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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World,
and welcome to my least favourite job of the year.
This is a lovely bramble called Rubus tibetianus.
But it's about as prickly as a plant knows how to be.
And also, wherever it touches the ground
it layers itself and makes new plants.
And very quickly, this can become a thicket.
So it must be cut right back to let the light in
and then these rich, new flowers can come through.
And I tell you what, a day like today doesn't feel like spring,
it feels like summer.
On tonight's programme...
We join Frances Tophill for the last time in Barbados,
where she visits a very special tropical garden.
And we meet Chris Baines,
who has changed a whole generation's approach to how we treat and value
the wildlife in our gardens.
I mentioned a few weeks ago
that I was planning big changes here in the orchard.
What I'm going to do is make a soft fruit garden
in the middle of the orchard, so we have layers of fruit.
But there's a lot of grass to remove
before we can even think of planting.
And I have, in the past,
removed turfs with this,
which is my grandfather's turf lifter.
And I know he used to use it, because it's his,
it's got his initials on it.
MMW, Matthew Montagu Wyatt.
And the way it worked was to cut along a line with a spade.
And then cut out slabs where you wanted the turf to go.
And then you got your turf lifter,
and you put it in under like that,
pushed down and slide it along.
And you have a turf.
And you do that over all the area you need to cover.
And you'll end up sore, exhausted
and glad you don't have to do it again.
However, I'm going to cheat.
I'm going to use a machine.
This is a turf cutter.
You can hire them from most hire shops.
They're not expensive, and they do a good job.
And they certainly take an awful lot of the sweat and graft
out of clearing an area like this.
And it doesn't matter if you're growing soft fruit,
flowers, vegetables -
if you've got grass and you want to grow plants,
you've got to remove that grass before you can prepare the soil.
And this works very simply. It's got four wheels
and it's got a blade underneath it that just simply oscillates
and goes underneath the turf,
cuts it all the way along.
And then when you've finished, you can just gather it up.
Pretty good, eh?
That is a lot easier than using grandpa's turfing spade.
There's going to be an awful lot of barrel loads of turf,
but none of it will be wasted.
Because I'll make a turf stack.
Now, a turf stack is made by taking individual turfs
and stacking them grass to grass.
Leave it for six months to a year.
And then if you slice down through it rather than across,
you have the roots of the turf,
and the grass itself have all biodegraded,
and what you get is an incredibly rich, crumbly loam.
Loam, really, is any soil that is filled with organic material,
which this will be.
Brilliant for adding to potting compost,
using to enrich a border,
or in a big pot to give some beef to plants.
Invaluable. So don't waste the turf.
Well, this is exciting.
And a dramatic new development here at Longmeadow.
But I guess not that unusual.
People are and have been growing soft fruit in allotments
and gardens all over the land for centuries.
But Frances Tophill spent her winter doing something
that was distinctly unusual.
Because she was working in a botanic garden in Barbados,
And this week, we join her
as she sets out to visit a rather extraordinary garden.
At just under 300 square miles, Barbados is a tiny island.
It's one of the jewels of the Caribbean.
With its perfect, tropical climate,
it's home to some stunning tropical plants
and some very special tropical gardens.
I've been here in Barbados for a while now,
and I'm getting to know the island and the people
and everyone is so friendly.
But the one thing I keep hearing is,
"You must visit this amazing garden."
Apparently, it's magical.
So here I am, and I'm very excited.
This awesome garden has been created in a 100 foot deep crater,
or sinkhole, that was once described rather cruelly
as a useless piece of land where nothing would grow.
It's just so big!
Look at the height of those palms!
All these orchids, you couldn't hope to get these in your house.
And here they're just growing outside.
It's really impressive.
Apart from rubbish,
the only thing here were these incredible royal palms.
Barbadian Anthony Hunt ignored local sentiment, saw the potential,
bought the land and created a paradise.
So Anthony, when you decided to take on the challenge,
how did you kind of go about creating the garden that you wanted?
Well, the first thing I had to do, of course, was build the steps.
Because when we had the steps finished,
once we did that then you could bring all the garbage out.
And the same time bring down the compost,
all the plants, all the pots.
And really all the big plants that we needed
to use for the landscaping. Plus the statues.
So, in terms of your planting design,
how would you say you approached that?
I prefer a lot of foliage for this garden because of the shade.
Because a lot of foliage would give it immense colour in the shade.
This plant is an Acalypha,
and we brought that in from Thailand.
And that whole area was a mass of shrubs.
And we took them all out.
And as you can see, there's a seating area in there now.
Anthony also has a novel way of using pots
to make the most of the warm Bajan climate.
