Episode 19 Gardeners' World


Episode 19

There are plans for propagating and planting at Longmeadow this week when Monty Don plants up a new bed of irises and takes pelargonium cuttings.


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Transcript


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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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We had a really big storm the other day

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that really bashed the garden.

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It wasn't so much the wind that did the damage, actually, it was rain.

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Just the sheer weight and quantity of the rain that fell

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for about 15 minutes just smashed a lot of the plants,

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including this buddleia.

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This is one called Sungold. It's very vigorous,

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which means the new shoots are soft and sappy

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and they bent, buckled...

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However, having said that, I can repair it as best I can.

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We've still got other buddleias, the butterflies are loving them,

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and you just have to be flexible and take the weather as it comes

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and celebrate the good

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along with the occasional flurry of tempest and storm.

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On today's programme,

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Nick Bailey shows how to transform a shady alleyway

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into a vibrant space...

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..we meet a plantswoman who is passionate about pelargoniums...

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..and Joe Swift visits a steeply sloping plot,

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which has been turned into a magnificent garden.

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I've got some really beautiful bearded iris

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in this corner of the Jewel Garden.

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They are a rich blue purple.

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However, the flowers are diminishing rapidly,

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this year there were just two blooms,

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and the reason for that is very clear - it's too shady,

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and bearded iris only flourish if they get maximum sunshine.

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So I've decided to dig them all up,

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divide them and replant them

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along with a few others that I've bought specially

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in a brand-new iris bed.

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Bearded iris have a rhizome that sits, ideally, above the soil level,

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and it's that that needs the hot sun.

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The more that that is baked in the summer,

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the better the flowers will be the following year.

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So I need to dig it up,

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but also preserve the roots which are underneath...

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..and the perfect time to buy iris and plant them,

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or lift them up, move them, divide them, is now.

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Good boy. Go on.

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This is the new iris border, and you can see the difference.

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This is bathed in sunshine.

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That's a south facing wall,

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it's protected from wind and it gets really hot and baked,

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which is just perfect for bearded iris.

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It's poor soil, and I've added grit to make the drainage better -

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and I'm going to put a layer of compost on top of that

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just to add some goodness for the roots.

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The compost stimulates the soil, it acts as an activator,

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so you don't need a huge amount.

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Basically, we're adding bacteria and fungus to the soil

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rather than any substantial amount of organic matter.

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So, we'll work that in...

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..rake that over, and we're ready to go.

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Now, I'm going to position them first.

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We might divide them up later.

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So, if we put that there at the back...

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Now, along with these,

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I've got the new ones.

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So we've got Iris Sultan's Palace,

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which I've never grown before,

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but looks to be a glorious rich brown,

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and I've chosen a series of browns, caramels, oranges and burgundy

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to go with the rich purple.

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Quechee is another brown

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that we've got here...

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..and, finally, to go in here...

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I've got Action Front,

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which is more of a sort of mahogany red.

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Before I plant anything,

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I want to divide one or two of these clumps.

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Now, this, you can see,

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is a good, solid mat of rhizome,

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and you can happily cut across the rhizomes.

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I'm actually going to cut through there

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and across here...

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and that will break apart.

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This, I think, we can divide again.

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Like that.

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So, these are three good plants -

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and because they've been divided,

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they will grow with new vigour,

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and that will mean we get better flowers -

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and all irises should be divided

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about every three or four years,

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because they do lose that vigour.

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They'll keep growing more leaves,

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but you'll get fewer and fewer flowers.

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Now, I want to plant these,

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because the sun is quite strong

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and the roots are starting to dry out

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and that will do them no good at all.

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It's straightforward if you just follow one rule,

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which is that you want some rhizome above the soil,

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because, as I say, it's this that bakes.

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I want the rhizome to be facing the sun...

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..and you can see, these are sold bare root.

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The rhizome's been cut,

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but what is left behind is nice and firm,

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and the foliage has been cut right back -

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and if you are dividing or planting irises,

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it's a good idea to cut them back

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and I will cut all these,

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because otherwise they're very top-heavy and it's like a sail.

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If the wind picks up, it simply rips them out the ground.

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However, you don't need to cut irises back

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if you're not moving them,

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because the more foliage they have,

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the more that will feed into the rhizome

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and increase the chances of flowering next year.

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BIRD CHIRPS

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I know. You're noisy, aren't you?

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Off you go.

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Now, in their new position, with lots of sunshine,

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I'll expect these to do really well -

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but, of course, sun is not something that we all have at our disposal

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in our gardens.

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However, Nick Bailey shows that even a shady side return

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can be made into a beautiful garden.

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Millions of us that live in Victorian terraces have one.

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Gloomy, narrow spaces, overlooked by our neighbours.

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More often than not,

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they tend to become neglected corners of the garden,

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where slugs, snails and rubbish accumulates.

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What I'm talking about is the pesky side return,

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which is a real challenge, even for the keenest of gardeners.

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Fortunately, with good design and the right plants,

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these spaces can be lifted out of the doldrums.

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In the absence of beds and borders,

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pots are a quick and cost-effective way

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to introduce a range of new plants to an area like this one.

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I've specifically chosen square pots,

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because they tessellate together.

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In other words, they sit directly next to each other in a grid

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and don't waste space, like round pots would.

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Ferns thrive in deep shade conditions.

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This one has been growing really well in this area,

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so I'm going to make use of it

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and transfer it into one of these new pots.

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Now, the fern makes a lovely dome shape on the side, here,

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but I want to compliment and contrast that

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with something taller and more upright.

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This is Fargesia Red Panda,

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and it's the perfect bamboo for a pot,

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because it's a clumper rather than a spreader,

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so it stays nice and narrow...

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..and it's also evergreen, so it's brilliant for a shady side return.

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It will keep the interest going year-round.

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To dress the base of the bamboo,

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I want to introduce some all-important colour.

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So I'm going to use New Guinea Impatiens

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and they're brilliant,

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because they thrive in the shade...

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..and then, to add some zest,

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I'm going to use Heuchera Lime Marmalade.

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It's got that wonderful citrusy tone to it.

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It will really lift the area and contrast against the pink.

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To get the effect I want in a plant,

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rather than plant them perfectly upright,

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just giving them a tiny little tilt,

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which will get them to lean over the edge of the pot.

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I'm also using two other plants,

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which will thrive in the shade.

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One is a woodland grass called Luzula nivea

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and it'll love growing in that side return,

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and then, I'm using a bedding classic -

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it's Begonia semperflorens.

