Episode 17 Gardeners' World


Episode 17

Gardening magazine. As summer gathers pace and the weather starts to warm, drought-tolerant plants really hit their stride. Monty Don shares some of his favourites from Longmeadow.


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Transcript


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Go on. Come on. Come on, then.

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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Well, after the hot hurly-burly of Hampton Court,

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it's nice to be back into the cool of my Writing Garden

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which, of course, is mainly white.

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What is magnificent, and I've come home to, is this rose.

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It's called Wedding Day,

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it's a rambling rose that I planted two years ago.

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The first year it didn't do anything.

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Last year, I was very disappointed, it didn't flower at all

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but, boy, has it made up for it this year!

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An absolute treat.

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But I'm not quite sure about that yellow evening primrose

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and the pink opium poppy.

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In the right place,

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they're both lovely flowers that are more than welcome in the garden

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but here, in the white garden?

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I don't know, should I pull them?

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Or just enjoy them while they last and then get rid of them?

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Not sure.

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This week, Carol is celebrating the formal planting combinations

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of Wollerton Old Hall in Shropshire.

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Wow! Look at this.

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Isn't it magnificent?

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And away from creating gold medal-winning show gardens,

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the designer Adam Frost tackles his own back yard.

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I'm literally going to have hours of fun

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just simply playing with these plants.

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A few weeks ago, I laid this turf.

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And it's growing strongly

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and I reckon in about three/four days,

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I can just lightly pass a mower over it,

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be able to walk on it in a week, but it's looking good.

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Now, this whole area has been long meadow grass

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for the last 25 years or since we've been here

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and so these are brand-new borders and I want to get shrubs under here.

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This is a particular type of environment, it's quite shady.

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This is effectively woodland planting

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and I'm starting with this glorious hydrangea.

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This is Hydrangea macrophylla, Lanarth White.

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One of my favourite of them all.

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And these great big petals give it its display

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whereas, in fact, in the middle you've got the flowers

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which are tiny and they are actually blue

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which means they've been raised in acidic conditions.

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Hydrangeas will respond to acidic soil by taking on a blue shade

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and to an alkaline soil, that's a pH over seven, with a pink shade.

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And we are just slightly alkaline here

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so in this soil here, next year, they'll be pink.

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I want these to be an accent plant on the corner.

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I thought I would have them either side across here

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and these will grow to about five/six feet tall.

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As for planting them, easy-peasy,

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because the soil is prepared,

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it's been dug and garden compost added to it.

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Hydrangeas do best in light shade.

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By light shade, it means either dappled shade

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or shade that is only for part of the day.

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That's a little too deep, I want the surface of the soil in the pot

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to be the same height as the surface in the ground.

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Traditionally you would plant this somewhere between October

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and March when it was dormant

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but it's fine to do it now as long as you give it a really good soak

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when you first plant it and you must keep them watered.

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Often the situation when you're planting a young shrub

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with large flowers,

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the structure supporting it isn't yet woody enough to stop it

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flopping all over the place so that may well need support

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and then those big flowers will be held and poised

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and not drag the branches down.

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IT STARTS TO RAIN

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Well, before the rain really gets too heavy to garden in,

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I'm going to put in a couple of viburnums.

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This is Viburnum plicatum, Summer Snowflake.

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Now, Viburnum plicatum grows laterally,

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you get these lovely tiers of branches

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and the flowers sit on them in June and July,

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white flowers, actually quite similar to a hydrangea,

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but the thing that viburnum has which can beat any hydrangea

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is this incredible autumnal colour.

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The leaves turn almost a dark sort of plum colour

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so fabulous autumn foliage.

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And they are very, very tough, adaptable plants.

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Perfect for this semi-shade,

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quite happy in the soil.

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And nothing could be simpler than just to pop that into the ground.

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Firm it in well.

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And there you go. Now, what I am going to do,

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it may seem eccentric because it is raining quite steadily,

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I'm still going to water them all in.

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What I'm trying to achieve with these shrubs is to create

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an informal planting style within these two parallel borders.

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But Carol has been to visit a garden that is distinctly formal

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and yet gloriously so.

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And this is Wollerton Old Hall, an RHS Partner Garden in Shropshire.

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I'm looking at the exciting and inspiring ways

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gardeners are putting plants together.

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A few weeks ago I saw how plants could be successfully combined

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to achieve a wild and naturalistic effect.

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But if you want a bit more law and order in your garden,

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today I'm going to be looking at formal plant combinations.

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The garden at Wollerton Old Hall is a formal feast for the eyes.

