Episode 7 Gardeners' World


Episode 7

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Transcript


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Now, the thing about putting up bean sticks or sweet pea support

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is to get a brace that way as well as that way.

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I'm sorry. I've got a mouthful of string. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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I'm putting up my sweet pea support because not only do I like

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the architecture - I like the process of crafting it together,

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and you have this sort of naked hull that's going to be clothed

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with the flowers later in the year,

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but also because it's a statement of intent.

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It's really saying, "OK, spring's being miserable,

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"but we shall have sweet peas."

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This week, Carol is looking at Wordsworth's favourite flower,

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and that's not daffodils but celandines,

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and as well as growing wild throughout the countryside,

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she's discovering some marvellous garden varieties.

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Look at that one there. Is that not lovely?

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It's truly beautiful.

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I love agapanthus but have some problems growing them here

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at Longmeadow, but we visit an expert grower in Essex,

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who shares the secrets and tips of his success.

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They're at their best in the sunshine and they seem to follow it,

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which just makes me feel good.

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And I shall be planting my potatoes at last,

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and also planting up my new herb garden.

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Last week at Wisley, I saw the Alpine House.

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I confess I've never been terribly interested in alpines. I've always

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thought of them as a little bit over-fussy and prissy and outdated.

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Well, I was wrong. I was so wrong, because they're fascinating.

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They're jewel-like and intense.

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You can use just a small pot. You've got sempervivums like this

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which are completely happy, and of course they'll grow

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on a roof, they'll grow anywhere... So that's a really easy way, good

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way to start, or you can get an alpine pan.

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You can find a sink. This is simply an old sink that we've had

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lying around for years. I'll plant that up.

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Or if you're really going to town, you can get a stone trough.

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Now, I intend to do them all. I want to build up a modest collection

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of alpines, and really get into them, but I'm going to start

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with the alpine pan, and this, of course, has a great advantage -

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you can move it around. You can put it in the sun, you can protect it

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in winter, because alpines really don't like winter wet.

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To get the conditions they like, you must first of all get the drainage,

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so cover those drainage holes with some crocks,

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and then create the right compost, so equal parts grit and compost.

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So one,

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two,

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three,

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four.

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And then this is our normal potting mix that we mix up ourselves,

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but you can use any potting compost that is peat-free.

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So we'll have four handfuls of that. One,

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two,

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three,

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four.

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Mix it up.

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And, really, grit is the answer for this.

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If you think of the scree, and those mountainous slopes,

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the water just runs straight through.

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I will put some in.

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Now, these plants are modest insomuch that they're relatively

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easy to grow.

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But beautiful. Of course, one of the nice things about alpines

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is though they feel very precious, they're actually relatively cheap

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to buy, so you can make a little garden for very little money.

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This is a saxifrage. This is apiculata 'Alba'.

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You can see these lovely, white flowers, flowering in spring,

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on a little cushion. As the flowers die back, the cushion will spread

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a bit and next spring there'll be more flowers, I hope.

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Standing a little bit proud but that won't matter,

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because I'm going to top it up with grit.

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Although these are tiny plants, remember they're really tough.

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They're really strong. Can take any amount of cold or wind.

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Won't bother them at all.

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It's wet that they really hate most.

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And then another saxifrage.

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This is 'Kaspar Maria Sternberg'.

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And again, delicate, little white flowers. The pincushion

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is almost like moss. And even I, with a terrible eyesight,

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can see the intricacies of that.

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And when you're thinking of placing it, the pan or the trough

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or whatever it is needs to be up, raised up,

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so you can look in and enjoy them for what they are.

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So we'll pop this in there.

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Not too close.

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Give them room to grow. And room to breathe.

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Now, I want to add in a couple of sedums.

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One factor all sedums share

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is sharp drainage and full sun. Otherwise they get too floppy.

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This is Sedum acre, which is a really minuscule version.

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It's got little, bright, intense yellow flowers,

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almost like a tiny little euphorbia.

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And that yellow and green of the foliage will pick up on the flowers

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around it.

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And I've got another type of sedum,

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with purple and slightly glaucous foliage.

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This is 'Cape Blanco'.

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I like the back story of alpines

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in British horticulture.

