Episode 5 Gardeners' World


Episode 5

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Transcript


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This way, come on.

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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It's been one of the coldest springs that any of us can remember,

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and the garden has kind of gone into a second hibernation.

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It's just poised, waiting, like all of us, for spring to happen.

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But one of the good things about this is it's bought us time.

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We've got that extra three weeks we wouldn't have otherwise had to

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get on with some of those jobs that probably we should have done by now.

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This week, Rachel indulges her passion for hepaticas,

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a plant that is in its prime right now.

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The only trouble with being somewhere like this

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is it makes you feel incredibly greedy!

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We visit a national collection of bamboos and see that,

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in their huge variety,

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there is a bamboo for every situation and every garden.

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Kew's historic Temperate House is about to undergo a major

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reconstruction, and Carol has been along to find out how

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they're going about protecting their precious plant collection.

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Over here's a melaleuca. It's from Australia.

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I've certainly never seen it before.

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The last time I can remember a spring as cold as this

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was when I was seven, in 1962.

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And then, in exactly the same way,

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winter just clung on and wouldn't shift.

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And of course, compared to last year, when it was boiling hot

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at this time, it's a pretty big shock.

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So, for example, by now the damson blossom should be covering

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loads of hedgerows and trees in the garden - not a sign of it.

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The cowslips, which are planted all the way along this path here,

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normally really getting going by now - none.

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And there was just a sense, and of course it was

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exceptionally hot last year, that spring was really limbering up.

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Whereas now, nothing. Nothing at all.

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But of course, when it does happen, it's going to explode.

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This is the Writing Garden, and it's a new venture,

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but I had hoped to have quite a lot of it planted up by now.

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But of course, absolutely nothing, haven't been able to touch it since I finished the path,

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because it's either been completely sodden or frozen.

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But I think that it's just dry enough that I can plant a couple

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of shrubs into here, and I've got a couple of hydrangeas here.

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And hydrangeas are not a fashionable plant,

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they have a slightly dowdy image, but that's unfair,

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because hydrangeas can be fantastic plants, and I love

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in particular the lace caps, which have a wonderful grace and elegance.

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And I've got a couple here.

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The first is Hydrangea veitchii

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which grows about five foot six tall,

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and the panicles of flower will just float through the leaves.

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So, if I place this over here, about like that...

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So, it'll add body to this corner of the garden.

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I'm putting them in part shade because hydrangeas like

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some sunshine, but also a little bit of shade

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and protection from the wind.

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These are very hardy. I have the other one here which is Hydrangea paniculata...

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..which is really tough,

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and really strong and absolutely stunning,

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and it's much more vigorous, so it will fill a bigger space.

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If I put this back here...

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This will fill this area, and you can see that,

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with a backdrop of these bright green leaves

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and then the lovely flowers,

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which have that combination of

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intensity and drama but lightness of touch, that's what I'm after.

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So, very exciting, we'll get that in the ground.

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A guide to the sort of conditions that hydrangeas like

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is in the name, the word "hydrangea".

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It's actually based on the Greek for water, "hydra".

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So, they like moisture. If you've very light soil, bulk it up

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with some moisture-retentive organic material.

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So, with a mulch, that's all I have to do.

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And it doesn't look like a lot now - you just wait.

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I'm giving this a mulch of leaf mould,

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and this will do two things.

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This will both create a nice, fibrous loam

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as it breaks down into the soil and the surface roots will go into that,

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and also keep the moisture in.

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And the thing to remember about these plants is that,

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despite their lightness and airiness,

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they do like rich feeding, lots of water, lots of feed,

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and then they will flower as well as possible.

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But, of course, nothing until July at the earliest,

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and really they're at their best August-September time.

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But Rachel is revelling in a flower that is looking spectacular

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right now, because it just loves this cold weather.

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I believe that the plants you're introduced to when you're a child

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are often the ones you remain drawn to for life,

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and when I was little I used to go to the nursery

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with my father at the weekend and we would buy alpines for the rockery.

