Monty revisits his container vegetable garden, gives advice on how to get a good crop of pumpkins and meets Jake Hobson, one of the UK's leading cloud pruning and topiary experts.
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Welcome to Gardeners' World.
The other week I wanted to cut this, but it was too wet -
but now it's dry enough,
and the scythe is doing a fairly good job.
I'll clear this away and then run the mower over it
and it will become a lawn again for the rest of the summer -
but, of course, all this is geared towards
a really good display of bulbs,
and I'm now going to add perennial wild flowers later on next year.
On tonight's programme,
Rachel visits a garden near Bath,
created to combine careful control
with exuberant colour.
Flo Headlam makes her second visit to a fledgling community garden
in the village of Potterne, in Wiltshire
to see how the work is progressing.
We visit a nursery in Manchester,
raising plants that will thrive on little more
than the air that you breathe.
There's going to be quite a lot of material from the cricket pitch
and the other bits of long grass we have -
but it will all compost.
What all compost is made out of is green material,
which are sort of fresh leaves, typically grass clippings,
and brown material, which is dead or dried stuff or cardboard,
straw, bracken, that kind of thing.
The green material is relatively high in nitrogen...
..and the brown material is very high in carbon,
and you need both to make good compost -
and the general rule,
if you have the same volume of brown material as green material,
you won't go far wrong.
We chuck everything into a holding bay.
Whatever comes from the kitchen or the garden -
as long as it hasn't been cooked,
doesn't involve fat or meat -
and the reason for that is cos that attracts rodents.
Once a week, that is chopped up.
Now, you can do it by mowing, you can use a shredder,
you can just chop it with an old axe or something,
but the more that you can chop it up, the better it is -
and that comes into this,
the first bay,
and you can see, here, if I open that out,
It's really heating up. In fact, that's too hot to put my hand in -
and that steam coming out is entirely generated
by the digestive systems of bacteria.
That, when it's full, gets turned into here -
and now it's cooled down quite a lot.
It's still not ready,
but it's looking recognisably like compost -
and by turning it, we're adding oxygen,
and that regenerates the bacterial activity.
It comes into this bay - and this was a bit wet,
so I've covered it with old cardboard -
and as I move it,
there's a lot of scurrying activity from woodlice,
You don't have to add them, they appear from nowhere.
When this is full,
it goes into this bay,
and this really is 100% ready for delivery -
and, when it's ready, you can handle it,
it smells nice,
just faintly of a woodland floor.
It's clean, it's appetising,
and it's just PACKED with goodness for the garden.
That goodness is largely bacterial and fungal -
it's not so much a feed as a life giver.
It regenerates the soil.
Now, this system is quite large -
we have these big bays, there's a big quantity -
but in principle, you can do it in a small garden with small containers.
Ideally, you have three.
They could be old dustbins, they'll work fine,
and as long as you keep turning it,
it WILL make a good compost -
and if you can't turn,
a much simpler way to make compost is simply make a heap,
chuck it all in a heap, build it up, and in time,
it'll be about a year to two years,
the inside of the heap will look exactly like that.
So, you take your pick.
If you want to make it in 3-6 months, you do this system.
If you want to make it in two years, you make a slow heap -
but don't waste any material,
because the goodness that goes back into the garden
and the life and the energy,
can't be matched by anything else...
..and the reason why we make compost
is to make our gardens more productive,
more beautiful and healthier -
and Rachel has been to visit
a garden that is unquestionably beautiful.
It all starts with colour for Jenny Woodall,
a former fashion buyer who swapped A-line skirts and seasonal styles
for agapanthus and salvia,
and created a beautiful garden at her home in Bradford-on-Avon.
Built in a walled setting,
this formal townhouse garden is a riot of colour,
with symmetry at its heart.
-Jenny, I don't want to startle you...
-..but I came straight through.
-Hello, Rachel, hello.
I can see why you're so busy -
it's hardly what I would call a low-maintenance garden, is it?
No weeds, lots of symmetry,
lots of standing to attention, control freakery.
Shipshape and Bristol fashion.
Absolutely. If you move, you might get snipped!
Jenny's developed a garden with a very formal framework,
but it's the planting within the borders that really catches the eye.
I get the feeling, Jenny, that this is what it's all about for you,
painting these colours across the garden.
-It's so beautiful.
Ah, a perennial lady.
I'm a perennial lady, and that's what I always go for.
And I suppose perhaps the other thing is that
my starting point is always colour -
and I always used to like... the pinks had to be a bluey pink,
so that they all melded together,
but now I'm learning that perhaps... I'd like something shouting,
two plants next door to each other that shout.
And they cause you to wake up and... Oh, fantastic! Shock!
And you've got that here,
because you've got things like this lovely soft pink of the phlox,
and then the rudbeckias...
Like - wow! You know, this bright, strong yellow,
and the thalictrum, all hazy and mauve and very soft again...
..and you've got the Stipa gigantea, which is sort of a veil...
Waving around and, yes, light, airy movement, yeah.
Now, these absolutely immaculate stretches of lawn,
which are so pristine, and so perfect...
I am almost afraid to walk on them!
Feel I ought to hover!