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It really stems from the Victorian age, when you would get

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reading parties, and well-educated, vigorous young men used to go

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for long walks in the Alps, and came across these amazing plants.

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It's directly connected to a discovery of the Alps themselves,

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and that's really why they're called alpines,

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because they come from many, many different regions.

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Finally, I'm putting in a sempervivum.

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This is arachnoideum and it's called that

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because there are little filaments...

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Can you see the little spidery filaments,

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in between the petals?

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And this will pick up the colour of that purply hue.

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We'll pop this in here.

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And that can slowly spread, and tip round the edge.

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It looks a bit sparse at the moment but that's plenty,

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and I'll top-dress that with grit to round it off.

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Now, I don't want to cover up the mounds.

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Now, all these plants will cope with full sun,

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but not necessarily baking sun, so if by any freakish bit of good luck

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we get a really hot summer, I can move this pan into a slightly

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more shaded area.

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And that's why it's quite good to start growing alpines

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with a relatively small container that you can move.

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Well, there we are. It's a modest beginning of this new phase

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of alpine-growing that I'm just entering into, but it's exciting.

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It's really good.

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Now, these are all small, delicate plants that we're nurturing

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and treating with kid gloves, but Carol is looking

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at a small, beautiful plant

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that doesn't need treating with kid gloves at all. It's rampant.

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This is the celandine - Ranunculus ficaria.

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It's a member of the buttercup family.

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It has to have the most brilliant yellow petals

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of any of our wild flowers.

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When the sun shines, it opens up, showing this beautiful, lustre

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and polish. It really has to be the very smiliest of all plants.

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You see celandines all over the show.

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They love damp ditches and hedgerows.

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But you never see them individually, on their own.

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They're always in great carpets,

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huge swathes, as they are in this churchyard.

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When the sun shines, the whole ground is aglow

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with their brilliant yellow flowers,

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but when it goes behind the cloud, the petals close together,

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protecting the inner workings of the flower.

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Celandines look right at home in the wild,

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but many gardeners see them as an unwelcome invader.

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I've been digging up celandines -

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with the vicar's permission, of course -

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but you're hardly going to notice, because there are just so many

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of them here. That's the thing about celandines - they're just so good

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at making more. They do it in two ways. First of all by, setting seed,

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but also by the distribution of these little roots, these rhizomes.

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These are storage organs for the plant,

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and each one is capable of making a brand-new plant.

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Well, none of us would really want to introduce the wild celandine

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into our plots, but I love the lustre and that gorgeous shininess

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that they bring to the early spring garden.

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And, fortunately, there are lots of cultivated cousins

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that all of us would welcome into our gardens.

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Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers has spent

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more than 20 years collecting and growing plants

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from all over the world.

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He's gathered together over 10,000 plants, and amongst his collection

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is a dazzling array of celandines.

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-So have you always loved celandines, Bob?

-Yeah, I think so.

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Even as a kid, I remember thinking they were fantastic plants,

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and then when you become a gardener, they're so good

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-because they just look after themselves.

-Yeah.

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They're not robbing some plant of light or air or water,

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and they just do their thing, cheer us up, and then they're gone,

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so what's the problem?

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This one's lovely. I mean, which one is it, Bob?

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This is 'Flore Pleno' and it's more or less where it is,

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where I planted it, because it's the double one,

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and the thing about the double one is all the stamens and the stigma,

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all the sexual bits, have turned into petals,

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so it can't reproduce itself.

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I love the way they sparkle everywhere.

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-Don't they just...?

-Yeah. Anything that's showing fresh

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-and colourful is just amazing.

-Full of optimism.

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-Full of optimism.

-They're wonderful in the ground but even if

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you haven't got a garden, you can still grow them in pots, can't you,

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-and enjoy them?

-You can. This is 'Hyde Hall'.

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I like this one because it has these dark leaves,

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but just look at the colour

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on the back of the mature flowers, because they're actually blue.

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They start by being grey and then they turn this wonderful blue.

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And it is so attractive.

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I think that this is my favourite,

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-for foliage.

-For foliage.

-For foliage.

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They're all slightly different. I think... They all seedlings,

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-so I think you could call them a swarm.

-A swarm!

-A swarm.

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-A swarm of celandines.

-A swarm of celandines.

-A new collective noun.