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Those white flowers will glow out of the shade.

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Now, it's just an annual, so it'll grow for about six months,

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but can be replaced in the winter

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with pansies or primulas.

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The plants tie well together to the rest of the collection,

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so the fine leaves on this grass

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pick up the bamboo nicely and then the succulent foliage

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and white tones here correlate and tie in with the impatiens.

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I want to make the most of the vertical growing space.

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So I'm going to be using a popular climber, a clematis.

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It's Prince Charles.

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It's a tried and tested plant

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I've used again and again in this situation

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and it's perfect.

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It has pale blue flowers that are virtually luminescent in the shade.

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You just need to cut it down to six inches

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in February - and that's it.

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Clematis can suffer from a disease known as wilt

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and one of the ways to address that is to plant them slightly deeper,

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so most plants that you put into the soil,

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or into a planter,

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you would aim to get their finished soil level

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the same as the top of the pot.

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With this, I'm going to aim to get it several inches deeper

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and that will prevent some of the potential problems with wilt.

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Now, there's one extra climber

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I want to introduce to the wall here.

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This is Trachelospermum jasminoides

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and it's one of my go-to climbers,

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because it will thrive in sun, or in shade.

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The best thing about it is it's deliciously scented and evergreen.

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And we're done.

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The next thing I'm going to do is to plant the top of this

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and the other container with the same scheme

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as the pots at the back...

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..and I'm also going to repeat that planting

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with these containers on the side,

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and that will help with the rhythm and repetition of the area

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and unify the whole lot and bring it together.

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The climbing plants on the walls

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are really going to help make use of the vertical space,

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but I'm going to be using hanging baskets, as well.

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Now, the trick to planting up a hanging basket

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is to secure it,

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so I'm just using a bin here - but a pot, or anything else,

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will do the job.

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Ordinary multipurpose compost,

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and the plant I'm going to use in here is a trailing begonia.

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Be very careful handling them.

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They're quite liable to snap -

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but these will be flowering all the way through to the first frosts.

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I'm also going to introduce an ivy.

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This is a variegated form of Hedera helix

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and it's evergreen,

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so it'll help bring life and energy to the space year-round.

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Introducing these colourful pots has not only unified this space,

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but brought a touch of elegance.

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Now the combination of evergreen plants and colourful annuals

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will ensure that there's interest year-round,

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and so what was once a sad, shady side return

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has been given a fresh new lease of life.

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Well, I'm prepared to forgive Nick for using begonias,

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because it still looks pretty good -

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and shade is not a problem.

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You mustn't see it as something to overcome or get around.

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It can be a real advantage,

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because there are lots of plants that need shade to thrive.

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I mean, take hydrangeas.

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More and more people are growing them,

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they've done really well in the last few years.

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The only thing I would say is they don't like to dry out too much.

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So if the leaves are flopping

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and it's generally looking a bit dejected,

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almost certainly it needs some water.

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Other than that, give it light, dappled shade

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and it'll be very happy.

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However, there's one plant that absolutely will not thrive in shade

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and that is the pelargonium.

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They come, of course, from the Cape district of South Africa

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and the British summer can never be too hot or too sunny for them -

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and we went to Cramden Nurseries in Northamptonshire

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and met Emily Mitchell,

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who has taken part in a recent RHS trial of pelargoniums.

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I love growing pelargoniums.

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They're just so full of colour.

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They make you think of summer and they really just lift your heart

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and give you so much happiness.

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Cramden Nursery was set up back in 1954 by my dad.

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He was very much into growing young plants

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and he grew a whole range of different types of young plants.

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Then he heard about this, this "new crop", pelargoniums.

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So he just grew a few varieties in the first year,

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they grew well, and, even better, they sold well -

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and he just made the decision, alongside Mum,

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that, "Let's just grow pelargoniums,"

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and that's what they did.

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Alongside Dad, I worked here

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and slowly took over the running of the nursery.

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Very sadly, last year he became very ill and very quickly passed away.

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It's only just been a year since he's gone, but he's everywhere.

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He's in the greenhouses talking to me, so we'll miss him deeply,

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but he's here around us.

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There are many different types of pelargoniums.

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The most popular one that we grow here on the nursery

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are your zonal type pelargoniums.

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These are our bread and butter.

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We grow thousands of these a year.

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A zonal pelargonium is often what people know as a geranium.

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They have nice, big round flowers,

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they are perfect in pots.

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Then you have ivy leaf pelargoniums.

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These are all about trailing.

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Then you have angel pelargoniums.

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These are really sweet, dainty little flowers,

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ever so tiny and they've got small leaves, as well.

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So although their flowers are a lot smaller than the zonal types

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and the ivy types, they make up in having loads of them,

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so there's absolutely masses of flowers.

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Decorative pelargoniums have larger flowers than the angels,

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and they tend to grow slightly larger.

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They have lots of different colours, but then they come in bi-colours -

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and some of the reds are really rich and deep.

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They're almost pushing on blacks, they're really, really showy.

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We have a really nice selection of tall growing pelargoniums here

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on the nursery and they're actually called antiks

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and these have been bred to grow tall...

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..and then we have an amazing range of scented leaf pelargoniums,

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so we have a citronella, which has a wonderful lemon scent...

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..then Attar Of Roses.

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Attar of Roses is the real traditional

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rose-scented leaf pelargonium.

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This is one of my favourite varieties.

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This is Candy Flowers Violet.

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Just look at that amazing violet flower, so bright and colourful.

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She's a decorative pelargonium, so she likes to be in a pot.

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She can go anywhere in your garden,

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but she really likes a good sunny position.

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As you can see, if you look closer,

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there's loads and loads of buds all over this plant,

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so it's just going to flower all summer long for you.

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Last year, the RHS decided to do a trial on pelargoniums

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and they wanted to trial them,

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how different varieties coped in the borders

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and how different varieties coped in pots.

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We provided them with some rooted cuttings in April

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and across the board, all the different growers

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that were providing them with plants sent them all down on the same week.

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Once the plants were established in their beds, or their pots,

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they had a team of judges that went round,

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on almost a monthly basis,

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to assess how the plants were growing.

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So, the judges were predominantly looking for flower size,

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how many buds that were being produced,

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and the shape of the plant.

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The public were also able to look round these RHS trial beds

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and they were encouraged to vote for the variety they liked the best.

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In the container section of the trial,

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our flower Fairy White Splash came third.

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I think the public voted for this in the trial

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because it's got such an eye-catching flower.

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It's absolutely gorgeous.

