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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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.
At this time of year, I like to just gently trim
the edges of hedges, which is a hard thing to say!
Easier to do, than say.
And what it does is tighten the garden.
I am not hedge-cutting. It is too early for that.
The birds are still nesting and I don't want to disturb them.
I am just getting these vertical lines crisp and straight
and that could be where there is a path
or a window in a hedge or a gap. And it is incredible how it pulls
the garden together and tightens it all up.
This week, we meet a man who will go to almost
ANY lengths in pursuit of his dream of the perfect lawn.
To cut the grass at 5mm
and keep it looking good, you are constantly at it.
It is, absolutely, his life.
And the garden designer Adam Frost goes looking for inspiration
in a Somerset garden that has been created
without a square inch of lawn.
Wow! I was not expecting that. With the water in the background,
you honestly could be by the seaside.
As part of making these new beds in what was the orchard
and where we had compost heaps and leaf moulds, a big transformation.
I am returfing the grass. I am standing now on what I want to be
a grass path, with a border on one side, a border on the other,
coming through and joining a grass path at the back.
If this looks as though it's prepared as flower bed,
that's a good sign. It is a terrible mistake to think
that turf is going to cover up a multitude of sins.
It does not cover up any. It actually reveals them.
You have got to prepare thoroughly. Dig the ground and then rotovate it.
At that point, you want to rake it smooth and get rid of all the stones
that you possibly can.
And it goes without saying that you remove ALL weeds.
Dig them out, patiently. They will come back to bite you,
if you leave them in the ground.
Right, I am going to budge you.
You go that way.
Now, you can that it's shady. It's not heavy shade,
but it certainly isn't the full open sunshine that grass likes best.
But nowadays, whether it is seed or turf,
if you go to a good dealer and explain what it is you want
the grass for and where it is going to go, they should supply you with
an appropriate type of grass.
That is as important as the general quality.
The next thing to do is tread it.
There is no short cut to this,
but to simply stomp.
And keep stomping until it's done.
I can feel beneath my feet, in some places, it's hardly doing anything.
but every now that then, I am sinking down. If you do not do this,
it will sink down after you have laid the turf.
Now we have got a relatively level playing field, so to speak,
I can use the finest rake
I have got and just...
..scratch that smooth.
OK, we are now ready for the easy bit, which is laying the turf.
I would say, when you get your turf, it will come like this, in rolls.
What you do want to do is use it as quickly as possible.
If you can't use it within 24 hours, unroll it,
because the problem comes from lack of light.
This is a nice, tough, hard-wearing rye-grass.
Not suitable if you want a fine lawn, but perfectly good
if you want ground where you are going to wheel wheelbarrows
or children are going to play a lot of football and ride their bikes,
but it will never be fine.
There is always a question whether to use seed or turf.
The advantages of seed are that it is considerably cheaper
and very easy to prepare. You prepare the ground
in exactly the same way and simply scatter seed, then press it in.
However, it is slower to establish. The great advantage of turf is that,
once it's down, it looks pretty good and you should be able to mow this
and walk on it after about two to three weeks.
I think turf is great for smaller areas, but if you are going to do
a large area, seed tends to be much more economic.
What I'm doing is with all this patting is two things.
The first thing is making sure that the root's in contact with the soil,
there are no air pockets or dips or hollows,
it is right down on the ground -
another reason for getting the ground level. The second thing
is to push the edge, as tight as I possibly can,
against the previous turf.
Butt these together...
And work along, so that they are absolutely packed together,
so you can't see the joint, at all.
It is always a good sign when you have to hunt for the join...
..like a really good toupee!
It is worth pointing out that you MUST have boards and you must try
and avoid treading on the turf, because until it's got roots,
when you tread on it, you are either going to form a divot or you are
going to move it. You will know there are roots growing
cos the grass will grow.
It is not long enough to go right across, so I need to join
two pieces together. Now, you never make a joint at the edge.
If you have a small piece at the end, the small piece
is going to dry out much quicker than the bigger piece
it is attached to. So, if you have a thin piece, to make the width
you need, always put it between two longer pieces.
There we go. The small section in the middle
and now we will really tamp this down hard.
The bed curves round here...
..so, I am starting to put my turf staggered out into steps
into the curve.
That means that I can cut the curve and I am going to waste
slithers of turf. Again, this is why you always want to order at least
10% more than you'll actually need, more than the measured area,
cos there will be some wastage. But essentially, that is it.
