Gardening magazine. Monty's wildlife garden begins to take shape at Longmeadow, and bees are very much at the forefront of his mind as he plants up a nectar-rich border.
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Hello. Welcome to Gardener's world.
Come on, you. Get up there.
I'm really pleased to see that the bluebells that we planted
as little bulbs last September have largely flowered.
Now, they're delicate at the moment
but they do already cast this lovely blue shimmer
over this piece of the garden,
and that will spread naturally by seed.
You can make your own little bluebell wood
if you've got a few trees.
The cowslips are spread entirely by seed from about 50 yards away.
There's some cow parsley coming through.
It's got all that magic of spring.
Now, you haven't been to Longmeadow for three weeks
so I'm going to give you a little tour
to show you how spring has transformed it
and, then, later on, I'll be planting those bee-friendly plants
that I bought at Malvern.
This week, Juliet Sargeant visits a garden in South London
that's been created specifically
to develop physical and mental wellbeing.
I like using my hands and feeling, you know, the earth.
There is something really therapeutic about it, isn't there?
And, over the next few weeks,
Joe will be learning to love the hanging basket,
and this week starts with the most traditional kind.
I'm on a mission to find out the secrets behind these riots of colour
and how I can bring them into my world of contemporary garden design.
The Cottage Garden has really come into its own,
and, this year, I planted tulips chosen for their height.
These are Triumph varieties,
so you've got Camargue,
this, flushed with pink.
You've got Roi du Midi, the buttery yellow,
rising up from the forget-me-nots.
Now, forget-me-nots will seed themselves everywhere
but you can control that by lifting plants after they've flowered
and then replanting where you want them,
spaced about a foot or so apart.
They very quickly spread
and, if you've got the boundaries, some containment of a hedge,
that stops them spreading too far.
It makes them nice and upright.
Then, through that, the tulips can rise up
as these lovely, pastel-y, almost ice cream flowers
and the whole thing is shamelessly frothy, light and fun.
The daffodils in the long walk are still flowering up to a point,
although increasingly they need deadheading
almost on an hourly basis
but, through them, have come the ballerina tulips and the wallflowers
and the result is a really fiery
and, I have to say, very fragrant mix
and, of course, the whole point of this is to provide a transition
from the pastel colours of the Cottage Garden
to the intensity of the Jewel Garden.
The Jewel Garden, with its strict palette of jewel colours,
is quite slow to get going.
It doesn't kick in until the first tulips arrive at the end of April
but then it all starts to happen very fast
and, from now through to October,
everything about this piece of the garden is about colour
and the colours are arriving thick and fast.
Now, at this time of year, they're dominated by a kind of fresh energy
that's best seen in the golden hops and in the euphorbias.
That's matched by the alliums, which are just beginning to open,
but, above all, it's about keeping that palette of jewel-like colours
growing and firing on all cylinders
from now right through into autumn.
Nothing could be more different to the Jewel Garden
than the Writing Garden
which is fundamentally white, except at this time of year
because the apple blossom's out
and that means that it's touched with pink
and the dominant note comes from cow parsley.
I wanted to make a garden that captured the essence of cow parsley
at this time of year and, in fact, I've got quite a few plants
I've been growing from seed that are umbellifers,
like cow parsley, and, long after that's disappeared,
will keep providing these umbels of white froth.
Now, this is Ammi visnaga
and the umbels are rather more rounded rather than plate-like
and are just touched with green.
So very easy to sow.
I actually sowed these in February.
Nice little plants like that
but, of course, if you haven't sown any from seed,
it's too late to do so now but you can buy plugs online.
And I'll just pop them randomly, maybe 20, 30, 40
throughout this area, so that, in a couple of months' time,
those will rise up through and give this floating cloud of white flower.
The thing about growing plants at this time of year
is that the whole process, from planting out
to enjoying them flowering,
makes you feel so much better.
