Episode 8 Gardeners' World


Episode 8

Gardening magazine. Everything in the garden is shooting up, so it's time to lift and divide herbaceous perennials, and Carol Klein is doing just that.


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Transcript


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Hello, welcome to Gardner's World.

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Well, spring is just romping its way through the garden

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here at Longmeadow,

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but no plant is more operatic at the moment than this crown imperial

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and I love the way that it stands up like this gorgeous pineapple,

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this top knot of hair and these intense colours.

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But the colours are all part of the changing scheme

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you get at this time of year.

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The spring garden here starts off with snowdrops

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and then you get the hellebores

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and you get these particular points of colours, with lots of purples.

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But by now, really focusing on the yellows and the lime greens,

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and it doesn't matter if it's the smallest Erythronium

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or a great big plant like the crown imperials,

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they all work together to create this incredibly

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vibrant tapestry which is changing every single day.

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And as well as celebrating the very best of Longmeadow at this

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time of year, we are returning to South Africa to find out

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where red hot pokers grow in the wild.

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-Carol pays another visit to Sally and Geoff in Somerset...

-Wow.

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..and discovers a range of perennials

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they've inherited in their garden

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which are perfect material to create new herbaceous borders.

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This is a plant to fall in love with. It's such a good plant.

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-Ah, good.

-And it will last just years and years.

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The grass borders have been mulched with pine bark.

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I've not used pine bark as a mulch before,

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but the plan is to have something that does

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the job of suppressing weeds and keeping in moisture,

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but also is slightly lower in nutrients than the normal

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mushroom compost or garden compost I use,

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because you don't want things growing too exuberantly.

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If we have a warm, wet summer,

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we can get all kinds of fungal problems.

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You can see here that the new shoots are appearing

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and within a month or so, they'll be about three foot tall.

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By midsummer, they'll be up here and by late summer,

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six foot, eight foot, ten foot tall.

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So now is the moment to get in and plant in amongst them,

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to plan ahead so that the display isn't just grasses,

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but it is interwoven with colour.

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I've got some Verbena bonariensis here.

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I sowed this last spring intending to plant it out in midsummer.

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But by then, there was too much cover and Verbena bonariensis

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comes from the Pampas of South America,

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so they need light and air.

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The plan is to weave these

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and other plants in amongst the grasses

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so they get established and by the time the grasses grow up and

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start to dominate, the accompaniment can cope with it and hold their own.

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When you are planting in annuals or new young perennials

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into an established border at this time of year,

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try and think of the picture in July, August and September

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and what they are going to be like and how they will all work together.

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I'm going to be putting in quite a few things over the next few weeks,

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some of them annuals and also some more perennials,

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because one of the plants that I got very fond of recently is Kniphofia.

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I never really grew it very much and I think it's

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because I didn't understand it, I didn't quite know how it worked -

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I just thought of it as red hot pokers.

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There is a lot more to Kniphofia than that

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and if you want to learn about a plant and you want to get

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engaged with it, you need to find out where it comes from.

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We went to South Africa to see kniphofias growing in the wild.

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The vast and varied landscapes of South Africa have given

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British gardeners some of our best-loved plants

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and of these, red hot pokers are probably the most striking.

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Kniphofia is a large genus of about 70 species.

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Its magnificent flower heads are perfectly adapted to attract

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a wide range of South Africa's pollinators.

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Kniphofia uvaria, which grows in the fynbos region of the Cape,

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was first encountered by Europeans in the 17th century.

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It is adapted to the hot, dry climate and sandy, acidic soils -

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conditions that are virtually impossible to replicate in Britain.

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But over the next few centuries, a few hardier species were

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discovered and European gardeners soon fell for their exotic flowers.

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The hardiest and still one of the most impressive was found

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growing high in the Drakensberg Mountains.

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Robyn Simmons is an expert in indigenous plants

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and she lives in the area.

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Wow.