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You've got a silvery white edge

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with this beautiful pink centre

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against lovely fresh green, nicely shaped leaves.

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In the bedding section of the trial, excitedly for us, Abelina,

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one of our varieties, came third as well.

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It also received, this year, a gardeners Award Of Merit

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from the RHS judges -

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and I'm not really surprised at all.

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It's a beautiful variety, it's got such a deep, dark red flower,

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against this wonderful deep green foliage which is really attractive.

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I think the combination of both of these colours work really well.

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It's a good, strong growing plant

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and produces lots of buds and flowers

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and the flowers hold their size really well.

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Pelargoniums are a wonderful family to grow

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so I cannot imagine doing anything else.

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One of the things that any of us who grow pelargoniums

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has to face sooner or later is that they cease to look perfect.

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You buy one, like this, which is compact,

0:21:010:21:06

the flowers are blooming beautifully,

0:21:060:21:09

the foliage is healthy,

0:21:090:21:10

and it's a good shape...

0:21:100:21:12

and then, after a year or so - not necessarily the same type -

0:21:120:21:15

they look much more like this one here.

0:21:150:21:18

And that's cos it hasn't been pruned ruthlessly enough.

0:21:180:21:21

There are two times to prune pelargoniums.

0:21:210:21:23

The first is when you put them away in winter, round about October time,

0:21:230:21:27

and they should be cut back to about half,

0:21:270:21:30

and then, in spring, as soon as you see some new growth,

0:21:300:21:34

I would take it right down, almost to the ground,

0:21:340:21:38

and then you will get nice, thick regrowth.

0:21:380:21:41

Pruning is the key.

0:21:410:21:43

This is a really good time to take pelargonium cuttings.

0:21:430:21:47

I've got this really good specimen of Lady Plymouth.

0:21:470:21:51

Lady Plymouth is a scented-leaf pelargonium.

0:21:510:21:54

It smells deliciously of spearmint -

0:21:540:21:58

and you can get roses,

0:21:580:22:00

you can get tangerine, you can get chocolate.

0:22:000:22:03

There are lots of different scented-leaf pelargoniums...

0:22:030:22:07

..and I'm going to experiment,

0:22:090:22:10

trying taking cuttings in a normal cutting mix,

0:22:100:22:14

which is essentially a seed compost with added grit to it,

0:22:140:22:18

but also, I'm going to try and take cuttings in pure perlite.

0:22:180:22:23

Now, perlite is added to potting compost,

0:22:230:22:28

particularly by nurseries and professional growers.

0:22:280:22:31

So, it's very light. It's an organic material,

0:22:310:22:34

and its great property is it absorbs water,

0:22:340:22:37

then slowly releases it, but also improves drainage.

0:22:370:22:41

The downside of it is it does have a lot of dust

0:22:410:22:45

and it can be an irritant.

0:22:450:22:47

However, just pour some water into it.

0:22:470:22:50

Mix it up and all the dust will be absorbed.

0:22:540:22:58

OK, so, we will take one pot

0:23:000:23:05

of conventional cutting mix

0:23:050:23:08

and one pot of plain perlite, like that.

0:23:080:23:13

Now, when you're looking for cutting material...

0:23:130:23:16

..you don't want any shoot that's got flowers,

0:23:170:23:20

because all the energy has gone into the flowers.

0:23:200:23:23

This is better, so I'm going to take that off.

0:23:230:23:25

Now, you can either take it off at the heel

0:23:250:23:27

or you can just snip it off, like that.

0:23:270:23:30

So, we've got one potential cutting there.

0:23:300:23:33

We'll take that off there.

0:23:330:23:35

Cut there. OK.

0:23:360:23:38

Now, if I just thrust that into perlite,

0:23:380:23:42

the chances of it striking wouldn't be terribly high.

0:23:420:23:45

The thing to remember

0:23:450:23:47

is cuttings are simply a race between the existing material dying

0:23:470:23:53

and new roots forming.

0:23:530:23:55

Now, what's going to cause it to die more than anything else

0:23:550:23:58

is the transpiration of moisture from the tissue.

0:23:580:24:02

So, the more leaves it has, the more likely it is to die.

0:24:020:24:07

But if I take off those leaves there...

0:24:070:24:10

and it is essential to have a really sharp knife

0:24:100:24:13

because if it's not sharp, it drags at it

0:24:130:24:16

and can bruise and damage the material you want to keep.

0:24:160:24:19

I'm left with a stem with just a few little leaves -

0:24:190:24:23

and the reason why you leave some leaves

0:24:230:24:26

is because that will feed into and help root formation.

0:24:260:24:30

So, everything about a cutting is just balancing -

0:24:300:24:33

and I'm going to cut the end at that node, nice and clean,

0:24:330:24:38

and the cleaner the cut, the more likely roots will form.

0:24:380:24:41

Again, a good reason for a sharp knife.

0:24:410:24:43

So, we'll just pop this into the perlite, like that.

0:24:430:24:46

Right. That's the perlite selection.

0:24:530:24:57

Let's do the normal cut material.

0:24:570:24:59

Now, the key to pelargoniums

0:25:110:25:15

is they want their bottoms moist and their heads dry,

0:25:150:25:20

whereas, for a lot of cuttings, they want moist air around them -

0:25:200:25:24

but if I was to put these in a mist propagator

0:25:240:25:27

or wrap them in a polythene bag,

0:25:270:25:30

these would rot before they would root.

0:25:300:25:33

I'm going to put these in the greenhouse.

0:25:330:25:35

Put them somewhere warm.

0:25:390:25:41

A windowsill is fine, but not outside.

0:25:410:25:43

And those should root within ten days to two weeks.

0:25:430:25:47

Now, of course, cuttings are a really good way to propagate,

0:25:510:25:53

especially at this time of year,

0:25:530:25:55

but, obviously, you've got seed, as well, and division -

0:25:550:25:59

and I tried an experiment a couple of weeks ago.

0:25:590:26:03

I divided some astrantia that was in full flower and doing well,

0:26:030:26:07

and this is against the rules because, normally,

0:26:070:26:10

you're advised to divide herbaceous perennials,

0:26:100:26:13

like astrantias, in spring or in autumn -

0:26:130:26:16

but I'd cut it down, broke it into as many pieces as possible,

0:26:160:26:20

and I'd potted each piece into a very weak seed mix.

0:26:200:26:24

Well, two weeks later, we can see how it's doing.

0:26:250:26:29

How about that?

0:26:330:26:35

18 little plants looking healthy, vigorous, and, it seems to me,

0:26:380:26:45

going to grow away and provide 18 big plants by next spring.

