Monty starts his plans for his revamped courtyard garden, Nick explores the strange world of lichens, and Frances Tophill meets the enthusiastic gardeners of Barbados.
Browse content similar to Episode 3. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
and to what is, I think, the most thrilling weekend of the whole year.
It's not because there's any particularly special event,
but because we get this gift of an hour of extra light
And as the days get longer, of course,
the garden is responding by breaking into flower at every turn.
Here in the copse, the primroses, like little stars,
they're shining and growing in amongst the increasing green.
And it's this that makes this such a magical time of year.
Frances Tophill continues her Caribbean experience
by visiting two gardens in Barbados, packed with colour.
And Nick Bailey delves into the fascinating world of lichen.
It is time to start planting the new area
that is replacing where the box balls were,
which have box hedges all the way round.
And I want to enclose this area, but rather than hedge it,
I'm going to continue the pleached limes.
Pleaching is a method of training trees
so that the branches grow sideways just in two dimensions
to form a natural structure or hedge,
To do this, most of the lateral branches are removed
and there are a number of trees you can use,
including hornbeam, apple or pear, but lime is the most common.
I want to continue the line of existing limes
into this new area, so I'm marking out the plot.
whether it's bare root or in a container,
what you're looking to dig is a fairly shallow but wide hole.
It's a mistake to enrich the soil too much, because ultimately,
you want your tree to grow out into whatever is there.
And if you make a planting pocket full of the best compost,
the roots will just stay in that planting pocket.
Now, what I have here is Tilia cordata, small-leaved lime.
and the advantage of bare root is that you have a wider choice,
But we're getting right to the end of the bare root season.
In fact, if you want to buy bare root trees,
I need a structure to support the pleaching.
and chestnut is perfect for any tree support or stake
that's going to be in the ground for a long time,
The reason why you plant bare root plants between October and March
and it's not demanding anything of the roots.
So when you plant it out, the roots can start to grow
and that will ask the roots to do a lot of work.
Containerised plants, you can plant at any time of year.
Right. Now, this is the critical thing.
Because the roots drying out is what we're worried about.
Once you've got two trees in the ground,
And remember that pleaching is simply a means of connecting
or you can have it as a hedge up above ground,
and it's a brilliant way of doing two things,
one of getting trees into a small space, and two,
of creating structure, but this, however modestly you do it,
is part of a long, and I think glorious tradition
Now, let's go from glorious European gardening
because Frances Tophill spent her winter volunteering
And this week, we join her as she's out and about
Barbados. A beautiful Caribbean island.
With the perfect climate for wonderful tropical plants...
..and some very passionate gardeners.
I've been on Barbados for a few weeks now,
and I'm really getting to know and love this beautiful place.
While I was out exploring the island,
I came across this verge of amazing blue flowers,
which led onto a colourful hedge, so I followed the trail,
and it brought me to an incredible looking garden.
I couldn't resist, so I knocked on the door, and Merle, the owner,
has invited me back to have a look around.
Hello! Hi! Hello. Good afternoon. I've come to see the garden.
40 years? Yes. So are there any favourite plants that you have here?
In the UK, they would grow as bedding and they would die
and she's filled her garden with plants that she's grown herself.
So in the morning, it's white? White.
And when is it red, in the evening? Yes. On one day? Yes, one day.
That's amazing. So you're taking cuttings,
basically, and you call that hatching?
Propagating, yes, yes. I like "hatching" better.
So that there has been growing just for one week
and it's got a root that size? Yes, yes. That's amazing.
So many plants. Oh, I love the poinsettias.
The poinsettia. Is that grown for Christmas here as were?
See, we have them in England. And they're this big,
and then we throw them away! THEY LAUGH
the rest of Merle's garden is full of tropical plants
that most of us in the UK only ever see in florists, or grow indoors.
During my time on Barbados, I've got a real sense that, like Merle,
the Barbadians absolutely love their plants and their gardens.
In the urban sprawl of Bridgetown is a suburb
Barbados is famous for its legends of cricket
and its prowess on the world athletic stage.