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Kniphofia caulescens,

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beautiful in its natural habitat in the mountains of Lesotho.

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The colours are just...

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Wow, almost torches of colour.

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There is not much topsoil here.

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It's basalt underneath - serious rock -

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so the soils are very, very shallow.

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Soil... Look at the water.

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Very thick, very heavy.

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Soil with a lot of humus in it.

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It's got to get its food from somewhere.

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It is always wet up here, it never dries,

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so well-drained means nothing.

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We are at an altitude of 2,800, 2,900 metres above sea level.

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It would get down to, I would imagine, minus 18, minus 20.

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To survive in these conditions, you are really special.

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REALLY special.

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Caulescens was one of only a handful of Kniphofia species to make

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the perilous voyage to Europe.

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Gardeners fell in love with these unusual plants

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and extensive breeding programmes quickly got underway.

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And from only four or five species, breeders set about creating

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every single garden hybrid that's available today.

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Because of this early triumph

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in breeding from a small number of plants,

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the majority of Kniphofia species

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remained undiscovered in the wild until recently.

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With the aim of conservation rather than cultivation,

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a new generation of South African botanists have been

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documenting these little-known Kniphofia populations

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and they've found an incredible wealth of beautiful plants,

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ideal for growing in the UK.

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Robyn knows these plants intimately.

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Normally, pokers are quite bold plants,

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the leaves are quite stripy and they all kind of make a statement.

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The only statement it makes are these beautiful,

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delicate little flowers, a bit like a fairy plant.

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It's Kniphofia buchananii.

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Very well-drained soils,

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if you look at the soils around here.

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It grows in grassland.

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It will get down to minus 12, minus 15,

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so it's a really, really hardy plant.

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Normally, the white red hot pokers have either got stripes of yellow

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or green on the actual flowers.

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But this here, it's got a little pink blush on the top

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and as the flowers open, the pink blush actually disappears.

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A pure white red hot poker.

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This little poker has got a beautiful scent.

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It's such a spring scent,

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sort of Freesia, which is also really unusual in red hot pokers

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because normally they don't have scents at all.

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Here we have Kniphofia ichopensis.

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Different to the buchananii,

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it actually grows in wetland and marshy areas.

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Let's see if we can find some.

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Little mud ball.

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And you can see how wet it is.

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Not really friable.

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The flowers are quite long, tubular flowers.

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This area here also gets down to the minus 12s, minus 13s.

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It will stay damp all the way through the year.

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If you've got a really wet patch in your garden,

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this is the ideal plant.

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Here we have Kniphofia laxiflora.

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It looks like a little... like a hedgehog.

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Kind of versatile, which is actually really special.

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From here in this area,

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minus five, minus six in winter all the way through to the Burg,

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where it is minus 15.

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And they cope with it.

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The flower head is actually really long

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and it takes a long time for it to flower, to work all the way up.

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They are found in a variety of colours in the wild,

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from deep orange to the much softer salmony orange.

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It's one of my favourite Kniphofias.

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It is through the dedication of people like Robyn

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that we are learning more about how best to grow this fascinating

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group of plants and discovering new species perfect for British gardens.

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I suspect the Kniphofia are set to delight and surprise us

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for generations to come.

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In fact, new varieties of Kniphofia are coming out all the time.

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They are very easy to hybridise, they grow well from seed,

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so we can expect that there will be an increasing amount for us to use.

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Now, I'm going to add a few here into the grass borders.

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I've got here a Kniphofia called Tawny King

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and it will grow to about four feet tall.

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It's got apricot tones.

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Apricot is one of those colours that you are always

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looking for in a garden and don't often find.

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It's really hard to get a good apricot.

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It will grow best in slightly heavy soil, you can see nice,

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fleshy roots in there.

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I like the fact that Kniphofia, which is an awkward word,

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not an easy word to say, in fact is mispronounced.

