Episode 1 Gardeners' World


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Come on.

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Hello. Welcome back to a new series of Gardeners' World.

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And on a day like today,

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with the sun shining

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and flowers appearing from every corner,

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you can actually sense spring coursing through your veins.

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It's a wonderful time of year.

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And this is a special year for us, too,

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because not only do we have many more one-hour programmes

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that we will fill with lots of gardeners and gardening,

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but also, it's our 50th anniversary.

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So, an awful lot to celebrate.

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It's great to be back,

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the dogs seem to be happy,

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the sun is shining.

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Let's get going.

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On tonight's programme, we catch up with Adam Frost,

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who, last summer, fulfilled a long-held dream

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to visit Packwood House in Warwickshire

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to see its spectacular herbaceous borders.

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And in the first of a new series,

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Carol celebrates some of our horticultural heroes,

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beginning with Beth Chatto,

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whose pioneering approach to planting

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has been hugely influential.

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It's been a long winter,

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but it's also been quite a busy one for us, here at Longmeadow,

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and we've done one or two really quite big things.

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I suppose the most dramatic was that we were visited by

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tree surgeons to take down seven trees.

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And whilst that's made a big difference,

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it hasn't left a big hole.

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The garden, I think, is the better for it.

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We took a line of four trees down there,

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so the mound will get more light,

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and we took three out of the copse,

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and the reason for that was both to let more light into the Jewel Garden

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and also increase the airflow, to tackle fungal problems

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that we were beginning to get

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so, hopefully, everything will improve.

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There have been a lot of changes in the garden

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but by far the biggest and most dramatic

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is through here.

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Now, this area we called the Box Ball Yard,

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and if you've not seen it before,

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it used to have 64 magnificent pebbles made out of box.

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But in recent years,

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that beauty became very tarnished

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by box blight, and looked increasingly tattered

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and brown and 'orrible.

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So, we've ripped them all out, and they've all been burned.

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At the same time, we took out what was a par terre here,

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made out of box, which also had box blight,

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and we've taken out four large Portuguese laurels

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and a big pair of holly hedges against that wall.

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The plan is to enlarge the area in the middle

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and make it an eating area

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with a barbecue, have some pleach lines there and here,

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so this is a separate space,

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but it will open out onto what will be a big new herb garden.

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And finally,

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on a shady east-facing wall,

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I want to prove that you really can have magnificent climbers,

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even in a quite unlikely position.

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Now, talking of climbers, in the Cottage Garden,

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which hasn't undergone much change,

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there are climbers that need attention right now.

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The Cottage Garden has been planted with a lot of different clematis,

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but all along the back here,

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they are of a certain type,

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which are romantically known as group three clematis,

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and what that means is they are late-flowering.

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Those that flower in spring, like a Montana, are group one.

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The group two are the great big flowers

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you get in May and June,

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and the late-flowering ones,

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like Viticella, don't produce any flowers at all before June.

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But they can go on flowering with small flowers

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right into autumn, and that's what these do.

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Now, because they are late-flowering,

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you can prune them really hard now, in March.

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And they are producing masses of growth,

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and you can see that this one here,

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all this is last year's growth.

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And there are lots of new shoots appearing,

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and they will carry this year's crop.

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So, at the very least, we went to reduce all that excess,

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but in fact, to get a nice, healthy batch of growth,

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clothed with flowers from the base right the way up,

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you have to be more ruthless than that.

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Take your secateurs and be bold!

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Cut right down.

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And that can actually go to the compost heap

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because, although it's very dry, it will shred.

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I'm going to remove the supports

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and get some new bean sticks,

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because these have been in for about four years,

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and I always use those for kindling for the fire,

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so nothing gets wasted.

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There we go.

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Don't be put off or worried if it seems to be

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a mass of twigs rising up out the ground.

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Just a tiny little bud is all you need for new life.

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Now, putting together a mixture of plants is, of course,

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the great creative pleasure that you get in any garden.