I've written at great length about how it helped me with depression,
simply through the process of looking after plants and gardening.
And we went to Bethlem Hospital in Beckenham in Southeast London,
where they are doing exactly that work.
My name is Juliet Sargeant.
I now work as a garden designer
but, in my former life, I was a hospital doctor.
In my bones, I know that gardening is good for our health
and, today, I'm visiting a place that proves it
by actively incorporating it into treatment.
This is Bethlem Royal Hospital,
the oldest psychiatric hospital in the world.
For over 700 years, at various sites,
it's been involved in the treatment of people with mental illness.
Patients come here mostly for residential care
and they can stay from a few weeks to even a few years.
One of the most innovative treatments they offer is gardening therapy.
I'm meeting the head of occupational therapy, Peter O'Hare,
to find out exactly what it involves.
We have a range of gardens here on site.
We've a courtyard garden,
a walled kitchen garden - where we grow mostly vegetables -
and we have restored the orchards recently, as well,
so this provides us with a wide range of potential activities
which we can adapt for therapeutic purposes.
So what sort of conditions might people have?
Here, we have people with schizophrenia, depression,
anxiety disorders, eating disorders,
we have a mother and baby unit, we have children and adolescents.
With something like depression, how does the gardening actually help?
A lot of it is to do with the sensory experience.
When you're out there in nature, just like here,
you can see the bluebells, and the smell of them, the touch,
it does a lot to stimulate.
Being out in the sun, as well.
That can all have an impact on people's mood,
so getting off the ward and getting out there can really, really help.
I can imagine that, if you have a condition like anxiety disorder,
it could be quite a challenge working in a muddy kitchen garden.
Actually, anxiety is a good example
because people often come with severe contamination fears,
if they have OCD,
so, actually, yes, it's really difficult to think
of getting your hands dirty
but that's precisely what some of them have to do,
but doing it in a very gradual way,
seeing that it isn't going to actually kill them,
which is often a fear they may have,
or they're not going to contaminate somebody else,
which is another fear people may have,
so they work through those in therapy
but it's only because they can actually do it in the garden
that it is actually effective.
It's the two together that really work.
Gardening therapy might seem new
but hospitals and their gardens have a long history.
In the past, they were used to grow medicinal plants
and food for patients.
Today, here at Bethlem, patients produce food for themselves
and, in turn, help in their own recovery.
And there's real evidence that this treatment works.
In Norway, they looked at people with depression
and found that, after just 12 weeks of gardening therapy,
they had a significant improvement in their mood.
-I'm going to help.
'Jack is new to Bethlem
'and to gardening.'
I like using my hands and feeling Mother Earth and...
There is something really, really therapeutic about it, isn't there?
Well, that's what I've noticed. For me, it's not...
What's therapeutic is being outside in the sunlight
but it's also the social interaction and the other people you meet
while you're here. You're not here on your own,
so you can ask questions, gain knowledge as well,
and chat about anything.
It'll take your mind off, maybe, if you've got any worries.
-It's a form of distraction, yeah.
But a very positive form of distraction.
Leon's been here for a few months
and gardening therapy is making a difference.
I'm not that confident to join in groups at all.
I do get a bit shy, to be honest.
It helps me build up my confidence outside in the community.
And do you find it relaxing to be here in the garden?
It helps you relax, and, when you go back,
you've always got a smile on your face and people like that.
So do you think you're going to carry on gardening
-after you leave Bethlem?
I'm going to find like a community place
where they do activities and stuff like that
so, hopefully, yeah, do gardening in another garden.
-And I can show them what I've been doing at Bethlem.
I love it. It's just lovely weather
and lovely to do a bit of gardening, really.
'Seeing the work that's going on here at Bethlem
'confirms everything I believe to be great about gardening.
'It's good for mental wellbeing,
'it's good for physical wellbeing
'and it's something, if at all possible,
'we should all be doing more of.'
What's the thing you like best about gardening, then?