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We should pronounce it Knip-hofia,

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because it was named by Johann Hieronymus Kniphof,

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and we've managed to conflate that, so there's a "ph" in the middle.

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Plant it not too deep, just at the level it is in the pot.

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Close enough to the front so I can see through, but set back so it will

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give some height and I'm looking for a final height about right there,

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flowering in late summer.

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Next, I want to plant a smaller Kniphofia,

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and this is Wrexham Buttercup.

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It's got the most fantastic, brilliant yellow tinged with

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green and it's that green that you get in Kniphofia flowers

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that I love.

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If you've got very light soil, if it's sandy or chalky,

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you do need to beef it up with some well-rotted manure or compost.

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These are plants that like some moisture.

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They won't thank you if they are too sharp draining.

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Having said that, my third Kniphofia I'm going to plant,

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which is called Little Maid,

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which has got ivory,

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sort of cream flowers and is only a couple of feet tall.

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This one does like drainage - it's an exception to the rule.

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I'm going to put this in front, and that's why I've got some grit,

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cos I'm going to put some grit underneath it.

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So I'll pop that there on top of the grit,

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soil back around it.

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Kniphofias do like sunshine,

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so make sure that they get full sun for at least half the day.

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And we should be seeing these flower from July

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and then on through into early autumn.

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Come on, Nigel, want a bisc? Come on.

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Come on. Come on, Nige.

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Last autumn, I planted these Narcissi flanking the path,

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which is this long walk that splits the garden down the middle.

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There are two varieties - there's Martinette,

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which has got the orangey centre

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and there's Trevithian, which is a pure buttercup yellow.

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But they are very tall - I chose them for their height.

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They've got a fragrance and because they are tall

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and the heads are quite small, there is a certain

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amount of elegance that goes with this big hit of yellow colour.

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I grow sunflowers every year, mainly for the Jewel Garden,

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but it's quite a long time since I've grown a giant sunflower -

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a sunflower grown solely to see how big you can grow it

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and this year, I'm going to grow giant sunflowers again.

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I've got four varieties here.

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I'm going to grow all four and see which of them is tallest.

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I've got Giant Yellow, which I've grown before,

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Kong, which I haven't,

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Pike's Peak, which claims to be

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the sunflower that others look up to

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and Mongolian Giant.

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Now, it doesn't matter what kind of sunflower you're growing,

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whether it is a perfect, sophisticated mixture of colours

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or just the most enormous plant

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that you can conceive of, you sow them in the same way.

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A normal peat-free potting mix will do the job fine.

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And I just put two to each plug,

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and I will weed out the smallest of the two once they've germinated.

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Cover them over lightly and of course, label them.

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This is Giant Yellow.

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That's all good fun and hopefully by the end of summer,

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we will have some real giants to celebrate.

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But Sally and Geoff Davis have tackled an altogether more

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tricky problem, which is how do you convert an overgrown,

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rambling garden into a space that feels like your own?

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Well, who better to help them than Carol?

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And this week, she's gone along to assist them

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make a herbaceous border.

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Sally and Geoff have begun the process of transforming

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the garden that surrounds their new home.

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Last time, we started clearing the beds,

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moving some precious shrubs and tackling some pruning.

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Since then, with their confidence growing and friends

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and family lending a hand, they have moved on apace.

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Now their garden is starting to take shape,

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it's time to take stock of their herbaceous perennials.

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Wow.

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Just look at this! I mean, what a huge difference it's made.

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-Don't you feel happier with it?

-Much happier, yeah.

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The way you've taken these things away, you can see

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all sorts of things that have been growing up underneath them, too.

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-Shall we go and explore?

-Oh, yeah.

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Do you know what this is?

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Well, I thought it was a weed to start with

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-because there's so much of it.

-It's a lovely plant.

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Its common name is Jerusalem sage.

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And then over here... Look, look, look.

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It's a plant called Persicaria bistorta.

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-Again, I thought it was a weed, actually.

-Can you see these?