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We saw last year Adam Frost slowly start to work on his

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brand-new garden in Lincolnshire,

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and this year, part of that process will be creating

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a new herbaceous border.

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But last summer, he went to the National Trust's Packwood House

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in Warwickshire to get inspiration.

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I'm feeling a really lucky boy.

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It's early in the morning. I've been allowed into this place,

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Packwood House, which is a garden that I've wanted to see

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for absolutely ages.

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It's just me, birds,

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a few sheep in the background,

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and I get to actually soak this garden up

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for the next couple of hours before the public come in.

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Packwood is a restored Tudor farmhouse

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and, for me, a real jewel in the National Trust crown.

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It's famous for its iconic yew topiary,

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but also its long herbaceous borders.

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A visitor in the 1920s described it as a house to dream of

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and a garden to dream in, and do you know? I couldn't agree more.

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This place truly is magical.

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I walked in and you'll think I'm barking mad but, actually,

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I got goose bumps.

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There was a physical reaction to this garden,

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and I think why is it fired off a load of memories.

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The first thing I'm doing is walking along a herbaceous border

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and there's a yucca pops up.

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It reminds me of my nan, 1970s. Very sort of retro.

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But, actually, in this context, looks absolutely stunning.

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It's worked in there with things like verbena,

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and the herbaceous bring it alive and turn it into

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a completely different animal. I mean, this place, for me,

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is absolutely stacked out with inspiration that I can take home.

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Mick Evans is the head gardener.

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He's been here at Packwood for 17 years

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and has been responsible for developing

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the contemporary mingled planting style.

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Originally, the planting, when I came here,

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was known as "the mingled style",

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which was a style described by a well-known Victorian garden writer,

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John Claudius Loudon,

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as small groups of plants singularly planted,

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repeating themselves throughout the whole length of the border

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in a kind of a rhythm, a pattern.

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The style of planting at Packwood evolved to meet the demands

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of the longer opening season.

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By introducing structural and textural planting into the borders,

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not only has Mick made the mingled style more contemporary,

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but plants like yucca and phormium work really well over winter.

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So we'll have our sort of stalwart herbaceous plants -

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achillea, heliopsis, heleniums, those sorts of plants,

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and they show off these wonderful, tender perennials.

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So they create their own structure as well, then, the herbaceous,

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as they go through? Yes. Cos if you're repeating everything,

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there is that kind of coherence.

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It's easy to read, if you see what I mean.

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It's a rhythm. It's like musical, isn't it? It is. It's the rhythm.

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And then, after that, you said you put through half-hardy.

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We'll use a lot of salvias. I mean, I'm a great fan of salvias.

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And the intensity of colour,

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working so well against these kind of lovely greens...

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It's mingled in with tithonia.

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And the other thing as well that stands out for me

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is leaf shape. Difference in size of leaves,

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again, just helps to create the kind of depth

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and a different feel to the whole planting.

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Otherwise, if everything is just all about colour,

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sometimes that can be a little bit monotonous.

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What's so clever about the borders

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is the plant palette really complements the architecture.

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The overall effect is one that creates borders and plantings

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that work in total harmony with the buildings and surroundings.

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I love just to have five minutes stood somewhere in a garden.

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I think...I just want to ask the head gardener,

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where would you come and stand in this garden?

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Oddly enough, about right here, actually.

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Cos it's about the best viewing point.

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The one in front of you right now is looking over the sunken garden

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and then beyond to the yellow border

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and then to the range of buildings beyond that,

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and the harmony of the brickwork and those colours,

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using yellows and blues, works really well in one sort of view.

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Then if you come on a diagonal and you look towards the house,

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then beyond that, we borrow a bit of the garden outside.

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We've got this lovely copper beech.

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So you're borrowing that landscape, bringing it back into this space.

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That's it. We've got these big black rosettes on the aeoniums,

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and of course the copper beech is equally as black,

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and it just creates this wonderful cohesive unit.

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Someone else could just borrow next door's tree.

