Episode 9 Gardeners' World


Episode 9

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Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World,

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which today comes from the Malvern Spring Gardening Show.

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Malvern is known as a plants and people show,

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and we will be looking at the people behind the scenes

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who've worked to bring together

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one of the first and biggest flower shows.

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Well, it's lovely to be back here at Malvern.

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Carol, what are you going to be doing?

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You'll be checking out the ride-on mowers,

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heavy machinery, chainsaws!

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Exactly! And while I'm at it,

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I'm going to be on the lookout for unusual plants,

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perhaps something a bit quirky.

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Every year, all these hard-working nursery people bring their very best

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and newest plants to Malvern, and I'm going to see what I can find.

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I'm going to be taking a closer look at the show gardens this year

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and find out what's inspired the designers,

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and also look at some of the elements that we can all take home

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and use in our own gardens.

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I think the key thing about Malvern for me is the timing.

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We've all had such a miserable winter

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and yet the sun has started to shine,

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things are starting to grow, we are all getting out in the garden.

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So, at this stage, to have a show to inspire us

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and provide plants we can take back to our own gardens is perfect.

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Yesterday, I had the chance to have a preview

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as the finishing touches were being made

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to the stands in the floral marquee.

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And as well as enjoying all the amazing plants on show,

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I was also doing a bit of window shopping for my own garden.

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And I found a couple here on this stand

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which will do the job perfectly for the Writing Garden.

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The first is Silene fimbriata,

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which has these bladder-like flowers,

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little fringe of white.

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I love the way that it is so light and airy.

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Needs a bit of moisture as it grows, but will take a hot, sunny position.

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Whereas on the other side...

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..there's another flower, a Ranunculus aconitifolius.

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And the buttercup flowers are white.

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Perfect colour, perfect type of plant.

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Unlike the silene,

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this does need cooler, moister soil.

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I put the ranunculus in the shade on one side of the path

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and then the silene can get much more sun on the other.

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I think both will adapt well.

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This is something that I just enjoy when I visit a show,

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which is the bonsai.

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I really admire it, it involves huge skill,

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and attracts a real fanatical following.

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But I don't feel the need to possess it, do it, or include it

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in my garden to get a lot of pleasure

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from seeing it at the shows.

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I love violas.

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They are an old-fashioned plant, but their charm is ageless.

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They have a real vibrancy and energy and freshness.

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And they go on and on.

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You can have violas flowering for about nine or ten months a year.

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Graeme, what is the secret of getting the best from violas?

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Without a doubt, grow them through to late July, early August,

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and then cut them fairly severely back.

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And then the flowers will come intermittently through the autumn

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and flower quite sporadically through the winter.

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And then the following spring, they just explode.

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Yeah. They do have an incredible range of colours.

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They are amazing, aren't they?

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This one particularly, it's called Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,

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because yesterday it was one colour, today it is another, tomorrow it will be again.

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-The petals change colour?

-Yes, they do, yes.

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From this lovely white, through lilac and then the deeper colour,

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-and then they fade away.

-How extraordinary.

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They are a lovely thing, they really are. They're very pretty.

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Not only have I had the privilege of having a look around

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the floral marquee before the crowds come in, I've also

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been carefully selecting the plants that I want to take back home.

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But tomorrow, I'll bring my wallet and I'll buy some.

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When Malvern does get under way, it's clear that I'm not the only one

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on the lookout for that certain something.

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Well, I've never seen anybody so heavily loaded. Are they all yours?

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-They are all the wife's.

-Right!

-All mine.

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-The plants are yours and you are just the porter.

-That's correct.

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-Whose is this?

-This is mine. This is an Epimedium 'Amber Queen'.

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-Goes with your hair, doesn't it?

-Certainly does.

-Haven't you got one?

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There are always a number of show gardens here at Malvern,

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and they are a mixed bag.

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Some are young designers cutting their teeth who will go on

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to do much bigger things, say, at Chelsea or Hampton Court.