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It's the creation of Lesley Jenkins, who, in 1982,

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bought back her childhood home and began to create a garden

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of interconnecting rooms around the property.

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This garden has lots of features

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that we all associate with formal planting.

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It's got clipped obelisks and these beautiful domes.

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Although there are these straight lines

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and these tailored hedges throughout the garden,

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they are all there to allow us to appreciate

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the absolute, exquisite beauty of the planting.

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So, what do we mean by formal planting?

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Andrew Humphris, the head gardener at Wollerton Old Hall,

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agrees that while the garden IS formal,

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they use the formality to create a visual rhythm around the garden.

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-Hello, Andrew. What a lovely way to come into a garden.

-Oh, hi, Carol.

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Having catmint swishing around your ankles.

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Yeah, it's beautiful, isn't it?

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Oh, it's just such a gorgeous garden!

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But this whole idea of formality, I mean, what does it mean to you?

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Well, I think you've got to have the structure of the hedges

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and the walls and that formality to set off the vibrant planting.

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It's all about the height in the borders,

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the rhythm of the planting, it's to do with the repetition

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of things throughout the garden, which helps the garden flow.

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It's all to do with having a garden that is not a series of just

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individual rooms but trying to make the garden gel as a whole

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and to flow as a whole,

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having the taller things at the back mostly,

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although we do try and bring height forward as well, and just trying

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to get the planting looking good so that the plants look fantastic.

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Every so often, you have to really squeeze between hedges, don't you?

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-Is that deliberate?

-It is.

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Those narrow gaps, one is perspective

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so you're looking particularly from the main house right through

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and then you have a narrow gap

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-so that again is making it look further than it is.

-Yes...

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And it's also hiding those hot colours

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cos the hot garden's behind that

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and we don't want to see those hot colours,

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that needs to be a surprise as you come out into that area.

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Yeah, cos it's like being like that and then suddenly, there it is.

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-Yeah, absolutely.

-Yeah, it's a brilliant idea.

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Wow! Look at this.

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Isn't it magnificent?

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This planting is perfectly orchestrated.

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From one end it runs through the whole spectrum,

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yellow down there coming to here

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with these gorgeous lavenders and cool pinks.

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Look at the border. It's taller at the back,

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it's shorter at the front with this straight edge of grass.

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You have to walk along here, this is the emphasis

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and then up into all these beautiful plants that you can truly appreciate

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just walking all the way along.

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How about that? Galega, such a straightforward plant.

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Galega, His Majesty.

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With these long, beautiful sort of racemes of a veronicastrum.

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This one's called Pointed Finger.

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And mounds of achillea too.

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But I'll tell you what, nothing's strayed,

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everything is controlled,

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everything is exactly as it should be

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and it is glorious!

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Well, one of the many garden rooms here is formality personified.

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You've got these beautifully matched symmetrical box,

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clipped absolutely perfectly into these big domes

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and then in the background,

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look at this, this rose, Francis Lester.

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I mean, plant combinations don't always have to be about what's

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sitting in the border next to something else.

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This is a beautiful plant combination

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and just look at the rose, how symmetrically it's been trained

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so that it just meets in the centre.

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And just when you're thinking

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what an incredibly formal garden this is, what do you come across?

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This rectangle of meadow.

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Perfectly mown edges

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but inside it's just an explosion of grasses, daisies and buttercups.

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It's utterly lovely and what's more it's funny

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and we need a lot more of that in our gardens,

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don't we, formal or not?

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Symmetry, a key feature of all formal gardens,

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could feel regimented but not in this garden.

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Here subtle differences in the variety

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and placement of these delphiniums, for instance,

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make a formal planting a vibrant and fresh composition.

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The formal layout of hedges, paths and structures

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form the stage on which the whole drama of this garden takes place

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and this theatre puts on one entrancing production after another.

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I think you can tell from the way that Longmeadow's laid out

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that I love that combination of extreme formality

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with a loose, generous planting.

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Now, having seen that, I want to go and see Wollerton Old Hall myself.

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MONTY WHISTLES

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Now, it's that time of year.

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Round about my birthday,

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I always harvest the first new potatoes.

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Potatoes come in three groups, first earlies, second earlies

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and main crop.

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The big difference between them is that new potatoes,

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first and second earlies, taste best dug fresh from the ground

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but they don't store very well.

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Now, this is a variety called Belle de Fontenay,

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one of my favourites,

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quite similar to Charlotte.

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It's French obviously, as the name suggests,

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and now's the time to harvest.