0:26:450:26:51

On the evidence so far,

0:26:510:26:53

this is a very good way to increase your plant stock.

0:26:530:26:58

The choice of plants that you want to increase

0:26:580:27:00

is going to be partly a matter of taste,

0:27:000:27:02

but also a recognition of what will grow well

0:27:020:27:06

and look good in your particular plot.

0:27:060:27:09

There's no point in going against that.

0:27:090:27:11

In fact, half the skill of good gardening

0:27:110:27:14

is to make the most of what you are given -

0:27:140:27:16

but, sometimes, what you're given can be pretty demanding,

0:27:160:27:20

as Joe found when he visited a garden in Bristol

0:27:200:27:24

created on a very steep slope.

0:27:240:27:27

Along these cobbled streets in the heart of Bristol,

0:27:320:27:35

these tall Georgian houses obscure a steep hill on the other side.

0:27:350:27:40

And along them, there are a row of gardens,

0:27:400:27:43

and each of them have their own design challenges.

0:27:430:27:46

Karena Batstone has been designing gardens for over 20 years,

0:27:500:27:54

working on projects of all shapes and sizes

0:27:540:27:56

for well-known names and major corporate clients,

0:27:560:27:59

but her own has been a particular challenge.

0:27:590:28:02

Karena, it's a fabulous garden. A fabulous house, too.

0:28:030:28:06

-How long have you been here?

-Thank you.

0:28:060:28:08

-We've been here about 24 years.

-OK.

0:28:080:28:10

So, I can't really believe it, but, yeah!

0:28:100:28:13

And how have you gone about designing this garden?

0:28:130:28:17

Well, when we arrived, there was this little terrace area on the top,

0:28:170:28:22

and steep stairs down,

0:28:220:28:24

and then a long sloping lawn with a magnolia in the middle.

0:28:240:28:28

And I'd just quite recently done a garden design course,

0:28:280:28:33

I was a garden designer,

0:28:330:28:35

and so I knew about terracing, cut and fill,

0:28:350:28:39

and that's what I decided to do.

0:28:390:28:41

It looks great. From this window, it's beautifully framed, as well.

0:28:410:28:44

It makes you go want to go out there, Karena.

0:28:440:28:46

-Can we go and have a look?

-Let's go!

0:28:460:28:48

-Let's go. It's an exploring garden. Let's go and explore.

-Come on.

0:28:480:28:51

So, from out here, you can see how steep the garden is.

0:29:000:29:03

-It's really pretty steep down there.

-Yes, don't lean back.

0:29:030:29:06

No, I'm not going to lean back.

0:29:060:29:08

Yes, my vertigo is starting to kick in a little bit!

0:29:080:29:11

But it's really beautifully designed -

0:29:110:29:13

and your eye is drawn towards the seating area at the bottom, as well.

0:29:130:29:17

There's obviously a destination point in this garden,

0:29:170:29:20

-which is important from a design point of view.

-Yes.

0:29:200:29:22

I didn't have much room to have a great depth of planting bed...

0:29:240:29:30

-Yeah.

-..and as you can see, the beds are actually really skinny,

0:29:300:29:35

but I've tried to layer and create the depth that way.

0:29:350:29:40

And, I mean, the two silver birches, they add that height.

0:29:400:29:43

-Yes.

-Very important, the height. You need height.

0:29:430:29:45

Otherwise, you really feel like you're looking down on everything.

0:29:450:29:48

You need things that are tall.

0:29:480:29:50

So, we're significantly down a level here, aren't we?

0:30:020:30:05

I mean, you know, a few metres down,

0:30:050:30:07

and it's very different, this garden.

0:30:070:30:10

There's lovely, dappled shade here.

0:30:100:30:12

What was your dream for this area?

0:30:120:30:15

If we weren't a family with children,

0:30:150:30:18

I might have terraced it in more terraces, as it were,

0:30:180:30:21

and had maybe more transitional spaces -

0:30:210:30:25

but because the garden isn't that long,

0:30:250:30:27

it could only take two levels for us to make it really usable.

0:30:270:30:32

Repetition is always a good thing. It sort of unifies a space.

0:30:330:30:38

So, although I've got the planting there,

0:30:380:30:40

which is very layered and kind of romantic,

0:30:400:30:43

there are lots of areas in the garden

0:30:430:30:46

where I've got a solid block of one thing.

0:30:460:30:49

So, here, we're another few steps down

0:31:020:31:05

and we're on the bottom level...

0:31:050:31:06

and, again, somewhere comfortable to sit.

0:31:060:31:09

We get the afternoon sunshine.

0:31:090:31:12

When the rest of the garden has lost it,

0:31:120:31:14

there's still a pool around here and it draws you down here.

0:31:140:31:17

-So, yeah.

-Yeah, just by placing this bench at this angle,

0:31:170:31:20

we are now looking up the garden and up towards the house,

0:31:200:31:23

and it's a completely different view.

0:31:230:31:25

Behind us, we've got this mirrored Perspex,

0:31:250:31:29

-which is, you know, very, very contemporary...

-Yes.

0:31:290:31:32

-..but it's a brilliant end to the garden.

-Mm.

0:31:320:31:34

I mean, you can see it from the house,

0:31:340:31:36

but down here, it just expands the space, doesn't it?

0:31:360:31:39

That bit of sunshine I was talking about,

0:31:390:31:42

that reflects in the mirror and back into the garden,

0:31:420:31:45

and then, at night, when we have it uplit -

0:31:450:31:48

the bamboos uplit - it looks like they're double the width.

0:31:480:31:52

Yeah, it's a very clever...

0:31:520:31:53

-I mean, it's a very clever little trick, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:31:530:31:56

It's all smoke and mirrors, literally! But it works.

0:31:560:32:00

Now, Karena planned this garden meticulously 22 years ago

0:32:050:32:10

and she did a fantastic job

0:32:100:32:12

because the structure is exactly the same as it was back then,

0:32:120:32:17

how it all functions and those nice, versatile, large spaces -

0:32:170:32:20

but what's gone into the garden,

0:32:200:32:22

the plants, the furniture and even the surfaces,

0:32:220:32:25

well, they've changed, sometimes many times over,

0:32:250:32:28

because her life has changed.

0:32:280:32:30

So, the planning stages really early on,

0:32:300:32:34

well, they've really paid off.

0:32:340:32:36

If you're dealing with a sloping garden

0:32:400:32:42

and you want to create level areas, you have to terrace it,

0:32:420:32:45

which means putting in retaining walls and also steps.