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Some are absolute perfect gems. And what's fascinating is,

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you never quite know what you are going to get.

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Later on in the programme, Joe will be casting his professional designer's eye over them.

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But earlier on, there was one garden which caught my eye, which I want to have another look at.

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This garden is called East Meets West.

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It feels as though it could have been here for years and years.

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Peter Dowle is the man behind this elegantly designed garden.

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Wanted it to feel rooted in place

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and really use the Malverns

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as the perfect backdrop to the garden.

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And it just has fitted, and the idea of going with, you know...

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the Japanese theme is shakkei, the borrowed landscape.

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And the whole design was just fitting into the natural surrounds

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-that go beyond.

-You've called this garden East Meets West.

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-What and where is the meeting point?

-The meeting point is...

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For people who have been lucky enough to visit

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gardens in Japan, you get that tranquillity and calmness.

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I wanted to bring something that was very English that you could see

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in any garden in the UK.

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-Are you getting any feedback from the public yet?

-It's been very good.

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-Has it?

-Been very good.

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We've been absolutely delighted with the feedback.

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-I think the judges enjoyed it too, didn't they?

-Yes.

-Gold medal?

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Gold medal, which we were absolutely delighted with.

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-And even better than that, I think.

-Best in Show.

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Well, many congratulations. That's fantastic.

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Now, as I'm sure Peter will endorse,

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preparing any show garden is a colossal amount of work.

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And last week, Joe went to meet one of the regulars who show here

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at Malvern as he prepared for his garden.

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It was here on the banks of the River Severn

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that Malvern veteran Mark Eveleigh

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first spotted the centrepiece for his latest design.

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It wasn't this beautiful countryside that inspired him.

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It was a ramshackle old shed.

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Mark's a carpenter by trade, but he's passionate about garden design.

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He's designed all kinds of show gardens,

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and in the last four years, these imaginative creations have won

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two gold medals, a silver gilt and a silver.

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This year, a riverside boathouse is his chosen theme.

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-Hi, Mark.

-Hi.

-How's it going?

-Good, how are you?

-Yes, good.

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We are surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the world

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and you are over here, looking at a load of old junk.

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Well, this is where I found the old shed

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which I'm using as my boathouse at Malvern,

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and some other junk as well, as you can see.

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-Lovely bicycles. Are you going to incorporate those?

-Definitely.

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So, we've got a shed that is now a boathouse, we've got some bicycles.

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What is the story behind the garden?

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Well, what I am thinking is the lady and the gent

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would cycle to the boathouse,

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and then off they'd go, get in the boat and go down the river.

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And, unfortunately, they've moved on, they've passed away,

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but the garden, you know, it's quietly carried on.

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And it's kind of reverting back to nature.

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These are perfect, I'm not even going to clean them up.

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They're just so helpful. They're from 1934,

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which is almost the period that the garden is set in.

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It sounds like a fantastic story. I'm right there.

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But how can you turn that story into a garden?

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I'll take you to my local pub, which is where I got my inspiration for the planting. How's that?

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I used to come here with my granddad and he would have a pint and I would

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come around and run around the back, while he was out at the front.

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It's got the most wonderful overgrown garden.

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Most gardeners would want to come in here, get the shears out,

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-dig the whole thing over...

-No, no. Don't do that.

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I can understand gardeners wanting to tidy it up,

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but that's not for me. I take my inspiration from this.

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Because I want that neglected feel. This is perfect.

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Look, we've got primroses, green alkanet, all sorts of things.

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-A good old mix.

-No, it's gorgeous. I can totally see the charm.

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It is a fading old garden and plants have self-seeded

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and crept in, and weeds taking over at the same time.

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-Is that what you are trying to create?

-If you like, if you would like to call them weeds!

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Well, some of them are! There's nettles over there, that's a weed!

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Joe, I love nettles. I've got nettles in my garden this year.