But here on this suburban estate, there's another kind of
world champion, and the clue is in the street name.
Michael White grows thousands of orchids in his small back garden.
And he has travelled the world showing them.
So what is it about orchids that you love? Why orchids?
The flowering aspect, the variation of colour, sizes.
It's beautiful, and not only that, they de-stress you.
These are referred to as semi-terete Vandas.
As you can see, the leaves are a little closed in,
and as we would say in the orchid world,
the narrower the leaf, the more sun it can take.
So these ones are outside for that reason?
Yes, these are outside, the orchids. And how many do you have?
Over 2,000. Wow. That's a real collection!
Michael grows plenty of beautiful orchids that flourish
in the blazing tropical sun, but some do need a little protection.
They're crammed in, they? You have a lot!
You can see the shade cloth to reduce the amount of light
And there's such a variety of different coloured flowers
And these ones, I love these, with the cupped petals.
That's a nice colour. I love it also.
Do you think it would be possible for UK growers to grow these?
Yes, they can be grown, but under special conditions.
and you have controlled temperatures in there,
heaters that you can control the temperature.
it's not growing in any sort of medium.
No potting mix, nothing. It's just bare roots.
So you need to spray your plants at least twice a day.
And a quick way of knowing when you've thoroughly soaked your plant,
this grey silvery colour of the root should turn green.
You will find that you have more colour,
Thank you so much for showing me. Oh, you're welcome.
There is no plant more exotic than an orchid.
It's lovely to see them growing in that environment.
At this time of year, our daffodils and primulas and fritillaries
Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable,
albeit the fact they're a berry, that we grow,
I don't here at Longmeadow because we get terrible blight.
certainly now is the time to sow them.
I've got some that I've sowed earlier.
These are now ready for pricking out.
But that's a pretty good example of how thick you need to sow them.
You can use any compost and tomatoes will germinate.
Seed compost has less nutrients and is slightly finer
and rather easier especially for small seeds to grow in.
But it's not something to get hung up about.
A peat-free general-purpose compost will do the job perfectly well.
and I'm going to grow Gardener's Delight
and sprinkle them thinly on the surface.
Quite tricky to sow these individually and avoid clumps
but I don't think that matters terribly
because you can thin them out when they're growing.
And then I just press them in very lightly
so they're making good contact with the surface.
And then cover them over. You can cover them with grit,
you can cover them with vermiculite or, easiest of all,
is just to sieve a little bit of potting compost over the top.
Gardener's Delight is a good doer because it's delicious,
they make a lovely sauce, they're good roasted.
And however you eat them, they explode with flavour.
They're a really good, tasty tomato.
to get them to germinate, they will need some heat.
A windowsill above a radiator is fine.
A porch, or if you've got a greenhouse with a heated mat,
And then they will germinate in about ten days' to two weeks' time.
Now I guess most of you are aware by now this is our jubilee year
and one of the ways that we're celebrating those 50 years
of Gardeners' World is for each of us presenters to make the case
for the one plant that we think has had the most impact,
not necessarily our favourite but the one that we feel
has changed and affected the way that we have all gardened
And now, this week, it's the turn of Rachel De Thame to make her case.
It's also known as the Columbine or Granny's Bonnets.
It's a very popular perennial, and when it first emerges in spring,
you get this beautiful, fresh, rather frothy foliage at the base.
It sends up long stems with lovely, spurred flowers
in soft pastel shades of pink and mauve,
with white and then darker purples as well.
And they're rather promiscuous, so you never know quite
what colour you're going to get when they self-seed.
Now, I've chosen it because it represents a whole palette
of plants that love shady conditions,
and I think in the last 50 years we've really come on
in terms of putting the right plant in the right place.
So that's why I've chosen as my golden jubilee plant
the Aquilegia vulgaris because I think it says that in a nutshell.
Rachel has chosen a plant that thrives specifically in shady areas.
Today I'm planting a clematis that also loves these shady conditions.
I want to start planting up this wall.
This wall, which is east-facing, does get some sun but it's cold.