0:32:450:32:48

Now, these existing steps, I really like,

0:32:480:32:51

because rather than running into the garden and eating up that space,

0:32:510:32:54

they're running perpendicular to the house, so they're quite economic -

0:32:540:32:58

but you end up over on one side of the garden,

0:32:580:33:01

and if the next set of steps is on that side, too,

0:33:010:33:03

it would feel a little bit lopsided,

0:33:030:33:05

but Karena's put the next set of steps diagonally opposite,

0:33:050:33:09

right over here, which means you HAVE to move through the garden.

0:33:090:33:12

It gives a lovely flow to the space,

0:33:120:33:15

and then you naturally go down into the next area.

0:33:150:33:18

It works a treat.

0:33:180:33:20

Now, Karena obviously doesn't do bright, clashing colours

0:33:230:33:26

in a garden -

0:33:260:33:28

here, she's created something very different,

0:33:280:33:31

but she's been disciplined about the plants she puts in.

0:33:310:33:34

There are a few key plants that are doing a job here.

0:33:340:33:37

The bamboos, the hazel,

0:33:370:33:40

and the silver birches are really holding the structure together,

0:33:400:33:44

but it just doesn't feel at all fussy.

0:33:440:33:47

This is a big, sloping garden. It's a very, very tricky site,

0:33:510:33:55

and this design really works for me on lots of levels.

0:33:550:33:58

Sure, aesthetically, it's absolutely beautiful,

0:33:580:34:01

it's got some great plants in it, too,

0:34:010:34:03

but the most important thing is it's a practical garden,

0:34:030:34:06

and it's a garden to be lived in and to escape the city.

0:34:060:34:10

Do you think that you took the right approach with this garden,

0:34:130:34:16

and that it's a success from your point of view?

0:34:160:34:19

Yes, I do. I'm very happy with it.

0:34:190:34:22

I've allowed it to be used in so many different ways,

0:34:220:34:25

and I think that is a joy, too.

0:34:250:34:28

Thanks for sharing it with me.

0:34:280:34:30

I have to say, I think it's a fabulous garden.

0:34:300:34:32

Beautiful garden. I could just sit here all day...

0:34:320:34:34

-Good.

-..chatting about gardens and garden design.

0:34:340:34:37

-Lovely.

-What could be better?

0:34:370:34:39

I can see Joe happy to spend the day

0:34:540:34:57

just sitting chatting about gardening.

0:34:570:34:59

Of course, one of the things about a steeply sloping garden like that

0:34:590:35:02

is you've got a view from the top

0:35:020:35:04

and you've got interest from the bottom.

0:35:040:35:06

When we came here to Longmeadow,

0:35:060:35:08

this was an open, absolutely dead-flat site,

0:35:080:35:12

and it's taken quite a few years to build up spaces

0:35:120:35:16

that you either can't see or can only glimpse through openings

0:35:160:35:19

to create the kind of interest that a slope automatically gives you.

0:35:190:35:24

Now, this buddleia is really good here in the Writing Garden,

0:35:240:35:28

until it goes over and then it looks dirty brown -

0:35:280:35:32

and once plants start to fade in a white garden,

0:35:320:35:36

you've got to deadhead them, because they sully the whole effect -

0:35:360:35:40

but all the best white plants

0:35:400:35:43

invariably are touches of white against lots of green,

0:35:430:35:47

and with the light on them are absolutely beautiful.

0:35:470:35:51

Now, still to come on tonight's programme...

0:35:510:35:54

..we visit Dorset to see a picturesque coastal garden

0:35:560:36:00

that has a distinctly Mediterranean feel.

0:36:000:36:03

But last autumn, Carol went to Yorkshire

0:36:050:36:09

to visit a nursery with a very distinctive style.

0:36:090:36:13

Just beyond the post-industrial landscape of Halifax

0:36:150:36:19

is the nursery and garden of Dove Cottage.

0:36:190:36:23

It's a garden that's been designed

0:36:230:36:24

to have interest throughout the year,

0:36:240:36:27

but in summer and autumn, it's at its very best,

0:36:270:36:31

and last September, I couldn't wait to pay a visit.

0:36:310:36:35

This very special place

0:36:350:36:38

is set behind this oak door and this yew hedge.

0:36:380:36:41

Come on.

0:36:410:36:42

Oh, wow!

0:36:470:36:50

Just look at the eupatorium! Huge, great banks of plants.

0:36:520:36:56

This gorgeous rudbeckia.

0:36:560:36:58

They almost form a tunnel -

0:36:580:37:01

and yet this path is luring you along,

0:37:010:37:05

willing you to explore the rest of the garden.

0:37:050:37:08

This third-of-an-acre plot tumbles down a steep slope.

0:37:110:37:15

It's been terraced and filled with perennials.

0:37:170:37:20

It's autumn, and the plants that predominate are the grasses,

0:37:210:37:26

and things that you looked at for their flowers earlier in the year

0:37:260:37:29

are now seed heads, and so magnificent, so magical.

0:37:290:37:34

Patrinia over there. This great lime-green plateau of seeds -

0:37:340:37:39

and in the midst of all this glorious, mellow colour,

0:37:390:37:42

there are surprises. Look at this!

0:37:420:37:45

This is Actaea Queen of Sheba and I have never seen it before.

0:37:450:37:50

In this variety, these racemes just...

0:37:500:37:53

They're pendulous. They just sway gently backwards and forwards.

0:37:530:37:57

It's tremendously elegant.

0:37:570:38:00

In amongst this

0:38:000:38:02

lovely molinia is this tiny little sanguisorba.

0:38:020:38:06

These crimson bobbles.

0:38:060:38:08

Every time you look, there's something else.

0:38:080:38:11

It's deeper and deeper.

0:38:110:38:13

It's just like being in the midst of a meadow.

0:38:130:38:16

You forget where you are completely -

0:38:160:38:18

and it's a paradise that's been created over the last 20 years

0:38:180:38:23

by a husband-and-wife team, Kim and Stephen Rogers.

0:38:230:38:27

You know, when you come into this garden,

0:38:340:38:36

it all just looks so natural.

0:38:360:38:39

Almost looks like it made itself, but it didn't, did it?

0:38:390:38:43

No, no, it's taken 20 years, almost, of practising and planting

0:38:430:38:48

and replanting and selecting plants to get to what we've got now.

0:38:480:38:52

But that's the sort of feel that you wanted to create, isn't it?