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I've used manicured spurge, that the judges would like to see,

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because I can't just have weeds.

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You need some architectural plants, don't you?

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And it is a show garden, after all.

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Have a look at these trays that I have made.

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I planted these maybe two months ago, something like that.

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My favourite, the old stingers there.

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And then I've drifted through, so quite naturalistic,

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I've dotted the odd wallflower in, which you can see here.

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Pink campion, absolutely love pink campion.

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Oh, I can see the sort of tapestry, the naturalistic feel,

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with a few recognisable garden plants.

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And the little periwinkle at the front, that's gorgeous. I love that.

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It's the old show garden trick, of planting them up in trays

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in advance and then dropping them straight in on site.

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I'd like to get down and see how the garden's coming on.

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-OK, shall we go and have a look?

-Yeah. I've got it.

-Got it? Let's go.

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-It's heavy, isn't it?

-It is heavy, yeah.

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-Just down here by these sleepers, how about that.

-Just down here?

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What I really love about what I see is that you have used

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your local plants, you are a local lad, you know what's around you

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and you have brought it all together with a story, in a garden.

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I'm very passionate about the Malvern Hills which are just behind us.

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I have been walking on those hills all my life.

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You will see hawthorn, digitalis, spurge in the woods up there,

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so I have tried to recreate some of that within this whole

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driftwoody, naturalistic garden.

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That's what I'm hoping everyone will get when they see this old shed.

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-You've got a way to go.

-Yeah.

-Lots to do. I'll leave you to it. Good luck.

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-Cheers, Joe.

-Nice one.

-Thank you.

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And here I am, on the finished garden.

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And it looks absolutely fantastic.

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All the plants are overgrown,

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it feels like it's slightly neglected, the way the plants

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go into the boathouse here, it just feels like it has been here for ever.

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-Where are the bicycles? Mark!

-Hello.

-Mark, where are the bicycles?

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The bicycles we carried over here?

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Right, I did try it, against that post there. Lovely oak post.

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But it was just too overpowering.

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-It was detracting from the boat.

-Is that the pub?

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-Which was where I was last night.

-I bet you were!

-So I'm a bit ropey.

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-Celebrating your silver-gilt.

-Yet, chuffed with that.

-Well done.

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-And lovely garden.

-Cheers, thank you.

-Well done.

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Paul, you've created a wonderful garden.

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I love the big backdrop, it makes it very dramatic,

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but also keeps the focus within the garden. This stone is gorgeous.

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Is it from Cornwall?

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It is, it from a small quarry outside Tintagel.

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And the colour in it is absolutely amazing.

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I took a visit down there, picked all the stone out.

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About 30 tonnes altogether.

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-And it's been beautiful to work with.

-Oh, yeah.

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It really adds the character, doesn't it? And the walls, it's slightly...

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Is that a herringbone style? Has it got a name?

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Yeah, they actually call that Jack and Jill.

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That's what they call it down in Cornwall.

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It's literally the way that is laid,

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if it's frosted or damaged at all, it literally gets tighter,

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and tighter. So it's like a dry stone wall with so much strength in it.

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-And it lasts for ever?

-Apparently, these walls have been going on for 5,000 years!

-Really?

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So, that's not bad.

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And the planting here is very subtropical.

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A very protected climate.

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But with the wind, I do feel like we are in Cornwall.

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You have got cordylines and tree ferns,

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-and even agaves, plants like that, too.

-Yeah.

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It was to literally follow the planting from Trebah Gardens

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down in Cornwall where the inspiration came from.

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We are trying to bring a little slice of Cornwall up to

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the Malvern show, and I hope we have sort of done that.

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Light Is The Load is a garden with exceptional build quality

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and it's causing quite a stir.

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The well-proportioned boundaries of stone and green walls

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are a good example of how to combine soft and hard landscaping together.

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The living wall is beautifully planted, but it is quite costly.

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However, you could achieve a similar look in your garden

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with a simple combination of climbers.