We have these big dishes,
because you can instantly move them back to the nursery,
or move them to another area where it's sunny.
We can see the Spathoglottis.
Right now, full sun there.
But if the sun moves off them,
then maybe we'll put Anthuriums there.
And then when you see the Anthuriums,
-oh, they're beginning to burn, then you move them.
I have a huge collection of Bromeliads,
and I can march them around without any difficulty at all.
Do they like sun or shade?
-Some like sun, some like shade.
But you can just march them around.
But, because they have a really stiff leaf,
you have to be really careful.
Because if you take one out of deep shade
and then you move it into direct sun,
you can have burning.
So it's knowing your plants.
And knowing your garden.
Knowing the plants, knowing the garden,
and know where it's come from.
Anthony is constantly tweaking and refreshing the plants in his garden,
and grows many of them himself.
He uses one method, called air layering,
that encourages roots to grow from the stem of an existing plant.
So first thing you do is tear off the leaves like this.
Get them off.
And about one inch, you just take a knife or a secateurs,
-you take the skin off all the way around, OK?
And then, on this piece that you've got,
where there's no bark,
you put rooting powder.
-Now, this is a hard wood cutting.
-So I use for hard wood.
Once the flesh of the stem is exposed, the area is wrapped
in damp compost and covered with foil to keep it moist.
When the new roots have developed,
the stem is cut below these new roots, creating a new plant.
While the mother plant continues to flourish.
It's a simple but effective technique
that can be used in the UK, mainly on shrubs.
This is one that's been air layered about six weeks ago,
and we have a new plant to put anywhere else in the garden.
I just want to say as well,
six weeks in Barbados is not six weeks in the UK.
I doubt very much you'd have roots like this after six weeks.
The answer really is to, when you come on holiday,
you want to air layer your plants.
Bring them on holiday for two months to Barbados.
The great thing about this garden is it's full of these little intimate,
smaller spaces that force you to stop and take in the views.
And it's a really great design tool for anyone with a big garden.
But if you had a small, urban plot like this,
that might be a house next to you.
And he's put these huge bananas in.
Anything that's big can make the whole space
feel enclosed and really, really intimate.
The thing about this garden that's so noticeable is that it's
absolutely crammed full of plants.
If you weren't careful, you could very easily walk around without ever
looking up, just looking at all the different things.
And crucially, all those plants are really foliage-driven,
just a few little accents of small, incidental flowers.
But then you get down to the very bottom of the sinkhole here
and it's a big, open space,
and it gives you a real chance for the first time
to take in that amazing view and that steep slope.
What does it feel like, that this is your garden?
It's just an incredible feeling.
Every morning to wake up on site, overlooking the garden.
I just can't wait to get in the garden
with the cool morning air and just enjoy.
It is interesting how often that an unlikely location
brings out the creativity in gardeners.
You do find that you get these stunning gardens
in sites that have been written off by an awful lot of people.
But lovely to see it.
Now, going from the exotic to the ordinary, but sometimes sublime.
Because it's potato-planting time.
And anybody who grows any veg at all, sooner or later,
is going to grow some spuds.
But they do take up an awful lot of room,
and if you haven't got an allotment or a garden big enough
to give over to rows of potatoes, you may be put off.
But don't be.
Because you can grow potatoes very successfully in a bag.
Now, it could be a bin bag.
It could be an old shopping bag.
But you can buy special potato-growing bags.
And actually, these are very good.
Because they're strong
and they've got holes in the bottom for drainage.
And you can reuse them.
And they just do the job very nicely indeed.
You can buy a peat-free potting compost,
and that be fine and they'll grow perfectly well.
I'm actually adding a little bit of home-made compost.
That's going to get them going to a good start.
And fill it half full.
Now, logic says that a bag that size
would need no more than one seed potato.
Because when you're planting them out in the ground,
you would space them 18 inches,
sometimes two foot apart, if they're main crop.
But it has been found that if you crowd them in a bag,
you actually get a better crop.
So I'm going to put three in a bag that size.
Now, this is a variety called Orla,
and they'll be ready to harvest about the beginning of July.
And you can see, there's a little eye there.
And that's the shoot that's going to produce the foliage.
If you've got three or four, rub the extras off.
You only need one.
Pop them in with the eye sticking up.
And then cover them over with more compost.
And then, when the foliage reaches the top of the bag,
you can earth it up by covering it with more compost.
And that will encourage better tuber formation
and also stop any risk of them getting green.
Because where the tubers see the light,
they turn green and then they're poisonous and no good.
So you've got to keep them covered with soil.
You don't need to put that anywhere warm.
You don't need to water it at this stage,
only water it when you start to see the growth.
That's it. Growing potatoes is easy.