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I think that's a cracking little tip.

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You've been here 17 years. Yeah. You thinking of leaving, or...?

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No, I'm jealously guarding this place. Yeah, I thought you might be.

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Do you know what? I'd happily come and work here every day.

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The place has sort of blown me away. I'm glad to hear it.

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RAIN FALLS

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Come on.

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The very best borders have that element,

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where every plant, every individual flower, is in its place.

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Dancing together.

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It's lovely to see summer sunshine and summer flowers,

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but spring sunshine has disappeared.

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It has been replaced by wet and grey and it's turned a bit chilly,

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so I'm going indoors.

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As it happens, I've got work to do in here.

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Cos I haven't yet pruned this vine.

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This is Black Hamburgh, a delicious dessert grape.

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It's actually planted outside the greenhouse,

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but I'm training it inside.

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And convention has always had it, sometimes quite fiercely,

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that you must prune a vine in December and January

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and if you leave it too late, it'll bleed to death.

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And I always believed that, and pruned it rigidly

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round about New Year.

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But last year I went and visited Sarah Bell,

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at the National Collection of Vines,

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and she was very clear about this. She said that's an old wives' tale.

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You can go on pruning until the first buds start to break,

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and it certainly will do no harm

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to prune your vine now, in March,

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although I would recommend it was something you did

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sooner rather than later. So I'm going to prune this today.

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The key thing to remember about vines

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is that it's the new growth that provides the fruit.

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So what I want to do

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is to cut back all side shoots from these rods and thin them a bit,

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because last year, I made the classic mistake

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of everybody who starts to grow a vine,

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is I had too many grapes.

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And what you must go for is quality, with a dessert grape,

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not quantity.

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Far better to have 20 or 30 beautiful bunches of grapes

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than 200 rather dodgy ones.

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You might have to move, Nige. I'm sorry.

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But you don't have to go out in the wet.

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Right. Here we go. Out here.

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What I'm aiming for is no more than two bunches of grapes per rod.

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And the fact that I'm pruning now, in March, is not a problem.

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And in fact there's all kinds of pruning "laws"

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that if you can't disregard, you can certainly bend.

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For example, roses, you can prune as late as May.

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They'll just flower a little bit later.

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I often don't prune my buddleia till April

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because if it's cold and miserable in March,

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there's nothing gained.

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So don't be frightened, keep it simple,

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and just remember that what you prune back to is structure

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and all the new growth will bear the fruit.

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Come on, let's go.

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This is when having a potting shed is a luxury.

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Now, this is our 50th anniversary year,

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and to celebrate it, amongst other things - because believe you me,

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we intend to party hard all year -

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we are looking for our golden jubilee plant.

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This is the plant that's had

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the biggest impact on gardens or gardening

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since Gardeners' World started 50 years ago.

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Not necessarily our favourite one or the one that we like most,

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but the one that has really changed the way we garden.

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And over the course of the next few weeks

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all of us here at Gardeners' World, all the presenters,

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will be making the case for the plant that they think

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has had most impact.

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And then we shall ask you to select one of those plants

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that we've all had our view on.

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And the result will be announced at our big anniversary bash

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at Gardeners' World Live in June.

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So I'm going to set the ball running,

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and I have chosen bedding plants.

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You have to think what it was like 50 years ago.

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Three things happened that changed gardening for ever.

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The first was the advent of the garden centre.

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The second thing was the spread of the car.

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And the third thing was that garden centres were open on a Sunday.

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But there were no other shops open on a Sunday,

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so you'd get in your car, fill your boots,

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come home and plant it out.

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And bedding has always been bright, it's colourful, it's cheerful.

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On a day like today, when it's grey and wet and cold,

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we can get some bedding plants and brighten the whole place up.

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And you can see, here, we've got pansies, we've got primulas,

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their colours go from rich

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to frankly outrageously garish. Doesn't matter.

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Whatever you want, you can have, and I love them.