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I think the light-coloured stone is an ideal surface

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to brighten up a shady garden,

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while the many varieties of euphorbia drifting through the planting

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make an excellent foil for the more vibrant flowers alongside.

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A well-deserved gold medal.

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-Bonjour!

-Hello.

-Bonjour! I thought I'd find you here somehow.

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I was just sitting with my eyes closed,

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and you really could be in Provence.

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-You could, couldn't you?

-This is an extraordinary location.

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It's beautifully done, isn't it? The detail is just wonderful.

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-The plant choices - spot-on.

-You know France, I know France.

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-This is pretty damn accurate, isn't it?

-Yes.

-This is supposed to be...

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I think it's one of those little resting points on the Tour de France,

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top of a mountain in the 1950s, you can imagine these guys

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cycling up, stopping, having a glass of wine and then going on...

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-It gets that Provencal feel.

-Yes.

-Just beautiful.

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The choice of plants here are so authentic.

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The olives and the convolvulus and the lavenders and stuff.

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And even these pots. I love the way that, you know, the herbs really...

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You can almost feel the sun baking on them. They love well-drained soil.

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-You know, they can be left for months in the summer...

-When you go to France.

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Well, you can go on holiday and come back and they will still be alive.

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I think the other thing is, is that what I get from this

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is you can play, you CAN treat your garden as a bit of theatre.

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And if you want to make, you know, the things that inspire you

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and have got happy memories then it's the details, it's the touches that count.

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Though the show gardens are delightful, for me,

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the whole point about the Malvern show is finding all these wonderful plants.

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A few weeks ago, we went to visit a small nursery in Devon

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and meet a man who's absolutely passionate

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about a particular sort of primula.

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Primula sieboldii I found in the wild around Japan and parts of Asia,

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around there.

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And I just love the simplicity of them.

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This is actually the first time we are going to be

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in the marquee at Malvern.

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The public tend to respond very well to the sieboldii when they see it,

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so we are looking forward to going out to a wider audience.

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The Japanese, with their love of plants,

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are the ones that have made the sieboldii into the variety it is today.

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It's identified in the earliest gardening books in Japan,

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so it's an old and established plant form.

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There's a Japanese short poem, or haiku,

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and it translates along the lines of, "Even grasses have

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"cherry blossom flowers in Japan, the land of the cherry blossom."

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The Japanese gods used to cultivate these most beautiful gardens

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with the wonderful cherry trees that bloomed over the streams and lakes.

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But unfortunately, the blossom tended to fall too quickly

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and the gods were so upset after all their efforts

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that it was such a short blooming, that they decreed that in future

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when the blossom fell, it would come up through the grass

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and the grasses would flower, and it happened to be a little primula down there when they decreed this,

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and that then formed the Primula sieboldii.

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It's just such a wonderful plant. The blooms are so nice.

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And there's such a nice variation in them,

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it's typical of many plants the Japanese like to grow.

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They will look for the variety.

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Primulas generally are quite good for that

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because they're quite promiscuous, quite variable.

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But the Sieboldii in particular,

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the range of colours goes from a deep magenta, deep pink,

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through the blue shades up to the pure whites, like this.

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And because they feel almost pastely in colour,

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you can actually put any different varieties together

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and will look as if they're suited and complement each other.

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In the wild, the closest form we have here is "Sumizomegenji"

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and it is the closest you can get, as far as I'm aware, to the wild form

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We've found that they will grow in reasonable levels of sunlight,

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but they've got to have a cool root run,

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they've got to be in quite nice organic soil

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that never dries out fully, but doesn't flood either.

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We've also tried semi-woodland, edge of woodland conditions,

0:20:270:20:32

which again they thrive in because they love leaf mould

0:20:320:20:35

and they do well, but obviously you need a bit of light

0:20:350:20:39

for the flowers to come out.

0:20:390:20:41

Very popular form,

0:20:410:20:43

this one is called Snowflake.

