Gardening magazine. As the weather begins to warm up, there's plenty to be getting on with in the garden. Monty Don welcomes us to Longmeadow and cracks on with some timely tasks.
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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.
Now, look at these. These are snake's head fritillaries,
and they are absolutely at their best.
These are the best of the ones I've got in the garden.
In fact, I've planted them all the way up this path
about 15, 16 years ago,
but down this end of the Spring Garden they're really loving it,
and that's because it floods really regularly,
and in winter it can be wet for weeks at a time.
And snake's head fritillary is one of the very few bulbs
that actively enjoy sitting in wet soil, particularly in winter,
and look how happy they are.
They are an extraordinary plant,
because you've got this reptilian texture
and checkerboard colour, and they're all different.
And the head of them, before they open, is just like a snake.
Now, as well as enjoying the flowers of the moment,
I'm going to be planting in my new wildlife pond
and also bring some peonies into the new border in the orchard.
We're also visiting a couple in Devon,
who have the national collection of water iris.
They're very beautiful,
they're very ephemeral and they're very floriferous.
They come in the most wonderful colours.
Well, I just love them!
And we're off to the seaside to see how a beautiful garden
has been created despite its exposed position.
I'm one of those people you can't say "don't" to.
And I think once the challenge was laid down,
the determination was there.
Come on, then. Come on.
Last week, I finished the pond,
lined it and filled it full of water.
Well, in the interim period,
I've clad it with stone.
These stones are partly left over from the making of the larger pond
and, partly, I've scavenged everywhere in the garden.
These are the last possible stones that I could find.
The wall is deliberately jumbled, because I want as many nooks
and crannies for animals to get in as possible.
Next step is to plant it.
Now, the key thing to remember about planting a wildlife pond
is get native plants.
They don't have to be exclusively native
but you must have some native plants,
because insects and animals have evolved to work with them.
What you really want is greenery - greenery around the margins
and greenery under the water.
To start with, I've got caltha, the marsh marigold.
I've actually got a really good example in the pond
on the other side of the garden that's flowering well now,
and has got established, and these are great because they provide
pollen for insects early in the year.
They flower in March and April.
So you're starting to get the insects in.
They also have good foliage that - when it grows it provides cover.
I'm going to re-pot them into aquatic baskets.
In fact, all these plants will go in aquatic baskets.
You can see it's got a fine mesh that lets the roots out
but also the water in. You can see that the caltha,
as you buy it, that is not in a normal compost.
That's very low nutrients and quite loamy - ie earthy - compost,
with sand in it,
and it's really important you don't use a normal potting compost,
because that will raise the nutrient level in the water too much.
It wants to be very, very low in nutrients,
and all these plants have adapted to thrive in it.
And you can buy aquatic compost.
You can see that this is, effectively, sandy mud,
so I'm going to put a little bit of that in the bottom,
this can be planted into it...
So, that is now potted up...
And when I put it in the water,
the water is going to pour in and keep it permanently wet.
And we can pop this over here.
I'm putting it over here because it's in full sun,
so it will flower better,
the pot is submerged so we can't see it, and that is there, like that.
The crucial thing, when you're planting a wildlife pond,
is to have plants around the edge of the pond,
and also around the edge at the back, to provide cover.
Now, this is water forget-me-not, Myosotis palustris.
It does two things really well.
Because it spreads, it provides cover, very low cover,
just above and below the water,
and also, it is absolutely ideal for tadpoles.
The frogs come in, lay their spawn in amongst its shelter.
This wants to go in a very shallow area.
You can see that that is submerged
but it will very quickly grow up above the water level.
Now, I know that most people making a pond
feel that they must have oxygenators,
and somehow, if they don't, the balance of the pond won't work.
Wildlife ponds are self-regulating when it comes to oxygen
and all the creatures that live in them
have adapted to the levels of oxygen that they have.
However, there are submerged plants like this - this is hornwort -
that you can add and it will provide extra oxygen,
and one of the virtues of that is
it will cut the rate of algal growth,
and they will use up extra nutrients and keep the water slightly clearer.
But if I take that out... This has come in a net bag.
So I'm going to take it out the bag...
And you can see that there is a little lead clip there
that will hold it together, and when you plant it,
nothing could be easier - you simply chuck it in the water.
Believe you me, if you set up the right conditions,
the wildlife WILL come,
and astonishingly quickly.
That's one of the great joys of a wildlife pond.
Get the right plants, get the right shape and the right conditions
and sit back and watch them arrive.
Now, this is an iris.
It's native, it's common, it grows very strongly
but really good in a wildlife pond because it has a distinct function.
It's ideal for dragonflies.
The larvae come out of the water
and they come up these very upright, quite rigid leaves,
and they dry themselves out.
So just a few round the edge of a pond are absolutely perfect.
