Gardening magazine. Carol Klein visits one of the 400 gardens in England and Wales getting ready to open to the public for the National Gardens Scheme.
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Come on, in you go, there's a good boy.
Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World.
This is the dry garden and we call it dry not because
it gets any less rain, it's still a wet old garden,
but because it drains really fast and, in fact, it's the only
bit of Longmeadow that does have good drainage.
And there's hardly any soil but things grow,
they grow well if you choose the right plants and, in fact,
last year, we gave it an overhaul.
Everything came out, freshened up the soil,
weeded it through and then replanted.
So, here we are, this is one year's growth.
A little bit lower than the rest of the garden but I love that sort
of undulating tapestry of varying greens just touched with colour.
The irises coming through, little bit of comfrey, daisies
and, of course, that rose - Madame Gregoire Staechelin -
on the wall which is just coming into flower.
In fact, I was looking at it a day or two ago
and I saw a bluetit pop in a hole and, on closer look,
I could see there's a little nest inside the wall behind the rose.
So it's a gentle part of the garden but with its own real charm.
Now, on tonight's programme, I will be planting out my
blight-resistant outdoor tomatoes
and also planting out the giant sunflowers.
This week, we're visiting two very different gardens,
both are open this weekend as part of the National Gardens Festival.
One is a very wet garden in Cumbria...
You work in an area and when you leave it, it shouldn't look as
though you've worked in it.
That's really the fundamental thing behind our style of gardening.
..and Carol visits a very steep, dry garden near Bedford.
-Do you have to abseil?
-It obviously keeps you fit.
Yes, walking up and down the slope with a few barrows of soil.
Who needs the gym?
Three weeks ago, I installed a top-bar beehive in my orchard
and now it's swarming season and a local beekeeper, Gareth Baker,
has arrived with a swarm for me.
So Nigel's been told to stay inside for the time being.
All right, so fill me in, Gareth, on what we're going to do.
Well, we've got the skep there, swarm of bees,
we have got an amazing amount of bees in here. 5,000, 10,000...
-Oh, look at them.
-How dangerous is that?
These bees have got nothing to protect, no point to prove,
they're just looking to move house
and the sooner they're ensconced somewhere nice, warm and dry...
Well, I've got a nice warm, dry top-bar hive, so what do we do?
You're tipping them out.
Yeah, we just gently tip them out on the ramp
and the bees will just gently run up the ramp.
Look at that, how extraordinary is that?
What an amazing thing. And you collected that swarm, did you?
That was a beautiful swarm of bees
hanging in the tree, put the skep underneath, shook the branch,
they all dropped in and away they went.
And in terms of beekeeping, what do we need to do?
Because if you come with a swarm and put it on there,
what's the next step in terms of management?
The one thing that's...brilliant about Britain is we've got a vast
array of beekeeping associations and groups,
so there's all that information,
mentoring and assistance
as to what you can get done with your bees, where to put them...
So if anybody wants to do this,
contact your local beekeepers association and they will guide you
and instruct you and maybe give you courses that you can follow.
Yeah, there's a vast array of all sorts of courses.
So is it best now just to leave them
or do we have to stand and guide them until they're all in?
-It's one of the things we leave the bees to get on with.
What bees get on with best.
And if they're flying around like this, how likely are they to sting?
-Because a lot of people are worried about that.
With a swarm, they're exceptionally gentle.
However, if you've got a swarm of bees in your garden,
get a hold of the local beekeeping association,
the British Beekeeping Association have actually got a swarm line
that... You can get hold of somebody that will then come round
and remove the swarm and rehouse it somewhere else.
What I'm fascinated by...is how they are organising themselves.
You know, you can see this drift up.
Look, they're beginning to collect around the mouth.
Yeah, here we go, they're starting to go in now.
Look at that, there they go.
It's like sand going through an egg timer, isn't it?
They can't get in quick enough, can they? These are worker bees?
All the workers are females, all unfertilised females.
There's a few drones in here which are the male bees,
which are larger, fatter bees. And the drones don't sting.
The queen is about a third longer than a worker bee.
-And there is one queen per swarm?
Oh, I see, there's the queen.
She's a bit shy and cold, so she's just burrowing under the bees.
One of the amazing things about gardens
is when you look at the countryside, it's green.
When you look at aerial views of gardens,
they are just awash with forage.
If we were in an urban or even suburban back garden,
we could have 50 different households
-within the bee's range or more.
How does that change things?
Urban beekeeping is obviously not quite as straightforward
as rural beekeeping, but bees have existed in towns and cities
for years, whether it be in your back garden
or in the church steeple.
You have to be aware of people.
If you're a bit concerned, get hold of local associations because
none of us want bees to be in the press for the wrong reasons.
Right. So gardens and bees make very good companions.
