Monty Don gives advice on pruning summer flowering shrubs and plans for autumn flowers. He also visits Dublin to find out how Helen Dillon is progressing in her new garden.
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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.
The vegetable garden is going through
that slight in-between phase,
when the early crops like peas and broad beans and the first lettuces
are going over, but later crops, like pumpkins and sweetcorn,
haven't really hit their stride yet.
So you get these odd bits of ground that are left open.
I've harvested some lettuce here.
I haven't got plants ready to put in for next winter,
but I don't want to waste it,
and this is where green manure can be really useful.
Green manure is simply a crop of some kind
that you grow solely to enrich the ground.
At this time of year there are some very quick ones
that you can turn round in a couple of months,
like red clover that I'm going to put in here.
And very easy to sow, you just rake the ground over
and sprinkle the seeds on.
Clover seeds are small.
There you go.
Spread them like that
and then rake them in.
And that...is all you have to do.
And that piece of ground is looked after and will be enriched
for the next couple of months
until I want to use it for a crop of my choice.
On tonight's programme...
Rachel discovers the secret life of plants and how they use scent
in extraordinary ways.
We visit a national collection of wisteria in Cumbria.
And Nick Bailey offers some tips
on transforming a neglected front garden.
And we'll also be visiting the man who saved the dahlia.
And I make a return trip to Dublin
to revisit one of my gardening heroes.
It's that time of year when you need to think about summer pruning.
Summer-pruning fruit is one thing,
and we'll come to that in a few weeks' time.
But certain spring-flowering shrubs need pruning about now, too.
There are two types of spring-flowering shrubs -
those that produce their flowers on new wood
and those that produce their flowers on old wood.
So buddleias produce their flowers on new wood,
which means you can cut them back as hard as you like in early spring.
And then there are others,
like philadelphus or lilac, that produce their flowers
on growth that was made the previous summer.
I've got a couple of philadelphus here in the orchard beds.
You can see how this one
has got all its flowers at a lower level,
because those are from spurs
from wood grown last year.
And this year's growth, the new growth,
has got no flowers at all.
But, hopefully, this will carry with the spurs that come off it
in next year's flowers.
And so I'll have them up here and they'll be glorious.
So I don't need to prune that at all.
However, the matching philadelphus on this side
is in front of an amelanchier,
and I don't want it to hide the amelanchier.
What I'm looking for is a lower shrub,
still covered with flowers,
but just at a different height
and I can prune it accordingly.
In fact, there's an awful lot of growth down at the base,
which is spreading across, covering that geranium,
and I want to clear that away,
I want a bit of free air round the bottom.
When you're pruning to reshape,
you can cut back to the base of a shoot.
That will stimulate regrowth that will not bear any flowers next year.
And if you want a clue to timing,
when the last few flowers are fading,
that's the very best time to cut.
OK, that's a better shape.
Now I'm just going to tip it back a little bit...
So, if I remove some of this new growth,
that should create side shoots to give me flowering.
And you can see I'm never pruning in the middle between two leaves.
Just above a leaf.
Because otherwise, this would just die back.
And any tissue that dies back is much more prone to infection.
I think that's going to create a shape that will suit this particular
position really well and give me some flowers next year.
Of course, we grow flowering shrubs
because the flowers are beautiful
and they're really good as part of a border.
But also, lots of them have fabulous scent.
And the mock orange, for example,
can fill the evening air with a musky, rich fragrance.
But that fragrance is not designed for our delectation.
Rachel has been to discover how plants communicate
and how understanding this process can help us do our bit
for native plants and insects.
Healthy populations of native plants and wildlife are key to the success
of our native ecosystem.
But what determines how they thrive?
Well, the answer can be found right here in a back garden in Kent.
This meadow of 100 species of native plants,
and 1,000 trees, was planted by Dr Mike Copland,
who studies insects and their relationship with the environment.
It's extraordinary and very beautiful.
So why did you want to create this
rather than a more conventional garden?
I felt that Kent didn't have enough wildlife areas
and I'd like to try to achieve something of my own
which would have lots of insects in it.
One of the things we wanted to do was to look at
what was already growing in this little area of Kent,
in a ten-kilometre square.
That would be the starting point for the sort of species we could have.
The more I look around me, the more I can see,
the more variety of plants
and the fact that it's teeming with life.
What exactly have you got growing here?
Well, things like the meadowsweet here,
which is in bloom at the moment.
And this is a white period.
And then we're going to go into yellows and the purples,
from the knapweeds and thistles and so on.
So...there's a change every couple of weeks.
It's like being in a different meadow.
-An ever-changing scene.
-Yes. And different insects to go with it.
The meadow is doing so well because of the way native insects are
attracted to the native plants -
an invisible way of communicating
that's vital for the health of the ecosystem here.