Well, again, it's, it's my control freakery.
You know, I like to look out on an absolutely straight line,
and then I like my planting to be soft, to be a complete contrast.
Apart from the fact that,
actually, it's very, very easy to keep with the shears,
because the shears just glide along the metal edging
and you don't start causing a wiggly line.
-That's one of my favourite jobs, actually, edging the lawn.
I remember doing that with my dad when I was little,
-it was one of my jobs that he gave me.
Well, when you're standing here, actually,
you see the shape of the beds you've created,
and if you were to take that side and flip it over on top,
you'd have the same flowers in the centre.
Yes, in the same place, yes.
This way of using symmetry
and mirroring the planting along a pair of borders
is a very tried and tested technique.
They're not very deep borders,
but it just works brilliantly.
I love this pergola.
Not only because it's giving you some height,
and the sort of framework,
but you've got these lovely little gaps through,
so you've got individual snapshots.
-Pictures, as you walk around the garden.
Well, I try to create atmosphere,
and that's enticing you to go round the path
and go and have a look at whatever's happening over there.
I mean, it's working, because I'm drawn,
I want to go down there and have a look.
Oh, yes. This just works beautifully now, looking back along there...
and I love that you've got the height with the yews,
-so there's nice vertical shapes at the end of each row.
Yes, well, it draws your eye through, doesn't it?
It's so pretty with the rose, as well.
Yes, the mutabilis, yes.
You've got that colour sort of brought through
-with the penstemon, as well...
-..and then again into the sedum.
-Well, I think I'm going to steal that.
I'm telling you right now,
I'm going to plan that combination in my own garden. I love it.
CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS
CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS
CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS
There is no question that the relationship
between really tightly controlled structure,
with symmetry and balance,
and then exuberant free planting within it
can be very successful indeed -
and if you're trying to organise colour, one of the best aids to that
is, simply take pictures - and here at Longmeadow,
I take pictures two, three times a week,
and come next January, February,
when I'm thinking about plants and seeds and how I'm going to plant,
I go through all the pictures at different times of the year,
and work on them, and actually go back 10, 15 years.
It's SO useful.
Now, here in the Jewel garden, there's real exuberance,
and at this time of year, a real lushness -
and that's great for most plants.
However, succulents hate it.
So, if I want to grow succulents, and I do,
I have to create special conditions for them.
Come on, come on.
Go on. Go on.
HE CHIVVIES THEM ALONG
I've got this range of succulents growing in pots
so I can give them the conditions they like,
and the range, although by no means a collection, is varied.
It goes from these extraordinary Namibian stone plants, the lithops.
We have aeoniums, we've got echeverias,
and most of them can be propagated from cuttings.
Now, echeverias will take very easily from leaf cuttings.
Now cutting, in a sense, is the wrong word,
because the last thing you want to do is actually cut it.
You want to tear it off from the stem -
and if that sounds a bit drastic,
it's really important you take it off at the base
with a little piece of the stem attached.
You have to twist and pull, and there it comes -
and what you need to look for is a C shaped section,
like that there.
And then you know that it's come off properly.
Whereas if it's clean, it'll never form any roots.
So, if I take a pot, here -
and I've got cutting mix with lots of grit and sand in it -
and I just put in...
..that much there, about two thirds full,
and then top it up, right to the brim with grit...
..and then you simply take the leaf like that
and push it in,
just so it touches the compost.
Do not water them for at least a week,
and then, after a week or so,
you can give them a water - and you only need to water them once a week.
Now, that's actually very easy, very straightforward,
as long as you take the whole leaf.
There is no problems with that -
and much easier are sempervivums, houseleeks.
You can see here that this is wanting to make new plants
by these babies coming through,
and all you have to do is detach them,
and place them on a piece of gritty compost,
and they are away.
You can just pull that off like that,
that one we could take off...
So I can just simply sink that in like that, and that should be fine.
This one here,
and that one there...
..and those will grow.
They really, really are easy.
Now, aeoniums are dramatic,
and a little bit more complicated when it comes to cuttings.
I've got two types here.
I've got Zwartkop,
which has got these rich, almost black chocolaty foliage,
and then Voodoo,
which is a mixture of ruby red and luminescent green.
Now, Zwartkop has got material,
these side shoots lend themselves to cuttings,
and, actually, I took some the other day,
because what you should do, conventionally,
is take the cuttings and then leave them for a week,
to let them callous over...
and, ideally, the base -
and you can see this is happening -
should be dry and have a scar over the end of it.
However, I know that commercial growers don't worry about that,
they just take the cuttings and do them.
So, now, just push the plant in.
About halfway up.
So, I've got a really good stem,
and that way, if it takes,
I've got a statuesque plant to begin with.
Finally, and most radically of all,
you can take aeonium cuttings...
..which will leave you a bare stem
which will then resprout -
and, for example, this Zwartkop is unbalanced.
I'd like some more side shoots.
So what I have heard you can do -
and I have to say I've never done this,
so if it goes wrong, I'm losing a plant -
is you cut that in half.
The cutting must come from green growth,
so I'll take that near the top,
and then this lower area should resprout.
time to make the big cut.
Here we are.