Well, we'll let those do their thing for a bit,
we're going to have a cup of tea.
Gareth, thank you very much indeed for coming and helping me out,
I shall probably be on the phone asking for more advice.
-I'm always there, but this will go according to plan.
Now, we went to visit a garden in the Lake District
made by David Kinsman and Diane Hewitt
where not only is extreme skill shown by the gardeners,
but, at every opportunity,
they've encouraged nature to play just as active a part.
We moved here in 1981.
It was pretty well derelict and we gradually
worked our way through, up the hill, round the land.
We planted a few plants,
but apart from that, we've not really interfered with it very much.
That's part of our gardening philosophy. You work in an area
and when you leave it, it shouldn't look as though you've worked in it.
Let the plants tell you the story,
let the mosses tell you the story. That's really, I think,
the fundamental thing behind our style of gardening.
We knew the quarry was here
and we knew it'd been a garbage tip for 200 or 300 years.
It had been filled up with old refrigerators and washing machines.
We'd been to Japan, we'd seen Japanese gardens
and we liked the idea of that being a Japanese-influenced area
but we let it go, we let the mosses and everything else take over.
Japanese gardeners dominate the landscape,
but we've done very little, so it's a very different approach
giving, in some ways, a rather similar end product.
The north-west of England, Lakeland, has a very wet climate
and here we get about 70 inches of rain a year.
We're surrounded by plants that thrive under those
temperate rainforest conditions.
Many different types of rhododendron, for example,
Enkianthus just by us here, many different sorts of camellias.
All these plants are able to withstand the rainfall,
in fact, enjoy the rainfall.
Most of them are rather shallow rooted,
which is good because we have very little soil here on this hillside.
We've done, really, very little except stand back and watch.
The area is predominantly, now,
populated by one of our native mosses.
The common one in this garden, Polytrichum formosum,
it just will slowly cover any horizontal surface
or anywhere with just a little bit of soil.
And the Polytrichum, from about now onwards,
will develop these little spore capsules which are a golden colour.
It's really beautiful and very different
from what it looked like a month ago.
We've not moved or planted any ferns or mosses or lichens,
we've looked at what's arrived and then we've tweaked it.
What we do is to clear leaves and fallen twigs
and so on off the surface
because these plants still need light.
And otherwise sit back on a seat and enjoy what has arrived.
This is the most formal part of the garden
and it's the last part of the garden that we actually did anything with.
We knew from the 1910 OS map that there was a spring here,
so David built this grotto
and then we realised that the grotto area was being colonised by this.
It's a British native.
Started off as a small patch, has spread. We like them, they like us.
If they want to live and we want them,
then we just have it and they go for it.
The moss part started life as an access route down between
some birch trees but over time,
the mosses built up into these beautiful mounds
and then about ten years ago,
we thought it would look good with a little bit of gravel
down the middle. Slightly narrower at the top, wider lower down,
so it gave you the sense of a river increasing in volume down the hill.
We pass it every time we go up into the woods
and your head always swings round to check the moss part is still there.
We are only custodians, all of us on earth just occupy a small
amount of space and we're not going to be here for very long.
It's not a legacy. In 30 years' time, it should just go back...
-Like us, it should decay slowly and gracefully.
Windy Hall is just one of the gardens you can visit this weekend.
I love that garden and certainly,
if I'm up in that part of the world, I want to go and visit it.
I sowed a number of giant sunflowers
and I'm going to plant one in each of the four beds in this
sunny side of the cottage garden and I will monitor their growth
and we'll see which one does the best.
So, planting them is easy enough.
Sunflowers will grow in most soils,
they don't need any special treatment but they do need sunshine.
So don't expect them to grow so well in shade.
You can see, nice plant, good root system on the outside.
Funnily enough these were watered this morning and they're dry.
Now, the crucial thing is not so much the soil
because this is good soil with plenty of organic matter added
over the years, but they must be staked properly from the beginning.
Keep them watered, water them once a week
and if you really want to go for maximum height,
you could feed them with a general-purpose sort of tomato feed
once a week or once a fortnight.
Now, to start with,
I've got a cane but I'm expecting this to be a giant,
so I have a giant stake for it and, in fact,
I've bet the director on tonight's programme
that my sunflowers will be taller than these Irish yews.
Be prepared for more than a cane,
a cane will not support a giant sunflower, it does need to be
a stake of some kind but we'll start with a cane like this.
Plant it in nice and firmly...
..like that and I've got some twine and it's really important
to tie it as it grows because it's going to be big,
it'll be top-heavy and there's a real risk of it
bending and flopping, if not breaking.
And if you want maximum height, it's got to grow as straight as possible.
So that's Pike's Peak and our Mongolian Giant Kong
and Giant Yellow will go in the other four beds
at this end of the cottage garden and we can monitor their progress,
but the planting of them will be exactly the same and,
of course, I will water that in really well.