Every plant in the world is giving off some kind of scents
which are made up...
A complex scent is made up of lots of volatile molecules,
which are evaporating into the air
and are picked up by insects which are passing by,
who then turn their attention,
if it's the right volatile for them.
They're unique for every plant.
They've certainly been heading towards this nettle.
-Humble though it is.
What's on there?
Well, if we look on the underneath of these leaves here,
we'll see a number of the aphids.
And on some of the leaves, we'll see some little predators, as well.
Plants use volatiles to attract predators,
rallying the troops to bring aphids under control.
But although unwanted by many gardeners,
aphids can bring benefits.
In the case of aphids, they're sucking the plant's sap
and they're dribbling out some of that sticky honeydew
onto the leaf's surfaces.
Now, these almost can be viewed as sort of the garages
which fuel the flight of all the other insects in this habitat.
So, if you're looking at the most important plants,
they're the ones that support a good population of aphids.
So, at this moment, all these plants in this meadow
-are giving off their own specific...
So, each of the 100 species have all got their own conversation going on
with a group of insects
and pulling them in in one way or another.
I'll certainly never look at a nettle in the same way again.
Mike has a device that will show insects being drawn
to these invisible volatiles.
Pollen beetles are placed in a Perspex arena
into which clean air is sucked via four tubes at each corner.
But the air flowing into the top right corner
takes a detour via a jar of meadowsweet.
So, will the pollen beetle sense the volatiles
and head in the right direction?
Now, it must be said that we are outside
-and normally this will be done in a lab.
But you can get an idea
as to how this is working, really.
Give a little bit of time for the air to come in from that bottle.
And then we should start to see the beetles appear
to be making a choice which accumulates them
in that sector of the arena.
So, how are they sensing the volatiles?
They're definitely going that way!
They are, yeah.
They have a little sensilla on their antenna
which are responding to these volatiles
which make up the scent given off by the flower.
And so, when they detect that scent
they'll move towards it.
Instead of walking in straight lines and walking quite quickly,
they'll begin to turn and spend more time in that area.
And they're sort of intensively looking for that plant.
They know that it's there and they're looking for it.
So how important is it really for all of us
to draw in native insects?
Well, I think it is important,
because I think, otherwise,
we're at risk of losing some of them.
Gardens like this have a valuable role to play,
although you might see a butterfly, or something like that,
heading towards some non-native sort of yellow flower, or something,
but it won't be the right kind of chemicals in that nectar
for it to produce its offspring.
They really need to be provided with the native flowers.
What should people be growing if they want something
that's attractive, ornamental, as well as being obviously a native?
We've got Bird's foot trefoil there,
which is a food plant of some of the blue butterflies.
I would definitely plant some of the inula over there.
It is the food plant
for quite a few moth species.
If you want to grow wild flowers,
try to scrape off the topsoil to a depth of two to three inches
and then replant seed into that.
You end up with that soil being able to support
a great many species of our wild flowers.
And mowing it for the first year or so, just like a lawn,
but it won't kill the plants - they'll all be there,
but they'll have a chance of getting their roots in and well established.
Within five years, you should have something quite interesting.
You are really tuned in to the detail.
You spot the insects straight away. And you're sort of...
You're focusing on that and I wonder if that's something perhaps
we've all lost a little bit.
Yeah, I think so. I would like to see kids
encouraged to do things with insects.
And there's a trend, I think, in the last 20 years for,
"No, don't pick flowers and don't collect insects."
You know, because we lose them.
Well, no, you gain people who are going to protect them in the future.
So I think we want to have more people being interested in insects
and understanding the huge diversity we have here.
I do think that whole area is so fascinating,
because of course, it's not just about pollination.
Plants communicate with each other
and, it seems, over really mind-bogglingly distances, too.
Well, certainly, I don't know a lot about how scent is produced,
but I do know that I absolutely love the fragrance of sweet peas.
And I can't really have too many of them under normal circumstances,
and of course, this year, my son is getting married at the end of July
and we're growing sweet peas for the wedding.
You can see they're all-white. This is White Supreme.
So I'm trying to manage the picking of them
so that we have peak sweet pea at the end of July.
And there are two ways you can manage them.
You can either pick regularly,
and that will give you a regular but limited supply.
Or you can do what we tend to do,
which is to pick as many as you can,
preferably all of them, about every ten days.
And that stimulates them to a massive re-flowering.
So for the wedding, what I want to do now is clear all our sweet peas.
And then I can do one more pick and hopefully we'll fill the place with
that fabulous fragrance.
Finally, what I do when I pick sweet peas
is carry a bucket of water with you, stick the sweet peas in as you go
and then when the bucket is full, you put it somewhere cool
and that means you don't have to deal with them,
ie cut them to size and put them in vases, until it suits you.