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Everyone had a rockery in the '60s and '70s,

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and sometimes, if we were very lucky,

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we might find one of these - a hepatica.

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Hepaticas are dainty little plants, closely related to buttercups.

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They thrive in woodland

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and are found on mountain slopes in Asia, North America and Europe,

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pushing their way up through the melting snows of spring.

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If you get up close to them, like this,

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you see all the myriad differences. Just look at this one.

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Beautiful, pale pink

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and then that circlet that of stamens in a very rich, dark pink.

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Absolutely wonderful.

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The only trouble with being somewhere like this

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is it makes you feel incredibly greedy!

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At his nursery in South Staffordshire,

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John Massey is so passionate about hepaticas

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he's built this alpine house

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especially for his ever-growing collection.

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It's like being a kid in a sweet shop, isn't it?

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It's just wherever you look, it's fantastic.

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-I do sense a bit of an obsession here.

-Yeah.

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-How many plants have you got in here?

-Oh, I don't know!

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I'm terrible at that!

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-A lot.

-Yes, there is a lot.

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Now, I know that these are pretty much global, aren't they?

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Yeah, they're right through the northern temperate zones

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of Europe, Asia, and North America and Canada.

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They're all small, perennial woodland plants

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growing on sunny slopes, which is strange because most people

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think of them as needing shade, but they like to flower in the sun

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and as soon as they finish flowering they're under deciduous trees.

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So they're opportunist, they take that early spring sun

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and then when the leaf canopy fills in

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then they've got the shade in the summer?

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Yeah, and they'll take it much drier then, as well.

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John's travelled the world in search of rare varieties of hepatica.

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It's his ambition to use his collection to breed more

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remarkable variations of this gorgeous plant.

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These are from America. They're really hairy.

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-They are really hairy!

-Aren't they?

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All the leaves you see on hepaticas are covered with fine hairs,

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as well, but this is acutiloba.

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You've got two species in America.

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-There's this...

-Oh, we're off! Hang on!

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this is the other one, which is americana,

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which is much, much smaller.

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This is just stunning.

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I love it when a plant draws you in.

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You've really got to look at this close up to appreciate it.

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This-this is the beauty of them,

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and, to my mind, part of the charm of a hepatica is the simple beauty.

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The more tender Asian varieties, including the japonicas,

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can be more of a challenge to grow, and are best grown in pots

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under glass where the temperature doesn't fall below -5 Celsius.

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The Japanese are far more complex.

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You've got far more variation, stamen colour, petal fall,

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and the hundreds and hundreds of different doubles.

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It's a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Japanese,

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cos I can't resist them, but I know they're no good outside!

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I always tell myself, "No, we don't need any more."

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But as soon as you see a different one, "Oh! Must have it!"

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If you want to have a go at growing hepaticas at home

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and you haven't got a magnificent alpine house like this one,

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you could grow them in a pot in the garden.

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And choose one of the European forms - nobilis -

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and then put it somewhere where the pot can get lots of bright sunshine

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in the spring when it's flowering,

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and as the weather warms up towards the summer

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move it out and put it in the shade,

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just a quiet part of the garden where it won't be noticed.

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And hopefully you'll have these for many years to come,

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a talking point, something to show off,

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perhaps a little bit challenging, but 100% worth it.

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I've got some plants here which I, too,

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want to pot up and then move around,

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and this idea of having plants in pots

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that have their moment in the sun, so to speak,

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and then can be pushed sideways to let something else come in,

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adds a real level of flexibility to the garden.

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These are gladioli.

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When I was a child, gladioli were grown - certainly my mother did -

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as cut flowers of astonishing sort of lipstick colours,

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bright pinks and mauves and yellows.

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But what I've got here are three varieties which should be

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brilliantly intense.

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There's White Prosperity, which I'll put in the Writing Garden,

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and I've got Black Star, which is a really dark, dark colour,

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and Plum Tart, which, as the name suggests,

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is a sort of pinky, plum-coloured, almost cerise.