This is sweet rocket and we always feel that it belongs here
because it pops up in the garden and was one of the very first plants
that appeared as a self-sown seedling.
And I love it for
its exuberant, light touch.
It is a plant of May and early June,
and it blesses us for a few weeks
and then moves on, and you get these lovely seed heads.
But I can't imagine Longmeadow being without it.
Now, Windy Hall, which is open this weekend as part of the
National Gardens Scheme Festival, is an exceptionally wet place.
But Carol has been to see a garden near Bedford that is also
open this weekend that is exceptionally dry.
The thing about going to any National Gardens Scheme garden is,
you never know quite what to expect.
It is always so exciting, and this looks pretty promising, doesn't it?
Stop that and show me your lovely garden. It's beautiful!
It's designed to take effect of the slope and the fact that it's
a dry garden, even though it's actually raining today.
Greensand is basically what this sandstone is,
and we are halfway along the Greensand Ridge Walk
that goes from Leighton Buzzard to Gamlingay.
So, what does that mean, in terms of gardening?
-Dry, very sandy.
Incredibly free draining, and lots of...almost builder's sand.
So, who's constructed these walls?
Partly my husband. We tried to keep it in keeping with the local area.
-So, did the slope come right down here first of all?
The hill followed the line of that wall, so we had to dig out
about 40 lorry loads of soil
-before we could even start building the house.
-And the garden has taken us about 20 years.
-I mean, it's spectacular.
It's exciting when you come round the corner. It's dramatic, isn't it?
It is. And we do find, when we have people that haven't been
to the garden before, initially, it looks like this is the garden.
It looks like a courtyard space.
And then they suddenly realise that, actually,
"Oh, there's a set of steps and there is a footpath."
-There's more than this?
-There's more than this.
-Can we go and have a look, then?
-Let's go and see.
Mind your step.
These are what you call difficult conditions, aren't they?
How do you actually, physically garden here, Kate?
-Do you have to abseil?
but when we built the garden, we tried to put plants in so they
gave you a natural space to walk through, and then you've got
natural areas where you can stand on the root ball at the back.
Then we've got stones that are flat that give you that space to work,
and when it's been raining very heavily,
it has a tendency to move and it runs down the bank.
So, it was really important that one of the things we had to think about
when we were planting was putting plants in
which will act as an anchor.
I think it's interesting that at the bottom of the bank you've
got things that actually love moisture -
astrantias and hellebores -
so quite a lot of that moisture must come down, too.
If you were to do a soil test through, it's very dry at the top,
and yet still quite moist at the bottom,
so we tried to use that in the way that we've put the plants in.
-Can we go on the bridge?
I mean, in a dry garden, to hear water all the time...
Wildlife needs water,
and this is just such a fantastic place.
You sit and watch the birds, you watch the dragonflies
in the summer, and that lovely sound of water, you get that all day.
Very, very therapeutic.
CAROL GASPS AND LAUGHS
Look at this!
It's another garden, it's another place!
-You are in a different place altogether, aren't you?
It's not what you probably expect from the bottom.
An elliptical lawn with an elliptical retaining wall.
Which you do notice!
-When you come in.
Not many people have a pink wall in their garden.
No, it's as much a piece of artwork as it is a retaining structure,
but it just forms the perfect foil for these fantastic plants.
I love the way you've picked up the colour of this
in your planting, too -
your pink poppies and even this,
these pretty little fringe flowers of tellima, too.
And stuff like this libertia, which we have seen all around your garden,
is the perfect kind of plant for this kind of soil.
This is one plant that obviously likes it here,
because it has just self-seeded everywhere.
It's a sure sign, isn't it?
If something's really happy,
it will seed absolutely throughout your garden.
-And it's lovely, then, because it's a link, too, isn't it?
-It ties everything together.
I want to see what's up there, though. There's even more.
-There is more.
And into the herbaceous section. Isn't it splendid?
I get the feeling this is what you really, really like.
This is my style of gardening.
I love herbaceous borders.
Why did you decide that you wanted to share your garden
and open it for the NGS?
I get such a buzz from gardening.
It is my sort of default setting.
When I come in from work, come out here, cup of tea,
little bit of weeding, sit and watch the space,
so I want to share that with other people.
I want to encourage young people to want to come into this space
and, also, I'm not a runner, I'm not a baker, but I garden,
-so, yeah, this is my marathon.
-It obviously keeps you fit.
Walking up and down the slope with a few barrows of soil -
-who needs the gym?
-Nothing better, is there?
-Not a thing.
It's a fantastic thing to do.
The National Gardens Scheme has got a special gardening festival
this weekend, with over 400 gardens in England and Wales
open to the public, and very often, there is
a group of them, so you can visit two, three or even four in one trip.