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That's right. Look at that one there. Is that not lovely?

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It's truly beautiful.

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I think this has to be my favourite of all these special celandines.

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It's Ranunculus ficaria 'Brazen Hussy'

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and it was found by Christopher Lloyd - famous gardener -

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in the woods surrounding Great Dixter, where he lived and gardened.

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He brought it back home, and since then it's been

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an extremely popular plant amongst gardeners.

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But you might say, "It's still a celandine,"

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but why not try this? What I do is to dig a hole and put in the plant,

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pot and all.

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If it's single, I need to deadhead it when it's finished flowering,

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so it doesn't set seed,

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but afterwards, I can either let it die down there

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or take out the pot and substitute it for something else.

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For most people, the yellow flower of spring is the daffodil,

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but for me, the exquisite glossy, little stars of our wild celandine

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simply can't be surpassed. It's easy to see

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why this beautiful little gem was William Wordsworth's

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favourite wildflower.

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Funnily enough, I've had a letter about celandines just this week.

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It's from Maurice Packham in Horsham.

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Now, Maurice says, "I'm completely baffled as to how it proliferates.

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"How did it get from our front garden, over the roof bungalow,

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"and into the back?" Well, you might well ask, Maurice, because

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I know from this garden it does spread everywhere.

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When I started making this garden, I didn't see lesser celandine

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anywhere at all, and now it has run right through the garden,

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mainly borne by the flooding, and where the flooding is worst,

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you can see it. If you look here under the hedge,

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you can see a really healthy, vigorous clump of celandine,

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and that's because the floodwater has brought in debris, and this has

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collected up around the trunks of the hedging plants.

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I haven't been able to get at it.

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Obviously, we mow the rest of the area and we weed

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the borders where we've got the strawberries growing,

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and that keeps it under control,

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but I can't get in there. The thing to remember about celandine

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is it is a plant that does well in damp, slightly shady conditions.

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So if you can moderate your conditions and expose it to full sun

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and really good drainage, that will do a lot of good.

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It doesn't like that at all. It likes the wet.

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But if you can't control that, and I can't in this garden, then I think

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all you can do is keep on top of it,

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keep it where it's not doing most damage, enjoy the good things

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about it, and tolerate the worst.

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Now, you may not be worrying about celandine, but here are some jobs

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you can be doing in your garden this weekend.

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This is the time of year when slugs and snails really can get

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into their stride and cause havoc.

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Now, I prefer prevention rather than cure,

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by keeping all my most vulnerable plants in one area.

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Aha!

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Then I make sure the slugs can't get into that spot.

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Check through your plants daily. Especially go through all pots,

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trays and plugs, collecting up any slugs you find,

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and then destroy them as you see fit.

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If you sow any member of the cucurbit family now,

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they'll be ready to plant out when the nights are getting warmer

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at the beginning of June, and the cucurbit family includes courgettes

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melons, cucumbers, squashes and pumpkins.

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These are all flat seeds, so sow them on-edge,

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either one to a large plug or two for a three-inch pot,

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and then remove the weaker of the two once they're both established.

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They will need some warmth in order to germinate,

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so put them somewhere where it's reliably 20 degrees or above.

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If your soil doesn't feel cold to touch, then you can plant

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your potatoes.

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Make a trench six to nine inches deep, adding a layer of compost

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to the bottom of it.

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Place the seed potatoes about a foot apart in this trench.

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Draw the soil back to create a ridge over the tubers.

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Allow at least three foot between ridges so there's plenty of room

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for earthing up over the coming months.

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And hopefully you'll be celebrating with your first dish of new potatoes

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at some stage in July.

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Well, I guess along with anyone else who's got a greenhouse, it's still

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crammed with tender plants - you haven't risked putting them out -

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but I'm just starting to go through them and hardening them off,

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and the agapanthus are amongst the first to brave the weather.

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You can see this here. Label long lost - I can't remember

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which variety it is. Still, it's a good blue, that I do know,

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and the new growth is just beginning to appear.

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Now, popping it out here on a west-facing, sheltered spot

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should be protection enough, but I can put it back in the greenhouse

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if it gets really nasty, and just a bit of a water.