You can do it much later in the day.
I always try and have a succession of climbers in the garden,
so now sweet peas are doing really well
and the rambling roses are just finishing
and then the late-flowering clematis will follow on later.
And preceding all of these were the wisteria.
Now, I've got two very young plants that I planted on the mound.
But back in May, we went up to Cumbria to visit Fiona Butcher,
who has a national collection of wonderful wisteria.
What's not to love?
They have scent, big, long droopy flowers, romance...
They've got everything.
There's nothing not to like!
Opposite my mother-in-law's,
there was a derelict cottage and it was entirely purple.
The whole thing. The wisteria grew up the side,
up the front of the house, over the roof
and down the other side and it was just purple.
It was fantastic.
And that was it. I was just in love.
End of story.
I thought, "I'm going to have to have one of these in the garden."
I've got a national plant collection
of around 40 different varieties and species of wisteria.
My favourites are the double-flowered
Wisteria floribunda 'Yae-kokuryu'.
And also Wisteria floribunda 'Kuchi-beni'.
And Wisteria floribunda 'Lawrence'.
And, and, and!
All of them, at the right time.
Pruning is everything.
Any new green tendrils, cut them off.
Because otherwise, you end up with a straggly plant.
If you cut them, they produce lots of flowers on short bracks,
which is what you want.
Wisteria will take over the world unless you prune them.
The garden is... It's not tiny, but it's not massive,
especially in terms of wisteria.
So my aim has always been to have smaller plants.
I first saw a photograph of a bonsai wisteria in a bonsai book.
And I just thought, "I'm going to have to have that."
By some means. So that was...
And then, I read more about air layering
and it kind of progressed from there.
Air layering is a method of propagation
whereby you're basically making a mature flowering plant
from an existing branch.
First of all, you cut round the bark with a knife,
about an inch in length along the branch.
Cut the outside of the bark off so you've got the inside bark showing.
Then you coat that in rooting powder,
or rooting hormone.
Wrap it in moss and tie it up with string,
so you've got, like, a little moss parcel.
You need to make sure that the moss is not too wet and not too dry.
And it needs to be sphagnum moss
because it encourages the small roots to grow,
which are the feeder roots,
which are the important part of the plant.
Air layering is better for producing a flowering plant quickly.
You've got, basically, a mature flowering plant
within two or three years.
Then you tie, very tightly, some clear plastic round it,
which keeps the moisture locked in,
and then you cover it with either silver foil or black plastic to stop
light getting in, so that it will grow roots.
You do it in June or July, just after flowering's finished.
And that's it. Leave it for ten months and... Ta-da!
You have a plant.
I couldn't believe it when it worked, the first time,
I could not believe it. I was like, "Yes!"
And that excitement when you see all the flower buds
on something that you've created is just amazing.
This is Wisteria sinensis.
Air layering taken in 2000 from the original purple house wisteria,
as it shall now be known.
It's got nice structure, nice, clean line.
Trunk quite thick at the bottom after all this time.
And it's been that shape ever since it was air layered.
This is a good example of the real variety and difference
between the types of wisteria.
All of them can be used for bonsai.
Probably shorter-racemed ones
are better for flowering.
As you can see, they look like small trees already,
because I've chosen part of the plant to air layer it from,
it's got treelike structure instead of being, for instance,
long and straight, like this grafted plant and like this one.
You can change the angle of planting to get more of a bonsai effect,
so I might lean it over to the left, or lean it over to the right to get
more of a...a more bonsai feel to it.
Any wisteria in a pot will not grow as vigorously
as one that's in the ground.
So pruning just as and when, really.
Every two years, you need to repot them.
And sometimes it's a bit more often than that
if the plant's particularly vigorous.
You need to reduce the roots by half,
try and make them quite flat,
so you haven't got a root ball at the bottom.
They need to sit flat.
And then re-pot it back in the same pot.
Discovering air layering made me much more confident
about growing wisteria in a small space,
generally being able to have lots more wisteria
than would otherwise be possible.
Erm, I think, as with anything,
experience gives you more confidence
and you learn things that you can't do
and things that you can.
They might not work for everybody, but for me, it's just great.
I do think that that is the key to really enjoying gardening
as much as possible, which is to try.
Just try things out.
It may not work, but you'll learn something,
even if it's how not to do it,
which can often be the most useful bit of knowledge you need.
And sooner or later, you'll find that things will work.
And then, all kinds of possibilities come to the fore,
and that's so exciting.
And I do think, certainly for myself,
that it's the creative aspect of making a garden,
of producing new plants,
of reordering it, reshaping it, that is the most fulfilling.
And last autumn, I went to visit Helen Dillon in Dublin.