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So I'm going to plant up a couple of pots,

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I'm going to put some compost in the bottom, peat-free,

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mixed with a bit of drainage material and leaf mould.

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And I'm going to pot these up with this.

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This is Primula Gold-laced.

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It's got a kind of elegance and delicacy that I like.

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So that can go in there. And like all primulas,

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it does best in light shade,

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cool - doesn't like to be burnt by hot sun -

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and be kept fairly moist.

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And that's a pretty good start.

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As well as plants, inevitably people, gardeners,

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have influenced and had a huge impact

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on the way we garden at home.

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We've all got our own horticultural heroes.

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But some stand head and shoulders above all the rest,

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and over the coming weeks, Carol Klein will be meeting some of them.

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And she starts with perhaps our greatest living gardener of all -

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Beth Chatto.

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Beth Chatto was born in 1923.

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Her career started here in Essex,

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and since then, she's gone on to become one of the most celebrated

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and influential gardeners in the entire world.

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In 1960, Beth and her husband Andrew built a house near Colchester

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on a huge plot of land that didn't look too promising -

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covered in brambles and with both boggy and dry areas.

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But Beth embraced the conditions

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and created a garden using plants that thrived in these environments.

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In doing so, she pioneered a new approach to gardening.

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It's a philosophy that's informed her entire gardening life and had

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a huge influence on the way most of us garden.

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It's quite simply, "Right plant, right place."

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Beth, when you first came here with Andrew,

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didn't you feel hugely daunted by the task in front of you?

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Well, no, I don't think so because I think I have learnt to take

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things a step at a time. I never imagined it becoming like this.

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I couldn't imagine it looking like this in 50 years' time,

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in the same way that now,

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we can't imagine what it's going to look like in another 50 years.

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So you weren't put off by the actual...by the brambles or the

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sort of conditions here? No, fortunately I did have a staff.

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I'd just started a nursery and I'd got good people helping me.

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Everybody was enthusiastic.

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It must be one of the most oft-quoted phrases in

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horticulture, in gardening, but "right plant, right place".

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Did you ever imagine that your idea, this concept,

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would take hold in the way it is and so many people would use it

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as a kind of mantra for their garden?

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Well, I am thankful that they have.

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I hope they understand what it means.

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It doesn't just necessarily mean planting a climber on a wall.

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It does mean planting something in the conditions to which,

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by nature, it was intended.

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In other words, shade-loving plants in the shade,

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damp plants in soil that doesn't dry out, etc.

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One of the things that always strikes me is that far from seeing

0:20:250:20:28

these places as problematic, you actually see them as an opportunity.

0:20:280:20:34

Absolutely, they are.

0:20:340:20:35

They are an opportunity to turn them from being a problem into one

0:20:350:20:39

of the showpieces, if you like, of the garden,

0:20:390:20:42

whether it is a hot, dry gravel garden up there or whether it is a

0:20:420:20:46

boggy garden down here or whether it is a shady woodland.

0:20:460:20:51

David Ward has been working with Beth for more than 30 years.

0:20:540:20:58

So, how big is the whole area of the garden, David?

0:21:010:21:05

The gardens are about six acres.

0:21:050:21:07

The gravel garden was planted up in spring '91, '92,

0:21:070:21:11

that sort of area.

0:21:110:21:12

Beth had always wanted to find somewhere to grow all her

0:21:120:21:15

drought-loving plants, which she had amassed quite a collection of.

0:21:150:21:18

Being in this area, driest part of the country, East Anglia, of course.

0:21:180:21:22

It was on a trip to New Zealand with Christopher Lloyd,

0:21:220:21:26

they went out for a picnic and they had a picnic by a dried-up riverbed,

0:21:260:21:31

a sort of ravine, and Beth remembered this image in her head.

0:21:310:21:35

That was what she based this design on.

0:21:350:21:38

So, in actual fact, you have never watered this gravel garden?