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Also I want the bed to plant up this fennel.

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Now, when you're using a fork, go gently, don't just dive in

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because you can guarantee you'll spear a spud or two.

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There we go.

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How about that?

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You don't want these to be too big.

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Is that not beautiful?

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Immaculate, golden little pebbles of joy.

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People have often asked me how you know when to harvest potatoes.

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Well, there are a number of indicators.

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The first is that, in general,

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first earlies are not ready for about 80 days,

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second earlies 90-100 days

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and main crop for 120 days.

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That's after planting.

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But that's a very general thing

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and it depends on what the soil is like and what the weather is like.

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The second thing is if they've flowered,

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after flowering they will be ready.

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A variety like Belle de Fontenay can be left in the ground

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and just dug as you need them or you can harvest them all,

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and if you do harvest them, keep them in a cool, dark place.

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Potatoes are a really good crop for cleaning up a piece of ground.

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If you've got a new allotment, plant potatoes.

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The roots get in, it suppresses the weeds

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and it's really good then for following with another crop.

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That's a good basketful of spuds.

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I'll put the horns, the top growth on the compost heap.

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And I plan to plant up this bed to use the space

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with a secondary crop.

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And I've chosen Florence fennel.

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Florence fennel makes delicious,

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aniseed-y tasting fleshy bulbs,

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which are actually overlapping leaves.

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I've been growing them here in pots.

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The roots are growing fine.

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But you can see that there's still plenty of room within the

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pots for them to grow and I'm just wondering if it might be better...

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..to leave these.

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If you plant it out and the soil that it has been

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potted into just falls away, then that's quite a shock to the system.

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What you want, ideally, is that when you take it out of the container,

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the roots just hold the soil in shape.

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I think good horticultural advice would be to leave these

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for at least three or four more days, if not another week.

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So that's what I'm going to do.

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And I'm very happy with my spuds.

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Come on, you. Come on. Come on!

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Off you go.

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One of the bits of the garden that I like most at this time of year

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is here in the grass borders.

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The thing about the grass borders in July, is that the grasses

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themselves are starting to take control.

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And the surrounding plants, which are packed in, work with them.

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What's extraordinary about this part of the garden is

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although there's so much energy and so much growth

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and there's a sense of real vigour, it's a very calm place to be.

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And if I wanted to just sit and be quiet for a moment or two,

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this is where I come at this time of year.

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A few weeks ago, the garden designer Adam Frost went for us

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to Holt Farm to see the gravel garden there

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to get ideas for his OWN garden back at home.

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And now he's making a start on that project.

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I spend most of my life creating gardens for other people

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but this is really what I love.

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Getting your hands into your own soil.

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Having your own patch that you can work on and play with.

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It's absolutely fantastic.

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At home I've terraced out the garden

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and I've been busy planting the lower terraces.

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But there's an area at the top that catches the evening sun

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and it's perfect for a gravel garden.

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The key to this garden, I think, is the preparation.

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I was worried about the clay soil and a lot of the plants that I've

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chosen want those really free-draining conditions.

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So, what I've done really is cover the whole area in compost

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and then gravel.

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As you dig over, you can really see that gravel

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and the compost going in, bringing life to the soil.

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The next step is to firm down the soil.

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Then using a fork or rake,

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get rid of any large stones and clods of earth.

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I'm using a membrane to help suppress the weeds.

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But more importantly, to stop the surface gravel that I'll be

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mulching the beds with later mixing in with the soil.

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Now, the fun bit. We're going to get stuck in to the plants.

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As you can see, I've got a little bit carried away.

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I've got some fantastic plants to play with.

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I think when you're choosing plants, it's not just about the colour.

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It's about whatever else they give you in the garden.

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Maybe it's the form, the structure of the plant, the texture.

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And plants I wouldn't get away with normally

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that need slightly drier conditions.

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For instance, things like lavender.

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The scent is fantastic, so wonderful grey foliage,

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but if you plant this somewhere where you are going to walk past,

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you're just going to brush, and...

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that scent is going to come up, which is absolutely beautiful.

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Against things like sedum.

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A completely different leathery leaf

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with a great autumn flower,

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so this is going to give me wonderful autumn colour.

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And then look at things like the eryngium.

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The structure of this plant stands alone but if I plant this and

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it's poking through other plants,

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the spike is really going to stand out.

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Look at that. It looks sort of tropical, in a sense.

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Really spiky and different.

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And we've got things like the stachys,

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the little lamb's ear, which is really soft in texture.