Now, Helen is the doyenne of Irish gardening
and her garden at Sandford Road in Ranelagh,
in the outskirts of Dublin, is probably the most famous
that has been created in Ireland in the last 50 years.
But last year, she suddenly decided it was time to move.
So a few weeks ago,
I went back to Dublin to see Helen and her new garden.
Well, this is the right place.
I'm in Monkstown, I'm by the sea and her new garden...
This is quite a surprise,
because if it wasn't for the glimpse
of some rather wonderful plants down the end,
it would be hard to credit that this is the new home.
It is so different.
Well, this is something.
It's probably a bit different.
It's very... It's certainly very, very different.
But it's looking incredible.
It's a huge, exciting improvement.
Instead of going on and on and on and maintaining...
It's not fun just maintaining.
-I got rid of a lot of old memories, bad memories,
plants I've gone off.
I managed to throw all my problems out of the window...
-..and come here.
-Open the window and chuck 'em out.
The garden that Helen left behind
was a rich tapestry made up of unusual and exotic plants,
collected over a lifetime.
But moving to somewhere new
has given her the chance to create a garden from scratch.
We're sitting in a building site,
and yet the garden is clearly coming into being.
It's the creation, as opposed to the maintenance.
I love the thought that I've got all that space out the front.
And the empty palette - wonderful. What am I going to do with it?
So, have you deliberately downsized?
You know I hate that word.
-I said it to tease you.
-It's just, it's just...
To me, it's "the giving up on everything" word.
I'm not giving up.
OK, the size has changed.
But the me hasn't changed.
When I first gardened in that Sandford Road house,
47 years ago or so, I couldn't take anything out,
Because it seemed sacrilege.
Now I've got tougher.
But the plants I love, I love a lot.
It's terrible to see one's editing and deciding the whole time,
and one's giving marks to plants.
But there are some plants I might have got a tiny bit bored with.
-Has that ever happened to you, Monty?
-All the time.
And I don't feel any guilt about that at all.
It just has to go out. Or I say, "I've grown that for 30 years,
"do I have to go on growing it?" Answer, no.
In the ten months leading up to the move,
Helen gradually potted up her chosen few
and looked after them on site.
Where did you keep all these plants?
-Originally, I sort of corralled them up the far end...
..with wild netting round.
But really, I needed something more like, er,
Trump's wall around Mexico.
Because builders, I mean, I'm not sure they understand plants,
to tell the truth.
I'm not sure they see plants.
But how well do you understand building work?
That is beautifully said, dear boy. Beautifully said.
Do not put plant in front of builder's foot,
-that's what I'm saying.
Cos builder's foot doesn't see plant.
But the plants are soon to be bedded into new borders.
We've talked about editing.
What about the things you just had to bring,
you could not live without?
Well, actually, that's not looking good because it's been moved,
but that is a spectacularly good
and wonderful clematis.
-That's a particularly nice, particularly nice musifolia.
Musifolia. That's my favourite one.
-You don't like cannas...
-I do like cannas. I do, I grow them.
That is stupendous.
-Oh, I love that.
-You've got that in a dustbin, have you?
It's in a dustbin so I can move it in and out. But it has to go in.
And I don't think...
It says it'll only stand two degrees of frost.
Max. So I wouldn't risk it, because having waited five years
for it to flower, I wouldn't risk it...
So you wait five years to put up that flower spike and then it dies?
Yeah. But that flower spike
has been looking interesting for three or four months.
Lots of these plants here are exotic, special, rare...
-Gosh, you're very good.
-..if not rarefied.
And that's fabulous, and that's fantastic,
and you are associated with it.
But they don't have to be, they don't have to be like that.
-Do they have to be?
-No, they don't...
-What is it you're looking for?
-Why do I love that little daisy?
-That everybody loves?
-The original one.
Why do I love it? It's a lovely plant.
-You tell me. Why do you love it?
-It's absolutely sweet,
it never stops flowering, it's no trouble, it looks after itself,
it puts itself somewhere pretty
and you can come along and say, "How sweet", and walk on.
You don't have to do anything,
it plants itself on the top of the wall and flowers away.
What more can you want?
Lots of alstroemerias.
Well, I think they're such good plants.
And people sneer at them and say they're common and things,
but they're terrific plants.
If you get really good, really pretty colour,
and you get a really tall one,
people will buy these small little pea ones.
The little pea ones all fall over and never look good,
but these, the bigger, the better.
I guess you have to deadhead madly, do you?
Well, I do. What I do is I yank it out.
You see that's had the top off anyway?
I just pull it out by the root.
Yank from the base... I'm not going to it there.
But this is weak, it is never going to flower,
so I might as well pull it out.
It's only cluttering up the place. Look. Cluttering up the place.
This one's cluttering up the place.
Want all that out. Cos it's not doing any good,
it's just blocking the others.
