Episode 5 Gardeners' World


Episode 5

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BIRDSONG

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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Now that it's sort of warmed up a little bit,

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I can plant out this rocket.

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You can see that I'm spacing them quite wide apart,

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at least six and as much as nine inches.

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If you sow the seed in a drill,

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you get a rash of young seedlings.

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Even if you thin them to an inch or two inches apart,

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they'll still be very small,

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whereas when they're spaced widely,

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you get strong roots and a big plant.

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That gives you three or even four cuttings of the leaves.

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So basically, you get more leaf for your seed.

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I'm also going to be sowing brassica in a seed bed,

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I'm planting cordoned apples, lilies in pots.

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It's plants all the way.

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In tonight's programme,

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Carol celebrates a plant that typifies all that is glorious

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about the month of April - the primrose.

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We visit York to see how a seemingly ordinary back garden

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can produce a rich and varied harvest.

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Come on, then.

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We do an awful lot of seed sowing, and it always involves seed trays

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and quite often heated mats and greenhouses

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and then cold frames and pricking out and potting on.

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I know it can seem a bit of a palaver.

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But you can grow and sow seeds without any of that fuss.

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It can all happen outside in a seed bed.

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That's what I'm establishing here.

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Nellie, give me the seeds. There's a good girl.

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Thank you very much indeed. Lovely.

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You just need a patch of ground.

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It wants to be sunny and clear of big stones

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and reasonably well drained.

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I've covered this with cloches because it was raining this morning.

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I want to keep it dry.

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It doesn't want to be too wet,

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but if I just take some of the cloches off...

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I'm going to put down a board.

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All I'm going to do is run my hand down and make a line,

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then do another one parallel to it there.

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The plants that really lend themselves to this are brassica.

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I'm going to sow some purple sprouting broccoli.

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It's one of my favourite vegetables.

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Just about to be ready for harvest now.

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You sow it a full year ahead.

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It's a long-term investment in plant and soil, and worth it.

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Fabulous stuff.

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So when you sow seeds into a seed bed,

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they're not going to grow there permanently.

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The idea is to raise seedlings until they're big enough

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to transplant to their final growing position.

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The advantages of that over the very finest potting compost

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and the best, most fancy greenhouse

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is they start life, from day one,

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with the bacteria and the fungi of the soil

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interacting with the roots that they are going to grow in.

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These plants are going to have to be thinned to about two inches apart,

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maybe even three inches,

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so there is absolutely no point in sowing them too thickly.

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So I'll get three short rows from one packet.

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Now I can just lightly cover the seeds over.

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I find that running your fingers down either side of the drill

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pushes the soil back in over the top of them.

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You don't need to worry about it too much.

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All I've got to do is keep it weed-free.

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Around about early to mid-June,

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they'll be ready to transplant to their final growing position,

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when they're about five or six inches tall.

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I'm not going to cloche them now

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because it's sort of spitting with rain

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and I want a bit of moisture.

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But if it gets very cold, or torrential rain,

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I've got the cloches to hand to protect the seedlings.

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It's a very simple, easy way of raising a lot of plants.

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Many of us are growing vegetables as a treat,

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as much as anything else.

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It's something that you love to eat and it's going to be nicer

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and more fun if you grow it yourself.

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But there are some people who are truly self-sufficient

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in fruit and vegetables.

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Last summer, we went to York to meet one such couple.

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Well, this is our garden.

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It's a suburban garden on the edge of York.

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It's about an acre in total.

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It was a former nursery

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and it's packed with all kinds of different things.

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We have fruit, vegetables, ornamental garden, greenhouses.

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Most people who come to visit the garden

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are amazed at what we've got here.

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As soon as they come through the gate,

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they're really surprised at what they see.

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So we're not Tom and Barbara from The Good Life,

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we don't have a Rotavator-powered trailer.

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We don't even have a chicken called Stalin,

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although we do have some hens.

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Come on.

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But we're not trying to be self-sufficient in the sense

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of cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world,

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so we obviously buy food in the normal way.

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-But not fruit and vegetables.

-We don't buy fruit and vegetables.

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-Not fruit and vegetables.

-We do try and eat seasonally.

-Yes.

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But what we do try and do is grow a few new things each year.

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I guess, over the last 35-odd years,

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we've probably tried most things that you can grow

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in an English climate.

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This is our smallest greenhouse. We grow a range of chillies in here.

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We've got early jalapeno, we've got Hungarian hot wax

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and we've got cayenne peppers as well.

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We've also got a few melons just ripening in here as well.

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Melons are a bit of a challenge for us, but we always try.

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This year, we've got two types.

