.

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If I was planting into turf, you need to take out a plug,

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and it's really worth, if you are planting anything more than

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a handful, buying a bulb planter.

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And that will take out a plug of soil, you pop the bulb in,

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and you put the plug you've taken out back on top of it,

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like putting a dowel in a hole.

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That doesn't really work in a border,

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because the soil is too soft.

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You can use a long trowel, you can buy bulb-planting trowels

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and they work fine, that's perfectly good.

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But actually, what I tend to use in the border is this lovely thing.

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I don't think you'll be able to buy one, I've certainly

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never seen it for sale. It is essentially a pointed stick,

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but actually, it is a commercial bulb-planter,

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which I picked up in a sale and it's just a nice, hefty,

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pointed stick with a bar that you can put your foot on

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and just press down in the ground and there is your hole.

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And the key thing

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when you're planting permanently in a border is to plant nice and deep.

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If you've got the bulbs here, you take one out, like that,

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what you want to try and do is have the equivalent of

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two bulbs on top of it, below the surface of the soil.

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So, that's one bulb, then another bulb,

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and that's how deep it wants to go.

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That will do two things.

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One, the bulb will grow better for it, and two,

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because it's in a border, you've got less likelihood of digging it up.

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When you're planting daffodils into grass,

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the time-honoured technique is to take a handful of bulbs

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and just throw them onto the ground and plant them wherever

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they land, and that tends to look the most natural way of doing it.

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Of course, you can't really do that in a border,

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so there are two ways of going about it.

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Either you just put them wherever there's a bare space,

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which is what I'm doing here, or if it's an empty border, if it's

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all bare space, you can divide it into squares, just by using sticks.

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Equal sized squares and allocate the same number of bulbs to each square.

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But then, don't worry about whether you plant them regularly,

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some could be packed in the middle, some could be round the outside,

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that doesn't matter.

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Daffodil bulbs should go on flowering

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year after year after year.

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So, it's worth treating them well when you plant.

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And just a handful of grit in the bottom of each hole,

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so the bulb is sitting on grit,

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and that means that it'll never be sitting in a puddle of water.

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This heavy soil certainly can get very wet.

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Right.

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And then the only other thing to bear in mind when you're planting,

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is try and put them the right way up.

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If in doubt - pointy way up.

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Roots growing from a flat plate at the bottom,

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and the flowering stem will come from the sharp end.

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Now, it's very straightforward.

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All I've got to do is finish planting the whole border.

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And, obviously, planting daffodils is something to be

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getting on with this weekend, if possible.

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If you're not planting daffodils,

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here are some other things you could be doing.

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If you have a citrus plant covered by a horrible black mould,

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there's a good chance it has become infested with scale insect.

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Look for brown limpet-like creatures and remove them

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with the back of your thumbnail.

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Mould grows on the sugary honeydew excreted by the insects.

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Gently rub this off with some very dilute soapy water.

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October is a good time to be moving herbaceous perennials.

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Because the soil is still warm,

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the roots will have time to establish before winter sets in.

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To avoid stressing the plant,

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cut off the foliage before giving it a good drink.

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As the days get shorter and the nights grow colder,

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it's worth giving salad crops a bit of extra protection.

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Either throw a layer of fleece over them,

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or insulate them with a cloche.

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Not only will this help protect them from frost, it'll keep them

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growing for a bit longer too.

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Now, I quite often get letters in envelopes that contain

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bits of plants, more often than not they've turned to

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compost by the time they reach me.

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But I got this the other day, which is really interesting.

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It's from Mrs Stainer in Devizes.

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And Mrs Stainer says, "I wonder if you could tell me what has caused

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"my 'Gardner's Delight' tomato plant to produce the enclosed cluster."

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And this, is the enclosed cluster.

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It's pretty spectacular.

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It's a very, very warty and knobbly tomato.

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Well, I've grown 'Gardener's Delight' this year too,

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and you can see that...