Most people will be terrified of damaging the plant.
One has got to be tough and bossy over plants,
because otherwise you sit there, looking at a miserable thing,
and you think, "Oh, I wish it would look a bit better."
Or else you don't see it.
Most people, if they don't like the plant, they don't see it, it's not annoying them.
You have to make yourself look and say, "Do I like that plant?"
And the answer with that pink one is I do like it.
I imagine it must be quite difficult for you to be tough and bossy.
That, I think, is a slightly edgy, slightly edgy air to that comment.
I find this ongoing conversation with Helen
both fascinating and a little bit disturbing,
because I've often thought about what it would be like
to leave Longmeadow.
Because I'm coming to that time of life where I'm starting to think
about the future and how I'm going to manage.
Helen has just moved forward and she's left the old behind,
and it was clearly tough.
And I like the idea of not saying "farewell",
with a sort of heavy heart,
but "fare forward".
Instead of mourning the past, building on it.
And at any age, that is exhilarating.
I think the best measure of inspiration is how much it makes
you want to do something as a result of seeing it.
And I came back from my trip to Dublin with loads of new ideas
here at Longmeadow.
And I shall certainly be going back as soon as Helen will have me,
to see how her ideas are developing.
Now, coming up on the programme, we pay a visit to the man
who saved a whole raft of old dahlia varieties
so that we can now enjoy them in our gardens.
And Joe visits Dungeness
to see a garden made in about the most extreme conditions
that can be imagined.
But first, Nick Bailey shows us how to make a neglected front garden
into a welcoming space.
Front gardens are the first thing that people see
when they come to our property,
yet so many of us only invest our time and energy in our back gardens,
meaning that the front gardens are little more than a transition space,
and this front garden typifies that.
This garden lacks structure and seasonal interest -
and the plants are not well maintained.
The path isn't wide enough for the wheelie bin,
and the bin itself is really ugly,
and the pots don't sit well together.
But with a bit of DIY know-how, and some clever planting,
I can turn the space into a desirable front garden
with year-round interest that will welcome people to the home.
There's good reason why we should invest in our front gardens.
First, like a book cover,
it'll become more inviting and attract insects and songbirds
to the front door.
Second, a well-tended front garden can add value to your property
and increase its kerb appeal.
And third, you'll be doing your bit to help with the issue of flooding,
something that the RHS, with its Greening Grey Britain campaign,
is especially concerned about addressing.
With this front garden, I want to start from a blank canvas,
which means clearing the existing plants,
then I'm going to reduce the size of the bed to make an accessible path
for the wheelie bin.
To really bring this garden back to life,
I'm going to use a whole new palette of plants.
And the idea with this particular range
is it will give interest to this front garden 365 days of the year.
One of the key plants that I'm putting in is this rose.
It's a flower carpet rose.
Ground-covering, goes from June to round about November time.
Really good value and it just keeps delivering.
Some people tend to think that fuchsias
can be a bit bold and brassy.
I think this one is actually really elegant.
It's a fuchsia magellanica,
and it's a form called Hawkshead.
It has these white, very simple
and elegant pendulous flowers.
This is anemanthele.
It used to be called stipa arundinacea.
It's a fantastic grass, and it self-seeds around,
which is one of the reasons I've chosen it.
What I really like about it is, come autumn time,
it takes on brilliant, burnished orange tones,
and so it will really stand out and help extend that season of interest.
Astrantias are brilliant border doers.
Long season of interest
and those beautiful lime and white tones
will tie in with the rest of the planting.
You'll probably recognise this as Alchemilla mollis.
It's incredibly easy to look after.
Plant it and leave it. It gently seeds around.
And then in early summer time,
again, this beautiful citrus lime tone to the flowers,
which helps to bring the whole scheme together.
This is Asarum europaeum.
It's a little woodland European native,
and it likes to grow in half-shade or dappled light.
So it's going to be perfect
scattered through the plants in the front of this border.
I've planted this border more densely than usual for two reasons.
One, it means the garden will look great this year, and two,
I've chosen so many self-seeding plants
that if they get wiped out by some of the larger shrubs,
they'll slowly find their own spots and thrive.
This planting scheme costs around £260.
But you don't have to buy them all in one go.
And since your front garden will look fantastic for years to come,
these plants are a worthwhile investment.
With the flowerbed complete,
it's time to turn my attention to the new housing for the wheelie bin,
which will also have its own green roof.
I bought this off-the-peg wheelie store that the bin can tuck away in.
Now, at the moment, its colour's a bit bright,
so I'm going to paint it a black so it helps it to disappear.
And then I'm going to give it a green roof.
I'm just going to use a basic horticultural grit,
which will help the compost grain
and make sure the plants establish well.
Now it's ready for the compost.