And you'll be amazed at how delicious and satisfying
that crop of new potatoes in July is going to be.
Now, all of us garden presenters
have been putting forward the argument for the one plant,
the Golden Jubilee plant,
that has had the most impact on the way that we garden and look at our
gardens over the last 50 years.
And this week, it's the chance for Mark Lane to put forward his case.
Echinacea has undergone an explosion in popularity
in the last 15 to 20 years.
It was brought over in the 18th century as a herbal remedy
from North America, and now we use it to extend the season
from June all the way through into autumn.
And there are wonderful cultivars, all in different colours.
And also different shapes and forms.
The Greek word for Echinacea is actually echinos,
which means hedgehog.
And it looks just like that,
especially when it's covered in frost through the winter months.
My favourite is Echinacea pallida.
It's absolutely beautiful and sublime,
and the petals are actually really elongated
and just droop down from the central cone.
And it just looks wonderful.
Its impact on the naturalistic, prairie style of planting
is why Echinacea is my Golden Jubilee plant.
When you've heard all ten proposals,
you'll have a chance to vote on your Golden Jubilee impact plant.
And then we'll announce the result at Gardeners' World Live in June.
And we'll be telling you how to that.
Now, here at Longmeadow, we've been cutting back with a vengeance.
The grass borders have had their annual shear.
But in the Jewel Garden,
I've cut back the purple hazels,
that's let in a lot more light already.
And you can see new, fresh growth almost by the day.
Which makes it the perfect moment
to lift and divide herbaceous perennials.
Herbaceous perennials, as the name implies,
die right back in winter
and then start to grow very vigorously in spring.
This is a group of Iris sibirica,
a lovely Iris with small,
intense blue flowers.
And the point about doing it at this time of year is that the roots
are really being vigorous.
So that if you dig them up quickly and replant,
those roots want to grow.
They want to get out into new conditions.
And so, instead of checking them, in many ways it stimulates growth.
And you can see there,
good, healthy plant, and because it will grow outwards,
that will have renewed vigour.
Now, I do have some Iris in here.
I've got a clump growing in there
and another one there.
So I want to bulk it out.
And the ideal place would be right here.
I want to fill around the roots as well as possible.
And then give it a good soak.
It needs moisture, particularly if it's had a shock,
which digging it up will certainly give it.
But also, it washes the soil in around those small roots.
And it's a really good way of making sure
there's good contact between the feeding roots
and the soil around it.
What we're trying to do at this time of year
is build the garden up so that it performs at a crescendo.
Now, here in the Jewel Garden,
that's going to be August, September time.
And one of the aspects of it that I love around that time of year
is that it is filled with glorious butterflies.
And the growth of appreciating and valuing and encouraging wildlife
in our gardens can be put down largely to the work of one man.
Chris Baines, who pioneered the idea of wildlife gardening
in the 1970s and '80s.
And we went along to meet him.
I grew up in Sheffield, in a family that was always out,
always walking in the countryside, always in the garden.
So I had a great love of nature from the very beginning.
But I also saw most of my childhood landscape built over.
It was, you know, the overspill area for the city.
So the quarry pond I used to fish for newts in went,
the hay field across the road went.
And that, I think, coloured my life quite a lot, with hindsight.
And through the '70s, there was a big, growing awareness
that the countryside was not the same place that had been
10, 15 years before.
So the whole nature conservation movement
was beginning to build up steam.
But it was completely preoccupied with agriculture.
The agricultural revolution, the loss of hedgerows.
But nobody in the conservation movement
really was looking at towns and cities.
And the idea that there could be anything worth saving
in the middle of towns never crossed the conservationists' mind.
I'd also been working in problem housing areas
in Brixton and Toxteth and Deptford.
And what I'd been doing was working with kids, particularly.
Getting them involved in growing things.
And it became very obvious that, actually,
you didn't need to see otters and golden eagles.
If you could watch a ladybird walking up a plant stem,
that was intriguing enough on the doorstep.
And I remember at the end of the Brixton riots in '81,
when everything was trashed and burnt out,
nobody had touched the sunflowers on the Tulse Hill nature garden.
Because the kids had planted them with me.
And everybody at that estate knew that.
So I was really convinced that, actually,
quite modest nature conservation where people lived and worked
had a real role to play.
I trained in horticulture in the 1960s,
and also I spent three years at university
being taught how to kill everything.
And wildlife in the garden was either a pest,
a disease or a weed.
And the idea that you would encourage it was just...
Nobody had really thought about it or talked about it.
But I think the big breakthrough came when,
for some reason, Gardeners' World invited me to do
a kind of makeover of a raw garden on a housing estate in Peterborough.