If you have too many, they can become a bit invasive,
but don't be put off. They're really a good plant to have in a pond.
All irises, I think, are beautiful, from the tiniest little reticulata
to the biggest bearded iris,
but aquatic irises are a distinct group,
and we went down to Devon to visit Galen and John,
who have the national collection of aquatic irises.
We have the national collection of water iris here at Rowden Gardens,
which we started in 1982.
And from that, we now have about 112 different water irises.
Most of the books that you look at,
they only have about six at most,
so we do have quite a collection here.
There are only really four proper water irises.
A lot of others are damp loving, rather than purely water irises,
but there are only four names
that you need to remember - versicolor, from America,
laevigata from Japan,
pseudacorus, from all the way round the world,
and virginica from the USA, as well.
Oh, this is one of mine. I think it's almost the best one.
It's certainly the best one I've ever bred, I think, or one of them.
She's called Cadenza, Rowden Cadenza,
it's a versicolor,
and she is so reliable.
She will flower rain, shine, hail, storm, anything you like.
She forms a beautiful clump
and she will flower for six to eight weeks,
so she's certainly one of my favourites.
A lot of Galen's selections are really rather rare,
because they are only increased by division,
and if a garden designer is doing Hyde Park, or something,
and wants 1,000 or 200, or even 50,
the answer's no.
We'll do it but it will take some years to build up that number.
And you'll notice that all these are named after music -
so we've got Sonata, we've got Aria, we've got, oh, Serenade.
We've got all sorts of different ones. And this is Concerto,
with this wonderful dark colouring.
We've specialised in breeding these versicolors because we feel that,
for the modern pond, they are far better suited.
Yes, that's a very important thing to say.
In a little tiny pond in a small garden,
most British native water plants are quite clearly
the offspring of either Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun.
And the fact of the matter is that an English newt,
it's perfectly happy to sit with a small,
well-behaved foreigner like Iris versicolor than fight its way
through an enormous thug like the English Yellow Flag.
This is quite fun, this is a variegated, lovely variegated
Iris, and the variegation on that one stays all the year round.
Yes, it's Iris laevigata, one of the Japanese ones.
The variegated pseudacorus is quite amusing to sell
because its variegation disappears as the season goes on,
and it ends up in August being completely green.
And so people you've sold it say, "I've been done in the eye,"
but you have to convince them that
it will come back variegated next spring.
Once you've planted them they look after themselves.
We grow ours in baskets.
Erm, we find they do very well in those.
Use a basket with small holes, don't use hessian
because that just rots out and all the earth falls out.
And don't use aquatic compost -
it's not good for Irises.
Just use ordinary garden soil,
and then you'll find that they just grow beautifully for you.
After that they need no staking, you don't have to prune them.
They are terribly easy, that's the lovely thing about them.
They're very beautiful, they're very ephemeral,
and they're very floriferous.
They come in the most wonderful colours.
Well, I just love them.
And I think that they're so much better
than the rather overrated picture of an Iris
made by that chap who lost his ear and costs millions of pounds.
Er, a gardener can have a much better thing by having
the original, er, for just a few quid.
I do love Irises of all kinds,
and one of the advantages here at Longmeadow of having wet weather
and heavy soil is we can grow quite a lot actually just in the borders.
They don't necessarily have to be in a bog.
But if you want to go and see John and Galen's garden
and you're in the Tavistock area,
you can go to our website and get all the details,
and the best time to do that is round about May or June time.
It's pea sowing time.
Traditionally, you sowed peas with broad beans in autumn.
There's a first sowing, and then again in February or March,
and then again in April or early May.
But here I've tried all those things,
certainly sowing them outside,
and the ground is too wet and cold and they rot,
or the mice eat them.
So what I do now is I sow a few in January,
these were sown on the 15th of January,
and grown under cover, propagated in the greenhouse
and then in the cold frame and then hardened off.
So I'll plant these out, and I've got some seeds,
which I will sow in the ground.
But it is a rite of vegetable growing passage.
You've got to have peas, you can't grow veg without peas.
And they have been considered an absolute
delicacy from the 17th century.
Of course, man has grown peas for thousands of years,
but it wasn't until the 17th century that people were
prepared to eat them fresh, because until then they were always gathered
and used dried, because peas are a very, very good source of protein.
There's a variety called Hurst Greenshaft, an old-fashioned,
traditional variety, really good flavour.
Place them in a wide drill,
about 9-10 inches apart, in a grid.
Each pea about three or four inches from its neighbour.
One of my American gardening heroes is Thomas Jefferson,
who was one of the early presidents.
He signed the Declaration of Independence,
and a great polymath, obsessed by growing peas.
Isn't that a wonderful thing?
Wouldn't it be great if our politicians were obsessed by
things like growing peas or carrots?