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-Oh, yes.

-Little pink flowers.

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You can see all sorts of things starting to emerge.

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I think that these plants are going to make the basis of your

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new herbaceous borders.

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What we want to do with them is dig them up,

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move them across and actually design with these plants.

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So the plan is, when you have made your steps,

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you are going to have two herbaceous borders up there

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and then this third one complementing it here.

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But first of all, I want to talk to you about your soil.

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Look at that, very free-draining,

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but very little nutrient.

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-But that's where this comes in.

-OK.

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And this is the very best stuff of all - it's old, rotted muck.

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-Have a sniff.

-Can't smell anything, really.

-No.

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It doesn't smell of anything at all.

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It's really packed full of good stuff.

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What it does have is this ability to improve the texture of your soil.

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It looks brilliant. It's all ready and waiting, but now the fun bit.

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Come on, let's go and grab some plants.

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So, this is Centaurea montana, perennial cornflower.

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That's a good lump of phlox.

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-Can you see what, sort of, wiry roots it's got?

-Yeah.

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So all the more reason to dig as much soil out as we possibly can.

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-So we've got a nice lot, haven't we?

-We have.

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Are we able to make more than one plant?

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I hope we are going to make at least half a dozen.

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So how do we do that?

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Two forks about the same size back-to-back,

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and just use them as a kind of fulcrum.

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They'll come apart like that.

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When you are doing... dividing perennials,

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you've got to make sure that they're weed-free when you replant them.

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-There's the old root, can you see?

-Oh, yes.

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You can discard that.

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What you're interested in is all these little fine fibrous roots,

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cos they are all feeding roots.

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There we go.

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Now, the exception to all these things is this iris.

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They'll make a great big rhizome down the middle

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-and then all these little ones, these baby ones off it.

-OK.

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And these are the pieces you want.

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But this is old now and unproductive, so you can just snap,

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because this is the bit you are interested in with these new roots.

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Oh, I see, with the roots.

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I didn't realise you could be so rough with these plants.

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So, let's leave the weeds behind

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and move our ingredients onto the path...

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-Right.

-..and then we can get planting and designing.

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Now, this is the exciting part.

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So rather than lots of separate blobs and one of this and one

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of that and one... Let's plant them so they make

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great big sort of swathes.

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Now this, because it likes sunshine, your iris...

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That's south, isn't it?

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-It is, yeah.

-So I think these really ought to go here.

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You've got to make sure that this is absolutely exposed to the sun

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and what you do is dig two little trenches

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so in between them is a ridge,

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and you face your whole rhizome south

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and then you put your roots down on either side.

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-You want to think about contrasting foliage, too.

-Right.

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How about phlox?

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Think about the way you're planting, not just a row of something

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or a blob, it's quite nice to use wavy lines here.

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Shall we do Astrantia?

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This is a plant to fall in love with, it's such a good plant.

0:20:250:20:28

-Oh, good.

-It will last just years and years.

-Yeah.

-Right, what's next?

0:20:280:20:33

What could be better than Alchemilla?

0:20:330:20:35

So these are quite short, aren't they?

0:20:350:20:37

Yeah, not so high that it blocks your view.

0:20:370:20:40

-They are very see-through, too.

-Oh, lovely.

0:20:400:20:43

Whenever you are planting something with big roots like that,

0:20:430:20:47

whatever you do, don't wrap them up like that

0:20:470:20:50

or like that because they'll die.

0:20:500:20:53

A better alternative is just to chop them and that will actually

0:20:530:20:57

encourage them to make lots of little fibrous roots.

0:20:570:21:00

Shall we have some of that Centaurea in?

0:21:010:21:03

It's great that it's already here

0:21:030:21:04

-and we haven't had to buy any of these, isn't it?

-Exactly.

0:21:040:21:07

'Using these simple principles, Sally and Geoff should be able to

0:21:090:21:13

'carry on creating their flowerbeds ready for summer.'