0:20:430:20:46

It looks really delicate, but actually they are very reliable,

0:20:460:20:49

they are quite happy in our soils, our conditions,

0:20:490:20:52

and they normally come into flower mid to late February.

0:20:520:20:55

And you'll have them in flower to about mid to end of June.

0:20:550:20:59

Don't be deceived by the fact that they look so delicate,

0:20:590:21:02

they are really quite forgiving.

0:21:020:21:04

And if you put them in the right place, they'll reward you for years.

0:21:040:21:08

We'll always be nervous when we try to put on an exhibit

0:21:080:21:12

because the primulas can be... They're not fussy,

0:21:120:21:15

it's just that they grow according to their own desires and speed.

0:21:150:21:19

You can't force primulas along, you can't put them in a warm house

0:21:190:21:23

to speed them up because that will just kill them,

0:21:230:21:26

so we have to go with nature on it.

0:21:260:21:29

We just hope that they'll be enough in flower for Malvern

0:21:290:21:32

that we can put on a good display.

0:21:320:21:35

Well, I have to say, it's beautiful.

0:21:400:21:42

-Thank you.

-Absolutely exquisite.

0:21:420:21:44

But how did you get on?

0:21:440:21:46

We got a silver gilt, we're really pleased with that.

0:21:460:21:49

The weather hasn't helped us,

0:21:490:21:51

but I think it's come out nice, we like it.

0:21:510:21:54

And what's people's reactions to seeing so many Sieboldii together?

0:21:540:21:58

I think they've been impressed. The main message we have to keep giving

0:21:580:22:02

is that it might look delicate, but they are very good garden plants.

0:22:020:22:06

-And I suppose the best thing is that everybody can grow them.

-They can.

0:22:060:22:10

Yes, it's a nice, friendly plant.

0:22:100:22:13

Along the plant avenues, or in here in this wonderful marquee,

0:22:240:22:29

the whole of the Malvern Show is packed with plants.

0:22:290:22:33

All plants are special, but occasionally, you come face to face

0:22:400:22:44

with something that you've never seen before.

0:22:440:22:47

The Malvern Hills are blue at the moment, alive with bluebells.

0:22:480:22:54

But not this bluebell. This is a very special one.

0:22:540:22:57

It's a bracteate bluebell,

0:22:570:22:59

so called because it's got these wonderful sort of whiskery growths

0:22:590:23:04

that separate these brilliant blue flowers.

0:23:040:23:07

It's such a graceful, gorgeous plant and so unusual too.

0:23:070:23:12

And it's the very first time it's been seen in a British flower show.

0:23:120:23:16

It's its first public outing.

0:23:160:23:19

It's the sort of plant that you can't increase rapidly,

0:23:190:23:23

like ordinary bluebells cos it's sterile.

0:23:230:23:25

So each of these plants has been grown individually from side bulbs.

0:23:250:23:30

It's such a special plant that it's the sort of thing

0:23:300:23:34

you'd want to put into a secret corner of your garden

0:23:340:23:38

and go there occasionally to commune with it.

0:23:380:23:41

Just as the trees are coming into leaf is a time

0:23:490:23:52

when woodland plants are at their very best.

0:23:520:23:55

Most of us have a bit of shade in our gardens,

0:23:550:23:59

and these plants are ideal in that kind of situation.

0:23:590:24:02

And there's one here that is just so beautiful.

0:24:020:24:06

It's Cornus canadensis, so called because it's from Canada

0:24:080:24:12

where it carpets woodland.

0:24:120:24:14

It's a very easy plant to grow,

0:24:140:24:16

providing you've got slightly acidic conditions.

0:24:160:24:20

We have lots of native shade-loving plants.

0:24:210:24:25

All of them are beautiful, but nothing is more special

0:24:250:24:29

than this lovely Melittis melissophyllum

0:24:290:24:32

otherwise known as Bastard Balm.

