Episode 15 Gardeners' World


Episode 15

Gardening magazine. Monty Don celebrates the arrival of summer by making a start on his new scented border in a programme bursting with colour and packed with information.


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Transcript


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BIRDSONG

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ELECTRICAL WHIRRING

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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At this time of year, I like to just gently trim

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the edges of hedges, which is a hard thing to say!

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Easier to do, than say.

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And what it does is tighten the garden.

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I am not hedge-cutting. It is too early for that.

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The birds are still nesting and I don't want to disturb them.

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I am just getting these vertical lines crisp and straight

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and that could be where there is a path

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or a window in a hedge or a gap. And it is incredible how it pulls

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the garden together and tightens it all up.

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This week, we meet a man who will go to almost

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ANY lengths in pursuit of his dream of the perfect lawn.

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To cut the grass at 5mm

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and keep it looking good, you are constantly at it.

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It is, absolutely, his life.

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And the garden designer Adam Frost goes looking for inspiration

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in a Somerset garden that has been created

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without a square inch of lawn.

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Wow! I was not expecting that. With the water in the background,

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you honestly could be by the seaside.

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As part of making these new beds in what was the orchard

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and where we had compost heaps and leaf moulds, a big transformation.

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I am returfing the grass. I am standing now on what I want to be

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a grass path, with a border on one side, a border on the other,

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coming through and joining a grass path at the back.

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If this looks as though it's prepared as flower bed,

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that's a good sign. It is a terrible mistake to think

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that turf is going to cover up a multitude of sins.

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It does not cover up any. It actually reveals them.

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You have got to prepare thoroughly. Dig the ground and then rotovate it.

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At that point, you want to rake it smooth and get rid of all the stones

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that you possibly can.

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And it goes without saying that you remove ALL weeds.

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Dig them out, patiently. They will come back to bite you,

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if you leave them in the ground.

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Right, I am going to budge you.

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Come on!

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You go that way.

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Now, you can that it's shady. It's not heavy shade,

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but it certainly isn't the full open sunshine that grass likes best.

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But nowadays, whether it is seed or turf,

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if you go to a good dealer and explain what it is you want

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the grass for and where it is going to go, they should supply you with

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an appropriate type of grass.

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That is as important as the general quality.

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The next thing to do is tread it.

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There is no short cut to this,

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but to simply stomp.

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And keep stomping until it's done.

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I can feel beneath my feet, in some places, it's hardly doing anything.

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but every now that then, I am sinking down. If you do not do this,

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it will sink down after you have laid the turf.

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Now we have got a relatively level playing field, so to speak,

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I can use the finest rake

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I have got and just...

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..scratch that smooth.

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OK, we are now ready for the easy bit, which is laying the turf.

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I would say, when you get your turf, it will come like this, in rolls.

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What you do want to do is use it as quickly as possible.

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If you can't use it within 24 hours, unroll it,

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because the problem comes from lack of light.

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This is a nice, tough, hard-wearing rye-grass.

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Not suitable if you want a fine lawn, but perfectly good

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if you want ground where you are going to wheel wheelbarrows

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or children are going to play a lot of football and ride their bikes,

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but it will never be fine.

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There is always a question whether to use seed or turf.

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The advantages of seed are that it is considerably cheaper

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and very easy to prepare. You prepare the ground

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in exactly the same way and simply scatter seed, then press it in.

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However, it is slower to establish. The great advantage of turf is that,

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once it's down, it looks pretty good and you should be able to mow this

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and walk on it after about two to three weeks.

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I think turf is great for smaller areas, but if you are going to do

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a large area, seed tends to be much more economic.

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What I'm doing is with all this patting is two things.

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The first thing is making sure that the root's in contact with the soil,

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there are no air pockets or dips or hollows,

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it is right down on the ground -

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another reason for getting the ground level. The second thing

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is to push the edge, as tight as I possibly can,

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against the previous turf.

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Butt these together...

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..really tight.

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And work along, so that they are absolutely packed together,

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so you can't see the joint, at all.

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It is always a good sign when you have to hunt for the join...

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..like a really good toupee!

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It is worth pointing out that you MUST have boards and you must try

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and avoid treading on the turf, because until it's got roots,

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when you tread on it, you are either going to form a divot or you are

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going to move it. You will know there are roots growing

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cos the grass will grow.