0:21:130:21:16

I'd never have thought we'd have got so many plants

0:21:160:21:19

just out of the garden.

0:21:190:21:21

-Yeah, superb, isn't it?

-All it has cost is a bit of effort.

-Yeah.

0:21:210:21:25

'Next time I'm here, we will tackle the jewel in the garden's crown -

0:21:250:21:29

'the pond.'

0:21:290:21:31

We all want to have gardens that are mature and magnificent,

0:21:360:21:39

but I'll tell you, the most exciting part

0:21:390:21:41

is when you are making a garden.

0:21:410:21:43

Just that thrill of seeing it come into being slowly is fantastic,

0:21:430:21:46

I envy them.

0:21:460:21:47

Now, my garden, which is mature - it's 25 years old now - you would

0:21:470:21:51

think that I'd got used to doing the jobs when they needed doing.

0:21:510:21:54

Well, you couldn't be further from the truth.

0:21:540:21:56

Like everybody else, I've got bits of the garden

0:21:560:21:59

which are completely chaotic and out of control.

0:21:590:22:01

There's a good example here.

0:22:010:22:03

This rose is a climber called Madame Gregoire Staechelin.

0:22:030:22:07

This one, for no good reason at all,

0:22:070:22:09

I haven't touched for a couple of years.

0:22:090:22:11

I can't really think why. No excuses, I just haven't done it.

0:22:110:22:15

However, if you've got a climbing rose that's out of control,

0:22:150:22:19

it's not too late to do something about it now.

0:22:190:22:22

What I want to try and create is a system where you have three

0:22:230:22:26

arching stems going out and then the side shoots,

0:22:260:22:29

which bear the flowers, growing as vertically as possible.

0:22:290:22:33

Actually, you can see it on this one very clearly.

0:22:330:22:35

I'm going to put some gloves on because I'm fed up of being

0:22:350:22:38

spiked by the thorns.

0:22:380:22:39

There we go. OK.

0:22:420:22:44

Vertical growth is stronger than horizontal growth,

0:22:440:22:48

so the idea is to train your main structural growth at 45 degrees

0:22:480:22:54

and horizontally and let these side shoots be as upright as possible.

0:22:540:23:00

You'll get more of them,

0:23:000:23:01

they'll grow stronger and you'll have more flowers as a result.

0:23:010:23:04

So that's the basic principle.

0:23:040:23:06

So at this stage of the year,

0:23:060:23:08

we don't want to do any radical pruning -

0:23:080:23:10

that can happen later in autumn.

0:23:100:23:12

What we can do is train it in, so we get nice horizontal strong

0:23:120:23:17

sections and then cut away anything that won't fit that pattern.

0:23:170:23:21

What I want to do is try

0:23:210:23:22

and get this as horizontal as I can without damaging the side shoots.

0:23:220:23:27

-MUFFLED SPEECH:

-You can see that what I'm doing now is I'm cutting...

0:23:320:23:35

HE MUMBLES

0:23:350:23:37

Have you got that? OK.

0:23:390:23:40

Argh!

0:23:430:23:44

So we've got that slightly under control.

0:23:530:23:57

At this stage, I can start removing stuff that's in the way.

0:23:570:24:01

So this, for example, is never going to train up,

0:24:010:24:05

I don't want it coming outwards,

0:24:050:24:06

so I'm going to cut that back quite hard.

0:24:060:24:09

Likewise, this one can go back to there and this can go back to there.

0:24:090:24:13

So we are starting to get the more familiar structure

0:24:130:24:16

of a rose with a horizontal main stem

0:24:160:24:19

and these shoots that will bear flowers,

0:24:190:24:21

and new shoots will come up too.

0:24:210:24:23

This will give Madame Gregoire Staechelin

0:24:230:24:25

every chance to shine all summer long.

0:24:250:24:28

Now, as well as looking after roses,

0:24:300:24:32

here are some other jobs to be doing this weekend.