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We've got one called Malaga, which is the striped one.

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We've got another one, whose name escapes me right now.

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-I think it's Sweetheart, isn't it?

-Is it?

-I think.

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I've got it - it's "EE-mir" or "EH-mir".

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-How do you pronounce it?

-"EH-mir."

-"EH-mir". Emir, OK.

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In this garden, we have over 100 fruit trees

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and maybe about 80 varieties, would you say?

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Probably about 80 different varieties.

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A few of those are Yorkshire varieties,

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like the Ribston Pippin,

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but a lot of our varieties come from all over Europe, don't they?

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We've got Ingrid Marie, which originally came from Denmark.

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We've got Kidd's Orange Red,

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which originally came from New Zealand.

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It's probably a little bit more difficult to grow fruit

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in the north of England,

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but not necessarily as difficult as most people think.

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To get a nice, ripe eating apple, you need plenty of sun.

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What we tend to do is grow the eating apples

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in a sunny position like this.

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In the shadier positions,

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we tend to grow either cooking apples

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or the very early eating apples, where they will still ripen,

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even if there's not a great deal of sunshine.

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This is an early Russet. It's a really, really nice apple.

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Everybody should grow this apple.

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It's one of the best apples you can grow in a garden.

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We love this apple.

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So in terms of picking, what we do is cup the fruit and then just lift.

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It comes away cleanly.

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If it doesn't come away cleanly,

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then we will actually leave it on the tree.

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So we put it in stalk up.

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We're going to make a single layer of apples in this box.

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We only ever store the absolutely perfect apples.

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Every apple we pick...

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..we look at it, look it over,

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make sure it's absolutely perfect before it goes in the box.

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OK, this one's got a few bruises on,

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so I'm not actually going to store that one.

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I'm going to put that in the juicing basket.

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What you essentially need to store apples and pears

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is you need something fairly dry

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but not so dry that the apples will shrivel.

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You need to avoid frost getting into there.

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Also, you need to avoid mice getting into the store as well.

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Most apples taste better

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when they're kept in store for a little while.

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I think, if you've got land, I think you should use it effectively.

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Some of it is hard work, but it's worth it,

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at the end of the day, to be producing our own food.

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What I love about that garden is that it's such a good example

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of how you can grow a wide range of fruit in a relatively small space.

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You don't need a great orchard full of vast trees.

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That's something I want to build on now.

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Couple of weeks ago,

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I started to make what will become our new soft fruit garden.

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Still a work in progress,

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but I'm ready to start some planting.

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I'm going to make a hedge,

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a fruity hedge to go around the outside.

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I can do that by growing them as cordons.

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The brilliant thing about cordons

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is that you can have any kind of apple tree you like,

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as long as it's spur bearing -

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I'll tell you more about that in a minute -

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in a really restricted space,

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because it only needs to be about that wide.

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I'm going to grow them as low as this, which is about four foot,

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which matches the other hedges here,

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although you can go up to about six or eight feet.

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Because they're so restricted in their pruning,

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you can plant them very close together -

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two or three feet apart -

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which means if you've got ten foot of fence free,

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you could have three different apple trees.

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Cordons are essentially trees with just one stem

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and tiny little spur-like branches coming off it.

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The spurs are the key, because most apples, not all,

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but most are spur bearers.

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You can see here - each of these are spurs.

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Essentially, you can think of this as a branch

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as well as the main stem.

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These will all bear fruit.

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Now I'm going to start by angling them across towards the north.

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They need to be planted literally at 45 degrees.

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What that does is give it the best of vertical growth for energy

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and horizontal growth to encourage flowering.

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I'm also facing it north,

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which will limit and constrict its growth.

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If I had them facing the other way, south, they would be more vigorous.

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Actually, because this is low, I'm not looking for vigour,

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I'm looking for fruit.

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OK, let's put that to one side for the moment.

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Mycorrhizal fungi is a really good idea with any woody plant,

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because it just helps it establish quicker.

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Then, once it's established,

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it'll have its own relationship and it will build its own fungi.

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Now, you can see here that the graft, which is there,

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must be above the soil.

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That really important.

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The graft is where the top of the tree -

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this applies to all apple trees, and pears - joins the roots.

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The top determines the fruit and the roots determine the vigour

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and the shape of the plant.

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These, for the record, are on M9 rootstock,

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which is quite dwarfing because we don't want these to be too big.

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This is Red Windsor.

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It will harvest mid-season, late September.

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I'm planting these in pairs, so one will pollinate the other.

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You can buy self-pollinating apples, but it's always better to plant two.

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That will ensure fruit. The fruit will come.