So these clematis have adapted to that. They're Clematis alpina.
The first is one called Lemon Beauty.
It will flower from April time to about the beginning of May.
It's a spring flower and therefore it's a group one clematis
which means that it flowers on last year's growth.
So it should only be pruned very lightly if at all,
and if you're going to do that, you'd prune it in spring.
When you're growing any climber up a wall,
get it well away from it, and then you can angle it back in.
That does two things. It allows a decent root spread,
and also ensures that there's some moisture.
And the other one I'm going to plant is called White Columbine.
This is also an alpina, lovely white flowers,
and I'm going to pull this over on to this end about the same distance.
And later on I'm going to plant a rose in the middle.
A rose that will enjoy a shady wall but that's for another day.
Now, the planting of any clematis is actually quite specific
In essence what I'm doing is digging out a sump.
And I'm going to backfill it with lots of compost.
That's not so much as a feed but as a kind of reservoir
so these deep roots can get down and if it's very dry
they will be able to find some moisture.
which is a fungus that helps make a connection
between the roots of the plant and nutrients and moisture in the soil.
Now simply backfill around it, like that.
Firm it in gently, but this is not going to rock about very much.
It'll need a cane taking it to the wall
and obviously a support once it's on the wall.
Clematis are not ideal on wires because they tend to flop over it.
So either a trellis on the wall or some netting of some kind
But in the end, like everything else,
it's what's convenient and what you've got.
These clematis should grow strongly this year
and on that growth will develop flowers for next spring.
they will cover up this part of the wall.
Now, underneath them what is there already are some lichen.
A lot of people are slightly confused whether they're a plant,
whether they're an organism, beneficial or actively harmful.
Nick Bailey has been on the trail of the joys of lichen.
Look out of your window and they're absolutely everywhere.
But very few people know much about the secret world of lichen.
You'll find them in graveyards, in gardens, growing on old trees.
And often people try to get rid of them or scrub them away.
are they truly a friend or a foe to gardeners?
A lichen is two organisms functioning as a single unit.
It's a symbiotic partnership between a fungus and an alga.
and can grow in the most extreme environments
where few other living things can survive.
and has been studying and identifying Britain's native lichens
Most of us have got lichens in one form or another in our gardens.
How many lichens are there globally, how many different species?
30,000 different lichens in the world.
In Britain, the latest count is something approaching 2,000 lichens.
People often cite lichen growing on benches or stonework
as a sign of clean air but that's not strictly true, is it?
Yes and no. If you go to the west of Scotland,
there will be a lot of spectacular bushy lichens.
This area, we're sitting in the south Midlands,
this area from the Industrial Revolution onwards
was heavily affected by sulphur dioxide pollution.
This bench would be covered in one particular lichen
that actually thrived in the high sulphur dioxide levels.
because the levels of sulphur dioxide have gone down.
We're now in a new pollution regime with lots of nitrogen.
That's why a lot of the twigs these days are covered in these
spectacular yellow lichens. They favour a lot of nutrient enrichment.
So lichens are an indicator of a certain type of air quality
so they can say, this is really pure clean air or they can say,
this is really nitrogenous air or this has got another toxin.
The species of lichen will indicate the air type.
Yes, they are very sensitive indicators, yes.
I think they are beautiful things.
They're a benefit to the environment.
If this bench happened to just be a varnished bench with
no lichens on them, there would be less biodiversity.
It is not only the lichens themselves but if you started
there would be all sorts of invertebrates underneath.
So the birds are literally going in in the depth of winter
and they can find those mites and grubs.
Yes, they sometimes strip off the lobes to get at the
various different invertebrates that specialise in living
With an array of antique stone and mature trees,
a graveyard is one of the best places to find lichen
and answer a common gardening question.
Gardeners tend to think that lichens are killing off a plant
when they have these clusters across the surface but that's not
the case, is it? I get asked this so many times.
People have a shrub that looks sickly in their garden and it
is covered in lichens and they think it is the lichens that are
What's actually happening is the shrub is becoming sickly for
another reason and the extra light coming in, because there
aren't so many leaves on this side, is allowing the lichens to thrive.