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they look like this. These are small, round fruit.

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And, I think, this, in fact, is not 'Gardner's Delight'.

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I'm sure you planted it as such, or sowed it as such,

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but it's quite common to get a rogue seed in a packet.

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And if you compare your tomato,

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which you thought was 'Gardner's Delight',

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with this one here,

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which is Costoluto Fiorentino, a beefsteak variety,

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it's much more like this.

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And you'll see, actually, this one also has these funny

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protuberances growing from the base of it.

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Beefsteak tomatoes are much more likely to suffer from these

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kind of weird growths.

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And what causes them is stress.

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It's a physiological reaction to stress.

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And it tends to happen on the lower trusses.

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The fruit is formed in June and what happens in June

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and early July is, you get hot days and cold nights.

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And that's very stressful for a tomato.

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Or you might get a situation where you over-water or you under-water.

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Again, that will stress the plant.

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As it gets bigger, and older, those stresses disappear

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and they're better able to handle it.

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But I would say, I award you the knobbly tomato award of 2013.

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Now, Carol has been in North Wales this week,

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in search of late-flowering colour.

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Wildflowers are tough.

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All they need to thrive and flourish are the right conditions.

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They don't necessarily need enchanted woodland or

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mystical meadows.

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Here, in the Greenfield Valley off the North Wales coast,

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all one particular plant needs to do its thing with great joy,

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are the ruins of an 18th-century copper mill.

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This is Eupatorium cannabinum - Hemp agrimony.

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It gets its Latin name from the fact that its leaves bear

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a striking resemblance to hemp, from which cannabis is made.

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It belongs to asteracae, the daisy family.

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Not obvious at first, but when you examine these flat heads,

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you find that they're composed of lots of separate florets

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and each one of those has several flowers within it.

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And every single one of them,

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is rich in nectar.

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This is plant adored by butterflies, and that's what

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brought it to the attention of wildlife expert Jan Miller.

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She holds the national collection of eupatoriums in her

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garden near Hollywell.

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So were you interested in all flowers, first of all?

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Well, I was interested in wild flowers, many years back

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and when we first got the chance to move here in the early '80s,

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they were talking about all the wildflower meadows dying out.

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And I, principally, wanted some land to have a wildflower meadow on.

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But then I started noticing all the insects that were coming to the

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wildflowers on the wild grasses,

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so I got interested in those after that.

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So what is it about eupatoriums that

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make them so special for butterflies?

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It's like the buddleia flower if you think of it - lots of little,

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tiny flower heads very close together,

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so they don't expend a lot of energy going from one plant to another.

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They can just perch on the plant

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and dip in lots of little drinks of nectar in the same place.

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They can fill up at one bar. That's right.

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Different butterflies fly at different times of year.

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They don't all come out all summer.

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In recent years, we've been having quite mild Novembers,

0:20:580:21:01

and even then, if it's warm enough -

0:21:010:21:04

above 15 degrees - butterflies can fly.

0:21:040:21:06

And they need to stock up on nectar,

0:21:060:21:09

so eupatorium's a really useful late-flowering plant.

0:21:090:21:12

This is such a handsome specimen.

0:21:190:21:22

What's this? Yeah.

0:21:220:21:24

It's a form of the American Joe Pye weed,

0:21:240:21:28

which was named after an Algonquin Indian, apparently,

0:21:280:21:31

who used it to cure an outbreak of typhus with the pioneers.

0:21:310:21:36

And that's how it got its funny name.

0:21:360:21:39

But it's really a native in America, like ours is here.

0:21:390:21:43

But this one goes on flowering much longer.

0:21:430:21:46

In a number of states it's considered a pernicious weed and...

0:21:460:21:50

Pernicious! Well...

0:21:500:21:52

And especially in damp areas.

0:21:520:21:55

So it does spread by putting out runners underground and then

0:21:550:21:59

coming up all over the place and making big clumps.