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So, these colours are vibrant and strong, but they're not going to do

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anything for a bit, but now is the time to plant summer-flowering bulbs

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like gladioli or lilies so that you can bring them in at their moment.

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But there's a problem here, because they do much better

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in terracotta pots, because they drain better.

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Most of us don't have that many,

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and you don't have them lying around unused for months on end.

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This one, for example, has tulips in - bit backward, because it's been so cold,

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but this will be occupied for another couple of months.

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So what I'm going to do is plant the gladioli

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into these pots here.

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These lattice pots are used for sub-aquatic plants.

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They can drain well, the roots can come out if they want,

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but you could do it just into a normal plastic pot.

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And then, after the tulips are finished, they'll come out and can dry off,

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and then I will plunge these into that pot,

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and when the gladioli are finished, next September or October,

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they can come out and the tulips can be planted.

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Whatever you plant them in, it's important to have the right compost.

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These come from South Africa, and they are bone dry in winter,

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and they get a little bit of summer rain,

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and what they really need is good drainage.

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Similar, in fact, to the hepaticas.

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So, add a bit of grit to the compost.

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And you can't really overdo this, so don't be coy about it.

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And then put a layer in the bottom.

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Now, when you're planting a bulb or corm,

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as a rule of thumb you're better to go too deep than too shallow,

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but you can't go wrong if you do it twice the depth of the bulb.

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Now, these will need a bit of protection for the next month or so.

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By watering them, it'll trigger them into growth.

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Of course, there are a whole range of plants that need much more protection than that.

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Go to a botanical garden and that's where you see the incredible collections,

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and probably the most incredible of the lot is at Kew in London.

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Fantastic garden.

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But the Temperate House there,

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with all the plants inside it, is going through a huge upheaval,

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and Carol has been along to see how they're coping.

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Gathered together here are plants from all over the world.

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All manner of the rarities and special plants.

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Over here's a melaleuca. It's from Australia.

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I've certainly never seen it before.

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And just across the path

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is a plant you'd have to go to the foothills of Kashmir to find.

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It's Cupressus cashmeriana

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with these most graceful, drooping branches.

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What a vital resource this is.

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It's 150 years since the Temperate House at Kew first opened its doors,

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and now it faces major reconstruction.

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The cracks are starting to show,

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not only jeopardising the fabric of the place itself

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but, perhaps even more critically,

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the collection of 1,500 different species that it houses.

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It falls to Temperate House manager David Cooke to look after

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the collection while work is going on.

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All this is coming out, the paths are coming out, the soil is coming

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out, all the venting, all the glass, a lot of the steelwork.

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That is all going to be renewed.

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-And the importance of these plants is what?

-Beyond measure.

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-It is a unique collection of plants.

-A huge resource.

-A huge resource.

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In total, there are 4,000 plants to be moved from the Temperate House

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during its restoration.

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But there are one or two monumental specimens

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that are going to have to stay exactly where they are.

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This is Livistona chinensis, what a fantastic palm.

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I'm afraid we're going to leave this one in place,

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put a cover over it just to protect it.

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George V planted this. It's hugely important.

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It's my job and the team's job to look after it for the future.

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While the George V palm isn't going anywhere,

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plenty of bigger specimens are on the move.

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Gardeners are becoming really familiar with these tree ferns now.

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-They are.

-Can't you just grow them from sections of the trunk?

-You can.

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Traditionally, you cut them off and sink them into the ground.

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But here, if I can lead you in carefully,

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-it's a bit of an adventure.

-Into the woods!

-Into the woods.

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What we're trying to do here, these are air pots and we have

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just put a piece of hessian around there filled with our compost.

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This is all roots on the outside.

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They'll root into the compost then we'll get a saw,

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and cut off right at the base and then we've still got some height.

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-This is quite an easy way of propagation.

-It's beautiful,

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because it keeps the whole architecture of the trunk.