Gosh, there's so many things I love about gardening.
I think probably my favourite thing is when I discover a new plant
-that I've never seen before.
-And I learn how to grow it.
I agree with you there.
Juliet will be joining me at Chelsea next week,
where I'll be learning more about her interest
in gardening as therapy.
Now, I've created an area here at Longmeadow to maximise wildlife
but I did say, when I set out to make this,
that I wanted to make it a garden that would be beautiful
and that is a key part of it.
This area around the back is now ready
for planting with bee-friendly plants.
In other words, plants that are designed to attract
as many bees as possible
and, at Malvern last week, I went shopping and bought a few plants
just to get it going.
The first is this pretty little geum
and it's called Bell Bank,
and it's got a slightly pinky, apricot flower
and it fulfils one of the first really important things
if you want to attract bees, which is to have open flowers.
Easy for the bee to get to.
So I'm going to plant this at the edge
so we're starting to create a border.
This is not wild gardening, this is going to look a really nice border.
Before I plant, I just want to position
the other plants around them.
I've got a scabious. This is Scabiosa Pink Mist.
What's beautiful about this plant is, if you deadhead it,
it'll flower from now right through summer,
and you can see - perfect for bees to land on
and get the nectar and the pollen,
and that's the other thing you need to look for
is plants that are rich in nectar and pollen.
The other plant I bought at Malvern is this glorious thistle,
and thistles are good for insects of all kinds.
It's called Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum.
It's a glorious flower.
Unfortunately, it is quite short-lived
so you have to live with that.
It'll perform superbly for about three years
and then it'll disappear.
Now, I'm standing on boards
because I have prepared this very thoroughly.
Just because it's a wildlife garden
doesn't mean to say that you can plant in amongst the weeds.
If you're making a border, same rules apply.
Weed it thoroughly, dig it thoroughly,
and that, apart from anything else, makes planting a lot easier.
The key thing is to have a succession of plants from February,
for the first bumblebees, through to September/October.
You'll be surprised what those plants might be.
There's a wide choice.
At certain times of year, seemingly unlikely plants
like ivy, for example, are really important for bees.
It doesn't always have to be flowers in a border.
See, that's incredible.
You plant a geum and, literally within a minute, there are bees.
As well as encouraging bees by planting for them,
I've gone a step further.
I've got a simple beehive.
It's called a top-bar hive
and is really just an elementary box to encourage the bees in.
Now, if I take the lid off here for a minute,
you'll see what looks like a series of bars across the top.
If you lift one off, you can see it's simply that.
You rub beeswax on here and that attracts the bees in.
There's a little door down there through which they enter
and they make their honeycombs attached to these bars,
so they hang down like that.
In time, they can fill the whole hive with a whole row of them,
and if you want to, you simply lift them out and take the honey from it.
But actually, you don't even need to do that.
You can just regard it as a home, living space for wild bees.
Just set it up and leave it.
And you can contact your local Bee Association
and they will provide you with a swarm
and you can learn how to beekeep and make honey.
Either way, you're going to do a lot to help the bee population
and the beauty of this is you don't need an orchard to place it in,
you don't need to be in the countryside.
This works just as well in a small suburban or urban garden,
or even a roof garden as it does in the countryside.
Now for something very different indeed.
Joe is in search of the perfect hanging basket.
As a garden designer, my style is quite contemporary.
I like clean lines and slick and simple planting
so, for me, hanging baskets are a bit of a no-no.
They're big, they're brash, they're colourful,
and dare I say it, a little bit dated.
Yet I know they're incredibly popular and they adorn millions of homes
and workplaces up and down the country.
As a nation, during the summer months, we go crazy for them.
From back gardens and city balconies
to street corners and pub fronts, they're everywhere.
So what am I missing?
Am I just being a design snob?
I'm on a mission to find out the secrets behind these riots of colour
and how I can bring them into my world of contemporary garden design.