0:38:520:38:55

It is. Yeah, it is. It is. That much wilder look to the garden,

0:38:550:38:58

with grasses and perennials mixed.

0:38:580:39:00

It's started to get wilder as we've gone along.

0:39:000:39:02

I think that's how you start gardening.

0:39:020:39:04

It might be all very controlled at first,

0:39:040:39:06

but then, as we've got more and more into it,

0:39:060:39:08

-we want to go wilder and wilder.

-So, is it wild enough for you, Kim?

0:39:080:39:12

-Yeah.

-Because you don't stake, do you?

-No.

0:39:120:39:15

We had a very wet year one year,

0:39:150:39:16

-and it was just too wet to go out and stake in the evenings...

-Yeah.

0:39:160:39:21

..and we kept leaving it and leaving it,

0:39:210:39:22

-and in the end, it didn't happen...

-Yeah.

0:39:220:39:24

..and it's liberating, not to have to stake -

0:39:240:39:28

and we don't mind if plants fall over.

0:39:280:39:30

So, the garden envelops you, doesn't it?

0:39:300:39:33

-You're surrounded by it.

-Completely surrounded by plants.

0:39:330:39:36

Lots of tall plants - and not all pushed to the back of the borders.

0:39:360:39:39

Brought right up close to people because you see them, then.

0:39:390:39:44

Sometimes, things can be stuck at the back of big borders

0:39:440:39:47

and you just see the top -

0:39:470:39:49

and you'll look through some very tall, wiry plants

0:39:490:39:53

and then see something beyond that creates a good combination

0:39:530:39:56

and then even beyond that.

0:39:560:39:58

So, it's all about mixing and mingling

0:39:580:40:00

your plants together, isn't it?

0:40:000:40:02

Yeah, that's at the heart of the garden,

0:40:020:40:04

and it's getting the views through plants,

0:40:040:40:06

through other plants and then out into the landscape beyond -

0:40:060:40:09

and it all seems to fit very well together.

0:40:090:40:11

-It fits wonderfully with the Halifax hills, doesn't it?

-It does.

0:40:110:40:15

All around the garden, there are splashes of vivid colour

0:40:260:40:29

amongst all the tawny, russet tones,

0:40:290:40:33

but you come into this part of the garden

0:40:330:40:36

and, suddenly, there's an explosion.

0:40:360:40:39

It's pure fireworks,

0:40:390:40:41

and it's all created by these gorgeous prairie daisies,

0:40:410:40:45

Helianthus Perennial Sunflowers, making this vivid splash of colour

0:40:450:40:50

which just lifts your spirits.

0:40:500:40:52

It really does give you a feeling of euphoria.

0:40:520:40:56

This is Miscanthus nepalensis, and I want it.

0:40:560:41:00

I've got to grow it!

0:41:000:41:02

In some places, once plants had flowered,

0:41:020:41:05

they'd be chopped to the ground, but not here.

0:41:050:41:08

They're allowed to do their thing -

0:41:080:41:10

to change, to seed, to gradually decay

0:41:100:41:14

because, for Kim and Stephen,

0:41:140:41:16

it's not just the way that plants live that they appreciate.

0:41:160:41:21

It's the way they die, too.

0:41:210:41:23

Oh, look at that.

0:41:390:41:41

It's ages since anybody gave me flowers!

0:41:410:41:43

Normally, wouldn't you cut stuff down in the spring?

0:41:450:41:48

We would. We'd normally leave it all till March,

0:41:480:41:51

but this year, we're wanting to do two new beds.

0:41:510:41:54

-Right.

-And these beds have lost a little bit of shape and interest.

0:41:540:41:57

-I have to start now...

-Yeah.

0:41:570:41:59

..because my energy levels aren't just as much as they were.

0:41:590:42:03

-Go on.

-So, I need all the autumn now to carefully lift all these plants,

0:42:030:42:07

prepare the soil, which I might even incorporate

0:42:070:42:10

quite a lot of grit and gravel into this bed.

0:42:100:42:12

-So, grit and gravel as opposed to lots of compost?

-Yeah, yeah.

0:42:120:42:16

So, under normal circumstances,

0:42:160:42:18

you'd leave all your perennials and grasses through to the spring?

0:42:180:42:22

We would, because it'll still feel like a garden through the winter

0:42:220:42:25

with all the seed heads and the grasses.

0:42:250:42:27

It's a shame cos there's some lovely seed heads

0:42:270:42:29

-on this eupatorium at the moment...

-Oh, no!

0:42:290:42:31

..but if I don't start now, I won't get it finished for spring.

0:42:310:42:34

It was wonderful to visit Stephen and Kim's

0:42:350:42:38

beautiful garden last autumn.

0:42:380:42:41

I'll be back in a few weeks' time

0:42:420:42:44

to see to see how different it looks in all its summer glory.

0:42:440:42:48

That combination of grasses and perennials

0:42:590:43:04

in a lovely, loose mix

0:43:040:43:06

is something that I admire very much

0:43:060:43:09

and have tried to recreate here in the grass borders -

0:43:090:43:12

and at Tatton, I saw some marvellous thalictrums.

0:43:120:43:16

There was one in particular which I knew I wanted to add to the border.

0:43:160:43:19

It's called Splendide,

0:43:190:43:20

and splendide it certainly is!

0:43:200:43:24

This is only half or a third grown. It will reach 2m tall,

0:43:240:43:28

and has got these lovely lilac bobbles of flower.

0:43:280:43:33

It's sterile, which means that you can't gather seed from it

0:43:330:43:36

and propagate that way, but you could divide it -

0:43:360:43:38

and because there is no seed,

0:43:380:43:40

it means the flowers last a lot longer.

0:43:400:43:43

Now, the idea is, with these borders,

0:43:430:43:46

that you look through onto plants.

0:43:460:43:49

You don't plant great big clumps and drifts of colour,

0:43:490:43:52

but a series of upright touches...

0:43:520:43:57

..and look, at my feet, can you see this little robin?

0:43:590:44:03

Have you come to see me?

0:44:030:44:04

There you go.

0:44:060:44:08

Right. Having positioned them, let's have a look.

0:44:080:44:11

Yeah, I like that.

0:44:130:44:15

What we want to do is keep the spirit of these borders,

0:44:150:44:19

which is all about these tall, vertical lines,

0:44:190:44:22

and nothing should be too dominant.

0:44:220:44:25

I'm going to get those into the ground.

0:44:250:44:27

Right.

0:44:340:44:35

In we go.