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It is not long enough to go right across, so I need to join

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two pieces together. Now, you never make a joint at the edge.

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If you have a small piece at the end, the small piece

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is going to dry out much quicker than the bigger piece

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it is attached to. So, if you have a thin piece, to make the width

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you need, always put it between two longer pieces.

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There we go. The small section in the middle

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and now we will really tamp this down hard.

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The bed curves round here...

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..so, I am starting to put my turf staggered out into steps

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into the curve.

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That means that I can cut the curve and I am going to waste

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slithers of turf. Again, this is why you always want to order at least

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10% more than you'll actually need, more than the measured area,

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cos there will be some wastage. But essentially, that is it.

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The next stage will be to cut the edges, give it a good soak

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and that is the job done. Now, I confess,

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I am not THAT worried about the quality of the grass.

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As long as it's flat and it's green and it can be cut regularly

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and looks nice, then I'm happy.

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But we went to visit Stuart and Anne Grindle in Doncaster

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and, I think it is fair to say, that Stuart takes his lawn

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very seriously, indeed.

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We open the garden for the public every year.

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A little old lady came to me two years ago

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and said, "Mr Grindle, what is the hardest plant you will grow

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"in the garden?" And I said to her, "You're stood on it."

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There is more work goes in to the lawn

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than any other part of the garden.

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This is swishing,

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which is very important to take the dew off the garden in the morning.

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It gets rid off any debris on the garden

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and, also, worm cast.

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Because if you leave a worm cast on and mow over the worm cast,

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it will flatten it out

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and a 5ml worm cast then becomes 25ml

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and it will kill the grass underneath it.

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BELL RINGS

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Come on, Mr Mowerman!

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There are three Gs in Stuart's life...

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..golf, gardening and grass.

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Every day, he wants to be in it

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and working at it, for perfection.

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To cut the grass at 5mm

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and keep it looking good, you are constantly at it.

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I'll cut the lawns every day. I cut it in two directions.

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It gives a finer cut and a finer finish.

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And, also, it is good for the grass.

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To me, a lawn is like

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a fitted carpet in your lounge. If you go in your lounge

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and you have only got furniture with no carpet,

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it doesn't sound right, it doesn't look right.

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Now, this is an important part of making the lawn look good.

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I do this three times, four times a week,

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so that it gives a nice, neat edge.

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When you have cut the edge,

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you go round, rake the soil

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and then run your hand round it,

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to give it an equal depth.

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I have never allowed my son to play football on it or cycle on it.

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If you have got children,

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you definitely don't want a lawn like I have got.

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A lot of work goes into it.

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A lot of time. A lot of money.

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But when people come and walk through that entrance there,

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they go, "Wow! I can't believe it."

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Scarifying is another important procedure to the lawn.

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If there is any coarse grass, it will rake that coarse grass,

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uplift it.

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Also, the one I use, it creates a drill.

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Now, a drill is a groove which gets down to the soil.

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When I overseed,

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the seed then has got a purchase into the ground

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and doesn't sit too long on the top.

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These are the two seeds I overseed the lawn throughout the year.

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On this side is a very fine fescue.

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You could seed your lawn with that on its own

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and you would have a good lawn.

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This, at this side,

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is grass seed. This is a pure bent. Now, that really gives a fine finish

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to the lawn.

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I will overseed with the bents,

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then, six weeks later, overseed with the fescues.

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I have found that this gives a better result with the lawn.

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I know I might sound a bit of a geek, but in summer, it takes over.

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At the end of the day,

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it is, absolutely, his life.

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It's the be-all and end-all.

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You can go and see Stuart's lawn and even tread on it on August 8,

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when he has got an open day. All the details for that can be found

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on our website.

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I shall not be treading on this for at least two weeks.

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As a rule of thumb, keep off it until it is long enough to mow.

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And keep the grass rather longer than you intend to have it for

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the rest of the summer. That way, the roots will grow stronger

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and then, next year, you can mow it as much as you like.

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BIRDSONG

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I have got some chrysanths, bought as rooted cuttings in spring,

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potted them up. I have grown them on. They have gone from

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the greenhouse to cold frame and, now, they are ready to put outside.

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I have to say, these are the first chrysanths

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I have had ANY part in growing for 50 years.