And it's worth firming the compost in well, to all corners.
Don't be tempted to pat it.
Use your fingertips, that will just work it down nicely
without overly compacting it.
I can't resist getting a plant for free,
especially things like this ophiopogon.
You'll often find that you can split them before you even plant them.
You can see that what's growing in here is two
separate little plantlets,
and there's one complete with roots, ready to go.
There's one more, and actually,
there's a bonus on the side here as well.
And so that's three plants for the price of one.
As alternatives, you can also plant ferns
or mat-forming species of sedum.
Well, that's the wheelie bin all but camouflaged
and integrated into the garden.
And with its green roof,
it has just a bit of eco-credentials because, of course,
it provides a habitat for wildlife,
absorbs pollutants and produces oxygen.
And with the range of plants in the front garden here,
family and visitors are going to be guaranteed
a warm welcome to this property.
The RHS campaign to improve our front gardens,
Greening Grey Britain,
has been going strong and will continue to the end of this year,
so if you want to get involved and take part,
you can go to our website and get all the details.
Now, this is a really good pot, it's designed for bulbs,
and I had tulips in it.
But if you've got a big, expensive pot like this,
you want to use it as much as possible.
So I'm going to plant some more bulbs,
but this time, they're autumn-flowering.
I've got two sorts, although they're very closely related.
The first is an amarine,
a cross between amaryllis and nerine.
And the whole point of an amarine is it combines, just like the name,
the two qualities of both bulbs.
You have the vigour of an amaryllis
and the elegance of a nerine.
Well, so I am told,
because I've never grown it before.
And this is Amarine Emanuelle,
and Emmanuelle is a pale pink.
If you do want to plant this yourself,
you do need to go and buy it this weekend and get on with it,
because it's running a little bit tight on time
to hit the peak flowering in early autumn.
But the method is the same whether you do it in May or July.
You need a pot and some crocks
in the bottom,
cos drainage is absolutely essential.
I've already mixed up a gritty compost mix.
Now, I often refer to a gritty mix.
Essentially, what that means is you buy a normal peat-free compost and
then buy a bag of grit and mix them in equal volume.
And that does well for almost all bulbs.
So you end up with a mix that, when you rub it together,
just falls through your hands.
And if in doubt, better to make it more gritty than less,
cos what you don't want is water retention,
you want the water to pass almost straight through it.
So put it in, and these bulbs,
unlike many, should be planted shallowly.
You want the surface of these above soil level.
So...that's about right.
These are bulbs that do best as they bulk out,
so you can plant them quite closely together.
And if you're planting them in the ground,
if you've got very well-drained soil, you don't want to move them.
Let them become a tightly bound mass of bulb
and they do want as much sun as you can give them.
I just put the compost around them rather than over them,
so that their snouts are appearing above the soil.
I don't want to bury them completely.
And I'm going to dress them with a bit of grit.
We put grit on the top to stop splashing.
When you water it,
you can get the compost splashing up onto the foliage
and even the flowers, sometimes.
But also, it means you don't get capping,
which is when the surface of the compost dries out
and you water it and it bounces off.
And...it looks nice.
I've also got some nerines,
which I'm going to put into these smaller pots.
So, the same idea, same compost.
Not planted too deep.
And we can put three in each.
I'll do the two pots.
This is Nerine flexuosa "Alba".
White, spidery, elegant flowers.
It's very tricky to grow here,
on our clay, with our wet climate,
which is why I'm going to put them into a pot,
but if you've got sandy soil or it's chalky, free-draining,
south-facing aspect, there's no reason why
you can't grow them outside.
That is killing a number of birds with one stone.
For a start, I'm reusing pots,
I'm getting maximum benefit from them.
Secondly, I'm growing something
that I've struggled to grow successfully in our wet clay.
And thirdly, this is a new plant -
certainly the amarine is, anyway -
which should give me a really good display come September and October,
when things are beginning to thin out a little.
Of course something that will still be going strong, I expect,
in September, will be the dahlias.
I grow lots of dahlias, I love them.
But many of these dahlia varieties that we now take for granted
and happily grow in our gardens
would not be available if it wasn't for the work of one man,
David Brown, who, for nearly 70 years,
has been collecting and propagating
dahlia varieties which would have otherwise disappeared.
Last summer, we went to visit him.
I love dahlias because they're so versatile.
They give you a tremendous range of colour, size of flower,
shape of flower.
It just is such a wonderful,
colourful flower for the garden,
and flowers from July right the way until the first frost.
And what more could you ask for?
I was born into a dahlia nursery in Maidenhead, Berkshire,
which was run by my grandfather,
and then by my father, John Brown.
And I suppose from about the age of ten, in about 1947,
I began to take note of the different dahlias
that my father grew.