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Even though they're small,

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even though I've just planted them, they've got blossom.

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That will turn into fruit.

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In their season, I will eat and enjoy them.

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Talking about in their season, we're in April.

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Again, Carol is selecting the plant which, for her,

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epitomises this month.

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Early in the year,

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as I'm wandering around the lanes in my adopted home of Devon,

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the twigs are bare, the grass is green, and then, suddenly,

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here and there, you see these sparks of light.

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Before you know where you are, the whole banks,

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the hedgerows are completely awash with these beautiful, pale flowers.

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They are, of course, primroses.

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I've come to Cornwall,

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to the only Plant Heritage National Collection

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of double primroses in the country.

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Primroses belong to the Primulaceae family.

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It's a huge genus spread across the northern hemisphere.

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Everything from auriculas in the Alps

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to those glorious Candelabras from Asia.

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This is a favourite of mine, it's Marie Crousse.

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This is a primrose which has played a really interesting part

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in the whole development of double primroses.

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Florence Bellis,

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who is the most important hybridist of primroses and whose nursery,

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Barnhaven, became synonymous with the breeding of modern varieties,

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used this to create a lot of the modern doubles

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that many of us grow in our gardens today.

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Just look at that.

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Isn't she beautiful?

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Primroses love cool, damp banks, glades and hedgerows.

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They're tremendously successful woodland plants,

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having evolved side by side with trees.

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Now another reason why primroses are such a success story is that,

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57 million years ago, they actually developed into two separate forms.

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One's called thrum-eyed and one's called pin-eyed.

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Here's a thrum-eyed. Here are all the anthers arranged around the top.

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Deep down, right in the heart of the flower,

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is the actual stigma, the female bit.

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Whereas in the pin-eyed, here is the stigma,

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actually protruding from the flower.

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But there are the anthers, full of pollen.

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These are the male bits, which will pollinate the other flowers.

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The whole idea of this is that you're much more liable

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to get cross-pollination,

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so the resultant plants from those are going to be much, much stronger.

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If you want to try and create your own primrose hybrids,

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you can use a very simple method.

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So I'm going to move some pollen from this thrum-eyed one...

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..and I'm going to move it right over to this pin-eyed one.

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A nice, fresh flower. That one's ideal.

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I'm just going to daub it over the top of that stigma.

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That should do it.

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That pollen will go right down the pollen tube

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into the ovary behind the flower,

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and eventually, that will swell and be full of seeds.

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It's a really great idea with all your primroses to dig them up

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and divide them every couple of years or so.

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It reinvigorates them.

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Normally when you are doing this, you'd probably do it,

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as Miss Jekyll said, when the flowers are on the wane.

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Well, this one isn't flowering, but it's a great time,

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although the soil is rather soggy.

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Look at these fabulous roots.

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But you can tell this plant is almost separating itself.

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I dare say we can make, what, maybe as many as ten out of this plant?

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Now all we've got to do is trim these roots.

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You want about the sort of length of your palm,

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that's about four inches, ten centimetres.

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Just take a sharp knife and trim them across.

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It looks a bit brutal,

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but it actually encourages that little plant

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to make fine, fibrous feeding roots when it gets into the soil.

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That's what you want.

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When you plant them, try and plant them like this,

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so that you'll achieve this same kind of lovely sort of arrangement.

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I think that looks really beautiful.

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With a bit of luck, by this time next year,

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these primulas will do exactly the same.

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There are so many delightful primulas.

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You don't know which to choose.

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Just look at this great swathe of this glorious one

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called Pridhamsleigh.

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It makes these gorgeous big rosettes of fresh green leaves

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and these snowy-white flowers that just tumble from the centre.

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It's a delight.

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There used to be lots of varieties of double primroses,

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but one of the few remaining ones is Bon Accord Purple.

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It's truly strong, robust

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and utterly gorgeous.

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For me, primroses are the epitome of spring.

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They really are the stars of April.

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Well, like Carol, I love primroses.

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If anyone ever asks me, I always say they're my favourite flower,

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although the truth is I like whatever is looking good on the day.

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Here at Longmeadow today,

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the primroses are eclipsed, I think, by these wood anemones,

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which are so happy.

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Little bit of sunshine

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and they open out.

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I probably planted no more than a dozen originally.

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All the rest have spread by seed over the years.

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Now is their moment.

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Now, while spring bulbs are dominating the garden,

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it's time to look ahead a bit and plan for summer bulbs.

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Certainly the most dramatic summer bulbs have to be lilies.

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It's a perfect time to plant them in pots.

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They'll steadily grow for flowering in July and August.

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I've got some here called Gizmo.