The next stage will be to cut the edges, give it a good soak
and that is the job done. Now, I confess,
I am not THAT worried about the quality of the grass.
As long as it's flat and it's green and it can be cut regularly
and looks nice, then I'm happy.
But we went to visit Stuart and Anne Grindle in Doncaster
and, I think it is fair to say, that Stuart takes his lawn
very seriously, indeed.
We open the garden for the public every year.
A little old lady came to me two years ago
and said, "Mr Grindle, what is the hardest plant you will grow
"in the garden?" And I said to her, "You're stood on it."
There is more work goes in to the lawn
than any other part of the garden.
This is swishing,
which is very important to take the dew off the garden in the morning.
It gets rid off any debris on the garden
and, also, worm cast.
Because if you leave a worm cast on and mow over the worm cast,
it will flatten it out
and a 5ml worm cast then becomes 25ml
and it will kill the grass underneath it.
Come on, Mr Mowerman!
There are three Gs in Stuart's life...
..golf, gardening and grass.
Every day, he wants to be in it
and working at it, for perfection.
To cut the grass at 5mm
and keep it looking good, you are constantly at it.
I'll cut the lawns every day. I cut it in two directions.
It gives a finer cut and a finer finish.
And, also, it is good for the grass.
To me, a lawn is like
a fitted carpet in your lounge. If you go in your lounge
and you have only got furniture with no carpet,
it doesn't sound right, it doesn't look right.
Now, this is an important part of making the lawn look good.
I do this three times, four times a week,
so that it gives a nice, neat edge.
When you have cut the edge,
you go round, rake the soil
and then run your hand round it,
to give it an equal depth.
I have never allowed my son to play football on it or cycle on it.
If you have got children,
you definitely don't want a lawn like I have got.
A lot of work goes into it.
A lot of time. A lot of money.
But when people come and walk through that entrance there,
they go, "Wow! I can't believe it."
Scarifying is another important procedure to the lawn.
If there is any coarse grass, it will rake that coarse grass,
Also, the one I use, it creates a drill.
Now, a drill is a groove which gets down to the soil.
When I overseed,
the seed then has got a purchase into the ground
and doesn't sit too long on the top.
These are the two seeds I overseed the lawn throughout the year.
On this side is a very fine fescue.
You could seed your lawn with that on its own
and you would have a good lawn.
This, at this side,
is grass seed. This is a pure bent. Now, that really gives a fine finish
to the lawn.
I will overseed with the bents,
then, six weeks later, overseed with the fescues.
I have found that this gives a better result with the lawn.
I know I might sound a bit of a geek, but in summer, it takes over.
At the end of the day,
it is, absolutely, his life.
It's the be-all and end-all.
You can go and see Stuart's lawn and even tread on it on August 8,
when he has got an open day. All the details for that can be found
on our website.
I shall not be treading on this for at least two weeks.
As a rule of thumb, keep off it until it is long enough to mow.
And keep the grass rather longer than you intend to have it for
the rest of the summer. That way, the roots will grow stronger
and then, next year, you can mow it as much as you like.
I have got some chrysanths, bought as rooted cuttings in spring,
potted them up. I have grown them on. They have gone from
the greenhouse to cold frame and, now, they are ready to put outside.
I have to say, these are the first chrysanths
I have had ANY part in growing for 50 years.
And so, this both takes me back to my childhood, where we used to
grow them in the greenhouse
and treat them as completely tender plants.
They were grown with huge care.
And also, to an age which has all but gone -
the age of the '50s and the '60s,
where lots and lots of people grew chrysanths.
So, they have gone very much out of fashion.
And they are very easy plants to grow. This one is called
Pennine Jude. Now, these are not particularly tender.
I don't think they will
take the full weight of a cold,
long-weather winter, but...
..they are probably tougher than I am giving them reckon for.
What I want this to do is to grow into a nice, bushy plant,
that will go on flowering into autumn.
I am planting them here as border plants,
mixed in the general easy muddle f a border. I want them to
meld in. So, they are fairly small
at the moment. I am spacing them about a foot or so apart.
I'll put another one in there and, hopefully, they will fill this area.
I have given them a really sunny spot.
It is good soil, it is well drained and yet rich,
but this is quite late to be planting out chrysanths.