That, I hope...
will resprout, giving me a bushy new aeonium.
This, although it's really large, is a potential cutting.
What I am going to do is take some of the lower leaves off
to let air in around it, to stop it being too moist...
..and reduce the stem to about like that.
So, I am going to push that in,
so it's just touching the compost,
and then I'm going to pack grit around it.
Will it work?
Well, we're all going to find out in the next few weeks and months.
Now, if you think that succulents are tough,
you ain't seen nothing.
Because we went to Manchester to visit a couple of growers
who are raising their plants on thin air.
Air plants are so different from any other plants
that you could be mistaken for believing
that they are from another planet.
Their entire life is different from another plant's.
There's no compost, no pot,
they don't go in the ground,
they're taking everything in through the leaves.
They're just a weird plant that's otherworldly.
About 10 or 12 years ago, I got my first air plant,
which was a bit of a disaster -
but I don't like being defeated,
and from there, as you can see from behind me,
it became a bit of an obsession.
I used to work in insurance, for many years.
So, basically, working in an office,
you are seeing four walls every day -
and eventually I started to work on a part-time basis for Graham,
helping out in his nursery - got me outdoors.
Got a bit of feel for that, started to love it,
and then as he moved onto the air plants,
I moved with him and the rest is history.
I love me air plants.
Air plants are known as tillandsia, that's the proper name for them.
They are a member of the bromeliad family,
which is the same plant family as the common pineapple.
They differ slightly
in the respect that tillandsia are all epiphytic in growth,
which means they take all the water and nutrients in and out of the air.
Generally speaking, air plants come from central and southern America,
mostly Latin America,
but some species do extend as far north
as the southern states of the USA.
There's two basic types of air plants
which most species of tillandsia can be divided into.
You get the mesic type, that tend to be from rainforest environments.
They have much lusher green leaves,
because they're used to more humidity and less light.
On the other side of the fence,
you've got the xeric type of tillandsia
which tend to be from desert environments,
where they're used to a lot of sun beating down on them,
so they're the ones with the more silvery leaf,
and the silver's caused by little hair-like trichomes on the leafs
that help to reflect the sunlight.
Unlike most plants,
tillandsia use a specialised form of photosynthesis
that's known as crassulacean acid metabolism.
What that effectively means is the plants hold their breath all day.
This is to prevent losing moisture through the leaves
and through the breathing in the daytime.
So while the night-time temperatures are much cooler,
that's when they choose to do all their breathing.
As a result of that,
tillandsia are one of the few plants
that never breathe out carbon dioxide.
This is one of my favourite air plants, Tillandsia usneoides,
better known as Spanish moss or Old Man's Beard.
It's prevalent in places like Florida,
where you see it growing from trees.
A bit of it'll get caught on the wind, snag on another tree,
the next thing you know you have got a colony of usneoides
that can bring trees down because of the sheer weight of it.
This is Tillandsia albida,
this is one of my favourites in the nursery.
The reason I love it
is, one, for its structure and its form,
but also it sort of pops up for fun, it has lots of babies -
and around the nursery
I find tiny little, little babies as they've fallen off,
and I pick them up and put them on these trays, and they grow,
and, eventually, they're beauties.
About ten years old.
This is Tillandsia ionantha Mexico.
It's one of the easiest plants to grow.
Anything with ionantha in the name means it's pretty near bulletproof,
as air plants go.
You've got that nice red colour which contrasts fantastically
with the purple flowers.
Air plants flower, but not many have fragrance.
Now, this one, crocata Copper Penny,
absolutely beautiful fragrance.
Makes it one of my favourites in the nursery -
and when this one is in flower,
quite often on a nice sunny day,
you can smell it throughout the greenhouse.
Keeping air plants at home is actually really easy.
Probably one of the easiest house plants you can have.
They don't need an awful lot of care.
They will stand a bit of neglect,
and they'll always tell you if they need a bit more water,
cos you might get a bit of browning at the end of the leaves,
or the leaves might start to curl in on themselves,
so they're telling you that they need a little bit more water.
You can use a spray bottle,
and just mist the plant perhaps once a week,
and you could also...
Say perhaps you've got your air plant in a terrarium,
and you don't want to get that bowl wet, whatever.
Take the plant out, put it in a bowl of water for about an hour,
let it soak up what it wants,
and then let it drain out thoroughly,
and pop it in you back in your bowl, and there you are.
Use perhaps bottled water, or rainwater,
because you want to watch out for hard water,
cos that can actually damage the plants,
cos of the metals in the water.
Air plants can be put literally anywhere in your house,
but as long as they get some natural light -
but what they don't want is the full direct sunlight.
That can actually damage and scorch the plants.
If you were to put an air plant in compost
or any kind of soil or whatever,
because that's damp and wet,
what will happen is that the air plant itself will start to rot
and it will unfortunately kill the air plant.
So it wants to be sat in a dry environment.
We feed all our plants once a month.
We use a foliar feed,
which means the feed is in contact with the leaf of the plant.
It's important with an air plant feed
to make sure that you get the right kind of feed.
Most plant feeds contain a high level of urea
as the nitrogen source.
So when you're looking for a feed,
just look for that statement on the bottle, "Contains no urea."
