Episode 7 Gardeners' World


Episode 7

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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If you keep pelargoniums stored over winter on a windowsill

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or in a heated greenhouse like this,

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they'll go on growing and flowering but they do get leggy.

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If you lift one up...

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By "leggy", I mean there's an awful lot of bare stem,

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and that will go on producing flower up and up and up.

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So by cutting it back now, that will stimulate new growth and then

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you'll have a good shape covered with flower.

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Now, it's not all pelargoniums on tonight's programme.

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Joe Swift's looking at extraordinary gardens and meeting the people

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who have designed them.

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And we visit the plot of the king of No Dig - Charles Dowding.

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It's time to plant out sweet peas

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and I just want to show you the difference between growing

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them yourself and buying them.

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I've got a pot here with just a single seedling that was sown

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in January.

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And it's grown perfectly well.

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This is a pot bought the other day and there are eight seedlings in it.

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Now, they're perfectly healthy, nothing wrong with them at all.

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But the secret of really good sweet peas

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is to have a strong, healthy plant.

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And if you've got eight seedlings competing for the same water

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and the same nourishment,

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they can never be as strong as if you've got one or two.

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Having said that, it is too late to sow sweet peas now so if you haven't

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got them, do go and buy them

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and they will give you a lot of pleasure, but next year, think about

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growing your own.

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I like growing sweet peas up wigwams tripods,

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because you can then put them in the border and they rise up and

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you get the colour working in with the plants around them.

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This is a variety called Royal Wedding, which is a white sweet pea.

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And I'll always plant on the inside so that the roots can reach

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the water. When you water,

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you just water inside the space and that gives them maximum water

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because the one thing about sweet peas is they are very thirsty

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and very greedy.

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If you've got sandy soil or thin, chalky soil,

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really do add lots of organic matter.

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It will make a big difference.

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If nothing else, to act as a reservoir to hold moisture for them.

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In we go.

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And I put one pot per bean stick.

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And, of course, you could use bamboo just as well.

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If you've got eight or more growing in a pot,

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break them up to reduce the number at each growing station.

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They like cool weather.

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Sunshine, not too cold, but certainly not too hot or too dry.

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So don't put them in blazing sunny positions and, above all,

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make sure they don't get dry.

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These will need watering once a week unless it's very wet.

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There we go.

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You will have to tie them in but after about five or six weeks

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they'll become self-supporting.

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Now, sweet peas, for all their loveliness, are very conventional

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but Joe Swift is looking at a range of unusual and extraordinary

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gardens, sometimes. And, of course,

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he is a Chelsea gold medal winner so in a very good position, not just to

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enjoy them, but to look at how they have been designed and put together.

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Now, it's always good to hear about a garden you've never seen before,

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especially when it's just around the corner from where you live,

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but what intrigues me about this one is it's made by

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a designer but they're not a garden designer.

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Abigail Ahern is at the forefront of British interior design.

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Tucked behind her terraced house is a west-facing,

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6-metre-by-30-metre garden.

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Abigail bought the house as a wreck back in 1998 but only turned

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her attention to the garden in the last couple of years.

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-What a haven...

-Thank you!

-..in the city.

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I've become a garden obsessive.

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-I know nothing about gardening...

-That's not true, and I can see that

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from your garden.

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Lived with barrenness for years and years and years,

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but we have this double-height glass wall,

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so I was looking at this fairly miserable garden for ages

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and the outside looked so dismal that it drove me crazy.

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And not knowing anything about gardening and how to make

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a magical garden, I literally had to use my kind of knowledge of

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interiors and apply the same principles to outside and planting.

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So I wanted it to feel really magical and lush and tropical -

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and also evergreen, so a lot of time in the winter it looks like this,

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which is really key because I overlook it all the time.

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What about the layout? Did you draw that out on a piece of paper?

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-How did that come together?

-I didn't draw it out. I never...

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I sort of see things in my head, so I bought a cabin and plonked

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that at the end of the garden, which really grounded the whole space,

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and then realised all the planting

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was just shoved around the perimeter.

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So it's the same with interiors - everybody shoves their sofa against

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the walls like a doctor's waiting room, which drives me crazy,

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and I'm all about bringing things in.

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Like, I want to feel like I've fallen down

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a rabbit hole and I don't quite know where I am.

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-This is a new addition, isn't it?

-It's a new addition.

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-Mimosa.

-I love its feathery leaves.

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-It's beautiful and in flower.

-I know.

-You know how big that gets?

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-It's just going to go up and up and up.

-Is it?

-Yeah.

-Yes!

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-That's what you want?

-That's music to my ears.