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-You don't lose it.

-It does.

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Most important thing is this top bit here,

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needs to be kept moist all the time.

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What a clever way to actually move it. Brilliant.

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Plants like this rhododendron are being moved.

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But, to ensure their survival, they're also being propagated.

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Scott Taylor's going to explain more.

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It's a beautiful species, this one.

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You can't really take cuttings, can you, from rhododendrons?

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They're difficult to take from cutting, typically we air layer them.

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And that gives us roots and we can get a second plant from them.

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So, is that the sort of thing you were looking for?

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Something with a bit of bare stem and plenty of green on the top?

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That's a perfect little example there.

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-Go on, then, show us how it's done.

-This is how you would do it.

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You damage that outside layer and you expose the cambium layer.

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You expose the cambium because that's where the roots will come from.

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-And that's what we want?

-That is what we want.

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So, do you treat it with anything?

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We use a bit of hormone rooting powder.

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I know some people are against it,

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but it speeds it up just a little bit.

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Use a little bit of moss, here.

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It has to be nice and moist

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because obviously the moisture's going to bring your roots out.

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So, we take that, wrap it around the stem, covering that cut.

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-And just make a little nest of it?

-That's right.

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-Can I tie this on?

-You certainly can.

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So, it's just to make sure that the moisture inside that plastic

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-is retained?

-Exactly, so the moss doesn't dry out,

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-because they need that moisture to keep the roots growing.

-Yeah.

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-I'm looking forward to seeing this in the renovated...

-Oh, yes.

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..Temperate House at Kew.

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It could take as long a six years to complete this massive restoration.

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But it's worth it to secure the future

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of this magnificent collection.

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Now, this is a first.

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These are snake's head fritillaries

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that I planted at the end of last summer,

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and about three or four weeks ago, I dug them up,

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put them into a pot and put them in the greenhouse to force them.

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And it's worked a treat.

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None of the fritillaries are even beginning to flower outside

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and in a spring where practically nothing is flowering,

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and everything is holding back,

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these are an injection of the light and the life

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that we all want from springtime.

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Now I've got to find the best place to put them.

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That will be nice and sheltered from the wind and also,

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I'll see it every time I go by.

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Now, you may not be forcing bulbs,

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but here are some other jobs you can be getting on with this weekend.

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At this time of year when the weather's been cold, many of us

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have greenhouses and windowsills filled with plants and seedlings,

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and there is a risk of fungal problems,

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particularly if it's not ventilated very well.

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One way to help avoid this is to make sure your pots

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and seed trays are really clean before you use them.

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All that's necessary is a good scrub under running water

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then leave them to dry off, and that will help avoid a lot of problems.

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It's important to keep all tools that cut

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as sharp as possible.

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With secateurs, a good way to do this is to draw a line

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along the cutting edge and then gently remove that with a whetstone.

0:20:330:20:37

That will create a burr,

0:20:370:20:39

so turn it over and then gently

0:20:390:20:42

rub along to remove the burr and leave a razor-sharp edge.

0:20:420:20:46

If your soil has been as wet and cold as mine,

0:20:480:20:52

you won't have been able to get your onion or shallot sets out.

0:20:520:20:55

But it's not too late.

0:20:550:20:57

Get a plug tray and fill it with ordinary compost,

0:20:580:21:01

and then insert each set so it's half buried per plug.

0:21:010:21:05

Put them somewhere protected and these will grow quite quickly.

0:21:060:21:10

Then, when the ground is dry and warm enough,

0:21:100:21:13

you can plant them out individually.

0:21:130:21:15

Now, I've got a bamboo for the damp garden.

0:21:310:21:34

It is enormous, this one,

0:21:340:21:36

and this particular variety, Phyllostachys nigra henonis,

0:21:360:21:40

is one of the tallest you can grow in this country.

0:21:400:21:43

Given a fair wind and the right circumstances,

0:21:430:21:46

it will reach about eight metres tall.

