Gardening magazine. Joe Swift continues his quest to find the perfect hanging basket and Carol Klein explores one of the nation's most beautiful gardens.
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I've got it. You can't have it! You can't have it!
You can't have it, no! You can't have it. I want it!
I'm not going to let you have the ball.
Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World. The garden is looking good,
but it is at that stage that always happens
round about midsummer which is betwixt and between.
That freshness and incredible energy that you have in May
and early June has flattened out a bit.
It's not dead at all. There's lots of lovely things.
This morning, I watched this poppy burst its shell
and emerge like a chrysalis becoming a butterfly.
There are still wonderful things in the garden,
but it is a time of year
when you need to have faith in what is to come
and perhaps a little bit of courage to cut back and make room for it
so that it can really hit its stride
and become splendid in a few weeks' time.
Carol is off to Sussex this week, at the start of a journey
-looking at plant combinations.
-This association is all about form.
You've got these bottle brushes of Persicaria bistorta
perfectly at home in this border, but all the better for having this
apricot foxglove coming up through the centre.
And Joe is finally taking the plunge and making his own hanging basket.
It's going to hang up there
and it's going to be the first hanging basket ever in this garden.
Well, Joe is not the only one
who's going to be making a hanging basket this week.
Now, as I say, this is a time of year
when some things are just going over before others have come through
to take their place, so if you want to keep the momentum
going, you really do have to intervene.
A good example is this euphorbia.
It's a wonderful plant, Euphorbia wulfenii,
and its inflorescences, or its cymes, C-Y-M-E-S, as they're called,
absolutely luminescent at their best,
but they're getting jaded and tired.
Look at that one there. That's fallen.
These ones here, they're drooping down.
So the thing to do is to cut off these flowering
stems right down at the ground. It's very simple to do.
You get in there and cut down.
But before you do so, this is one of the very few plants that
I take protection for, because euphorbias have a sap,
and the sap can be caustic.
It can really burn, not so much your hands,
but if you rub your eyes or your face, it can be quite nasty burns.
It's not a disaster, by the way, if it does touch you.
Just wash it off, and then that's fine.
Well, one of the reasons I hate wearing gloves when I'm
gardening is because everything becomes so hard to operate.
And I've got clumsy enough fingers as it is.
You will find side shoots coming off nearer the base.
That's where to cut to, because what we want is a nice,
stocky plant that will get ready for throwing up new flowering
cymes, which will then appear next spring.
So, I'm going to work through the plant.
And you can either do this in one hit
and just clear, or over the course of about a week you can just
take off those that are looking particularly droopy or faded.
Now, that should have tidied it up, rejuvenated it.
It'll look good for the rest of the summer
AND set it up for looking fantastic next spring.
Now, somebody who has forgotten more about perennial plants than
I will ever know is Carol,
and she's set off to go round the country
looking at some of our best examples of mixed planting.
'Over the coming weeks, I'm going
'to show you the wonderfully inspiring ways
'plants can be put together.
'Today, I'm looking at naturalistic
'plant combinations at Gravetye Manor.
'It used to be the home of writer and gardener
'William Robinson, who was the godfather of this style of planting.
'In direct opposition to
'the artifice of Victorian carpet bedding,
'he wanted to create gardens that not only looked natural
'but respected nature in all its exuberance and diversity.'
So, what does naturalistic planting consist of?
Is it just an excuse to let everything go wild?
Far from it. It's actually an attempt
to allow plants to be themselves,
to look as though they just put themselves there.
In actual fact, it needs lots of careful management.
This is just such a beautiful example,
these big heads of the alliums bursting through the aquilegia,
the big angelica in the background and the fennel fluffing its way
through here with the seed heads of this purple honesty.
The whole thing is just a picture
and yet it almost looks as though it did it itself.
'Today, Gravetye is managed by head gardener Tom Coward,
'who's worked on the restoration of William Robinson's garden
'for the last five years
'and has got naturalistic planting down to a fine art!'
So, Tom, how do you manage the garden? What's your system?