0:44:360:44:37

Now, these will need a really good soak as they go in,

0:44:390:44:42

but I want to add first another plant.

0:44:420:44:46

This is Sanguisorba Cangshan Cranberry,

0:44:470:44:52

and it will start to flower in a few weeks' time.

0:44:520:44:54

These will stay flowering into October.

0:44:540:44:57

They grow a couple of metres tall and you can see by their shape,

0:44:570:45:00

they're perfect for this type of gardening.

0:45:000:45:02

Both these plants do like moist conditions,

0:45:130:45:16

so they're not to be grown in either blazing sunshine

0:45:160:45:19

or very thin, free-draining soil -

0:45:190:45:22

but you could try them out at this time of year.

0:45:220:45:25

By planting in flower or about to come into flower,

0:45:250:45:28

you will know by October if it's working,

0:45:280:45:31

and if it's not, you can dig them up and move them

0:45:310:45:33

and no harm will be done whatsoever.

0:45:330:45:36

If it stays very dry...

0:45:490:45:51

Nellie, you are a silly girl! What have you got?

0:45:510:45:55

Oh, look at this present you've brought me!

0:45:550:45:57

Are you going to help me with the planting? Are you?

0:45:570:46:01

Oh! Can I just do this, please?

0:46:010:46:04

Thank you. Bye.

0:46:040:46:05

Right, as we were...

0:46:070:46:09

If it's really dry, I will have to keep these watered,

0:46:100:46:13

but once they've had a winter in the ground,

0:46:130:46:15

they need never be watered again -

0:46:150:46:17

and the key thing is to make a plant feel at home,

0:46:170:46:22

don't try and force it to grow where it doesn't want to be -

0:46:220:46:24

and one of the features here at Longmeadow

0:46:240:46:27

is we are completely landlocked.

0:46:270:46:29

It's wet and it's cold

0:46:290:46:31

and we're about as far from the sea as you can get -

0:46:310:46:33

but we went to the Dorset coast

0:46:330:46:36

to see a garden made overlooking the sea

0:46:360:46:40

with all the advantages and the disadvantages that that entails.

0:46:400:46:45

18 years ago, we arrived on a November day

0:46:490:46:53

and it was blowing a gale...

0:46:530:46:56

..and we couldn't get into the wood because the wood was so overgrown.

0:46:570:47:03

There was a lot to do, so it was quite daunting,

0:47:030:47:05

but we just felt this was heaven.

0:47:050:47:09

My vision, when we got here, was that

0:47:120:47:15

we wouldn't have a garden at all.

0:47:150:47:16

I gave all my gardening tools away and I wasn't going to garden,

0:47:160:47:19

and it was all going to be absolutely wonderful nature

0:47:190:47:22

and perfect as it was -

0:47:220:47:24

but then my husband started cutting some trees down

0:47:240:47:27

and then there was a gap, so I thought,

0:47:270:47:30

"Well, we've got to do something now,"

0:47:300:47:32

and so I learned to be a tree surgeon

0:47:320:47:34

because I was slightly worried about how he was cutting a tree down

0:47:340:47:38

and I felt that wasn't quite the way you should cut a tree down.

0:47:380:47:41

I think people are more amazed

0:47:450:47:47

by the fact that we grow anything on this site.

0:47:470:47:51

The garden's on a 30-degree slope

0:47:510:47:53

and we range from 100ft above sea level

0:47:530:47:58

to 300ft above sea level, which we garden.

0:47:580:48:01

If it says gale force 11 in Portland Bill,

0:48:020:48:04

we get gale force 11 here.

0:48:040:48:06

It's very brackish, salt air.

0:48:070:48:10

The garden has heavy, heavy clay,

0:48:100:48:13

so that's really difficult to garden in the first place.

0:48:130:48:16

I couldn't put my spade in to start with, it was just so heavy.

0:48:160:48:19

So, we had to change the soil in order to work it.

0:48:190:48:23

You get very good at actually remembering your tools, as well,

0:48:230:48:27

going from the bottom to the top...

0:48:270:48:29

..and I just thought, "Perhaps we'd better put some steps in,"

0:48:300:48:33

so we put in some stairway to heaven,

0:48:330:48:35

which is 64 steps that go up to a terrace,

0:48:350:48:39

and I planted a hornbeam little house up there

0:48:390:48:43

and then I have sculpted it

0:48:430:48:44

to make it look like it's all being blown by the wind.

0:48:440:48:47

If somebody asked me about my garden,

0:48:540:48:56

I would say it is Mediterranean.

0:48:560:49:00

I've tried to make a Mediterranean feel,

0:49:000:49:02

but it's also a shaded Mediterranean garden, which is unusual.

0:49:020:49:06

My formative years after school were spent in Italy,

0:49:080:49:11

so my passion for Italian gardens has always been there

0:49:110:49:16

and so wanting to create an Italianate garden,

0:49:160:49:20

it's been a dream fulfilled.

0:49:200:49:22

They have a lot of structure

0:49:250:49:27

and they have a matrix of different textures

0:49:270:49:30

and different plants, as well...

0:49:300:49:32

..and I like scented flowers, and I've got silver leaves.

0:49:340:49:39

I've put in a lot of myrtle...

0:49:390:49:41

..the acanthus...

0:49:430:49:44

..yuccas...

0:49:460:49:48

..and a lot of yew, as well.

0:49:490:49:52

People do liken it to the Bay of Sorrento and Napoli,

0:49:540:49:57

and with my neighbour's pine tree,

0:49:570:49:59

it helps to create the Mediterranean view.

0:49:590:50:02

My favourite part of the garden is usually what's out

0:50:050:50:09

and working at the time.

0:50:090:50:11

Sitting on the terrace here when the sun's shining

0:50:120:50:14

and I'm entertaining, I just absolutely adore being here

0:50:140:50:17

cos there's nowhere better.

0:50:170:50:19

I planted, in 2008, these hornbeams,

0:50:210:50:24

which I knew liked the clay, so I planted feathered trees,

0:50:240:50:28

and then I've been crown raising them,

0:50:280:50:32

which is persuading them to go up and over the top,

0:50:320:50:35

and training the branch's laterals in,

0:50:350:50:38

so that we now have a living pergola.

0:50:380:50:41

From the design point of view,

0:50:430:50:45

I've designed from the window looking out.

0:50:450:50:47

There's blue campanula over there. It's really simple -

0:50:470:50:51

but the campanula with a wonderful shuttlecock fern

0:50:510:50:54

and the structure behind -

0:50:540:50:56

the whole thing makes up the pattern.