Normally here at Longmeadow, sort of Chelsea or just after Chelsea,
is about right.
But we have had a really cold, dry spring and early summer here.
So I have held back on planting out.
But, actually, once they are up and running,
they should be undemanding plants.
The real purpose of growing these is to see
if I can reconnect with chrysanths, to see if the fact that
I haven't grown them for 50 years has been a mistake and an absence.
But the only way you find these things out is if you try them.
Even if you resolutely do not want to grow chrysanths,
here are some other things you could be doing this weekend.
Some hardy geranium varieties, like Geranium pratense
or Geranium phaeum,
have produced most of their flowers.
If you cut them back hard, right to the ground now, that will stimulate
new growth that will bear a new flush of flowers
in about a month's time.
Planning ahead for next winter's veg harvest,
now is the time to sow brassica like kale and cabbage.
Sprinkle the seeds on a seed tray, cover them over lightly
and then sit them in a tray of water to soak up moisture.
They can either be put in the greenhouse or will germinate
perfectly well outside
at this time of year.
Even though they may be showing signs of fresh
and vigorous growth, steel yourself and pull up your wallflowers.
They have done their stuff.
Take them to the compost heap, where they can be shredded
and will add their goodness back into the soil.
I think it has been a good year for roses,
and I love roses of any kind.
What has been good for them is the slightly cold spring,
which has meant that they have come out slower and lasted longer.
It has been dry, so if they are prone to blackspot, that is
less of a problem. And there has been enough sun to enjoy them.
I have got lots of roses in the garden, of different types,
but these three were something of an experiment a couple of years ago.
I had never grown yellow roses before so I chose these three,
which are Charles Darwin,
and Crown Princess Margareta.
They all seem to work in well together, and what I like
about them, these modern roses, is that they keep on flowering.
At the moment, roses are absolutely my favourite thing in the garden.
If you have a favourite plant in your garden,
we would love to see it.
One of the ways you can do this is send it to our new Facebook page.
It is called...
If you go to it and press the "like" button,
then you can send your photographs.
I look forward to seeing them all.
The garden designer, Adam Frost, having won seven gold medals
at Chelsea, is now turning to his own garden.
He's gone to a gravel garden at Blagdon in Somerset
looking for inspiration.
I have spent my life gardening, getting my hands dirty,
planting things, watching them grow.
Building things with my father, gardening with my grandparents.
It is in my blood.
One of the best things about what I do is being outside
and really watching the seasons unfold.
Every single year there is something different going on.
But you know what, as a garden designer,
I spend most of my life creating gardens for other people.
This year, I have decided to spend a little bit of time
on me and my garden.
Back at home, I have terraced the garden out
and there is an area at the top that I plan to create this
wonderful gravel garden, because the sun sits there beautifully and it is
somewhere I can really enjoy with the family through the summer months.
So my hard landscape is finished and I've got this blank canvas.
For me, this is the best bit, bringing it alive with plants.
For that, though, you need inspiration.
I tend to get that sometimes from the wider landscape
but it is also great to go and see how other people have done it.
Wow, I was not expecting that.
With the water in the background, you honestly could be by the seaside.
This is Holt Farm in Somerset, and the reason I have come here is
because the soil is clay-based, which is very similar to mine
back home in Rutland.
At the moment, this gravel garden is absolutely stonking.
That is largely thanks to head gardener James Cox.
It fascinates me that you're in Somerset, you're in a valley,
you have a decent amount of rain down here. Why a gravel garden?
That is a very good question, you know.
We really have had to react to the longer,
-drier summers that we seem to have.
The plant collection that we did have in here,
we used to struggle over the summer months.
We are on predominantly clay soil here, which you wouldn't
think of that as being the conditions for a gravel garden.
But what we have done in here, and in all of the garden,
we have added tonnes of organic matter over the last 15 to 20 years.
-Do you add gravel as well?
-Yes, we have done.
It all aids with the drainage and made it possible to grow
the type of plants that we need for those summer conditions.
So that proves, really, if you get the soil right you can
literally create a gravel garden anywhere.
Yes, it seems to be working really well
because the plant collection
in here, that you find in a classic gravel garden with sandy
conditions, are all doing very, very well and they are thriving.
So if I create my garden, you just give me
one or two plants that I have got to have in my garden.
Key plants, I would say, silver-leaf foliage which really copes
with bright sunlight and hot conditions.