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-This is pittosporum. Do you know all the names of your plants?

-No.

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Is that what it is, a pittosporum?

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Pittosporum tobira Variegata.

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-Nice.

-And it's a fantastic plant.

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So is this a bespoke cabin?

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It's not, I just picked it up off the internet and it's

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my little bolthole and it's where I go and write and just escape.

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It's black or very dark grey.

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People are scared of that colour in the garden but it does work.

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People are scared of the colour in the garden, in interiors,

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but I think the thing about inky, dark colours is they make

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anything that stands against it really pop out and look lush.

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Lighting has become really integral because I realised before I lit the

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garden I was just looking out in the winter on this really black space.

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So I've lit it like an interior.

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I've suspended chandeliers from trees,

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which against the darkness looks really magical.

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I've suspended all these festooned lights running along

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the whole pathway.

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I've got floor lights and pendant lights and table lights everywhere

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so it becomes an extension of my indoor space at night.

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-You know this is Gardeners' World?

-I do.

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I'm a little bit worried this is plastic. And you've got a few

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-plastic plants around the garden - cacti and things.

-I have.

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First of all, they're not plastic, they're faux botanicals.

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-That's the new word of them.

-OK.

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Secondly, I want the garden curated like an interior space, so there's

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big vases with oversized foliages and fronds trailing everywhere,

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and thirdly, I think that when you play around with what's real

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and what isn't, it kind of doesn't make sense and therefor it

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throws your mind and makes you feel even more kind of enchanted.

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-So not everything makes sense immediately.

-Yeah.

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They're very realistic and they do add

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a whole different sort of dimension to the garden.

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Abigail's garden is only a small space

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but she's packed a lot into it.

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The first thing that strikes me is how successful the connection

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between the garden and the interior is.

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So here we've got plants,

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they feel like they're flooding in from the garden.

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So when you do go outside, we got a classic outdoor room,

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somewhere to relax, sit, cook and entertain.

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And the connection between the outdoors and the indoors

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is so strong. If you're going to go for it,

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really go for it - just like Abigail has.

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What Abigail's done so well is break up the middle space of this garden.

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I know it's so difficult to get away from that rectangular lawn in

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a rectangular space but you've really got to start filling up the

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middle of the garden with plants and trees and objects and

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sculpture - whatever it might be. In a way, what you're trying to do

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is get the dancers on to the dance floor.

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Most of the planting in this garden is informal, it's very relaxed -

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except these two long lines of carex grasses straddling the side

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of the path, two really big brushstrokes in the planting.

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And what they do is lead you right up this straight garden path, and

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when you get to the end, you're not disappointed and that's

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so important in garden design - you've got somewhere to go.

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This city garden is not only unique, fresh and packed full of personality

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but I just love the process it's been through to get here.

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Abigail has broken lots of rules.

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We get stuck in our ways and perhaps a little bit formulaic when

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it comes to our own gardens,

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but she's shown that a whole different approach can create

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something really special.

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As for plastic plants, well, I wouldn't have them in my garden

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but here...

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(I quite like them.)

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The trouble with real plants, as opposed to faux botanicals,

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is that they are prone to disease and predation.

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The box balls that used to be in this area got terribly

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blighted and earlier this year we ripped them out and burnt them.

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So this is part of an ongoing new project,

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and one of the side effects of that is to reveal this wall, unclothed.

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Now, it's east-facing and, for a lot of people,

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a shady, cold wall is a problem,

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but, actually, it's an opportunity.

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So today I want to plant a rose that will cover the whole of this wall

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and be very happy in this position.

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Now, as we move across to this side, the wall gets shadier and

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I've got another rose that will cope with that.

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And in the corner, which is pure north-facing, constant shade,

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I've got a hydrangea that will love that position.

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This is Madame Alfred Carriere and she's a princess amongst roses,

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one of my favourites. White flowers that have a touch of pink to them

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and very fragrant - a tough, reliable

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but extremely elegant plant.

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Right, I'm digging a hole that's quite deep because you want

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to plant roses a little bit deeper than they are in the pot.

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Can you see there?

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That is the graft point

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where the top is joined to the roots.

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And all the roses you buy will have that graft point.

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And that should be planted an inch below soil level.

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And the reason you do that is it reduces suckering - and suckers grow

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from the root and have different flowers from the top,

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so you do not want suckers.

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The hole is not tight up against the wall.

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Any wall soaks up moisture,

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so the further away it is from the wall, the less dry it will be.

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Obviously that will be watered in but first of all I'm going to

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plant the other two and water them all together.

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Souvenir du Docteur Jamain is a magnificent rose

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with rich, burgundy flowers that will repeat all summer long.