0:24:320:24:35

You shouldn't cut back any of the foliage of daffodils

0:24:370:24:40

until they die naturally.

0:24:400:24:42

However, it is a good idea to remove the seed heads

0:24:420:24:45

because seed production takes a lot of energy from the plant

0:24:450:24:49

and will reduce the number and quality of next year's flowers.

0:24:490:24:53

Although I put up my supports for climbing beans a few weeks ago,

0:24:550:24:58

the ground is too cold for them to germinate and grow well.

0:24:580:25:02

But if you sow your beans into pots or plugs

0:25:020:25:07

and then give them some protection,

0:25:070:25:10

either from a window sill or a greenhouse to germinate,

0:25:100:25:12

they will grow on strongly and by the time the weather

0:25:120:25:16

is warm enough, you will have healthy young plants to put outside.

0:25:160:25:20

Over the winter, Mediterranean herbs like marjoram,

0:25:220:25:26

oregano or sage become very woody and have lots of old growth.

0:25:260:25:31

So cut this back to the ground, let light and air into them

0:25:310:25:36

and the new shoots can grow strong and tender

0:25:360:25:40

and perfect for cooking.

0:25:400:25:42

This is the first outdoor batch of salad leaves -

0:25:550:25:59

I've had it growing in the greenhouse all winter.

0:25:590:26:02

But what's exciting is now the weather is warming up,

0:26:020:26:04

we're starting to harvest them,

0:26:040:26:06

so you get this cycle of fresh salads every day

0:26:060:26:10

and as I'm harvesting these, I have sown more,

0:26:100:26:13

so throughout the year, succession is the key.

0:26:130:26:16

There's as much pleasure from seeing these come through with all their

0:26:160:26:20

different colours and shapes and tastes, of course, as anything else.

0:26:200:26:24

No pleasure from the box hedges which are looking pretty sad,

0:26:240:26:27

and that's to do with box blight.

0:26:270:26:29

But what's inside them I'm very happy with.

0:26:290:26:31

This is the great white cherry or Tai-haku.

0:26:400:26:43

It actually is probably as good as it's ever been

0:26:430:26:46

because what often happens is just as the flowers come out,

0:26:460:26:49

you get heavy rain or you get winds

0:26:490:26:51

and they just get battered to pieces.

0:26:510:26:54

It only lasts at its best for about four or five days,

0:26:540:26:57

so you are lucky - this is just perfect.

0:26:570:27:00

And I love the story about it. You probably know it.

0:27:000:27:03

It's how it was revered in Japan,

0:27:030:27:05

but it disappeared in the 18th century. And there were pictures

0:27:050:27:08

of it and people spoke about it, but there were none to be found.

0:27:080:27:12

And then it popped up in a Sussex garden.

0:27:120:27:15

A man called Captain Ingram, Cherry Ingram, discovered it,

0:27:150:27:19

took some to Japan, said, "Is this it?

0:27:190:27:22

"Is this the plant you've been talking about and got pictures of?"

0:27:220:27:25

It was.

0:27:250:27:27

From that, it spread through all our gardens and it is this glorious,

0:27:270:27:32

fulsome, almost voluptuous blossom.

0:27:320:27:35

It doesn't last long, but while it does - fantastic.

0:27:350:27:39

If you've got a plant in your garden that you feel captures

0:27:390:27:43

the spirit of the moment, take a picture and send it to us.

0:27:430:27:46

Thank you for all the pictures you have already sent,

0:27:460:27:48

and keep them coming.

0:27:480:27:49

We do like to see what is looking particularly good

0:27:490:27:52

at this moment in your garden.

0:27:520:27:54

Everything in the garden is shooting up, so it's time to lift and divide herbaceous perennials, and Carol Klein is doing just that with Sally and Geoff in their new garden. And in our third trip to South Africa, we discover where red-hot pokers grow in the wild and what it takes to keep them happy.


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