So it is in no way a parasite, it is not damaging the plant?
No, there is no actual hyphae that are going into the bark.
this is probably the one I have seen most commonly in gardens.
Is it particularly common in the UK? It is very common.
I guarantee any gardener in the country will have this in
their garden. It is called Xanthoria parietina.
you can see, is a pigment on the surface of the lichen.
That has been shown to have active chemicals against
Wow. So it is actually potentially a seriously useful medicine as well?
Yes, that is being investigated actively at the moment.
These are particularly interesting because here we have got
a sandstone gravestone and we've got a limestone gravestone.
It is exciting for a lichenologist because the communities are
It is like being able to step from an acid moorland straight on
There is not one lichen growing on that stone that grows on this
the two yellowy-orangey forms look very similar to me.
They look a similar colour but they are different species and I can
We perform what we call spot tests so if I put
a spot of chemical on this orange lichen, here,
you'll see there's a colour change. It is a reddish, purple colour.
Whereas if I try it on this lichen over here,
you see there's perhaps a slight darkening
I think it is fascinating that these two stones right beside each
other represent two totally different ecosystems.
I have been truly amazed by the qualities of lichen.
They are incredibly diverse, they grow in all sorts of
environments and they can adapt to all sorts of situations.
By increasing biodiversity and providing food for birds and
insects, these fascinating but often overlooked organisms can be
I do so agree with Nick, I think lichen is wonderful.
Even little splodges improve the character and texture
and you can encourage it into the garden along with moss.
This brick wall here, I painted with yoghurt.
It looked a bit odd at first but moss and lichen have grown
it's time to get stuck in with those jobs for the weekend.
Because buddleja flower on new shoots, it is time to cut all last
year's growth right back to a bud just above ground level.
If they are in open space, this can be right down to the ground
but in a border, it is a good idea to leave a foot or so of growth.
As soon as your ground is dry enough to rake fine, sow some parsnips.
Shallow drill about a foot apart and
sow the flat seeds as thinly as you can.
it is a good idea to add some radish seed to the same drill.
These will germinate and grow quickly and can be harvested
before they're competing with the parsnips for light or nutrition.
If you bubble wrapped your greenhouse or
now is the time to remove it because you want as much light as
If you didn't use bubble wrap, give the glass a really good clean
I have to say that I have been really enjoying the weather
over the last few days but let's see if us gardeners are all
going to have good weather this weekend.
Hello. If you are hoping to get into the garden this weekend, perhaps to
tidy things up ready for the new growing season all to do some
reading, the good news is we will see a lot of settled weather and
some warm sunshine. Not just dry, but sunny. Nine times can still be
pretty chilly at this time of year, and that is how we will start
Saturday morning. Temperatures in the towns and cities close to
freezing, but higher -- lower in the countryside. As the getting out and
about and in that gardening, it looks set fair for most. The far
north of Scotland will have a bit more cloud than drizzly showers,
though I'd lie winds in central regions, we could see CC - 18
degrees. But there'll be a nagging chilly north-easterly wind. You may
need a jumper rather than a T-shirt if you are heading out. A chilly
star with And Nick Bailey delves into
the fascinating world of lichen. You know, these daffodils were
flowering at the beginning of Now at the end of March, they're
coming into their best and It is better to wait for something
to arrive to its season. This weekend,
when the clocks are changing, it's Mothering Sunday so pick some
flowers for your mother and if you are a mother,
enjoy the day with its extra light. I'll see you back here at Longmeadow
same time next week.
Monty starts his plans for his revamped courtyard garden when he plants bare root trees and gives advice on climbers which will thrive on east-facing walls.
Nick Bailey explores the strange world of lichens and finds out how these plants grow and thrive on trees, wood and stone, and Frances Tophill meets the enthusiastic gardeners of Barbados who fill their gardens, however small, with colour, foliage and world-class flowers.
And as part of the programme's 50th anniversary, Rachel de Thame reveals the plant she thinks has had the most impact on British gardens over the last half century.