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Don't need to feed it at this stage because the water will trigger

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it into growth, and of course the growth is spectacular -

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that burst of blue which is perfect for the Jewel Garden,

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and that's where it'll end up,

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but if I try and grow them in the borders, it's hopeless.

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Our soil is far too wet, heavy and cold, and it just will rot away,

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and comes to nothing. But over in Essex, Michael Dedman

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has got much better growing conditions,

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and a fabulous collection of agapanthus.

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Last summer, we went along to see them in their full glory.

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I go for blue. It's the blue of the sky, which I like.

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Blue's my favourite colour.

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They're at their best in the sunshine, and they seem to follow it.

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It's a lovely, structured plant,

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which just makes me feel good.

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Bearing in mind we're in a dry area of England -

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Essex being the driest county -

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Shoeburyness here is probably one of the driest places,

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so we thought the agapanthus would be an ideal plant.

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It gives the colour that I like, and our ground conditions here

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are not clay. It's mainly sandy subsoil.

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Heavy soil will often kill agapanthus if they're waterlogged.

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And those that we do have in the ground come up every year,

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even some of them being evergreen, which are less hardy

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than the deciduous varieties.

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One or two have been developed in recent years.

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'Queen Mum', for example. It's got that whiteness.

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And you've got this hint of blue

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coming through from the start of the trumpet.

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'Mood Indigo' is quite new to my collection.

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As it opens, it opens from one side only, and then just springs open,

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and it isn't too bold, but the colour itself does it all.

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And as I said to my wife, we need more of these darker shades.

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People who come and visit our garden under the National Gardens Scheme

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like the darker varieties.

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'Phantom' is very interesting.

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It has a delicate colour, and I think it's one of the varieties that really

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wouldn't withstand a very cold winter,

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but they've been in the garden, in the north-east corner of the garden,

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for about four or five years, because the wind and sun direction

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is mainly from the south-west in that particular part of the garden

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and it keeps them warm.

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It's not that stressful. They're all locked up in the greenhouse,

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so to speak, in the winter months, but I still tend to them.

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I give them a little water every now and again.

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The feeding really starts in the springtime,

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and I feed roughly once a month if they're in a pot,

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and then I go round occasionally where we've agapanthus in the garden

0:21:390:21:44

and just give them a dressing of chicken manure.

0:21:440:21:47

The slow-release granules are very handy to use, especially in pots.

0:21:470:21:52

The watering is important, and I think more water they do have

0:21:520:21:57

in the growing season is quite important.

0:21:570:22:00

If you don't water them, I just feel they hold back

0:22:010:22:04

and they won't produce successive flowers.

0:22:040:22:06

We've been successful having our garden open days and we've

0:22:130:22:18

raised good money for local charities through the National Garden Scheme.

0:22:180:22:24

That really stimulates me more and more.

0:22:240:22:27

This year, for the first time,

0:22:270:22:30

I've got my own hybrids, just self seeded in a rose bed.

0:22:300:22:36

I want to see how they develop over the next year or two,

0:22:360:22:39

but by growing more and more and then selling some of these on,

0:22:390:22:43

I am sharing my desire and delight at growing these plants,

0:22:430:22:48

so hopefully I'll be growing them for a good number of years

0:22:480:22:51

and we'll have more in the collection.

0:22:510:22:53

Oh, it's so nice to see some summer colour.

0:23:040:23:08

And if you want to see any details about Michael's garden

0:23:080:23:11

or his agapanthus, go to our website.

0:23:110:23:13

Now, we've grown herbs here at Longmeadow from day one

0:23:150:23:18

and with some success, but it's never really gone to plan and that's

0:23:180:23:21

a combination of two things - one, the situation, and two, the soil.

0:23:210:23:25

This is really heavy, fertile soil and herbs don't like that.

0:23:250:23:30

So four new beds specifically for herbs, and I've tailored them

0:23:300:23:35

to adapt different kinds of herbs. So you can see here I've left this

0:23:350:23:39

to show you a bed that is designed for Mediterranean herbs.

0:23:390:23:43

I'm talking about thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram,

0:23:430:23:47

and I've got stones, we've got crocks, really, really stony subsoil

0:23:470:23:52

and then the topsoil on top has got masses of grit.