It's not going to be easy but I'm willing to be convinced.
To kick off my voyage of discovery,
where better to head than a commercial grower?
Miles Watson-Smyth is an expert in traditional hanging basket design.
How many hanging baskets do you make up every year?
-Well, in this block, there's about 4,000.
But we actually grow over 11,000 every summer.
-So where do they all end up?
Well, these ones are for the City of Westminster,
so these are going on to Piccadilly,
Trafalgar Square, even Downing Street.
But remember it's early in the season.
They're only just showing a little bit of colour now.
-Soon it's just going to be masses of colour.
-Oh, it'll be huge, yeah.
So, Miles, what do people want from a hanging basket?
They want floral impact - bright, blowsy colours, all mixed together.
They want the basket to shout and say, "I'm here!"
-You know what I mean? It's just...
-It's not subtle then?
No, no, there's nothing subtle about a hanging basket,
it's got to have mixed colours, all clashing with each other.
-Really providing that impact.
-So it's like a mini garden.
You're trying to get lots of different colours
and lots of different plants in a hanging basket?
Absolutely, the more the merrier, Joe.
-There's going to be a party in there.
-A party in a basket?
It's a party in a basket! Of course it is, that's what they're about.
Miles clearly has a real passion for these pockets full of colour
and his healthy order book proves he's not alone.
With 11,000 baskets to get finished in the next few weeks,
if I help him out, can he persuade me of the virtues of hanging baskets?
So it's just a simple wire basket. What's the liner we put in?
It's a type of felt which has got a thin plastic backing onto it
and then we've lined it as well with a rather heavy-duty
piece of polythene that has got holes drilled in it.
The holes are about five centimetres up from the bottom of the basket,
creating a reservoir of water.
And, Joe, remember to try and get a basket that's as big as possible.
These are 55-centimetre baskets, they're absolutely huge.
That means you've got that volume of moisture that will keep it wet.
Plant-wise, what are we putting in, then?
-Here we are, we're going to start off with a bidens.
-Central bidens, right in the middle?
-Right in the middle.
That's going to grow really long and come through everything else.
We've got some ivy leaf geranium.
So what composts have you got in here, then?
It has got a bit of peat in it.
We've also got perlite and, in addition,
-we've got water-retaining granules.
-And what else have we got?
Both a base fertiliser and a slow-release fertiliser in there,
just to leach that feed out through the season.
What did you put in there, then? I've got to keep up here.
That's a surfinia, which is a white flower
with this lovely blue delicate vein
that comes through the trumpet-shaped flower.
-A yellow begonia.
-Yeah, of course we are! A yellow begonia!
It just goes beautifully with the pink and the red, doesn't it?
And another pink Illumination.
So, Joe, another thing about the plant selection
is that we choose self-cleaning plants,
where the wind naturally blows the dead heads off
and they just continue generating new flowers through the season.
So, in total, we are putting in about 10 or 11 plants?
In two weeks, they'll double in size.
Now, some people punch holes in the side of the liner
and plant up the sides to try and envelop it in flowers.
-Yeah. Absolutely unnecessary.
This is going to be a mass of flowers that's going to trail over.
In a few weeks time, you won't see the liner or the basket.
-It'll just be draped in plants?
-It will be covered.
What about ongoing maintenance?
Is it just watering, or do you feed it through the season?
Feed and feed and feed, yes.
You cannot overfeed these things
because, remember, a lot of it all leaches through,
so feed it and water it as much as you possibly can.
With a big basket like this, once every four days should be plenty.
What's going to happen to my hanging basket, where will it end up?
We will put it on the streets of London.
When it goes out, I want to know exactly where it is.
So I can walk past it and say, "I planted that!"
Most of these hanging baskets will adorn urban spaces,
so those shots of colour will be seen by people
who don't even have a garden at all.
That is a serious plus point,
especially for a hanging basket sceptic like me.