0:50:560:50:59

I enjoy having fun with the shapes, really.

0:50:590:51:02

This is the yew area, and I've got lots of different shapes here.

0:51:040:51:08

Some are organic, some archaic, some are mounds,

0:51:080:51:11

I've got balls, but this particular one

0:51:110:51:14

is going to be a chicken, and its beak is just being formed.

0:51:140:51:18

So, I'm hoping,

0:51:180:51:20

in a few years' time, it'll be a really good beak.

0:51:200:51:22

When the sun is shining and there aren't any clouds in the sky,

0:51:280:51:31

you just think, "Wow!"

0:51:310:51:34

It is so amazing -

0:51:340:51:37

and, in fact, we don't really need to go to the Mediterranean, luckily,

0:51:370:51:41

cos we get light and sun and sea.

0:51:410:51:44

To me, it's paradise.

0:51:440:51:46

Well, I share that love of Italian gardens,

0:51:590:52:02

but I don't share the force 11 gales with the salt-laden wind -

0:52:020:52:09

but every garden does have to deal with difficult weather conditions

0:52:090:52:13

at some time or other -

0:52:130:52:15

and this summer, it has been very dry,

0:52:150:52:18

and by and large, you can water the garden and cope with that,

0:52:180:52:21

but young trees, in particular,

0:52:210:52:24

especially if they're fairly large, like these limes that I planted,

0:52:240:52:27

need a lot of water in the first year.

0:52:270:52:29

That means a lot of watering -

0:52:290:52:31

and if you don't have time, or if you're going away for a while,

0:52:310:52:34

that's a problem, as well as the fact that

0:52:340:52:36

if you've got very hard ground, you water and it just bounces off,

0:52:360:52:40

and runs away and doesn't reach the roots.

0:52:400:52:42

Well, I've noticed, over the last few years, these things.

0:52:420:52:46

This is a tree hydration bag.

0:52:460:52:48

You simply wrap it round the tree,

0:52:480:52:51

like a sort of wine cooler or a tea cosy,

0:52:510:52:56

and it zips up...

0:52:560:52:57

..and then, if I fill that up there...

0:52:590:53:02

..and it slowly percolates out of the bag,

0:53:040:53:07

over about five to ten hours, and you do that once a week...

0:53:070:53:09

..and the bag holds quite a lot of water,

0:53:110:53:13

and it shows you the sort of amount that is needed by every young tree -

0:53:130:53:17

and I'm enjoying the irony of filling a bag to water a tree

0:53:170:53:22

whilst I'm getting soaked in the pouring rain.

0:53:220:53:25

That's British gardening for you!

0:53:250:53:27

Well, as I finish the watering,

0:53:310:53:34

as the rain starts to beat down here at Longmeadow,

0:53:340:53:38

let's see what the weather's going to be like this weekend.

0:53:380:53:41

Now we're at peak holiday season,

0:55:080:55:11

there's one little thing that is worth doing before you go away,

0:55:110:55:15

and that is to pick sweet peas.

0:55:150:55:16

That might seem barmy cos you're not going to see them,

0:55:160:55:19

but pick them and give them to your neighbours, family, friends,

0:55:190:55:23

and strip every flower that you can.

0:55:230:55:26

One, it will stop them going to seed whilst you're away,

0:55:260:55:29

and this is particularly true

0:55:290:55:30

if you're going away for a couple of weeks,

0:55:300:55:32

and two, it will extend the season.

0:55:320:55:34

So, when you get back, there will be another flush,

0:55:340:55:36

and you pick those straightaway and fill the house full of flowers,

0:55:360:55:40

and then you can go, if you're lucky,

0:55:400:55:42

right through into September or even October -

0:55:420:55:45

but leave them, and it's hot,

0:55:450:55:47

you'll come back and there'll just be a load of seed pods...

0:55:470:55:50

..and if you're not going away,

0:55:520:55:54

don't think you've been let off the hook,

0:55:540:55:56

cos you'll have lots more time to do some jobs this weekend.

0:55:560:55:59

If you've harvested your garlic and it's thoroughly dried off,

0:56:150:56:19

it's now time to store it.

0:56:190:56:21

Cut off the tops, clean off any loose skin or dirt,

0:56:220:56:26

trim the roots, but don't cut off the basal plate,

0:56:260:56:29

and then they can be stored in a basket in a cool, dry place,

0:56:290:56:33

where they will keep, ready for use, for months.

0:56:330:56:36

When your lavender finishes flowering,

0:56:420:56:44

it's a good idea to trim the flower stalks off,

0:56:440:56:47

and this will stop energy going into seed,

0:56:470:56:51

rather than into the roots... and whilst you're about it,

0:56:510:56:55

you can shape any plants as you will -

0:56:550:56:58

but trim lightly because if you cut into old wood,

0:56:580:57:01

they often do not regenerate.

0:57:010:57:04

If you're going away on holiday and have lots of pots,

0:57:090:57:13

particularly if they're terracotta pots,

0:57:130:57:15

group them tightly together in the shade.

0:57:150:57:17

This will mean they will dry out much less

0:57:170:57:21

and be much healthier when you return.

0:57:210:57:23

You're hot, aren't you? You're a hot, panty girl.

0:57:280:57:32

I don't often, I have to confess,

0:57:340:57:37

just sit and enjoy the garden without doing anything.

0:57:370:57:40

I always see things I want to do - and, anyway, I like gardening,

0:57:400:57:43

I like doing things and that's how I relax -

0:57:430:57:46

but, sometimes, you do just have to stop...

0:57:460:57:49

..and smell the flowers and watch the light -

0:57:510:57:55

and now is the best time of year to do it.

0:57:550:57:58

So, however you enjoy your gardens, make the most of them,

0:57:580:58:02

and I'll see you back here at Longmeadow next week.

0:58:020:58:05

Till then, bye-bye.

0:58:050:58:07

There are plans for propagating and planting at Longmeadow this week when Monty Don plants up a new bed of irises and takes pelargonium cuttings. Nick Bailey brightens up a dull and shady space at the side of a terraced house and gives advice on plants that will thrive, Carol Klein pays the first of two visits to West Yorkshire to meet a couple whose outstanding planting has resulted in a garden full of late summer interest and Joe Swift takes a close look at a sloping and shady town garden to find out how the owner has designed this difficult space.

We also meet a gardener in Dorset who took on the challenge of an overgrown coastal garden to create an Italianate idyll and take an in-depth look at one of the most colourful of summer stalwarts - the pelargonium.