We're looking for plants that have character all through their life,
that have good foliage, that flower for a long time, that have a
nice shape and that die with dignity, you know,
that they have nice skeletons or seed heads.
But we never want it to be overmanicured,
so we're still happy when we have foxgloves that self-sow or
if things start flopping a little bit. We're still embracing nature.
We don't want it to become too static.
I think that's the thing about Robinson, was he hated that
-kind of control that people felt they'd got to have.
I mean, gardening IS control of nature,
-but we never want to be control freaks, do we?
'Tom uses successional planting to maintain a continuous
'stream of colour and texture right through the year.
'I was lucky enough to catch him
'planting up pockets left behind from spring flower bulbs,
'and it's immediately evident just how meticulous Tom is in combining
'plants to achieve this natural effect.'
We're using a salvia called confertiflora to
run as a linking plant to repeat through the borders.
-So you've got it planted elsewhere.
-Oh, I can see it over there.
And what are you going to plant in-between, Tom?
Well, we've got Salvia 'Amistad', so we use two salvias.
So blue works quite well with that orangey-red
and then the shapes, it's the shapes
that are more interesting than the colour sometimes.
So the Salvia confertiflora's quite a vertical spike
and I've got an Ammi,
Ammi visnaga, which makes this dome, and I'm hoping that
the dome and the spike and the soft foliage will contrast...
Very feathery and fluffy.
So, is it all going to add to this naturalistic feel?
Do you approve of this positioning?
-I think it's perfect.
'It'll be a few weeks before all these plants get established.
'But here are a few pointers on how to get a naturalistic feel
'in your garden.'
This association is all about form.
You've got these bottle brushes
of Persicaria bistorta,
what we used to call bistort.
It's a wild British native
and it looks perfectly at home in this border,
but all the better for having this apricot foxglove
coming up through the centre.
Spires again, a repetition of the sort of form,
and yet quite different. But, the colour,
this is apricot, but then when you look at each of these bells,
it's touched with the identical pink too.
But what really is a cherry on the cake is the inclusion of this
pale blue iris - 'Jane Phillips'.
A different colour, but exactly the same tone,
and it just melds the whole planting together.
You can also add plants to your border that topple gracefully.
Climbers like wisteria will add instant naturalistic impact.
Tom refers to this beautiful planting of white lupins
and the white wisteria as his stalactite and stalagmite planting.
One is a reflection of the other.
In the case of the lupin, these stiff spikes, and up above
the wisteria just lilting downward,
so that the points almost touch one another.
And, although it's been very meticulously trained,
it looks so natural,
it looks just as it should.
Another way to get that natural feeling is to do
exactly the opposite and use a collage of contrasting shapes,
textures and colour.
Over here it's a completely different story.
You've got this huge sea of catmint.
It's Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.
It's punctuated here and there by alliums,
and then these mounds in contrast of Geranium psilostemon.
And then it's almost been splattered with orange poppies,
so you get these little pinpoints.
And it just goes to prove, you know, being imaginative with plants,
going for it, that's what it's all about.
The planting here at Longmeadow, by default really, is Robinsonian.
I don't think it knew it was Robinsonian,
but that lovely mixture of things just works so well.
However, there is a time and place, I think, for bedding and formality.
And here in the Cottage Garden we do also have bedding plants.
Over spring, last winter and spring, we planted tulips
that have grown up through forget-me-nots.
But that's all gone now,
and although there's a little bit of colour in the forget-me-nots,
it's time to rip it all out,
change it, and be strong and brave about that
so we have a really good summer display.
First things first, just get in, be brave and pull it all out.
Forget-me-nots come out very easily.
They seed themselves everywhere, so I am not going to lose them.
Some will seed into here,
and also I always leave a good patch in a corner of the garden,
which produces thousands of seedlings and
then we lift those and transplant them ready for next spring.
And I'm not going to take out this foxglove, that would be vandalism.
Obviously I've been treading all over this,
so now's the time to fork it over, not dig it too deeply,
but get rid of the compaction
and also take out any weeds that are there.