But I still need more convincing so, next time,
I'll be exploring an edgier side of hanging baskets
and trying out a more radical approach
in my mission to embrace these miniature gardens of the sky.
You know, I've never had a hanging basket here at Longmeadow,
but I'm going to make one or two
over the course of the next few weeks.
This time of year has long been known as the hungry gap
and that's because there is surprisingly little to eat
in the vegetable garden.
The winter crops are pretty much all over
and yet the summer crops haven't really kicked in.
However, things are happening.
So for example, this bed looks empty
but I had some spare seed potatoes
and I popped them in there a week ago.
So if you've got seed potatoes or if you can get some,
it's not too late to plant them.
This is cavola nero, the black Tuscan kale.
Too early to pick it yet
but I would be able to pick it in maybe three, four weeks' time
and that will go on growing and being harvested
right through next winter.
I've got a rocket in among the elephant garlic
but you can see that it's gone to seed.
What that means is that the leaves get fewer and further between.
They're still perfectly good.
Nice and peppery.
I've got some Little Gem coming through.
The early Belle de Fontenay potatoes got frosted but they survived.
It will set them back about a week, no more.
However, the Swiss chard that I sowed - complete disaster.
I put that down to the fact that it was very dry after I sowed them.
It's a write-off. I will just hoe these out and start again.
I probably wasted a fiver's worth of seed.
It's a shame but not the worst thing that can happen in the garden.
However, the rhubarb is just triumphant.
Broad beans have been slow to get going
but they're coming through, and you can see the peas,
a real difference between the ones that I sowed in plugs under cover
and raised and planted out, and the ones I have sowed directly,
which have only just started to appear.
I don't think that matters, it gives succession.
Perhaps it's a little bit too early to harvest much.
But just in a week or two, when the days warm up,
everything is just going to go whoosh!
I don't know if you can hear the chattering in the sky.
It is suddenly full of house martins, and I love them
because they are so busy.
Hard at work, catching insects, riding the wind.
Well, I've been busy while you've been away.
There's always work to do at this time of year
and here are some things you can do in your garden this weekend.
I like to grow tulips in handsome terracotta pots
but you have to leave them to die back
after they have finished flowering and this ties the pot up.
So deadhead the tulips, lift them from the terracotta
and then put them into a plastic pot,
where they can slowly die back as next year's bulb develops properly.
Wash the terracotta pot and you'll have it to reuse for something else.
If you have sown your own sweet peas or bought some seedlings,
now is the time to plant them into the garden.
They will need something to climb up.
I like to use wigwams, but netting will do or a fence.
Anything that they can be tied to, although they will form tendrils
and attach themselves after about four or five weeks' growth.
They relish rich soil, so add plenty of compost
and when you've planted them,
water them in well and keep them well watered.
If you're growing outdoor tomatoes
or taking part in our blight-free experiment,
it's too early to plant them out outside,
unless you live in the far South, because the nights are too cold.
However, they should be hardened off now
so take them out of the greenhouse, check through them
and pinch out any side shoots,
although Losetto, one of our varieties
is a bush type and that shouldn't be pinched out.
Then place them somewhere where they can gradually be exposed
to outdoor life and we will plant them out in a few weeks' time.
I do absolutely love this time of year.
Of course you can get some bad weather, still,
and just a week or so back, the magnolia that I planted
got BLASTED by frost
and all the flowers and all the foliage immediately blackened.
If that has happened to your magnolia, don't worry.
The plant will be fine.
There will be fresh growth and that will come back through.
There is so much else around it that it hardly matters.
Just for the next week or two, spring is still holding strong.
As Monty's wildlife garden begins to take shape at Longmeadow, bees are very much at the forefront of his mind. He plants up a nectar-rich border that will attract all sorts of bees and other pollinating insects from spring right through to the autumn. Meanwhile, Joe Swift goes on a quest to find out more about the wonderful world of hanging baskets, starting with a visit to one of the country's leading growers.