And I had the choice of what I did with this garden.
And halfway through the makeover, Peter Seabrook,
who was presenting the programme then, said...
Chris, what's your sort of master plan here?
Well, I've designed what I've called a rich habitat garden.
It's a garden to sit in, hopefully, rather than to slave away in.
And I've also designed it, hopefully, to be attractive
to lots of wildlife, to birds and butterflies and so on.
And he just looked at me with one of those looks, and he said,
"And you really think gardeners are going to be interested in that?"
And clearly they were,
because I produced a leaflet to go with my rich habitat garden,
and they were inundated with requests for copies.
12,000 people wrote in for a copy in the first two or three days.
By the middle of the '80s,
I really felt that there was
a message that needed to be communicated there.
And three things came together.
First of all, I decided that,
if I was going to ever reach the horticultural establishment,
Chelsea Flower Show was the place to go.
So I created the very first wildlife garden
at Chelsea Flower Show in '85.
And the RHS was so confused by that, that on the medal,
it's inscribed to JC Baines for his "wildfire garden".
Because they clearly couldn't believe anybody would be
crazy enough to have wildlife and garden in the same sentence.
The public loved it. Absolutely loved the garden.
Full of primroses and violets and so on.
The second thing was that I moved house
and decided that actually filming the change in the garden
over a year would be a great thing to do.
And I made a programme called Bluetits And Bumblebees,
which took a very plain and ordinary garden and over the space
of 12 months put in a pond, grew the flowers and the wildlife came.
And the third thing was that I wrote a book,
How To Make A Wildlife Garden,
because it was obvious that people wanted help,
they needed lists of plants, they needed to know what to do.
And those three things really made a difference.
I never felt that there was a need for a complete change.
What I've always wanted
is for ordinary people with ordinary gardens
to just tweak things a bit.
Not to turn them all into nature reserves, but rather to say,
"Well actually, yeah,
"my little garden could make a bit of a difference
"to the wider landscape, and give me more pleasure."
And now, if you go into any garden centre,
you're confronted by just mountains of bird food
and bird feeders and nest boxes.
So there's been a complete revolution in many ways.
And from a conservation point of view,
it's very clear that all of those gardeners making
a little bit of difference in their own patch
has been the salvation of frogs and dragonflies and goldfinches
and a whole range of species.
And that gives me a great buzz, even now.
Well, Chris has inspired and influenced a whole generation
to value wildlife and see it as an important part of the garden.
However, sometimes wildlife can be a little bit of a challenge.
Here in a tulip bed, I noticed yesterday a rabbit hole.
So I filled it in.
Came out this morning, and the little blighter
has dug in exactly the same place.
I think even the patience of the Sainted Chris Baines
might be stretched by that rabbit.
Well, the weather's been all over the shop today.
We have blazing sunshine, it's been quite chilly.
So let's see what the weather is going to be like for you
over the next couple of days.
Well, at this time of year,
sometimes it's hard to know where to begin in the garden.
So here are three jobs you can focus on.
Epimediums are among the most elegant of all spring flowers.
But this can be hidden by last year's foliage.
So trace the delicate stems of the foliage right back to the ground
and cut them off.
This will reveal the flowers in all their graceful glory.
If you grow gooseberries and leave them unpruned,
they can become a spiny tangle.
So cut away the centre of the bush,
looking to create an open goblet shape.
This will get more light to the fruit.
It will improve ventilation, which will avoid mildew.
And also be much less likely to suffer from gooseberry sawfly.
There's a wide choice of herbaceous perennial
available in garden centres at the moment.
But many of them are in three-inch pots, and very small.
It's quite early to be planting out.
However if you buy them now,
pot them on in a bit of potting compost, put them to one side,
and in a month's time, they'll be bigger, stronger,
healthy plants and you will have saved yourself a lot of money.
This is the turf stack I was telling you about.
With the turfs that the turf cutter has lifted,
we have them grass side there.
Place it down so it's grass on grass.
This will build up. And in six months' time,
will have rotted down and make a lovely loam.
Well, we'll have to wait for that.
And also wait for our next programme,
because that's it for today.
But I'll see you back here at Longmeadow next time.
Till then, bye-bye.
This week at Longmeadow, Monty begins a brand new project when he starts a new soft fruit garden. He also plants new potatoes and divides herbaceous plants in the jewel garden.
Frances visits an extraordinary tropical garden in Barbados which was developed from a collapsed cave, and we meet Chris Baines, a legend of gardening for wildlife, in his own small town garden.
And as part of the programme's 50th anniversary, Mark Lane offers his choice of the plant he thinks has had the most impact on British gardens over the last half century.