Now, I'm going to stake those right away, and for me,
quite a significant pleasure in growing peas
is the excuse to use pea sticks.
And pea sticks are a side product from bean sticks,
bean sticks are pieces of hazel, and this is all the offcuts
that would otherwise be wasted, but makes ideal support for peas,
because peas, being twining legumes,
will climb up into them.
Any kind of support will do, netting does very well.
I've grown them using chicken wire,
and they twine up in through the chicken wire,
and you just support it with bamboo canes,
but it doesn't look as good.
Pigeons can be a problem with peas, particularly when they're small.
Bean sticks are very good because pigeons can't get in.
If you're not using bean sticks, anything that scares them away -
we used to use milk bottle tops when I was a child.
These are the peas I sowed in January and raised under cover.
They're a different variety, they're called Carouby de Mausanne,
and they've got a flat pod, and you cook it pod and all,
and the pod goes buttery, and it's got a lovely texture,
and it's a really good variation on the pea experience.
Don't be tempted to water them too much.
If it doesn't rain for a week you can water if you want to,
but on the whole there's enough moisture in the soil.
The time to water them is when they flower,
and then you can give them a really good soak.
And as a result you should give yourself
the incredible luxury of delicious fresh peas.
Well, those are nearly finished,
and here's some other things you can do this weekend.
'Now is an excellent time to sow grass seed,
'and whether you're repairing a patch on a path
'or creating a new lawn,
'the technique is the same.
'Make sure the soil is smooth and even,
'and then hoe it before you sow.
'Sow the seed thinly and evenly and rake it in.
'And then keep it well watered until the seedlings emerge.
'This is a quick job - but timely.
'If you've sown sweet peas a month or so ago,
'they will now be developing into fairly leggy seedlings, but it's too
'early to plant them out, so pinch them back to encourage bushy growth,
'and this will give you more flowers in the summer.
'As the new leaves on dogwood and willow appear,
'it's time to cut them back hard to encourage fresh growth
'that will have extra-vivid colour next spring.
'You can either cut them once every three years
'or cut a third of the plant every year.
'Whichever way you choose, cut hard, just leaving a stub of the plant
'so you will have a strong flush of fresh growth.'
This is the tree peony, lutea,
and you can see how the buds are tight balls
surrounded by the frizz of the emerging foliage,
and these flowers will come out in about a month's time.
It's a plant that gives no trouble whatsoever, but I have put it in
the right place, so it's got plenty of protection.
The hedge behind it stops the wind damaging it.
It's one of those plants that
when it finds the right place it's completely happy.
Now, it wasn't hard to give this plant the little bit of
protection that it needs to thrive.
But Trudi Harrison's garden down near Chichester is
much more demanding than that.
'When I first moved to this house
'people went to great lengths to tell me,
'"You can't grow anything round here."
'We're 150 yards from the sea.
'We get the biggest winds you'll ever know.
'On top of that you've got the heaviest clay you could think of'
that you can throw pots with,
and everyone along here just had given up.
Salt is about the worst thing you can have for gardens -
it'll sour the soil, so you've got to work on getting your soil right.
It'll also burn any plant
and strip it bare with the ferocity of the wind.
I'm one of those people you can't say "don't" to,
and I think once the challenge was laid down
the determination was there.
You've got to choose the right plants
and you've got to put them in the right places.
Some of the plants I absolutely adore thrive in this sort of climate.
You've got the lovely Zauschneria Dublin,
with its beautiful bright orange flowers.
And then you've got the delicious Correa Dusky Bells,
which is just another fantastic plant.
It has lovely, beautiful fuchsia-like bells,
dipped in a little bit of peach
and it's so, so pretty.
I don't understand why people don't plant more of it.
Then you've got the glorious Corokia cotoneaster,
which has the most wonderful silvery foliage
and bright orange berries, 100% salt proof.
I'd like to see anybody try to damage it.
I learned to garden through an unfortunate accident.
I'd had a bit of trouble with my back and I'd spent six years in bed.
From there, I'd got very bored
and had started reading book after book after book
and writing to people and picking their brains.
Suddenly, I started forming a picture of how to make this garden work.
I think it is amazing what people can do with a small space.
I have exactly the same amount of land as my next-door neighbours,
but I'd learned a few tricks.
I like using optical illusions,
I like trying to make things look bigger than they are
and you can do that so easily by making the eye work.
They're simple little tricks like curving a path,
because a straight path will make the brain divide what you're seeing
and make things seem shorter, so by curving a path,
you're making the brain work just that little bit more.
By making things undulate,
you're making the brain and the eye see a little bit more
and then by going up,
you're still giving the illusion of a big tree in a big garden,
rather than a little tree in a tiny garden.