0:21:460:21:48

But there are so many bamboos that you can buy

0:21:480:21:51

that there's bound to be one that will work in your garden.

0:21:510:21:55

And we went down to Cornwall to visit Mike Bell in his garden,

0:21:550:21:59

where he has as many bamboos as he can possibly fit.

0:21:590:22:03

I'm not a great one for flowers.

0:22:120:22:14

Flowers, to me, are an addition to a plant.

0:22:140:22:17

Very beautiful in themselves, but they're fleeting.

0:22:170:22:20

To me, a plant has to have inner qualities

0:22:200:22:24

and a bamboo has got that.

0:22:240:22:26

Everybody thinks a bamboo nut is mad because they go around

0:22:340:22:38

inspecting tiny little hairs and colours and nodes.

0:22:380:22:43

The minute beauty of a bamboo is quite amazing.

0:22:430:22:47

This is one of my favourites.

0:22:510:22:53

Ideal for most gardens, in that it doesn't grow too big.

0:22:530:22:56

It's got a beautiful shape and tiny leaves, very elegant.

0:22:560:23:00

It's a fairly new introduction, called Borinda nujuangensis.

0:23:000:23:03

A small size for a bamboo, so it's suited to a small garden.

0:23:050:23:09

And it's elegant,

0:23:090:23:11

so it's suitable for a specimen plant on a lawn or a front garden.

0:23:110:23:15

It's an ideal substitute for a small tree.

0:23:150:23:19

Phyllostachys come from lowland China and they are used to,

0:23:220:23:26

in the wild, high soil temperatures from the warm sun and longer summer.

0:23:260:23:31

A useful thing for if you want big phyllostachys -

0:23:310:23:35

but not other bamboos, just phyllostachys -

0:23:350:23:38

is to stack your grass cuttings on them.

0:23:380:23:41

This does three things -

0:23:410:23:43

it provides nitrogen as the grass breaks down,

0:23:430:23:46

it ferments, so it creates warmth which would normally

0:23:460:23:50

be excessive for most plants and burn them,

0:23:500:23:52

but for the rhizomes of the phyllostachys, it's ideal,

0:23:520:23:57

and it also acts as a mulch, so it retains moisture

0:23:570:24:00

which is another quite basic requirement for bamboo.

0:24:000:24:03

This is Sasa kurilensis.

0:24:030:24:06

There are hundreds of Sasa species, and quite a few in cultivation.

0:24:060:24:11

They're all extremely invasive.

0:24:110:24:14

I grow two or three of the less invasive sort,

0:24:140:24:17

but even that's relative.

0:24:170:24:19

This is a bit I prepared earlier.

0:24:190:24:21

You can see how it just goes on and on and on and on.

0:24:210:24:25

This will penetrate through pots or anything.

0:24:250:24:28

A friend of mine had got a beautiful sasa in a pot in the front garden.

0:24:350:24:39

He was very keen to show me how he'd mastered the sasa,

0:24:390:24:45

and I'd walked up through the road

0:24:450:24:47

and I'd already seen that this plant had gone through the pot,

0:24:470:24:52

through his paving in the front garden,

0:24:520:24:55

it had gone under the foundations of a brick wall

0:24:550:24:58

and under the slabs of a pavement

0:24:580:25:00

and it was coming up in the tarmac of the road!

0:25:000:25:02

It was only kept in check by the traffic going past!

0:25:020:25:05

# Wild, go wild, go wild in the country

0:25:050:25:10

# Where snakes in the grass are absolutely free... #

0:25:100:25:14

The only plant I've regretted putting down here

0:25:140:25:17

is Qiongzhuea tumidinoda, which is the most beautiful plant.

0:25:170:25:22

We didn't really know its downside until it was well established.

0:25:220:25:26

It just spreads everywhere, and it's a very difficult plant control.

0:25:260:25:31

And I just fear for the future of it!

0:25:310:25:34

Well, there we go.