0:23:520:23:57

This is about as poor a soil can be and still be a bed

0:23:570:24:01

and that's the same underneath there,

0:24:010:24:03

so two beds side-by-side, expressly for Mediterranean, culinary herbs.

0:24:030:24:08

And knowing I was going to do this, last year, I took some

0:24:110:24:15

cuttings, which I over-wintered in the other greenhouse.

0:24:150:24:18

There's a good boy.

0:24:370:24:40

These are fairly large plants now, really healthy

0:24:400:24:45

and the smell is just lovely.

0:24:450:24:47

Lovely. So...

0:24:470:24:51

you can hear the grittiness of it.

0:24:510:24:54

There we go.

0:24:570:24:59

Of course, really soft, fresh thyme

0:25:060:25:09

is wonderful in any dish

0:25:090:25:13

that you cook with tomato, oil.

0:25:130:25:18

That oily Mediterranean taste needs thyme to come to fruition.

0:25:180:25:25

The thing you have to remember with thyme more than any other herb

0:25:290:25:34

is it will not tolerate shade at all,

0:25:340:25:38

so even shade from the neighbouring plant is not very good for it,

0:25:380:25:42

so what I'll do with the next layer is stagger them.

0:25:420:25:45

So I'll get one in here, like that,

0:25:450:25:51

and then one here.

0:25:510:25:53

So the next ones I'm going to put in are little rosemary cuttings

0:25:590:26:03

that I took. You can see it's nice and healthy.

0:26:030:26:06

And these, of course, will grow up a little bit taller but they won't be

0:26:060:26:10

great big bushy plants because I'll keep cutting them for the kitchen.

0:26:100:26:14

But like thyme, rosemary will grow in remarkably poor

0:26:140:26:20

conditions as long as it's got sunshine.

0:26:200:26:23

Right.

0:26:320:26:33

Now I'm going to put in the sage plants,

0:26:350:26:38

also taken as cuttings at the same point.

0:26:380:26:42

This narrow leaf sage, which I think is the best for cooking with.

0:26:420:26:46

There are lots of different types of sage

0:26:460:26:48

and I will be adding some more,

0:26:480:26:50

but narrow leaf seems to have the most intense taste without being

0:26:500:26:55

overpowering and one of my favourite dishes is simply pasta with

0:26:550:27:00

butter and sage, and you just stir the butter into the cooked pasta

0:27:000:27:04

with a generous quantity of these fairly small sage leaves,

0:27:040:27:09

mix it up with some pepper and maybe a little bit of Parmesan cheese

0:27:090:27:14

and it's absolutely delicious. It's so easy to grow really.

0:27:140:27:18

Well, that's my home-grown herbs planted, which is a start

0:27:360:27:41

and I'll get the rest in. Of course I will add to them -

0:27:410:27:44

buy more, sow more, take more cuttings and build up a really

0:27:440:27:48

good working culinary herb garden in the ideal situation.

0:27:480:27:52

Don't forget one thing,

0:27:520:27:55

that if you have any plants that need really good drainage, be

0:27:550:27:58

they Mediterranean herbs or alpines in the pot, they still need water.

0:27:580:28:02

It's just that they hate the water sitting in the soil. They like

0:28:020:28:05

it to pass through, so don't forget to water these plants in.

0:28:050:28:09

Well, that's good and exciting.

0:28:090:28:12

I've started growing alpines, I started a new herb garden

0:28:120:28:15

and the sun is shining. Let's hope it lasts till next week.

0:28:150:28:18

See you then. Bye-bye.

0:28:180:28:21

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:430:28:46

This week on Gardeners World, Monty Don is searching for signs of our long-delayed spring in his garden at Longmeadow. Taking inspiration from his trip to RHS Garden Wisley last week, he will be planting up an alpine trough.

Carol Klein is out and about looking at native celandines, Wordsworth's favourite flower; they grace our hedgerows and woods at this time of year. The wild strains are too invasive for most domestic gardens but Carol finds a number of cultivated varieties that should suit most of us.

And, if its colour you are after, then enjoy a sneak preview of summer when we visit agapanthus enthusiast, Michael Dedman, in his Essex garden to see his prized collection of these beautiful African lilies at their very best.

Back at Longmeadow, Monty's hoping the soil will have warmed up enough to finally allow him to plant his potatoes.


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