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This will scramble around the ground.

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Great ground cover, this plant.

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And then colour.

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Kniphofia, wow!

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They're just going to pop up all over the place,

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right through this gravel garden.

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These are the plants people react to instantly.

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And stipa, oat grass.

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I found this down at Holt Farm

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and it looked beautiful moving in the wind.

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And the light on this in the evening

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is absolutely stunning.

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As you can see, I've had a fantastic time.

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I'm literally going to have hours of fun just playing with these plants.

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When I'm laying this gravel garden out, what I'm trying to do is

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bleed the outer garden in.

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The first thing I've done is introduce the grasses.

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They all sit on the outside borders.

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After that, it's putting in key plants,

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so I've used the verbascum, which are big, tall, strong plants

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and really built the garden off that.

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Don't be afraid to take stuff in, move it out, take stuff in,

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move it out.

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Doesn't really matter if it takes two or three days to get this right.

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And eventually, you put them in the ground.

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Because I'm using the membrane,

0:20:380:20:39

I can't dig out like you normally would

0:20:390:20:41

and just keep placing it on the side cos I'll make a complete mess.

0:20:410:20:44

So what I've got is a bucket here.

0:20:440:20:45

I just keep feeding the soil in and out.

0:20:450:20:47

Gravel, that's for my grey leaf plants.

0:20:480:20:52

On my clay soil, these might suffer a little bit,

0:20:520:20:54

so all I'm literally doing

0:20:540:20:56

is feeding a little bit in the hole

0:20:560:20:57

and that will really help them drain away.

0:20:570:20:59

These do not want to be sat in the water in the winter.

0:20:590:21:02

And last, but not least on a day like today, a bucket of water.

0:21:020:21:06

That's a bit like me, wilting at the moment.

0:21:060:21:08

Just give that a little soak like that, just before you've planted.

0:21:080:21:12

And that's all she needs. Drain her off a little bit.

0:21:130:21:16

Out she comes. And then...

0:21:170:21:20

..in we go. Feed a little bit of soil back round there.

0:21:210:21:25

End of the day when I've finished everything, this garden will

0:21:250:21:28

get a really good watering in.

0:21:280:21:30

And by tomorrow morning, everything will be bolt upright.

0:21:300:21:32

I really love doing this bit.

0:21:420:21:44

Just working the gravel in between the plants.

0:21:440:21:46

The gravel I've chosen really works with the local stonework.

0:21:480:21:51

And this gravel literally comes from 15 miles down the road.

0:21:510:21:55

Cor, have I looked forward to that?!

0:22:140:22:16

Probably not my best idea to create a gravel garden in a heatwave,

0:22:160:22:19

but it's fantastic.

0:22:190:22:21

This is just the beginning.

0:22:210:22:22

It will evolve and it will change but I really love it.

0:22:220:22:26

I designed this to enjoy that sun going down at the end of the day and

0:22:260:22:29

that's exactly what I have achieved, so I am so pleased with this.

0:22:290:22:33

Looking at Adam's gravel garden, he's got heavy clay soil

0:22:460:22:50

just like mine and yet he's very confident that he can grow

0:22:500:22:53

those plants that need free drainage.

0:22:530:22:57

So it's a good inspiration for anyone to try.

0:22:570:22:59

I have a letter which typifies a question

0:22:590:23:04

I get asked an awful lot about.

0:23:040:23:06

This is from Sue Braisby in Barnsley, and Sue says,

0:23:060:23:10

"In April this year we espaliered an apple

0:23:100:23:12

"and a pear against our garage wall and they've taken very well.

0:23:120:23:15

"The apple has a central branch and then two tiers."

0:23:150:23:19

"And they're each about five foot."

0:23:200:23:21

She wants to know if she should cut back

0:23:210:23:24

and if so, by how much or should she leave it alone?

0:23:240:23:27

That is just one example of a lot of queries I get

0:23:270:23:30

about pruning in general and summer pruning, in particular.

0:23:300:23:35

And if you are making an espalier or a cordon

0:23:350:23:39

or a fan, you're going to need to do your really important pruning

0:23:390:23:42

in summer rather than winter.

0:23:420:23:45

When you prune in winter you encourage regrowth.

0:23:450:23:48

When you prune in summer, you stop the growth.

0:23:480:23:51

By playing those two factors off, you can shape a plant

0:23:520:23:56

exactly as you want.

0:23:560:23:57

These espalier pears are a quarter of a century old.