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And so, this both takes me back to my childhood, where we used to

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grow them in the greenhouse

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and treat them as completely tender plants.

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They were grown with huge care.

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And also, to an age which has all but gone -

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the age of the '50s and the '60s,

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where lots and lots of people grew chrysanths.

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So, they have gone very much out of fashion.

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And they are very easy plants to grow. This one is called

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Pennine Jude. Now, these are not particularly tender.

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I don't think they will

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take the full weight of a cold,

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long-weather winter, but...

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..they are probably tougher than I am giving them reckon for.

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What I want this to do is to grow into a nice, bushy plant,

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that will go on flowering into autumn.

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I am planting them here as border plants,

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mixed in the general easy muddle f a border. I want them to

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meld in. So, they are fairly small

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at the moment. I am spacing them about a foot or so apart.

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I'll put another one in there and, hopefully, they will fill this area.

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I have given them a really sunny spot.

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It is good soil, it is well drained and yet rich,

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but this is quite late to be planting out chrysanths.

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Normally here at Longmeadow, sort of Chelsea or just after Chelsea,

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is about right.

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But we have had a really cold, dry spring and early summer here.

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So I have held back on planting out.

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But, actually, once they are up and running,

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they should be undemanding plants.

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The real purpose of growing these is to see

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if I can reconnect with chrysanths, to see if the fact that

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I haven't grown them for 50 years has been a mistake and an absence.

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But the only way you find these things out is if you try them.

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Even if you resolutely do not want to grow chrysanths,

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here are some other things you could be doing this weekend.

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Some hardy geranium varieties, like Geranium pratense

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or Geranium phaeum,

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have produced most of their flowers.

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If you cut them back hard, right to the ground now, that will stimulate

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new growth that will bear a new flush of flowers

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in about a month's time.

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Planning ahead for next winter's veg harvest,

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now is the time to sow brassica like kale and cabbage.

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Sprinkle the seeds on a seed tray, cover them over lightly

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and then sit them in a tray of water to soak up moisture.

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They can either be put in the greenhouse or will germinate

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perfectly well outside

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at this time of year.

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Even though they may be showing signs of fresh

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and vigorous growth, steel yourself and pull up your wallflowers.

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They have done their stuff.

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Take them to the compost heap, where they can be shredded

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and will add their goodness back into the soil.

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I think it has been a good year for roses,

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and I love roses of any kind.

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What has been good for them is the slightly cold spring,

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which has meant that they have come out slower and lasted longer.

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It has been dry, so if they are prone to blackspot, that is

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less of a problem. And there has been enough sun to enjoy them.

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I have got lots of roses in the garden, of different types,

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but these three were something of an experiment a couple of years ago.

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I had never grown yellow roses before so I chose these three,

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which are Charles Darwin,

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The Pilgrim

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and Crown Princess Margareta.

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They all seem to work in well together, and what I like

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about them, these modern roses, is that they keep on flowering.

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At the moment, roses are absolutely my favourite thing in the garden.

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If you have a favourite plant in your garden,

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we would love to see it.

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One of the ways you can do this is send it to our new Facebook page.

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It is called...

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If you go to it and press the "like" button,

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then you can send your photographs.

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I look forward to seeing them all.

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The garden designer, Adam Frost, having won seven gold medals

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at Chelsea, is now turning to his own garden.

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He's gone to a gravel garden at Blagdon in Somerset

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looking for inspiration.

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I have spent my life gardening, getting my hands dirty,

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planting things, watching them grow.

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Building things with my father, gardening with my grandparents.

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It is in my blood.

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One of the best things about what I do is being outside

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and really watching the seasons unfold.

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Every single year there is something different going on.

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But you know what, as a garden designer,

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I spend most of my life creating gardens for other people.

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This year, I have decided to spend a little bit of time

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on me and my garden.

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Back at home, I have terraced the garden out

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and there is an area at the top that I plan to create this

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wonderful gravel garden, because the sun sits there beautifully and it is

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somewhere I can really enjoy with the family through the summer months.

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So my hard landscape is finished and I've got this blank canvas.

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For me, this is the best bit, bringing it alive with plants.

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For that, though, you need inspiration.

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I tend to get that sometimes from the wider landscape

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but it is also great to go and see how other people have done it.

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Wow, I was not expecting that.

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With the water in the background, you honestly could be by the seaside.