A decent tillandsia feed or decent orchid feed
is perfectly adequate.
We dilute it down,
spray it on once a month, job done.
People grow air plants in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways.
A lot of people still use terrariums,
a glass bowl with a bit of gravel in the bottom and some air plants.
Other people will attach them to bog wood,
we have even had people make mirror frames out of them
to hang in the bathroom.
So they're really versatile plants
and they're really limited by your imagination.
When I look at the air plants,
especially the ones we have here,
I think they just give you so much joy.
We get a lot of customers say what a joy they bring to them, as well,
and how much fun the plants are,
so they always give you a smile.
Even if you know nothing about a plant,
or you've decided it is not your thing,
to see people's enthusiasm for something always inspires,
and sometimes provokes you to do it yourself.
These are fascinating.
And if you get an old log...
..and just stick them in.
You can glue them in if you want, but you don't need to,
you can just attach them in into cracks and crevices,
and we could probably work that into there.
All these air plants will survive perfectly well,
just resting on that.
Just put that on your windowsill,
and that's it.
If you put it in the bathroom, it will enjoy the humidity,
otherwise mist it once a week with rainwater
and that is literally all you have to do,
and these will grow fine -
and if you don't want a log, well,
you can always buy something like this Spanish moss
and hang it up,
and that will grow quite happily in your home.
Now my guess is, for anybody that doesn't have access to a garden,
or is not even particularly interested in gardening,
this could be a really good introduction.
Fascinating, if you've got a windowsill or a small flat -
but there are people who don't have gardens who would love one...
..and are really keen to share a community space if that's possible,
and Flo Headlam is making her second visit to the community garden
in Potterne, in Wiltshire,
which is beginning to take shape.
It's been a month since Joe and I first visited
the community garden here in Potterne.
It's a typical village, made up of a mix of properties big and small,
a local pub -
but nowhere just to hang out with your neighbours...
except for a wonderful secret garden hidden up that alley.
When we first came here last month,
there was an unloved plot with no real reason to spend any time here.
But galvanised by local youth worker Steve Dewar,
the people of the village wanted to transform this space
into something they can all use.
Last month, Joe worked with Steve to come up with a design
to give a real heart to the garden...
..and having been involved with community projects before,
I'm back here to offer support, advice and encouragement,
to help keep momentum going on this project.
So from the last time to now,
you've put the path down,
-and it's great because you've direction coming in.
and you've got the central space.
The willow arch is looking good. It's coming back, isn't it?
-Looking fresh - and then it leads to the central area
-which is going to be the kind of main hub, isn't it?
-The main social area.
So everything will then lead off that,
so we're looking at five different sections
with each area giving a slightly different thing to the space.
OK, great. Sounds like you've got some design skills yourself.
Well, when people come together and just chat about it,
and everyone's got a little bit of input and I thought, yeah,
we'd kind of go with what everyone agrees with.
What's the journey been like with the garden?
The biggest challenge is always people.
The joys of working with people,
and different expectations,
and everyone's got a view.
Logistics, probably, is the second challenge,
because of the narrow access that we have,
and trying to move equipment through.
The path was the biggest logistical problem that we've had -
now that's been done. I think third is just communication.
You can only communicate with people when you've made that contact.
So we're just looking at how actually we make that contact
with people that we've not had contact with before,
across the village, but also in the wider area,
and then just maintaining it.
-It's tough, it's not easy.
You take some flak for it, because people have different views,
but it's the nature of the job that I'm in,
I enjoy working with people,
to actually bring people together,
to build a community,
to face those challenges together.
If life was easy, it would be a bit boring.
This isn't easy, and it's definitely not boring.
Well, there's no chance of getting bored when I'm around.
There's planting to be done!
One of the driving forces behind this community garden
is teaching children about the local bugs and birds,
so I've brought along Stephen Davis, from the local wildlife trust.
Why is it important to have a wildlife area, do you think?
Well, it's absolutely wonderful for children, in particular.
They have a wonderful connection with the natural world.
They're very, very observant.
I mean, Will here has just found about 15 beetle larvae
and he's wandering around like this showing them to everybody -
so there's a very natural interest in the natural world.
Mel, you're the head teacher at the local primary school.
Why is it important for you to have wildlife areas?
Because it's bringing, isn't it, learning to life?
So I think, you know, I'm not saying a library's not engaging,
but Will, out here, learning about the real world
in a real environment,
he'll remember this a lot more, won't he? Than reading it in print -
and hopefully this will really excite him to go back to the library
and to find out more. So it's a fantastic teaching space.
Absolutely. What's good to plant?
It's good to plant a diversity of plants,
so some that have very open, flat surfaces,
so the nectar is very close to the top of the flower,
some with long tubes,
so you get a diversity of insects,
some which have long tongues, small tongues,
and they can reach down and get that nectar -
and in doing that,
they interact with the pollen,
and they take the pollen away to another flower
and provide that fertilisation of the flower.
Stephen's recommended lots of plants that pollinators love,
and I can't help but get involved.
This is my favourite bit.
It would be nice to have the rudbeckias sort of curving round.
So I am so happy that the local gardening club popped in,
spades at the ready.