Now is the moment to clear it up.
The soil is very dry because, apart from anything else,
the yew tree sucks up moisture, so does the box hedging.
To give everything a chance, I need to reinvigorate it
and nothing does that better than a thin mulch of garden compost.
That just gives everything a new burst of energy.
There's no need to dig this in.
Just rake it in lightly,
and the worms will pull it down into the soil and that will
improve the soil structure and all the goodness will happen anyway.
These are tubers that either I've had for a long time
or have grown from cuttings.
We dig them up every winter.
It is not so much the cold that we can't protect here,
but the combination of cold and wet.
And I'm going to plant these at the centre of each of the sides.
They're very, very trouble-free.
They don't need a huge amount of attention.
So, I love them.
I love the way that, a little bit of deadheading, you can have flowers
from early July right through into November.
OK. That's the dahlia planting.
Now I'm going to infill with some bedding.
Now, I'm planting this cosmos.
This is a variety called 'Dazzler', which I've grown from seed.
In fact, we've got a flower here.
I can pick it because we'll get plenty more.
It's got a kind of brashness
which is very different to the softness of spring.
It's getting quite late to sow cosmos now
but you can buy cosmos or other bedding plants.
I always plant using my fingers,
but if you don't want to end up with hands like mine,
I'd advise you to use a trowel.
Bring your ball.
I'm not going to bring it for you.
Now, obviously those will need a really good soak
and that's all I do as far as watering goes.
A good soak when they get planted and then they don't get watered
again all summer, and they'll be happy, they'll grow well.
Talking about being happy and growing well,
remember that I planted out the giant sunflower?
I've got four different types and I put them in the four beds
this end of the garden and I'm monitoring their progress.
And at the end of the year,
the 4,000 of you who have got seeds will all see how tall they can get.
Now, the one that I planted a few weeks ago...
has grown a little.
This one is 'Pikes Peak'
and you'll have to believe me when I say that I've done nothing to it -
and, so far,
it has reached
It's growing fine. If I wanted to encourage it to grow
as much as possible, I would feed it every week,
just to give it a boost.
Now, if you are one of the 4,000
who are also growing these giant sunflower seeds,
it'd be nice to hear from you.
Any pictures, or trials or tribulations
that you'd like to share with us, do let us know.
And the best way to do that is via our website.
Now, you can be pretty sure that Joe will not be using...
as he comes to the end of his journey of discovery
on learning to love the hanging basket because, this week,
he's making up his own.
'I've tried to understand the traditional...'
This goes beautifully with the pink and the red, doesn't it?
'..and I've been seduced by the radical...'
I'm quite pleased with that!
And I'm willing to admit that I might, just might,
have just been wrong about hanging baskets.
The clashing colours and effervescing displays
that erupt every summer are still not really for me.
But after my dalliance with the Japanese art of kokedama
a few weeks ago, I can see new design potential -
so I'm biting the bullet and making a hanging basket for my own garden.
Well, this is it, this is my garden -
haven't quite got the acreage of Monty,
but I do live in London so I've got a small town garden.
Plenty of green plants, not too many clashing colours going on.
It's nice and relaxing and that's just what I'm looking for.
Now, this is going to be my hanging basket.
It's actually an orchid basket and I bought it online,
but you could easily make one.
And what I like about it is it's made out of timber,
so it works with quite a few of the materials in the garden.
So, it's just going to hang up there...
..and all it needs is some plants.
MUSIC: R U Mine? by Arctic Monkeys
The plant selection will be crucial to it fitting in,
hmm, so let's see what my local garden centre has to offer.
Oh, now that's the sort of thing I'm looking for. Look at that!
A little spleenwort - a lovely little fern.
A couple of those would be great.
And then that as well,
this hart's-tongue fern.
That's nice and glossy, very different leaf.
I'm just looking for greens, I don't want mad colour -
I'm happy with all green. Ooh!
Look at that - hostas.
I had real problems with... And a lot of people do ..with slugs and snails.