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It comes highly recommended,

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both for its magnificent white flowers

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and its fragrance.

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This is a fairly typical lily pot, which are always deep

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because Gizmo, for example, will grow to a full metre height.

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They're tall and they need a bit of heft at the base,

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and proportionately, they look better.

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Don't plant lilies in a little pot,

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even if you're just doing one bulb at a time.

0:20:200:20:23

They'll get unstable.

0:20:230:20:24

So, bottom of the pot, put a crock,

0:20:240:20:27

and then some compost.

0:20:270:20:29

But - and this is the tricky bit -

0:20:300:20:33

it is really good for lilies to add some leaf mould.

0:20:330:20:37

I know I'm always banging on about leaf mould,

0:20:370:20:39

but it is fantastic stuff.

0:20:390:20:42

The reason why it's good for lilies

0:20:420:20:44

is because they really like a light, open, friable compost.

0:20:440:20:50

Leaf mould delivers exactly that.

0:20:500:20:54

Then the bulbs can go in.

0:20:550:20:58

Three will be plenty, because these are big plants.

0:21:010:21:04

Then we can cover it over.

0:21:050:21:07

That's it.

0:21:070:21:09

There is nothing more to do with this,

0:21:090:21:10

but they aren't going to do very much either,

0:21:100:21:13

so you don't want to put them into their final position yet.

0:21:130:21:15

I always put my lily pots to one side,

0:21:150:21:17

not in full blazing sun nor in deep shade.

0:21:170:21:20

Make sure they don't dry out.

0:21:200:21:22

Water them once a week.

0:21:220:21:23

Then you can move them to their final position when the flower stems

0:21:230:21:28

start to appear, which will be, sort of,

0:21:280:21:30

the middle to the end of June.

0:21:300:21:32

Put them where you can most enjoy the drama of their flowering

0:21:320:21:36

and the beauty of their fragrance.

0:21:360:21:38

Now, I don't know if you think that lilies are the best plants

0:21:400:21:44

or the most important plants,

0:21:440:21:46

but everybody has their view on this.

0:21:460:21:49

This week, it's the turn of Joe Swift to tell us which plant

0:21:490:21:54

he thinks has had the greatest impact on us gardeners

0:21:540:21:57

and our gardens over the last 50 years.

0:21:570:22:00

I've chosen Stipa gigantea, the golden oats.

0:22:020:22:05

It's a fantastic ornamental grass reaching about six foot in height

0:22:050:22:09

with its straw-coloured stems and seed heads over

0:22:090:22:13

a mound of evergreen foliage.

0:22:130:22:15

For me, it really represents all the ornamental grasses out there

0:22:170:22:21

and how they've influenced and changed the looks of our gardens.

0:22:210:22:26

Grasses aren't about colour and blouseyness -

0:22:260:22:30

they are wonderfully majestic and stately.

0:22:300:22:33

They're so versatile - they work well in a contemporary

0:22:330:22:36

or traditional garden, but also in a rural or town setting too,

0:22:360:22:40

bringing in a naturalistic element into a planting scheme.

0:22:400:22:45

Grasses fundamentally changed the way we garden.

0:22:460:22:50

We're looking for plants that don't need mollycoddling

0:22:500:22:52

and deadheading and feeding or watering all the time,

0:22:520:22:55

and grasses fit the bill nicely.

0:22:550:22:57

For me, golden oats has got to be the Golden Jubilee winner.

0:22:570:23:01

Come on, then. Come on.

0:23:100:23:12

They've got two balls now.

0:23:130:23:16

Well, I do agree with Joe that grasses in general have transformed

0:23:160:23:20

the way that we've gardened over the last 25 years.

0:23:200:23:23

Certainly, I remember at the beginning of the '90s,

0:23:230:23:26

hardly anybody had grass borders in this country,

0:23:260:23:29

and now they're very common.

0:23:290:23:30

Also the attitude, the way that we garden,

0:23:300:23:32

has become much looser as a result.

0:23:320:23:35

One note from experience.

0:23:350:23:37

Stipa gigantea, which is a fabulous plant, hates sitting in cold,

0:23:370:23:42

heavy, wet soil, which is generally what we have here at Longmeadow.

0:23:420:23:46

Now I only grow it here in the dry garden,

0:23:460:23:49

where we get the same amount of rain as everywhere else,

0:23:490:23:52

but the drainage is really good.

0:23:520:23:54

Well, we've had a bit of everything today - some rain, sun, wind.

0:23:540:23:57

At least it's quite warm.

0:23:570:23:59

Let's find out what the weather is going to be like for us

0:23:590:24:02

over the weekend.