We've got loads of plants here, loads of plants,
and I think once we've got everything in place
and we've got a sense of where we're going to plant everything,
it's going to look fantastic.
We've got instant colour,
we've got the beautiful Verbena bonariensis,
we've got the lovely rudbeckia, that colour is just stunning.
It's exciting, because it's looking like a garden now!
Isn't it great to see the kids getting all mucky in the garden?
While Steve starts planting up a more shady spot,
some other children are getting into building bug hotels.
Right, guys, we just want to use as many different materials as we can,
cos it'll just attract as many insects as possible
into our gardens.
I moved mine, it's this one, it's moving around...
This is what Steve had in mind
when we first talked about this community garden,
it's bringing people together.
And that's happened here today.
We've got kids out here who have been digging,
lifting soil, lifting turf,
they've been making bug hotels,
we've had the gardening club,
another generation who've come to help out and lend their expertise -
and mums, you know, and their kids, sitting around,
people are just hanging out, but enjoying the space.
It just fills me with pleasure to see them here,
and being involved.
I've been involved in a few community projects like that myself,
and I do know they take a while to build momentum,
but once it's there,
they get a life of their own,
and something special really can happen -
and we will be going back for another visit in a few weeks' time.
Now, still to come on tonight's programme...
Adam Frost visits Hyde Hall,
and sees the new vegetable garden that they've created there
over the last year...
Let's see what it's like.
-Wow, that's, like, really, bang!
..but first, it's time for topiary Nigel to have his annual trim.
So, Nigel, you've got to stay and be the model.
You can see it's made out of yew, Taxus baccata.
I planted it three years ago -
plenty of growth, you can see,
lots of good growth on it,
so I need to cut it back.
Good boy. Come here, come here, I want to...
Not you, cos it's not a Nellie picture!
Right, stay there.
Just take a bit more off Nigel.
His tail has gone berserk,
but that sometimes happens anyway.
I think that's as far as I can take it for the moment.
It won't ever be as beautiful as the real thing, but it's fun.
The whole point about topiary is that it's part sculpture,
and part mucking about -
and mucking about is as good as the other two bits, easily.
Now, some people take topiary seriously
and are extraordinarily good at it,
and I went down to Dorset the other day,
to visit a master craftsman in the art of topiary.
Jake Hobson is not only an expert sculptor of plants,
but he's also studied extensively in Japan...
..and the Japanese take the training and pruning of plants
very seriously indeed.
So it seems to me that that combination,
although I don't want to make a specifically Japanese garden...
..is something that I can learn an awful lot from.
Jake's style of topiary,
often referred to as cloud pruning,
is a technique that's used to create these elegant and fluid shapes,
and they are a far cry from the rigid and formal topiary
that we've come to associate with our gardens.
It's nice to see you in action, very good.
How are you doing?
So, one of the things that I noticed on my only visit to Japan
was that in all the time I was there,
I never once saw a garden tree that wasn't clipped or topiarised
or trained in some way.
Exactly, they're always perfect, yeah.
So, is that the basis of your style, and what you do?
That's the origin of my style, yeah.
Since I came back to England 15 years ago,
I've kind of merged what I was excited by in Japan
and what I'm excited by in England.
The culture of clipped box is European,
but the Japanese way of not making it a formal row of perfect shapes
but a natural... Sort of evoking hillsides or clouds
or forests or mountains,
and I've kind of developed a term, organic topiary,
to describe a little bit of Japanese,
a little bit of formal topiary,
a little bit of European style...
but it's a more natural, organic feel -
so, I'm inspired by nature.
OK, so it's a hybrid, but it's a very cultured one?
Very, very cultured, and very Japanese.
I've always got Japan ringing in the back of my head.
I like this sort of talk, this is good.
In practical terms, you've got these series of box plants,
looking lovely and healthy - I'm deeply envious of you.
What are you looking for, what are you trying to achieve as you cut?
Is there a particular approach you need to it?
Yeah, I'm after a sort of, well, a continuity,
a regularity going over the whole thing,
and if it's this kind of shape, this kind of rounded shape,
I think about the shape as I'm doing it,
and I think about how a shape isn't just one-dimensional
but it goes over the whole way round, so I follow it like that.
And I can't help but notice you're using your shears upside down.
Yeah, absolutely, because I'm going over the circle like that.
If I was up against a hedge, I'd have it like that,
to go straight with that.
If you can't use box,
if you have to look for alternatives,
what do you recommend?
Well, nothing does box like box -
and I think the idea is we've got to get box out of our minds,
and then there's loads of other things.
Favourites of mine are small leafed evergreens,
like Phillyrea latifolia, a very good one,
Osmanthus burkwoodii, things like that.
They tend to be bigger, they're shrubs and small trees,
rather than what we think of as a smaller plant -
but, you know, a box would get to 20 feet,
-if you had 100 years spare.
Well, it's good to have some alternatives to box
that will thrive in my garden in Herefordshire...
..but I've asked Jake to show me some of the tricks of his trade
on his cloud pruned phillyrea.
What are particularly the virtues of phillyrea?
It's small leafed, relatively,
it's not as small as a box plant,
but it's smaller than many plants, which means it's tidy and tight,
-and you can work on quite a small scale.