I'm much better than I was when I was stuck in bed for six years,
but I still have to use a stick and I'm still in an awful lot of pain
and that's where my husband comes in, cos he's my enabler.
He can carry, he can lift, he can dig.
I'm immensely proud of Trudi's achievements with this.
She paints a picture.
I do and I put things where she would like them,
but she's just got an eye for it and every view has a depth to it,
so there's something in the background with layers of colour.
What we've done in this back garden here
is divide it through the centre behind me here with the break there.
That slows the wind and filters it down and created rooms.
It created somewhere to go as well,
so you don't just look out of the door
and it's, "Oh, look, there's a garden."
It invites you in and it feels bigger,
because there's constantly places to enjoy it and sit.
The things I've grown in my garden, like the sea buckthorn,
are absolute stalwarts.
They don't look pretty, I don't expect them to look pretty.
They're there to slow and sift the wind.
I've got things like the hawthorn,
which was a little cutting that my grandmother gave me.
It provides that wonderful cushion to stop the wind coming back in.
Having a garden like this means
you've got to experiment with everything.
You've got to keep things in pots, you've got to move them around,
see where it likes, where it doesn't like.
You've got to understand the plant,
so I keep an awful lot of things in pots,
mainly so that they can establish themselves.
It's been very, very deliberate
that we have interest 365 days of the year.
Right now you've got the beautiful Ricinus.
I love those lovely flame-red, little spiky balls of interest.
They make a big impact in the garden and cost very little.
You've also got the beautiful Amistad, the Salvia Amistad.
That lovely purple, hooded... Oh, it's just poetry in motion.
Then you've got this lovely little yellow Telekia.
It tends to seed itself where it wants
and I tend to let it grow where it wants.
I think with a seaside garden, you've got to be incredibly determined.
You've got understand how to shelter your plants.
You have got to be prepared for losses.
Never give up. Just keep going for it.
It does go to show that you can make a lovely garden almost anywhere
-and the great secret...
If you put it in there, you can expect to take it out.
Sorry about that.
The great secret is to find the right plant for the right place.
Now, most peonies do best with some sunshine.
There is a bit here where the sun
will work through.
That's south over there, so the sun will come through to this piece,
so I'm going to plant my herbaceous peonies right here.
This has been dug over. They've got a mulch there, so if I dig that out,
if your soil is thin or very solid clay,
add plenty of compost or manure.
They'll thank you for that.
Right, some grit in that planting hole.
This just gives it a little bit of drainage,
so if it's very wet, it won't sit with its roots in a puddle.
This is Sarah Bernhardt
and it's got wonderful, pink, slightly silvery,
rather large flowers and I've chosen it to go with the blossom
of the pear and the apple tree.
Of course, it's named after the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt,
who acted in Paris and was known for making great, dramatic gestures
and probably the most dramatic of the lot
was flinging herself off the edge of the stage
and promptly breaking her leg in the process.
Said to be one of the most beautiful women in her day.
Certainly, the flower is one of the most beautiful flowers
you can grow in your garden.
What is essential is not to plant it too deep.
A lot of peonies don't flower because they're planted too deep.
The crown needs to be just a couple of inches
below the surface of the soil.
That's about right.
Probably the best time to plant peonies is in the autumn.
You can, of course, plant them in spring,
but if you're going to, it is important to keep them watered.
Don't let them dry out and they will grow and flower
long after you and I have disappeared.
This is a plant that could
and probably will stay here for another 100 years.
This is a tree peony
and it can take more shade than a herbaceous peony
and I'm going to plant it back into the border.
A little bit of shade from this apple tree.
If I put that there, I want this to grow up five-six foot tall.
We've got space for this to grow.
Now, unlike herbaceous peonies,
tree peonies can and should be planted deeper.
And almost all tree peonies
are sold grafted onto a root stock.
They can go in the ground. That can go in a little bit higher than that.
We'll push some of the compost down. There.
Of course, the Chinese revere tree peonies
and they developed them 1,000 years ago
and then the Japanese took them on and developed them beyond that.
has got yellow flowers, slightly double,
and just a touch of raspberry into it, so quite blousy,
but that's what I like about a peony.
I think peonies remind me of a kind of 1940s starlet.
and improving the quality of life just by existing.
Well, that's all we've got time for
and next week is National Gardening Week
and amongst other things,
there will be all sorts of gardens to visit and I would say
that if you're making your own garden and you love gardening,
visiting gardens is essential.
You get ideas - wherever you go to, you always get something from it,
so this is a great opportunity.
And, of course, you can come back
and visit me here at Longmeadow next week,
so until then, bye-bye.
Come on, Nige.
Come on. Good boy.
As the weather begins to warm up, there's plenty to be getting on with in the garden. Monty Don welcomes us to Longmeadow and cracks on with some timely tasks.