And I used to help my father prepare them for cutting, for shows,
and was very proud when stands were awarded gold medals or trophies.
When I came out of the Army in '59,
my father had sold the nursery,
but I still maintained my interest in dahlias
and was a member of the National Dahlia Society.
I suddenly realised a lot of the dahlias
that my father had grown had disappeared,
and the classified directory issued by the National Dahlia Society
in 1982 showed 700 varieties.
And in 1966,
it showed 4,000 varieties.
So I felt that it was necessary
to start collecting some of these old dahlias.
This was the start of my collection,
and by 1987,
I had amassed nearly 2,000 different cultivars.
It was fun, really, in those days, collecting these old dahlias.
If I was driving along,
I would run up a garden path quite often
and ask the garden owner if I could have a tuber of a dahlia
that was growing in their garden.
And it was quite easy once I started to build up this collection.
In 1996, the NCCPG, now Plant Heritage,
came and inspected the collection
and it was registered as a national collection in the UK.
As far as I know,
it's the only national dahlia collection in existence.
Unfortunately, I became unwell,
and Winchester Growers, who were bulb suppliers,
came forward and purchased the collection
and it is looking very good at this moment.
Good clean stock is the first criteria to a good dahlia growing.
They like well-drained soil.
Most important, I think, is to keep them well watered
throughout the growing season.
You need to give them a slow-acting fertiliser,
and I also give them a foliar feed throughout the season to keep them
vigorous and strong and healthy.
Another important thing with dahlias
is to keep them deadheaded so that
you encourage more flowers, more growth.
If you live in a frost area,
you should lift your dahlias,
clean off the soil
and store them in a frost-free, dry area.
I love the old dahlias,
they have a special part in my dahlia world
because people have grown them for many, many years
and they were always evolving.
I mean, I found a dahlia called Union Jack in a garden
in the 1980s that had been raised in 1883.
You know, it's just part of our dahlia history
and it's most important that we don't lose sight of this.
I think more people now are growing dahlias just for the garden
and cut flower, rather than exhibiting.
I'm hoping that dahlias will maintain their rise in popularity.
So I'm just happy to be part of the dahlia scene
and have been for the last 70 or so years.
Well, if it wasn't for people like David,
our gardens would be much, much less interesting places.
We certainly need and should celebrate our plant heroes,
and he's absolutely right about the need to deadhead dahlias.
Dahlias are a plant that respond beautifully to regular deadheading.
And if you do that, they will go on flowering until the first frost.
And it can be a little confusing if you're not used to growing dahlias.
Which is a bud about to open
and which is a flower that has just finished?
But here's the clue.
If you look at this, it's a tight, round cushion.
A ball, and that is a bud.
So don't cut that off.
Whereas that has finished, because it's long and tubular.
That means that it's finished flowering.
And when you do cut,
always go right back down the length of the stem
to the next leaf or shoot.
Although sandy soil and light shade may be perfection for dahlias,
the truth is they are very adaptable -
they certainly thrive on the heavy clay here at Longmeadow.
But there are certain gardens that are so extreme
that only a very small selection of plants will survive,
let alone thrive,
and Joe has been down to Dungeness in Kent
to see a garden that exactly fits that bill.
Dungeness has one of the largest natural shingle beaches in Europe,
which is extremely free-draining, nutrient-poor
and the winds rip right through here.
So it's a very inhospitable place to grow plants.
So I'm intrigued to see an award-winning garden
that's positively thrived here.
The garden is in a group of recently converted industrial buildings
and it's been designed by Emily Erlam.
So, Emily, what did you set out to achieve with this garden?
This garden is very much part of a wider landscape,
so we needed to create almost an installation,
but we wanted to make something really intimate,
that felt like a garden for the people who live here.
But it is a very weird industrial landscape.
You got the lighthouse,
you've got all these telegraph poles all over the place.
It feels quite random, the whole area.
There's a real theme of found objects around here,
so people bring things from the beach
or create their own sculptures.
So, in a way, the garden has created a backdrop
for these elements of Dungeness to carry on existing in this space.
It really is a very large plot,
but you've just gardened this area near the house.
And the rest of it, you've left to grow wild.
Was that a conscious decision, to have the two areas?
Well, actually, it was a requirement.
This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, so this area here,
we weren't allowed to garden.
In fact, you can't even walk on it.
It represents what the area of Dungeness would be like
if no-one was walking around on the shingle.
-And so the plants that grow there are a community
that are undisturbed.
It's very dry here in Dungeness.
These plants have been chosen
because they should survive in a very arid environment.
Things like the achillea, the persicaria,
There's yellow horned poppies
that grow naturally around here,
and are very iconic around here.
And also the viper's bugloss,
which is this blue, purpley plant.