It is dense, and it's a pretty nice colour, it's a good green.
Very healthy, yeah.
They're a Mediterranean plant,
they like to be slightly on the drier side.
They don't want to be in a swamp.
That leads onto my next question,
because where I am, in winter,
it manages to be both wet and cold simultaneously -
and a lot of plants hate that combination.
How does it cope?
Hardy in Dorset.
Yeah, but you're... you're in sunny Dorset!
Hardy in Dorset, hardy in the bottom half of England.
-Let's have a go at that.
-So if you're south of sort of...
..the Wash to the Bristol Channel line,
you'd say that it's a good punt?
-I'd say it's a great punt, yeah.
Well, there's one temptation which is to take much too much off
in one go, but the other temptation is to be too bitty,
and only pick off the bits that look big -
but...I know full well that this is going to keep growing,
because we're now in early August,
and we've got another six to eight weeks of growth,
and we've got to be quite strict with it.
-That's looking good.
-That's it -
and then, occasionally, with topiary,
you get some sort of harder, woodier stuff out towards the top,
bits like that.
And I tend to, with a pair of secateurs
or another pair of clippers,
just go in and just take out the woodier stuff.
If you run your hands through it, it'll all feel soft and fluffy
-rather than hard and brittle.
-Yeah. And how often do you cut this?
I try to cut this twice a year,
most evergreens twice a year.
Typically, sometime in June and then a tidy up in the autumn, basically.
So it lasts all winter.
So you've got it through the winter, which is where it's most important,
because there's nothing else to look at.
OK, let's have a look.
For a lot of people, cloud pruning,
and just the very nature of clouds,
is that they come in, and then they billow,
rather than these clearly defined tiers that you're creating.
Yes. I mean, there's two different approaches
and you can do this kind of continuous thing, like you said -
but I like the look where you've got definite branches
and definite black space between each branch.
So the size, the shape,
the proportion of that space is every bit as important
-as the more solid shapes above and below it?
-Exactly, it defines them.
I suppose one keeps coming back to this thing
that you go with what the plant is inclined to do,
and what you are inclined to do at that moment.
Yeah, that's the thing -
and it always changes from there.
What looks and feels right for you this year
might not be the same next year.
It's a very free-form, subjective approach,
rather than the European thing of creating these shapes, you know,
you want a cone, a pyramid, a ball.
Absolutely, it's not a sculpture.
It's a living thing.
It works, doesn't it?
Because what you're describing is something that is very liberating.
There are no rules.
Use good tools,
keep them sharp,
look after the plants,
and just go with it, let it happen.
I think it looks really good.
Sometimes plants will form a kind of topiary without any clipping at all.
I've planted a pair of Irish yews
either side of the path and this doorway.
This is Taxus baccata Fastigiata,
and they create a living topiary.
So that gives us an architectural, very dramatic statement,
and they're great plants for that.
The other really good thing these pair of Irish yews are doing for me
is tying together two parts of the garden.
The herb garden is doing really well, it's fully functional,
and there's not a lot to happen in there -
but this part of the garden has hardly been touched,
and it's time to develop it -
and, in fact, it's not a coincidence that I went down to Dorset
to see Jake in action, because we want to make topiary here
of a free-flowing, not necessarily Japanese, but organic kind.
All these plants here, and I've got loads more,
have been grown from cuttings -
and they have cost me absolutely nothing.
However, I am restricted in some ways
because I can't use normal box -
that's Buxus sempervirens, or suffruticosa -
but what I can use, and I intend to,
is this very thick leaf box.
This is a variety called Handsworthiensis,
and I've still got it elsewhere in the garden,
and it seems to be both pretty much resistant to blight,
and if it does get it, it recovers.
Now, it's worth pointing out to you that if you find box,
and I quite often get people asking me this,
that has these orange leaves,
looking very sickly.
This is not box blight.
It's a classic sign of stress -
and the reason why they're like this,
because this has been in this container for two years,
it's outgrown all the nutrients,
and, poor thing, it's starving.
This will recover.
So, don't worry if you've got orange leaves on your box.
This is a slow process, and because it's organic,
I'm not going to try and plant them all in one go,
I'm just going to start building up and adding in plants -
but on the corners here, on both sides,
I want to have a yew...sort of blob that will spill out over the path,
and I'm going to do that by planting these four cuttings in a square.
So, by placing these four plants, that will grow together,
and effectively become one,
we immediately create a mass,
and in a year or two, can start clipping that -
and you'll notice that I've chosen plants
that do not have a leader.
They're spreading automatically so that makes them suitable
for this fairly low, horizontal shape
which can be clipped tight.
Yew is a tough plant,
it will grow in chalk, it will grow in acidic soil,
it will grow in full sun, it will grow in some shade.
But it will not grow in waterlogged soil.
It really must have good drainage.
Right. That's not too bad,
but I am going to add a bucket-load of grit...
..because you can never have too much.
I'm just going to spread that on...
..and dig it in.
Right, we can plant.
Now, I have got some mycorrhizal powder...