0:25:460:25:48

I've drilled some drainage holes in this galvanised tank,

0:25:480:25:51

which I'm going to plant my phyllostachys in. And...

0:25:510:25:56

..the reason I've chosen a really strong container is

0:25:580:26:02

because any bamboo can burst through almost anything,

0:26:020:26:07

as we've seen, and certainly a plastic pot is out of the question.

0:26:070:26:10

Right. Next thing to do is

0:26:170:26:19

to put some crocks in the bottom for drainage.

0:26:190:26:21

Now, I've made up a compost that has been reinforced

0:26:330:26:37

with a bit of grit

0:26:370:26:39

and sieved garden compost added to it,

0:26:390:26:43

to give it a little bit of extra nourishment.

0:26:430:26:45

If you're buying it, get a normal, peat-free potting compost

0:26:450:26:51

and then buy the same quantity of soil improver

0:26:510:26:54

and mix it all up together,

0:26:540:26:56

because bamboos really will respond well to extra goodness

0:26:560:27:00

and also water retention.

0:27:000:27:02

Right.

0:27:020:27:03

Let's untie this while I can get it down.

0:27:040:27:08

Now, when you're choosing a location for a bamboo,

0:27:080:27:11

bear in mind that it does need shelter from the wind.

0:27:110:27:14

Of course, you want the wind to shift and shuffle through it,

0:27:140:27:18

and get that lovely sliding sound as the leaves cross each other,

0:27:180:27:24

but you don't want to scorch it.

0:27:240:27:26

You can see this has actually got a little bit scorched by cold winds.

0:27:260:27:31

But it needs some sun, too.

0:27:320:27:34

The more sun you have, the better the colour.

0:27:340:27:37

So, if you've Phyllostachys nigra plain and you want those

0:27:370:27:40

really lovely black stems, then it needs to be in the sunshine.

0:27:400:27:45

In shade, they will always be slightly grey.

0:27:450:27:49

Now, if we take this out of the pot,

0:27:500:27:53

you can see that there's a fairly dense root system there.

0:27:530:27:58

Quite a good idea, if you can,

0:27:580:28:01

is to get your thumb in and just tease it out a bit.

0:28:010:28:05

Now, that's not to spread the roots that are there,

0:28:050:28:08

but to stimulate fresh root growth. Just tease it into action.

0:28:080:28:12

Now, with any luck, we can get that in there...

0:28:120:28:15

One of the reasons that I've chosen this,

0:28:180:28:21

other than from the green that I want from the culms,

0:28:210:28:24

is that it's exceptionally hardy.

0:28:240:28:27

This is hardy down to about minus 25.

0:28:270:28:29

It should be able to withstand our very cold, wet winters.

0:28:290:28:35

And I can't stress that, if you are growing bamboos in a container,

0:28:400:28:43

you are going to have to water it at least once a week.

0:28:430:28:47

A really good soak. Because...

0:28:470:28:49

..they will always react instantly to drying out.

0:28:500:28:55

They don't like it at all.

0:28:550:28:57

Let's get back a bit and have a look from a distance.

0:29:080:29:11

I like the way it has a lean to it. It's got an elegance.

0:29:140:29:18

Not quite sure it's in the right place,

0:29:180:29:20

but I'll live with it for a few days.

0:29:200:29:22

Now, I'll be back next week, but not here at Longmeadow,

0:29:220:29:25

because we've got an RHS special and I'll be down at Wisley.

0:29:250:29:29

So, I'll see you there, bye-bye.

0:29:290:29:31

Come on.

0:29:310:29:33

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:29:550:29:57

Monty Don shows us how to plant pots of bulbs for fabulous summer colour.

Rachel de Thame shares her passion for rare plants looking at a relative new comer to spring gardens, the hepatica. These delightful little flowers come in a huge range of colours and sizes and Rachel meets a collector who has travelled far and wide in search of new varieties.

Back at Longmeadow, Monty is in his vegetable patch hoping that his soil is warm enough to plant the first potatoes of the year.


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