0:21:380:21:41

The idea, really, was to find plants that were suitable to survive

0:21:410:21:45

in somebody's front garden with

0:21:450:21:46

no watering, and that's what we wanted to do here. We never water.

0:21:460:21:50

We were tempted, we had a couple of dry years.

0:21:500:21:53

We were worried the plants were going to die because

0:21:530:21:55

they were shrivelling up.

0:21:550:21:57

But now we know that is their mechanism, just sit there and

0:21:570:22:00

survive, wait until it cools down and does rain.

0:22:000:22:02

Would you say that your philosophy to gardening

0:22:020:22:04

has changed through working with Beth?

0:22:040:22:06

As Beth always says, she could never really understand why people

0:22:060:22:09

found it so different because, to her, it was common sense.

0:22:090:22:13

Put shade-loving plants together,

0:22:130:22:15

your dry-loving and moisture-loving plants together.

0:22:150:22:18

Right plant, right place.

0:22:180:22:20

I'm very conscious of the fact that I have got a lot more space here.

0:22:280:22:32

The average garden today is pitifully small

0:22:320:22:35

but you can grow, for example,

0:22:350:22:38

snowdrops or hostas or all of these things in small areas.

0:22:380:22:45

People have got hot, baked front gardens where they can have

0:22:450:22:50

lovely silvery-grey plants, or they have got dark, shady back places

0:22:500:22:54

where they can grow hostas and ferns and things like that.

0:22:540:22:59

It's fun, turning what could be a problem into an advantage.

0:22:590:23:03

Have you always found gardening fun?

0:23:030:23:05

You always seem to be happy in your garden.

0:23:050:23:08

Yes, it is life-giving. It is life-giving. It is.

0:23:080:23:13

You have been awarded the OBE, the Victoria Medal of Honour,

0:23:150:23:19

doctorates here, there and everywhere. Ten Chelsea gold medals.

0:23:190:23:24

I am grateful for them.

0:23:240:23:25

But they don't keep me living, you know,

0:23:250:23:27

they give me a kick now and again but you forget about them, really.

0:23:270:23:31

It is the achieving which is the fun, more than the achievement.

0:23:320:23:37

I can't get up every morning and feel

0:23:370:23:39

a lot better because I have got an OBE!

0:23:390:23:42

But you can get up in the morning and feel better when you see

0:23:440:23:48

your garden? Absolutely, yes, I can.

0:23:480:23:51

I am very grateful, even today, when I'm not really terribly fit,

0:23:510:23:55

but that I can come out, see it and talk to you.

0:23:550:24:00

And so are we. Good.

0:24:000:24:01

I have had the pleasure of meeting Beth

0:24:140:24:17

a number of times and visiting her garden.

0:24:170:24:19

Every time, I come away just filled with ideas and plans and

0:24:190:24:24

refer to her books all the time.

0:24:240:24:26

She is certainly a giant amongst gardeners.

0:24:260:24:29

Obviously her main point of finding a place where plants will be

0:24:300:24:34

completely at home is always applicable but at the moment

0:24:340:24:38

in the garden, this is a plant that applies to more than anything else.

0:24:380:24:42

It is one of the fabulous black Ballard's strains

0:24:420:24:45

of Oriental hybrid hellebores. Look at it.

0:24:450:24:49

But planting it here in these borders,

0:24:500:24:52

I finally found out exactly what these hellebores like,

0:24:520:24:55

which is some shade but some sun.

0:24:550:24:59

Plenty of moisture but not waterlogged.

0:24:590:25:02

Here, when we have cut down some of the trees,

0:25:020:25:04

we let a little bit more light in, but there is shade.

0:25:040:25:07

It is quite heavy soil. They love it. However, if hellebores

0:25:070:25:12

aren't your thing or you don't want to add them to your garden,

0:25:120:25:15

here's some jobs you can be doing this weekend.

0:25:150:25:17

The best way to plant or increase your snowdrops is to move

0:25:230:25:28

them now, just after flowering.