0:24:020:24:03

Now that the new foliage is forming on the dogwood, the Cornus,

0:25:090:25:13

it's a good time to cut it back,

0:25:130:25:15

and you cut back dogwood every two or three years

0:25:150:25:19

to stimulate vigorous regrowth that has extra-bright bark,

0:25:190:25:23

and it's that bark, January and February and early March,

0:25:230:25:27

that I think is the best thing about it.

0:25:270:25:29

So don't be frightened.

0:25:290:25:30

If you're going to cut, cut hard, because it will regrow fast.

0:25:300:25:34

And everything here around the pond

0:25:340:25:37

is almost growing in front of your eyes.

0:25:370:25:39

The energy and the vigour at this time of year is amazing.

0:25:390:25:43

Well, I hope your energy's amazing,

0:25:430:25:45

because here are some jobs for you for the weekend.

0:25:450:25:48

The secret to enjoying a good harvest of rhubarb

0:25:550:25:59

right through spring and into summer is to pick it regularly.

0:25:590:26:03

Take the largest stalks from each plant, and never cut,

0:26:040:26:08

but always pull them firmly from the base.

0:26:080:26:11

This means that the young shoots won't get damaged, and also,

0:26:110:26:15

infection can't get in from cut wounds.

0:26:150:26:18

And if you harvest it every week or so,

0:26:190:26:21

you'll have a continuous supply.

0:26:210:26:23

Delphinium cuttings can be made from new shoots.

0:26:250:26:29

Use a sharp knife and cut below the soil level

0:26:290:26:33

where it emerges from the root.

0:26:330:26:35

Just take one or two cuttings per plant.

0:26:350:26:37

And having mixed up a very gritty compost mix,

0:26:370:26:40

strip off all but the top part of the foliage.

0:26:400:26:44

Bury the cut stem against the edge of a pot

0:26:450:26:49

and put the cuttings somewhere warm, water them,

0:26:490:26:52

and they should start to show signs of new growth in a few weeks' time.

0:26:520:26:57

I love ferns,

0:26:590:27:00

and ones like Dryopteris look fantastic all winter.

0:27:000:27:03

But now, it's time to cut them back.

0:27:030:27:06

Remove all dying, broken and old growth,

0:27:060:27:10

and then you'll be able to enjoy the new fronds

0:27:100:27:14

as they slowly start to unfurl.

0:27:140:27:17

It is a good idea to check your climbing plants -

0:27:240:27:27

whether they're roses like this or wisteria, clematis,

0:27:270:27:30

make sure that they're securely fixed

0:27:300:27:32

or whatever you're supporting them with,

0:27:320:27:34

that the twine isn't rotten if it's old, and so on and so forth.

0:27:340:27:38

That way, when they really start to grow, you know they will be

0:27:380:27:41

properly secured, and you can enjoy the flowers.

0:27:410:27:43

Mind you, here in the Writing Garden,

0:27:430:27:45

I am enjoying the flowers. They're growing fast.

0:27:450:27:48

This lovely daffodil, Thalia, is dominating it,

0:27:480:27:51

but we've got the Bleeding Heart,

0:27:510:27:54

the white Bleeding Heart coming through.

0:27:540:27:55

We've got white hyacinths. we've got a Clematis alpina.

0:27:550:27:59

A couple of them, white, they're small,

0:27:590:28:01

but they are flowering and they will grow up.

0:28:010:28:03

And this winter, I took out an apple tree

0:28:030:28:05

and dramatically pruned this one,

0:28:050:28:08

which is a Herefordshire Beefing, to let light in here.

0:28:080:28:12

So hopefully, this summer,

0:28:120:28:14

it'll be singing its white song better than ever.

0:28:140:28:17

But I'm afraid no more singing from me today,

0:28:180:28:21

because we've run out of time.

0:28:210:28:23

However, I will be back next weekend, Easter weekend,

0:28:230:28:26

with a full one-hour programme.

0:28:260:28:28

So join me here at Longmeadow then.

0:28:280:28:31

Till then, bye-bye.

0:28:310:28:32

Come on, you two.

0:28:320:28:34

Monty gives his advice on the best apples and pears to grow in small spaces when he begins to plant up his new fruit garden and gets on with planning for colour when he plants summer flowering bulbs.

As April gets underway, Carol Klein chooses the humble primrose as her plant of the month, and we meet a couple from Yorkshire who have a passion for growing fruit and have filled their garden with over 100 fruit trees.

And as part of the programme's 50th anniversary, Joe Swift makes the case for his golden jubilee plant, the one he thinks has had the most impact on British gardens over the last half century.


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