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This is Holt Farm in Somerset, and the reason I have come here is

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because the soil is clay-based, which is very similar to mine

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back home in Rutland.

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At the moment, this gravel garden is absolutely stonking.

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That is largely thanks to head gardener James Cox.

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It fascinates me that you're in Somerset, you're in a valley,

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you have a decent amount of rain down here. Why a gravel garden?

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That is a very good question, you know.

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We really have had to react to the longer,

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-drier summers that we seem to have.

-Oh, right.

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The plant collection that we did have in here,

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we used to struggle over the summer months.

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We are on predominantly clay soil here, which you wouldn't

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think of that as being the conditions for a gravel garden.

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But what we have done in here, and in all of the garden,

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we have added tonnes of organic matter over the last 15 to 20 years.

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-Do you add gravel as well?

-Yes, we have done.

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It all aids with the drainage and made it possible to grow

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the type of plants that we need for those summer conditions.

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So that proves, really, if you get the soil right you can

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literally create a gravel garden anywhere.

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Yes, it seems to be working really well

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because the plant collection

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in here, that you find in a classic gravel garden with sandy

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conditions, are all doing very, very well and they are thriving.

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So if I create my garden, you just give me

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one or two plants that I have got to have in my garden.

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Key plants, I would say, silver-leaf foliage which really copes

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with bright sunlight and hot conditions.

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Plants we have here are things like stachys,

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artemisias.

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Those are going to be your mound formers and carpet formers.

0:21:460:21:49

But you have got to set them off with other things.

0:21:490:21:51

Create a bit of drama and a bit of theatre in there.

0:21:510:21:53

Big tall uprights like verbascums, absolutely brilliant.

0:21:530:21:56

They will seed as well

0:21:560:21:58

so they will give you lots of free plants every summer.

0:21:580:22:00

Sisyrinchiums, again, great with them.

0:22:000:22:03

As recommendations,

0:22:030:22:04

I would say those plants are musts to have in your gravel garden.

0:22:040:22:08

-I tell you, it looks absolutely beautiful.

-Thank you very much.

0:22:080:22:11

I think one thing to remember, when you come to places like this

0:22:200:22:23

that are vast, don't be put off by the scale and the size

0:22:230:22:26

because there will be loads of little ideas in here that we can take home.

0:22:260:22:29

My little gravel garden is little, so we are going to go around here

0:22:290:22:32

and we are going to pick up a few ideas,

0:22:320:22:34

like the grasses sitting in the gravel.

0:22:340:22:36

The things that are starting to look self-seeded.

0:22:360:22:39

What I love about this garden, in a way,

0:22:390:22:41

is that it seems to have taken on a life of its own.

0:22:410:22:44

Things pop up in different places that maybe they're not meant to be.

0:22:440:22:47

When we work our way down, you have got this wonderful bed here

0:22:470:22:50

of stachys. With these little bits that are popping up,

0:22:500:22:52

so you have things like the sisyrinchium

0:22:520:22:54

and in the distance there, you can see what

0:22:540:22:56

the digitalis are doing.

0:22:560:22:58

What I love as well is the fact that, actually,

0:23:050:23:08

there are lots of plants in here you recognise.

0:23:080:23:10

There's the poppies, there's the geraniums,

0:23:100:23:12

there's the salvias, things like that.

0:23:120:23:15

One thing that ties this whole thing together is the colour of the gravel.

0:23:170:23:21

They have been really clever here, in the sense that they have

0:23:210:23:23

picked a colour that actually references the architecture

0:23:230:23:26

of the building, the walls around the outside of the garden.

0:23:260:23:28

So that is an important thing, when you are choosing your gravel

0:23:280:23:31

for your gravel garden, don't just choose any old gravel.

0:23:310:23:34

Away from the main garden, I have found this fantastic sort of...

0:23:430:23:46

It is like a gravel meadow.

0:23:460:23:48

It is full of damselflies but also, it has got these wonderful

0:23:480:23:52

stipa heads, the wonderful oat head that moves around.

0:23:520:23:55

The sound in here is fantastic and I think that oat colour will

0:23:550:23:59

go well with the gravel that I have got in mind for back at home.

0:23:590:24:03

When you go to gardens, make sure you take pictures, make notes,

0:24:070:24:10

even do some sketches,

0:24:100:24:12

anything that helps you capture that information to take home.