0:25:280:25:30

Find a good clump, dig it up, don't try and break it into

0:25:300:25:35

individual bulbs but divide it into sections.

0:25:350:25:38

Re-plant a section into the original hole and then take the extra

0:25:380:25:43

piece or pieces and create a new clump to spread them.

0:25:430:25:47

Even though for many of us the soil in our vegetable gardens and

0:25:500:25:53

allotments is too wet and too cold,

0:25:530:25:56

you can begin preparation for this year's harvest.

0:25:560:26:01

I'm sowing some broad beans into plugs.

0:26:010:26:05

Put them somewhere sheltered, and it doesn't have to be warm,

0:26:050:26:08

and they will germinate and be ready to plant out in about

0:26:080:26:11

a month's time when the ground has warmed up.

0:26:110:26:14

Unlike summer-fruiting varieties which produce their fruit on

0:26:170:26:21

the previous year's canes,

0:26:210:26:22

autumn-fruiting raspberries all bear their harvest on new shoots.

0:26:220:26:28

This means that all of last year's growth can be cut

0:26:280:26:32

right to the ground and cleared away.

0:26:320:26:34

The weather today has been typically March.

0:26:410:26:45

We have had lovely sunshine, horrible cold rain and now

0:26:450:26:50

it's sort of brightening up and feeling quite mild.

0:26:500:26:53

So let's see what the weather has in store for us gardeners this weekend.

0:26:530:26:57

Let's see what's on the cards for a spot of gardening this weekend.

0:27:070:27:10

A couple of points, Saturday's a good day,

0:27:100:27:13

a dry day at least for most of us.

0:27:130:27:16

Rain will arrive on Sunday, and then Sunday night,

0:27:160:27:20

it is going to turn chilly, even a frost around in some

0:27:200:27:23

western areas of the UK.

0:27:230:27:24

So here is the weather for the short-term.

0:27:240:27:27

We have got a little bit of rain, not a lot, maybe crossing

0:27:270:27:30

northern parts of England, but really, most of Scotland

0:27:300:27:32

and Northern Ireland, the bulk of England and Wales

0:27:320:27:35

enjoying fine weather, warm and sunny in the south.

0:27:350:27:38

We could see the temperatures up to 18 degrees on Saturday,

0:27:380:27:42

and then this is what happens as we head into Sunday -

0:27:420:27:48

All of this,

0:27:480:27:49

I don't think we will see a lot of rain, but it certainly will turn

0:27:490:27:52

damp in our gardens and some of that rain will hang round right

0:27:520:27:55

into the afternoon, particularly in the eastern areas,

0:27:550:27:57

Late in the day we will see some sunshine in the west and that cooler

0:27:570:28:01

air arrives so that means that Sunday night turns chilly,

0:28:010:28:03

and we could see pockets of frost anywhere here.

0:28:030:28:03

to visit Packwood House in Warwickshire

0:28:040:28:05

You can see the wood pile behind me

0:28:110:28:14

is what happened to the trees being cut down.

0:28:140:28:16

They will keep us warm next winter.

0:28:160:28:19

I have got big plans here for the orchard, real transformation.

0:28:190:28:22

But that'll have to wait because we have run out of time for this week.

0:28:220:28:27

But I will see you back here at Longmeadow at the same time

0:28:270:28:31

next week. Until then, bye-bye. Come on.

0:28:310:28:35

Let's Sing And Dance exploded onto our screens,

0:29:060:29:08

Over the year, Gardeners' World is celebrating 50 years of broadcasting timely advice and inspiration to the nation's gardeners.

Monty kicks off the gardening year from Longmeadow as he shares his tips for pruning, planting up pots for spring colour and sharing his plans for the coming year.

At Packwood House, the extraordinary herbaceous borders come under Adam Frost's scrutiny as he finds out how they have been planted for maximum colour and impact.

Over the series, Carol Klein shares with us some of her heroes of gardening, the people who have impacted the way we garden for the last 50 years. She begins with Beth Chatto.


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