Do try and get out and see some because the best way to get
inspiration for your own garden is to see what other people are doing.
Now, these are some of the outdoor tomatoes that I'm testing to see
if they are as blight resistant as some of them claim to be,
or as blight resistant as possible,
so now I'm going to plant them out in the garden.
Knowing the right time to plant out outdoor tomatoes is very,
very weather dependent, and will vary from place to place,
and what you're looking for is not the days to heat up but the nights.
I've got two different types here.
I've got a bush type and cordon type.
This one, Lizzano, is a bush.
Now, essentially, bush tomatoes have lots of side shoots,
and they all bear fruit, and they make a bush.
You don't try and train them in any way because they resist training.
You can see that what looks like it might be a leader,
in fact is a truss.
There's no single stem that you can train up into a cordon,
whereas if I get a cordon one...
which is a Fandango, you can see there is a nice,
straight stem - I haven't trained or pinched it out in any way -
and it wants to grow up tall and straight.
Most tomatoes are cordon, but it's very good to grow bush ones outside,
because they don't need training. They don't need to have support.
You can grow them in a pot, you can grow them in a window box,
and you can grow them in a hanging basket,
and it worked perfectly well. So, I'm going to grow both here.
Whatever type you grow, planting them out is much the same.
You want a fairly sunny site,
because you going to need sun to ripen the tomatoes, and you want to
plant the tomatoes deeply -
at least up to the first pair of leaves.
What happens is, the stem then grows roots,
you get more feed going into the plant and therefore
better growth and better fruit, and it rocks less in the wind.
So it's double gain.
This bed has had lots of compost added to it.
Tomatoes are quite greedy plants.
Now, because this is a bush variety, I'm only going to put
two in this space here, giving them room to develop.
When I plant the cordons out, I'll get three in this space
because, bearing in mind, they grow upwards,
and they can be planted as close together as about 15 inches.
Bushes - more like two or even three foot, if you've got lots of space.
I am now going to put a couple of Lizzano,
which is another bush type.
Again, leaving a reasonable amount of space in between them.
It would be tempting to add more, but one of the actions of blight,
which is a fungus, is lack of airflow,
so you need space between plants to let ventilation through.
Cordons, on the other hand, can grow a little bit closer together.
This is Fandango.
There is the leader. We can train that on up.
So, a nice, deep hole...
..and look how deep that is going in.
And I can get three in this space where
I could only get two bush varieties,
so the third one's going there, that one can go in the middle...
Because cordons grow tall, they get floppy,
and they MUST have support.
And at this stage,
all I need to do is pop a cane in next to each one,
good and firm.
As they grow, I'll put cross struts to support them,
but just for the moment, that's OK.
Water your tomatoes in really well,
and they won't need watering more than once a week.
I don't begin to feed mine for at least another month or two,
not till the fruit starts to set.
And now we have to wait and see, A, if they give us good fruit
and, B, if they are sufficiently blight-resistant to last out
the summer so that fruit can ripen.
Well, that's the tomatoes planted.
Here are some other jobs you can be getting on with this weekend.
It's time to plant out any pumpkins, squashes or courgettes.
They like really rich soil,
so add any compost unless your ground has been well prepared.
I like to plant them in a shallow depression,
which means that you can give them extra water,
because they are hungry, thirsty plants.
This is only a small job, but it is important.
If you've planted any trees or shrubs this spring,
do remember to give them
the really good water once a week for the rest of the summer.
This is because the roots won't be established enough to provide
enough moisture for the new foliage that will appear over the summer.
You can go on picking rhubarb for another month or so at least,
but if you see any flowering stems,
which tend to be circular rather than the flattened, edible ones,
cut them off at the base so all the energy
is going into producing new delicious shoots.
The house martins are building their nests in the eaves,
and they've done this every year since we've been here,
so there's every reason to expect that the nest will be built,
the eggs laid, the young hatched,
and we might even get a second brood,
but it's something the progress of the summer
is measured in their activity.
Let's see how these bees are doing.
I've got a bee swarm in my hive. How about that?
And I love that idea of growing plants that the bees like,
and then the bees pollinating the plants and maybe giving me honey.
And this way that our gardens can work with nature and foster it,
and we benefit, and so do they.
I could watch them for hours. However, we've run out of time.
Don't forget that this weekend
the National Gardens Scheme has a festival with over 400 gardens.
Do try and get to visit some of them,
and you can get all the details from our website.
Carol and Joe will be reporting from Gardeners' World Live next week,
but I will be back here at Longmeadow,
with my bees, so I'll see you then.
Come on, Nigel.
Over 400 gardens in England and Wales are getting ready to open to the public for the National Gardens Scheme. Carol Klein visits one of them as they prepare for the big event. It's an eventful day at Longmeadow too, as a local beekeeper arrives with a swarm for Monty's new hive.