..which is always worth adding
if you're planting any tree or shrub because it will speed up
the relationship between the mycorrhizae fungi in the soil
and the plants that will feed it with sugars -
and for the plant to get established,
this really, really helps.
The thing about mycorrhizae,
there has to be direct contact with the roots.
What I do is just rub it in, like that...
..and that goes like that...
..and I won't be thinking about clipping these
for another year or so.
We'll just let them get established.
Now we move over to the Handsworthiensis.
This will never be a low blob,
this wants to be fairly upright,
and my vision is that we have these lower shapes
morphing into the taller ones and then going down again.
So the whole thing flows.
You'll notice that for both the yew and the box,
I haven't added any compost,
or manure or soil improver underneath them...
..and that's for a reason -
because if you do that in a planting hole,
it encourages the roots to stay in the planting hole.
It's just simply much nicer in there than it is out in the soil...
..and for a healthy plant,
it has got to get out into the soil, whatever that soil is like.
Right, I'm just going to gently firm that in.
Well, that is a modest beginning
to something that will take weeks or even months
to be planted and develop.
Now, three years ago, almost to the day,
I visited RHS Hyde Hall for the first time,
and I was really impressed by their vegetable garden,
and the way that they grew them.
Well, they've moved on,
because they have created a brand-new,
much bigger vegetable garden,
and Adam Frost went along to have a look.
Do you know, over the last couple of years,
I've been lucky enough to work with the team here at Hyde Hall,
helping design different parts of this garden,
and I have really fallen in love with it -
but earlier on in July, they opened a new veg garden...
but this is not a normal kitchen garden.
It's all about pushing boundaries,
and seeing what we can grow in that UK environment -
and I'm feeling a little childlike,
and I can't wait to go and have a look.
RHS Hyde Hall in Essex
is situated in one of the driest parts of the country,
and the new fruit and vegetable garden aims to experiment,
growing edibles from all around the world.
For a vegetable garden, it's an unusual circular design,
divided into four quarters, each planted with edibles.
You've got North America, South America,
Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Overseeing the garden is horticulturalist Matthew Oliver.
Well, here we are, mate, in Europe,
which is a place I suppose most people recognise
what you're growing here.
This could be a herbaceous border, could it?
Yeah, a lot of these are garden plants, if you like -
but lots of edible petals as well
which are really fashionable at the moment.
Yeah, something like this borage which is an annual,
but the flowers are absolutely stunning.
Yeah, a lot of people don't really realise that you can eat the petals,
just peel them off,
decorate salads, use them in drinks,
-those kind of things.
I've seen them set in ice cubes and dropped into a drink.
-But Europe just doesn't stop at the obvious, does it?
There is more interesting bits and pieces.
Yeah, yeah, we've got a few different unusuals in here.
This is agretti, very similar to samphire,
but much easier to grow.
Seed in the spring for this.
Samphire's incredibly salty.
So has it got that same...?
Yeah, this has got that same sort of slightly salty taste to it,
that crisp crunchiness as well.
-You can try some if you want.
Let's see what it's like.
-Wow, that's, like, really, bang!
So it'll work well with fish dishes, that kind of thing.
Hark at you, he's behaving like a cook now!
I think this is definitely worth a shout, that's lovely.
These are plants, you know,
you really do recognise from North America, aren't they?
Yeah, very traditionally North American agriculture
type plants in here. So, think Native American -
so we've got the sweetcorn, lots of climbing beans,
and then lots of pumpkins and squashes, as well.
But anything more unusual in North America?
Yeah, we've got some wonderberries, which are very unusual.
Right, let's go and have a look at those.
Just by looking at it,
you can tell that it's related to deadly nightshade -
but this one is edible.
Which would instantly scare the life out of me,
so that makes the point, at home, this is a weed, really, in a sense,
so do not go into the garden and just eat it.
This has been bred, obviously, to eat.
Yeah, this is a hybrid one,
and the berries on these ARE edible,
but they have to be ripe first.
So don't eat them green, either.
Once they lose their shine a little bit, that's when they're ripe,
and then brilliant in sort of pies, tarts, jams, that sort of stuff.
South America says to me potatoes -
but obviously there's a whole lot more.
Yeah, shark fin melon, different species of squash,
yeah, loads of different stuff, lots of tuberous roots,
-Cannas, you know, most people would think,
a plant, we grow it in a border, but you can eat the tubers, can't you?
-Yeah, eat the tuberous roots of those.
-And down here?
This is oca. so for me, this is a plant that really summarises
everything we're trying to do.
It's slightly unusual,
people won't have heard of it,
but it's something that could have a good stab
at growing at home.
Yeah, it's a tiny little, sort of like a tuber, isn't it?
Yeah, sort of a stem tuber,
forms sort of big swollen roots,
kind of pinky reds, creamy colours.
A really versatile crop, as well, in the kitchen.
In South America, where they come from,
these rival potato in terms of importance as a staple crop,
and they can do here as well,
with a little bit of breeding work on them.
Yeah, I've eaten them and they were an awful lot better
once I put a bit of garlic butter on them, you know?
front of a border, inter-planted,
-they're a lovely little plant, aren't they?
Propagation wise, how are you going to do these for next year?
So, these you just save back a few tubers when you dig them up.