0:21:590:22:03

But you can contain it by chopping bits off round the edge.

0:22:030:22:06

But you can propagate them, presumably, from this.

0:22:060:22:09

It's so easy to propagate from a clump off the root,

0:22:090:22:12

but they're a devil of a job to get through.

0:22:120:22:14

I have to use a saw.

0:22:140:22:16

And sometimes I have to get my husband with a mattock to...

0:22:160:22:20

A mattock or and axe, I should think.

0:22:200:22:23

So they're not for the faint-hearted, really.

0:22:230:22:26

But with these purpureums,

0:22:260:22:29

I mean, some of them are given names that suggest that they're

0:22:290:22:33

quite small and restrained and better for smaller gardens.

0:22:330:22:37

Yes. I think the trouble is that when you grow them from seed,

0:22:370:22:41

or even from division, the first two or three years,

0:22:410:22:45

they only grow about two or three feet high, so people think

0:22:450:22:49

they're dwarfs and they're sometimes sold as a dwarf variety.

0:22:490:22:53

So, yes, you're lulled into a false sense of security.

0:22:530:22:56

If you want something new and different for your autumnal

0:23:020:23:05

borders, why not give eupatoriums a try?

0:23:050:23:09

Not only will they introduce fresh colour, give you structure

0:23:090:23:12

and form and fill big spaces,

0:23:120:23:15

but they'll also help you hang out the welcome sign for all

0:23:150:23:19

those butterflies you'd love to see in your garden.

0:23:190:23:22

Well, we've seen how eupatorium can extend the flowering season,

0:23:340:23:37

but if you really want colour in the middle of deepest winter,

0:23:370:23:41

then you need to start planning now and use bulbs.

0:23:410:23:45

I've got three different types here.

0:23:450:23:46

I'm clutching these enormous hippeastrum bulbs,

0:23:460:23:50

more often called and know to most of us as amaryllis.

0:23:500:23:54

And these, of course, have great, tall stems

0:23:540:23:58

and a vast trumpet of flower.

0:23:580:24:01

This is 'Royal Velvet' which has got really rich red colour. I love them.

0:24:010:24:07

Now, I've got a number of pots here on the table

0:24:070:24:09

and they're deliberately chosen to be decorative.

0:24:090:24:12

Because, it seems to me that a really nice Christmas present

0:24:120:24:15

is to give someone a flowering bulb in a handsome pot.

0:24:150:24:20

It doesn't have to have drainage holes.

0:24:200:24:22

You see this one here is solid.

0:24:220:24:25

Or you can have one with holes.

0:24:250:24:27

So I've got special bulb compost here.

0:24:270:24:32

It's a peat-free bulb compost with added charcoal,

0:24:320:24:35

which keeps it sweet. And that's particularly relevant

0:24:350:24:39

if you are planting without drainage holes

0:24:390:24:42

because otherwise you get an anaerobic reaction

0:24:420:24:44

and the organic matter in the compost can start to smell.

0:24:440:24:46

But this is perfect.

0:24:460:24:48

They don't need to be buried.

0:24:480:24:49

As long as the roots are underground that's really all you need

0:24:490:24:52

and I can set that in like that and then pack more of the compost

0:24:520:24:57

around, leaving at least half the bulb sticking up out of the soil.

0:24:570:25:04

And that is all you need to do, as far as planting.

0:25:040:25:08

Give that some water. And the key to provoke that into flower is heat.

0:25:080:25:13

So, initially, put it somewhere as warm as possible.

0:25:130:25:16

An airing cupboard will do fine.

0:25:160:25:18

And once you start to get an inch or two of decent growth,

0:25:180:25:23

then it can have some light. But don't take away the heat.

0:25:230:25:26

And the more heat you give it, the quicker it will flower.

0:25:260:25:29

And it will flower for about a month.

0:25:290:25:31

OK. Now, this is a hyacinth bulb.