0:23:590:24:02

They're getting less and less productive

0:24:020:24:04

but you can see there's lots of new growth here which has grown

0:24:040:24:10

since about April, none of which is bearing any fruit.

0:24:100:24:14

So if you don't want that as part of the structure of the plant -

0:24:140:24:18

and I don't cos they're espalier,

0:24:180:24:20

we don't want them to grow out this way - then that's got to go.

0:24:200:24:24

The fruit itself is produced on spurs,

0:24:240:24:27

so I'm going to prune back to old growth to create a spur.

0:24:270:24:31

Like that.

0:24:340:24:35

Doesn't matter what you are pruning.

0:24:380:24:40

There is one law that always applies and that is prune back to something.

0:24:400:24:45

Don't just put your secateurs in and hack away.

0:24:450:24:49

So, in this case we want to remove this and we come back

0:24:490:24:54

and there we've got the beginnings of a spur,

0:24:540:24:57

so I'm just going to prune above that leaf there,

0:24:570:25:00

like that.

0:25:000:25:02

I do these every year and it does two things.

0:25:030:25:07

It retains the shape, it crisps them up

0:25:070:25:10

and importantly lets light into the fruit so they can ripen better.

0:25:100:25:15

This is the end of the espalier.

0:25:180:25:20

That's the branch growing much too long.

0:25:200:25:22

I want to shorten it.

0:25:220:25:24

If I pruned this in winter, there would be a mass of regrowth.

0:25:240:25:28

By pruning it now, it will do the job.

0:25:280:25:30

So I'm going to take that off there. Bang!

0:25:300:25:33

I hope that's helped you, Sue.

0:25:460:25:48

And anybody else who is trying to maintain established espaliers

0:25:480:25:51

or create them.

0:25:510:25:53

And if you've got any other questions which would help you

0:25:530:25:56

in your garden, please contact us.

0:25:560:25:58

You can do so by e-mail and go

0:25:580:25:59

to our website and get the address

0:25:590:26:01

or go to our new Facebook page

0:26:010:26:03

and contact us that way.

0:26:030:26:05

Now, even if you have no intention of espaliering anything,

0:26:050:26:09

then here are some other things you can do this weekend.

0:26:090:26:13

Comfrey makes an ideal feed,

0:26:190:26:22

especially for promoting roots,

0:26:220:26:25

fruits and flowers.

0:26:250:26:27

Cut the plant, the leaves and the stems,

0:26:270:26:30

and pack it into a bucket.

0:26:300:26:32

Chop this up with a knife to increase the surface area

0:26:360:26:38

and then fill the bucket with water.

0:26:380:26:40

Set it well out of the way

0:26:420:26:43

because it smells pretty bad as it decomposes,

0:26:430:26:46

but in three weeks' time

0:26:460:26:47

you can strain it and use the concentrate to make a foliar feed.

0:26:470:26:51

Don't forget that in order to keep a regular supply of lettuce,

0:26:540:26:59

it's important to sow small quantities

0:26:590:27:02

regularly throughout the summer.

0:27:020:27:04

Whether you're sowing them

0:27:040:27:07

in seed trays or directly into the soil,

0:27:070:27:09

sprinkle them thinly, keep them

0:27:090:27:11

watered, and they should be ready for harvest at the end of August.

0:27:110:27:15

Roses are still blooming well

0:27:180:27:21

but you can extend their flowering period

0:27:210:27:23

by deadheading regularly.

0:27:230:27:26

Ideally, daily.

0:27:260:27:27

The important thing is not just to tidy up the plant but to prune it.

0:27:270:27:31

Use a pair of secateurs and cut back

0:27:310:27:34

to the next leaf or flower bud.

0:27:340:27:37

This will stimulate regrowth and new buds.

0:27:370:27:40

I like deadheading. I like the meditative quality of it.

0:27:430:27:47

And it is a really good thing to do

0:27:470:27:49

because it does prolong the flowering an awful lot.

0:27:490:27:52

Something I've noticed while I was away at Hampton Court

0:27:520:27:56

is on my return, the garden has shifted its palette.

0:27:560:27:59

Once you get into July, there's a richer, more velvety palette.

0:27:590:28:04

The plum colours, the magentas and purples.

0:28:040:28:08

It's all to do with the way the garden constantly sings

0:28:080:28:12

the song of every season.

0:28:120:28:15

As the summer gathers pace and the weather starts to warm up, drought-tolerant plants really hit their stride. Monty Don shares some of his favourites from Longmeadow, and garden designer Adam Frost shows us how to build a gravel garden from scratch.


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