Plants we have here are things like stachys,
Those are going to be your mound formers and carpet formers.
But you have got to set them off with other things.
Create a bit of drama and a bit of theatre in there.
Big tall uprights like verbascums, absolutely brilliant.
They will seed as well
so they will give you lots of free plants every summer.
Sisyrinchiums, again, great with them.
I would say those plants are musts to have in your gravel garden.
-I tell you, it looks absolutely beautiful.
-Thank you very much.
I think one thing to remember, when you come to places like this
that are vast, don't be put off by the scale and the size
because there will be loads of little ideas in here that we can take home.
My little gravel garden is little, so we are going to go around here
and we are going to pick up a few ideas,
like the grasses sitting in the gravel.
The things that are starting to look self-seeded.
What I love about this garden, in a way,
is that it seems to have taken on a life of its own.
Things pop up in different places that maybe they're not meant to be.
When we work our way down, you have got this wonderful bed here
of stachys. With these little bits that are popping up,
so you have things like the sisyrinchium
and in the distance there, you can see what
the digitalis are doing.
What I love as well is the fact that, actually,
there are lots of plants in here you recognise.
There's the poppies, there's the geraniums,
there's the salvias, things like that.
One thing that ties this whole thing together is the colour of the gravel.
They have been really clever here, in the sense that they have
picked a colour that actually references the architecture
of the building, the walls around the outside of the garden.
So that is an important thing, when you are choosing your gravel
for your gravel garden, don't just choose any old gravel.
Away from the main garden, I have found this fantastic sort of...
It is like a gravel meadow.
It is full of damselflies but also, it has got these wonderful
stipa heads, the wonderful oat head that moves around.
The sound in here is fantastic and I think that oat colour will
go well with the gravel that I have got in mind for back at home.
When you go to gardens, make sure you take pictures, make notes,
even do some sketches,
anything that helps you capture that information to take home.
Do you know, I love this little plant, Centranthus.
Some people think it is a weed but it grows anywhere.
It will grow in walls
and this is definitely one that will reappear up in my gravel garden.
I have had a really lovely day and I have learnt a lot today.
A few things that I am going to take away are the strength of these
borders. They are not just a load of plants planted in gravel.
There is a real structure to this garden.
I am really looking forward to getting back
and getting stuck into mine.
Come on, look, here.
Well, we will be visiting Adam at home in a few weeks' time
to see how he's getting on.
One of the many joys of this time of year is that the harvest
really starts to increase and roll in.
These broad beans were sown in February and I planted them
out in April.
Although they are not very big plants, they're fairly stunted,
they have got plenty of beans to harvest.
Broad beans are much nicer when you pick them small.
In fact, if you see, the beans are small and tender
and you can eat these raw.
They are sweet, whereas when they get bigger,
they have a slightly bitter casing.
When they get really big, you have to peel them.
But the luxury of having a small broad bean, even if
you just mix up a few in a pasta dish, is really good.
That is one of my favourite ways to eat, this time of year,
just taking from the garden, not complicating it,
not making it too much of a big deal, just
keeping it really simple.
These peas are called calibra.
They are a flat pod variety, so you cook them pod and all.
Just lightly blanch them in a bit of oil or butter.
They are a real treat. It is like eating asparagus. Absolutely lovely.
I've got a few nice baby beetroots here.
We'll just have a few of those.
There we are. Aren't they lovely?
Those are delicious at a roast or are spoiled and eaten whole.
I like them hot. This is the Tuscan kale, cavolo nero.
It is supposed to be really good for you and I know it is trendy to
make into juices or whatever, but I love it just as a cooked vegetable.
If you take the outer leaves, it encourages new growth.
At this time of year it grows quicker than we can eat it.
There we go.
Right, we have done the main course, now for pudding.
I know at this time of year, especially with Wimbledon,
strawberries are a great treat.
But I tell you what,
there isn't a strawberry in the land that you can buy that will
taste as good as a home-grown strawberry eaten warm from the sun,
grown in your own garden.
That taste and that smell takes you back to childhood,
it takes you down to those special occasions
but that satisfaction of growing something yourself
and then enjoying it at the perfect moment of ripeness.
It's one of the greatest pleasures of gardening.
Talking of Wimbledon, because of the tennis,
next week we are on at the later time of 9.30.
But I will be here, so join me. Till then, bye-bye.
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.