And, who knows, if you grow them in a hanging basket,
maybe they won't be able to crawl up there - so worth keeping them out.
This is a lovely little dwarf variety.
Now, I need something a little bit looser just to break it up -
a little bit finer, foliage wise.
This is one of my favourite grasses, especially for shade - hakonechloa.
And these are all perennial plants,
which means after they've been in the hanging basket,
or they've outgrown it, I can put them into the garden.
So, they have a life after the hanging basket.
I like that.
Well, it's always difficult not to get tempted by every plant
in the garden centre but I stayed focused.
So, the first thing I'm going to do is line the hanging basket.
Now, I've got to put some drainage holes in this liner.
Basically, I'm going to create a reservoir
so I'm going to make the holes, not right in the bottom of the liner,
but just about five centimetres up, so there's water
always in the bottom because otherwise these hanging baskets
dry out so quickly.
Right, next, compost.
Now, I've got a nice peat-free compost here
and that's really important to me.
The way of retaining moisture is to use
some of these water-retaining granules -
when it gets wet, it swells up.
So check the quantities on the packet and don't add any more,
otherwise you could end up with this huge amount of jelly in there
and it really is not good for the plants.
And then distribution is really important as well
so that you mix it well.
And now the fun bit.
It's really a case of, sort of, flower arranging.
My lovely hakonechloa grass.
This is a really lovely, graceful grass.
Just by putting it in there, it adds a whole different texture.
Now, this is exciting, putting a hosta in my garden.
I haven't done that for a few years!
Quite pleased with that, I think they look quite good together.
There's quite a lot of soil on show,
but what I learned from my kokedama...
Now, it's important that you don't go foraging for moss,
that you actually get it from a reputable source.
This is sphagnum moss,
and I'm using it as a mulch -
sort of dressing the compost.
It's really a visual thing.
Now, the size of this container,
it's quite important you're going to see them,
so what I'm doing is getting some of the moss and just
sticking it in the gaps there.
But you've just got to be careful with moss
that it doesn't completely dry out.
That's nice. That's really nice.
Oh, I quite like that
Right, let's see what it's like in situ.
Oh, quite pleased with that.
There you go, giving it a good drenching.
Now, one of my concerns over hanging baskets
is that they constantly need watering,
and I'm away working quite a bit.
BUT I've done a little bit of research
and found this ceramic cone
and it neatly attaches
onto an old water bottle
and actually lets the water permeate through the ceramic -
and that'll keep it watered nicely while I'm away.
But I won't be needing that now cos I'm at home for a bit,
so I can just enjoy
my new hanging basket.
It's been an enlightening journey.
From mass-produced traditional baskets
to the latest craze for kokedama,
It's about whatever suits you and your garden
and I have to confess,
I'm really chuffed with the outcome.
So, am I coming round to hanging baskets?
Well, I just might be.
Well, I'm glad that Joe is returning to the fold, so to speak.
I have to say, I've never been a huge hanging basket fan
but I don't mind them.
I think, in the right place and with the right planting,
they add to the gaiety of life.
But I'm going to make one here at Longmeadow which is a bit practical.
I want a hanging basket that will give me something to eat
and I've chosen herbs and there are two reasons for that.
One - because herbs always grow well in a container of any kind
and also the herbs I've chosen do well in porous soil,
not too much water and very good drainage
which makes looking after them in a hanging basket
a little bit less demanding.
I've got a range here. We've got sage of two types,
we've got three different types of oregano
and two different types of thyme.
Now, the first thing you have to do is choose your basket
and there is a basket but that will hang.
It will need a liner of some sort.
I don't want to use plastic but there are alternatives you can buy
and I've got here, soaking, a coir liner.
Now, coir is the husk of the coconut
and I've soaked it because if we put it in dry
and you water the plants, THIS will take the water, not the plants.
There we go.
In terms of compost, I've got some peat-free, bark-based compost.
This is propriety compost, you can get it at any garden centre.
I've also got some home-made leaf mulch.