0:24:120:24:16

Do you know, I love this little plant, Centranthus.

0:24:200:24:22

Some people think it is a weed but it grows anywhere.

0:24:220:24:25

It will grow in walls

0:24:250:24:26

and this is definitely one that will reappear up in my gravel garden.

0:24:260:24:29

I have had a really lovely day and I have learnt a lot today.

0:24:290:24:35

A few things that I am going to take away are the strength of these

0:24:350:24:38

borders. They are not just a load of plants planted in gravel.

0:24:380:24:41

There is a real structure to this garden.

0:24:410:24:44

I am really looking forward to getting back

0:24:440:24:46

and getting stuck into mine.

0:24:460:24:48

Come on, look, here.

0:24:550:24:57

Well, we will be visiting Adam at home in a few weeks' time

0:24:590:25:04

to see how he's getting on.

0:25:040:25:06

One of the many joys of this time of year is that the harvest

0:25:160:25:21

really starts to increase and roll in.

0:25:210:25:23

These broad beans were sown in February and I planted them

0:25:230:25:28

out in April.

0:25:280:25:30

Although they are not very big plants, they're fairly stunted,

0:25:300:25:33

they have got plenty of beans to harvest.

0:25:330:25:35

Broad beans are much nicer when you pick them small.

0:25:370:25:42

In fact, if you see, the beans are small and tender

0:25:420:25:45

and you can eat these raw.

0:25:450:25:47

They are sweet, whereas when they get bigger,

0:25:470:25:49

they have a slightly bitter casing.

0:25:490:25:51

When they get really big, you have to peel them.

0:25:510:25:54

But the luxury of having a small broad bean, even if

0:25:540:25:59

you just mix up a few in a pasta dish, is really good.

0:25:590:26:04

That is one of my favourite ways to eat, this time of year,

0:26:040:26:08

just taking from the garden, not complicating it,

0:26:080:26:11

not making it too much of a big deal, just

0:26:110:26:14

keeping it really simple.

0:26:140:26:16

These peas are called calibra.

0:26:210:26:24

They are a flat pod variety, so you cook them pod and all.

0:26:240:26:29

Just lightly blanch them in a bit of oil or butter.

0:26:290:26:34

They are a real treat. It is like eating asparagus. Absolutely lovely.

0:26:340:26:40

I've got a few nice baby beetroots here.

0:26:430:26:47

We'll just have a few of those.

0:26:470:26:50

There we are. Aren't they lovely?

0:26:500:26:52

Those are delicious at a roast or are spoiled and eaten whole.

0:26:550:27:01

I like them hot. This is the Tuscan kale, cavolo nero.

0:27:020:27:07

It is supposed to be really good for you and I know it is trendy to

0:27:070:27:12

make into juices or whatever, but I love it just as a cooked vegetable.

0:27:120:27:18

If you take the outer leaves, it encourages new growth.

0:27:180:27:22

At this time of year it grows quicker than we can eat it.

0:27:220:27:26

There we go.

0:27:260:27:27

Right, we have done the main course, now for pudding.

0:27:360:27:40

I know at this time of year, especially with Wimbledon,

0:27:420:27:45

strawberries are a great treat.

0:27:450:27:47

But I tell you what,

0:27:470:27:49

there isn't a strawberry in the land that you can buy that will

0:27:490:27:52

taste as good as a home-grown strawberry eaten warm from the sun,

0:27:520:27:58

grown in your own garden.

0:27:580:28:02

Mm.

0:28:020:28:03

That taste and that smell takes you back to childhood,

0:28:030:28:07

it takes you down to those special occasions

0:28:070:28:09

but that satisfaction of growing something yourself

0:28:090:28:14

and then enjoying it at the perfect moment of ripeness.

0:28:140:28:17

It's one of the greatest pleasures of gardening.

0:28:170:28:22

Talking of Wimbledon, because of the tennis,

0:28:220:28:25

next week we are on at the later time of 9.30.

0:28:250:28:30

But I will be here, so join me. Till then, bye-bye.

0:28:300:28:34

This edition of the programme is bursting with colour and packed with information. At Longmeadow, Monty Don celebrates the arrival of summer by making a start on his new scented border and offers a few suggestions for what to be getting on with for the weekend ahead.


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