Store them somewhere sort of cool, frost free,
and then just pot them up and start them into growth again
next March time, something like that.
So you start them inside and then bring them out,
-and plant them out?
-Yeah, they're a tender plant,
so need protecting from the frost early in the season.
The Asian continent is incredible, isn't it?
It's definitely, in terms of range of plants, the most diverse area.
I've just gone and bought this plant,
and these I find absolutely fascinating.
It's an Egyptian onion.
Yes, or otherwise known as a walking onion.
One of the more unusual plants in the garden.
It forms these sort of tiny bulbils
on the top of the stems,
that then fall over, touch the ground,
take root and then begin to march their way across the garden.
That, for me, is just absolutely fantastic.
This is one part of the garden where we're really pushing our luck
with what we can do, it's highly experimental.
In theory, we shouldn't be able to grow these things in Essex.
So you've actually got soya beans in here, yeah?
There are a few in there, where they've flowered,
and just the beans starting to form.
So, hopefully, if we have a decent summer,
these might make it through to harvest, I'd be well chuffed.
Do you know what, we shouldn't forget you're growing this
on a hillside in the driest part of the country.
So if you can have a go, people at home should have half a chance,
-Definitely, that's what we're trying to do,
is inspire people to go away and do a bit of grow your own.
Well, I tell you what, you are definitely doing that.
I've had a really wonderful day,
and this garden is absolutely packed full of ideas...
..but it makes you realise that ultimately what we eat
and what we put on our tables is driven by our supermarkets,
and that there proves that there is so much out there
that we can grow that's edible -
and if you grow your own,
why not just push it a little bit more?
It could be that it's something exotic
that inspires you to grow vegetables,
it could be, as largely is the case with myself,
that you just try and grow really good ordinary veg
that are as delicious as possible, it doesn't matter.
What matters is that you give it a go.
Try and grow something you could take into the kitchen and enjoy,
whatever that might be...
..and if you think you haven't got any room for vegetables,
you can grow them in containers.
I sowed three containers here about five weeks ago.
One of carrots, another of a mixture called mesclun,
and the other of a combination of red and green salad bowl.
The carrots need thinning,
the mesclun has got a little bit of flea beetle action,
those round holes you get,
but perfectly edible -
and the germination on the lettuce is a little bit thin,
but that's the reality of growing vegetables.
It's never perfect.
But it's ALWAYS a good thing to do.
Now, these need thinning, simply by pulling them out.
When you thin carrots,
there is always a danger of attracting carrot fly,
because they can smell from up to half a mile away -
but at this time of year,
the cycle of the fly means that it's not too much of a problem.
So, we're just at random gently pulling out the roots,
so that those that remain will grow bigger.
Well, this is a small job,
but a good one -
and here are some more for this weekend.
If you grow rhododendrons, azaleas or camellias in pots,
it's not uncommon for the buds to fall off before they open in spring,
and that is because the plants are too dry now.
So, give them a good soak using rainwater...
..now, and every week for the next six to eight weeks,
and this will ensure good flowering next spring.
As summer fruiting raspberries are coming to an end,
autumn fruiting ones are really coming into their own...
but the plants can sprawl all over the place.
So support them temporarily, using canes and string,
and this will tidy them up and make them much easier to pick.
If you sow spinach seed now,
it will germinate very quickly,
and give you a harvest from late autumn,
right through the winter,
into next spring.
I sow my seed in drills,
and just cover them lightly over with a rake.
If it's very dry, I will, of course, water them.
I planted this banana,
this is the Ensete ventricosum,
in a slightly odd place this year.
It can't be properly enjoyed from the main drag in the Jewel garden,
but you come round the corner and here it is, it's very resplendent,
and all you have to do is just prune off any of the more ragged branches.
Get a knife, it cuts very easily...
and it tidies it up -
and it's enjoyed our summer weather.
It's had enough sun, it's had enough water, I haven't watered it once -
and even if for us humans
it hasn't felt like the most brilliant of summers,
obviously, in banana terms,
it hasn't done badly at all -
and until we get frost, this will be absolutely fine.
However, let's see what we've got in store for us
with the weather in our gardens this weekend.
Come along. Come on, now.
Come along, dogs.
Come on, there's a good girl, do you want to come up? No?
Well, that's it for today.
Don't forget, it is bank holiday weekend,
our last break before Christmas,
and it's still summer!
So get outside and enjoy yourself in the garden,
whatever that means for you -
and I'll see you back here at Longmeadow
at the same time next week.
Till then, bye-bye.
As well as propagating succulent plants, Monty Don revisits his container vegetable garden, gives advice on how to get a good crop of pumpkins and gets out and about when he meets Jake Hobson, one of the UK's leading cloud pruning and topiary experts.
Adam Frost looks at a newly planted garden at RHS Hyde Hall in Essex, which has been designed to display both hardy and exotic vegetables, Rachel de Thame visits a garden in Wiltshire, where vibrant colours are the key to the success of its summer borders, and we meet two enthusiasts in Manchester who have a passion for air plants.
And Flo Headlam returns to Potterne to check on the progress of the new community space and to join the local residents as they get to grips with building and planting the garden.