It's not very rich in nutrients
but it creates a wonderful structure for the roots to get out in
and the better the roots can grow, the better they can reach moisture.
So, ideal for a hanging basket.
Finally I'm going to mix in some perlite.
And you can see by the way that it's handling, it's light, it's loose...
The perlite means that it will absorb water
because it expands with the water but also drain well
so these plants won't get waterlogged.
OK. Put some in...
Now we'll start to plant it up.
I'm going to start with the sage
so we will take that out of the pot, it's fantastic with potatoes
and I love pasta where you just get fresh sage leaves, butter,
freshly ground black pepper, toss the pasta up in it
and eat it straightaway while it's piping hot.
Very simple but absolutely delicious.
I've got some oregano.
Again likes Mediterranean conditions.
Good drainage, plenty of sunshine.
This is not a hanging basket that should hang in the shade at all.
This is Italian thyme,
just an essential part of any tomato sauce.
If you're cooking pumpkins, for example,
if you just strew them with thyme, a little drizzle of oil,
put them in the oven, roast them, absolutely delicious.
And we've got a little bit more room so I think we can get in
the purple sage because the colour of that goes so well with the thyme.
I've got room for one more plant...
Let's go for the gold-tipped oregano.
Oregano is one of those herbs that you want to cut
while the leaves are nice and fresh.
Occasionally when I used to make sauces for my children,
I used to take too much of the old wood and they'd say,
"Oh, Dad, you haven't made twig sauce again!"
And now we can fill the gaps with a little bit more of the mix.
Put that in like that.
Right, well, there's a basket of herbs.
Let's go and hang it.
There we go.
A hanging basket full of herbs.
Just come out, pick some herbs, take them back indoors
and in the dry garden and essentially dry-loving herbs.
So not one that is going to mind if you leave it for a few days
and can't water it and nice and simple and straightforward.
Now, even if I can't tempt you to make a hanging basket,
here are some other things you can be doing this weekend.
If you're growing biennials from seed,
now's the time to prick them out.
Never hold them by the stem but taking hold of a leaf,
gently prise the seedlings apart and transplant them individually,
either into plugs or evenly spaced in a seed tray.
They can then be grown on in a sheltered place
and in about a month's time they can go out into a nursery bed
in a corner of the garden.
However carefully you grow your dessert grapes,
they too often end up as a bunch of tiny fruit
and the best way to avoid this is by thinning them down.
Use a pair of pointed small scissors
and remove both the smallest individual fruits
and those on the inside of the bunch
and this allows the remainder to grow and swell to a good size.
If you're growing dahlias in containers,
it can be hard to support them properly
and stop them spilling over.
If you cut them back, by as much as half, now,
they will both grow stronger, sturdier plants
and also produce more side shoots with more flowers.
The flowers will arrive a little later in the season
but will last a lot longer into autumn.
I'm really pleased with the way that this grass has grown
alongside the path.
This time last year this was completely bare soil,
it was shaded, grass wouldn't grow.
Last September, I sowed a hedgerow mix
which I bought specifically with grass and wild flowers
that were adapted to growing in a shade of a hedge
and also in amongst the roots which would take up a lot of moisture.
It's come up beautifully
and the wild flowers will gradually grow and establish.
The whole thing has worked a treat.
Well, that's it for this week.
Don't forget that Sunday is the 21st.
You come up here. Come on. Sit down and be quiet.
And that is the longest day.
And what it means is that from about four o'clock in the morning here
until 10 o'clock at night, the day is filled with light.
The peak of the year. So all I would say is, make the most of it.
It doesn't matter if it's raining,
it doesn't matter what the weather is.
Just get outside and fill yourself to the boots with light.
So I'll see you next week, same time. Bye-bye.
Joe Swift continues his quest to find the perfect hanging basket and comes up with his own design for a shady part of his garden. Monty Don has caught the bug too and shows us how to plant up an edible basket. Meanwhile, Carol Klein explores one of the nation's most beautiful gardens to find out why their borders work so well.