0:25:310:25:34

It's actually a lovely one called 'Delft Blue'

0:25:340:25:36

and it's got that wonderful blue - the colour of Delft pottery.

0:25:360:25:40

Where you have drainage holes, it's a good idea to put some

0:25:410:25:44

crocks in, if nothing else, to stop the compost falling through.

0:25:440:25:49

You don't need to do too many.

0:25:490:25:51

Just a few in the bottom like that.

0:25:510:25:53

Compost on top of them.

0:25:540:25:56

These hyacinths,

0:25:570:25:58

I want to leave at least half above the surface of the soil.

0:25:580:26:03

Now, I'm just going to push that in for the moment.

0:26:030:26:05

And what we'll do...

0:26:070:26:10

I can get quite a few - I want a really good show.

0:26:100:26:12

Now, we'll just put some around the bulbs.

0:26:210:26:25

Now, to trigger those hyacinths into growth,

0:26:290:26:32

I need to give them some cold and I need to give them some dark.

0:26:320:26:36

And what that will do, of course, is make them

0:26:360:26:38

behave as though they were underground.

0:26:380:26:40

And that will trigger root growth.

0:26:400:26:43

And then, when it's got some established roots,

0:26:430:26:46

then you'll start to see some shoots appear.

0:26:460:26:49

And that could take anything between four and ten weeks,

0:26:490:26:52

according to the type of hyacinth.

0:26:520:26:56

It's worth pointing out now, it will only happen

0:26:560:27:00

if these hyacinths have been prepared.

0:27:000:27:01

So if you want to grow them like this, as opposed

0:27:010:27:04

to in the garden, then make sure you buy prepared hyacinth bulbs.

0:27:040:27:09

Check them once a week, then when you see nice, strong shoots growing,

0:27:100:27:15

they can come out of the dark into the light.

0:27:150:27:18

Unheated greenhouse is fine, or a cool windowsill.

0:27:180:27:21

And when they're flowering, if you put them into a really hot, steamy

0:27:210:27:25

living room over Christmas, those flowers will go over very quickly.

0:27:250:27:29

Whereas, a nice cool windowsill,

0:27:290:27:31

they will go on flowering for a surprisingly long time.

0:27:310:27:35

OK, and my final bulbs are paper-white daffodils.

0:27:350:27:38

These are the Christmas favourites - fabulous scent, really strong.

0:27:380:27:43

So plant the bulbs round the outside. Now these can be buried,

0:27:430:27:46

but you don't need to worry about burying them any particular depth.

0:27:460:27:50

And...

0:27:520:27:53

One in the middle.

0:27:530:27:55

I put these into the greenhouse, where they're frost-free,

0:27:550:28:00

but no special treatment, they can go on a windowsill

0:28:000:28:04

and they are entirely primed to flower after six weeks in winter.

0:28:040:28:09

And if you want to give somebody some that will flower just

0:28:090:28:12

after Christmas, I would plant your paper-white daffodils

0:28:120:28:15

at the very beginning of November.

0:28:150:28:19

That's it. Easy-peasy.

0:28:190:28:20

Now, these can stay in this greenhouse, actually.

0:28:230:28:25

It'd be perfect for them, to bring them on.

0:28:250:28:28

The amaryllis, I'm good to go and put in an airing cupboard,

0:28:280:28:31

and these will go in a nice cool, dark shed.

0:28:310:28:35

Well, that's it for his week, I'll be back before Christmas,

0:28:350:28:37

in fact, I'll be back next week.

0:28:370:28:39

See you then. Bye-bye.

0:28:390:28:40

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:29:070:29:09

Monty Don is hard at work gathering his bumper crop of apples and has some timely advice on how to store them. Although the festive season seems a long way off, he's also planting up some indoor bulbs that will hopefully flower in time for Christmas.

Carol Klein explores the intriguing world of the Eupatorium with wildlife gardener, Jan Miller. And we meet a passionate daffodil grower in County Down who is already thinking ahead to next spring.


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