0:24:320:24:34

I don't know what it is that draws you to it, it's a quiet plant,

0:24:340:24:39

perhaps it's these lovely soft, fresh green leaves,

0:24:390:24:42

each one sheltering a beautiful white flower.

0:24:420:24:46

They all have

0:24:460:24:47

sticky-out pink tongues too that adds to the charm.

0:24:470:24:51

Our native wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa, often produces

0:25:050:25:09

all sorts of quirky variations.

0:25:090:25:12

But none more quirky than this.

0:25:120:25:14

This is Anemone nemorosa "Bracteata Pleniflora".

0:25:140:25:18

And in its centre, lots of petals have turned into these glorious

0:25:180:25:24

delicate little bright-green bracts.

0:25:240:25:27

The whole thing's got the appearance

0:25:270:25:30

of a sort of green and white powder-puff, it's charming.

0:25:300:25:34

Whatever kind of plants you're looking for,

0:25:340:25:36

whatever your garden's like,

0:25:360:25:38

Malvern Show is packed with all sorts of wondrous things.

0:25:380:25:41

And I know that my car boot's not going to be nearly big enough.

0:25:410:25:46

Now, it's wonderful to get out and get inspiration at flower shows,

0:26:070:26:11

but still the garden at home needs looking after.

0:26:110:26:14

And here are some jobs I was doing at Longmeadow earlier this week.

0:26:140:26:19

As the flowers develop on your strawberry plants,

0:26:250:26:28

it's a good idea to cover some of them with cloches.

0:26:280:26:31

Leave the ends open so the bees can get in,

0:26:330:26:36

but once they're covered,

0:26:360:26:38

this will encourage the development and ripening of fruits.

0:26:380:26:42

And you'll get a staggered fruit production

0:26:420:26:45

rather than just one big glut in midsummer.

0:26:450:26:48

You can't beat the flavour of home-grown sweetcorn

0:26:500:26:54

and now is the time to sow them.

0:26:540:26:56

I sow one seed to a module and then pot these on in a few weeks' time.

0:26:580:27:04

These are plants that need warmth

0:27:060:27:09

from the moment you sow them to harvest.

0:27:090:27:12

Put them under cover to germinate

0:27:120:27:14

and wait till the nights have warmed up before you plant them out.

0:27:140:27:18

It's really important to harden off

0:27:240:27:26

any plants that have been raised under cover,

0:27:260:27:28

and that includes garden centre plants.

0:27:280:27:31

A cold frame is ideal for this.

0:27:310:27:34

But if you don't have one, a sheltered corner will do the job.

0:27:360:27:39

Then, when they've acclimatised

0:27:390:27:41

after one or two weeks, they can be moved to their final position.

0:27:410:27:45

Well, I couldn't resist buying my White Robin and ranunculus

0:28:090:28:12

and they'll go in the Writing Garden when I get home.

0:28:120:28:15

And I'll be bringing back a lot of inspiration from this year's Malvern too.

0:28:150:28:19

If you want to come and see for yourself,

0:28:190:28:21

the show is open until Sunday night.

0:28:210:28:23

The details on our website.

0:28:230:28:25

And I hope to see you back again at Longmeadow next week.

0:28:250:28:30

Till then, bye-bye.

0:28:300:28:31

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:510:28:55

This episode comes from the Malvern Spring Gardening Show at the Three Counties Showground. Monty Don, Joe Swift and Carol Klein go behind the scenes to meet the show garden designers and the nursery men and women who make this event so special. Monty takes a sneak peak at the floral marquee before the show opens and then he searches for the perfect plants to add to his cottage garden, as well as checking out some of the ideas for sustainable gardening at the show. Carol hunts for rare and unusual plants being showcased at Malvern and discovers what it takes for smaller growers to get their plants to the show in peak condition. Meanwhile Joe will be in the show gardens on the lookout for design tips that could help us all transform our gardens.


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