And it grows everywhere, and so we picked up
the purple and yellow and we've brought it in the garden.
So you've very much gone with the gravel theme with Dungeness.
It's got a lot of gravel around here.
Well, some gravel was here obviously already.
You have to only use the local gravel,
so you can't bring gravel from other places.
But you can't take it from the beach, you have to buy it in.
You have to buy it in, yes, and so we took it from the local quarry.
And we made a dry riverbed-type thing.
So where the landforms come down, we create natural paths.
And so the other material is timber,
which you used for decking and the furniture,
that lovely bleached-out effect.
There's lots of boats around and they are all made
of these shipboard decking,
and it's a bit like the boardwalk-type deck at the beach.
But we wanted to keep it very natural so it felt like it tied in
with what's around.
The planting looks lovely from here -
I mean, really melds together beautifully
and work so well with the building and the environment.
The elaeagnus over there is a sort of a bit of a hedge.
Were you ever tempted to put more of it in
to create a microclimate inside
so you can grow a wider variety of plants?
The elaeagnus Quicksilver has been really happy here,
and it does stop the wind coming through.
But the real wind, to be honest, comes from the sea,
which comes straight across the garden.
So there wasn't an awful lot we could do to cut off the wind.
The blue amsonia, I've never grown it,
but it's a real stunner,
it works so well with the yellows.
I love this plant, I think it's really good.
There's different forms, short forms and tall forms,
and it does take a while to get going,
it's a bit sluggish.
But once it does, it's a real doer, it will grow in many places,
it will grow in shade, and it seems to love it here,
it's really enjoying itself.
And of course there's sea kale all around us,
but have you planted it or have you just let it self-seed in a garden?
Well, it's protected, and we have introduced a couple more because,
actually, it's a really great plant.
And those seed pods are really ornamental.
As soon as you put that plant next to an ornamental plant,
it does feel like it's very comfortable in a garden setting.
I bet very few people grow it in their gardens.
Yes, I think they should, actually.
It's got so many seasons to it,
it starts off with this deep purpley-red leaf that emerges,
then you get the glaucus leaf colour
and the flowers and then the seed pods,
and it has structure all through the winter.
It's a fabulous plant.
OK. I guess that would be one concern about this garden,
is what this looks like the rest of the year?
Is there enough structure in this garden?
Yes, it really does keep its structure,
I think because the rainfall here is low, so the plants,
the thing that kills the plants is damp roots
and so the structure here stays for a long time.
It's got another life of its own in the winter.
I think a lot of us have preconceptions
about what a garden is, what we want from a space
and how it might perform,
and if you turn up somewhere like this, well,
you're going to get into trouble
because you have to let the conditions dictate the garden.
So if you're making a garden yourself,
look for clues around you,
think about how you can relate to the wider landscape
and bring them into the space too.
And that way, you could create a unique garden,
like Emily has, for a very special place like this.
I guess the nearest Longmeadow remotely gets to Dungeness
is here in the dry garden, but it is pretty remote,
because Dungeness is a unique place.
I went for the first time last November.
That November day was cold, bright and clear.
So let's see what this weekend's weather
holds in store for us gardeners.
Well, I'm sure you'll be able to get out there
and fit in a few jobs.
So here are some ideas of things you can be getting on with this weekend.
As soon as your delphiniums have finished flowering,
cut them hard back,
right to the ground.
And this will encourage fresh growth that should carry new flowers
later in summer.
I think no summer fruit is better than a delicious raspberry.
But they don't ripen at the same time.
So it's important to go through them every few days,
harvesting those that are ready
rather than waiting for them all to ripen together.
If, like me, you started growing some potatoes in a bag last March,
they should now be ready to harvest.
Take off the top growth, tip all the compost out
into a barrow or a container and rummage through it,
gathering up your golden harvest.
I always harvest the first new potatoes,
and this is a variety called Orla,
round about my birthday.
A little bit late this year.
However, I will eat these tonight and celebrate, if not my birthday,
then summer in all its glory.
But no more time to do so today.
But we will be back next Wednesday at nine o'clock.
I will see you then. Bye-bye.
That is not a potato, Nige.
As the garden reaches its peak of summer perfection, Monty Don gives advice on how to prune summer flowering shrubs, maintain the floral display and plans for autumn flowers. He also makes a return visit to Dublin to find out how world-renowned plantswoman Helen Dillon is progressing in her new garden.
Joe Swift shows how good design should not hinder challenging conditions when he visits a garden in Kent, Rachel de Thame explores the vital role of scent in wild flowers and the insects that visit them, and we find out about the work of one extraordinary dahlia enthusiast. Nick Bailey has designs on a weekend project which will transform a front garden into a beautiful and practical space, and we meet a passionate gardener who has filled her small Cumbrian garden with 40 different varieties of wisteria.