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But it really does not like being in full sun.

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So find it a shady spot and it will flourish.

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Souvenir du Docteur Jamain will cover this space here.

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It's not as big as a Madame Alfred Carriere

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but it might well grow into what I'm about to plant,

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which is the climbing hydrangea.

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This is Hydrangea anomala subspecies petiolaris

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but to its friends it's always known as Hydrangea petiolaris.

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Magnificent white flowers. It's got the outer sepals

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and the true flowers are smaller on the inside.

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I'm going to put it right here in the corner.

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It'll take the deepest shade.

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And it's a vigorous climber and it's self-supporting.

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So unlike the roses, which will need wires, this will cling to

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the brickwork. But don't worry, it won't damage the bricks.

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This one I don't want to bury.

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I want to make sure that the height that it was in the pot

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is the same height with the soil.

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And it does like a fairly rich, well-drained soil.

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And the next absolutely critical thing for all three plants is

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a really generous drink.

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The biggest problem with most climbing plants is they get

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too dry, so if you do have a dry spell,

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do remember to water them regularly.

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These are key plants that would work well in any garden,

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but as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations we are looking

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for our Golden Jubilee Plant that has had the greatest impact

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over the last 50 years.

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This week it's the turn of Flo Headlam.

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My choice for the Gardeners' World Jubilee Plant is

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a summer flowering jasmine.

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I think it's a plant that should be in every garden.

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So, first off, you've got the scent, you've got this wonderful

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white flower that just fills the evening air with that

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beautiful aroma,

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and I think it's one of the compelling reasons why jasmine

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has been so popular in our gardens because we want to welcome scent

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into our outdoor spaces.

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And it's a plant that's easy to grow.

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It'll grow in any soil and it will cover a wall or a fence

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really easily because it's vigorous,

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it will grow and it will spread and it will just take up that space.

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It's deciduous so it loses its leaves but you can train the

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stems and create quite a dramatic and artistic form

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that you can see in the winter months.

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So it makes a wonderful package. Vote for jasmine.

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I'm finding it fascinating hearing these different proposals for

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our Golden Jubilee Plant nominations.

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And you suddenly start to think, "Oh, maybe that is the one."

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But you will have chance to decide when all ten have been put forward.

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Then you can vote and we'll be letting you know exactly how

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to do that and announcing the winner at Gardeners' World Live.

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I'm pretty sure no-one is going to come up with

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a carrot as the most important plant of the last 50 years.

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But I can't imagine gardening without them.

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I'm going to sow some carrots here.

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I find broadcasting carrots is the best way to grow them.

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But if you just scatter the seed willy-nilly,

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weeds grow up, it's very difficult to keep weed-free,

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and it doesn't work so well.

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If you sow them just in a row you, then have to thin them.

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And if you thin them, that attracts carrot fly.

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So I broadcast them in rows.

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I mark out the rows with two boards.

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I'm going to sprinkle the seed in-between the boards here.

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I've got a Nantes-type, and Nantes carrots are shorter

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and stubbier and there are a number of different kinds.

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And they also tend to be a bit earlier.

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Carrot seed are small and you don't

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get nearly as many to the packet as you used to.

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But perhaps that's a truism about life.

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So, sprinkle them thinly - but freely - between the boards

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and if any fall on the board it doesn't matter.

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There you go. A packet is perfect.

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What will happen is they will grow up and there will be

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a clean area where the board was without anything growing.

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So you can hoe in there. It also gives you somewhere to tread.

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Don't thin them, and you harvest them as you go along.

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It cuts down carrot fly and the carrots grow undisturbed by

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the heavy hand of the gardener.

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Now, I did dig this ground over before sowing.

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I don't dig the raised beds but these beds I do

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and that wouldn't be approved of by Charles Dowding because Charles

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has become the guru of No Dig gardening.

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He's a really good grower, organic, and has fabulous produce

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and last summer we went down to Somerset to see how he does it.

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What has always interested me the most

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is the link between soil health,

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plant health and people health.

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And so that's why I started being organic.

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And then that health idea also developed into No Dig.

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No Dig is about not disturbing the soil

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and this allows soil life,

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of which there is plenty in there all the time,

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to proliferate and if we feed that soil life with organic mulches

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on top, soil life comes out looking for food and you get

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a hive of activity in the soil which can then work with plant roots

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to make nutrients and moisture available.

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When soil is dug, cultivated, rotovated,

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the matrix of structure is broken.

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With No Dig, the structure is firm, it's not disturbed,

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but you actually get better drainage because you've left the

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beautiful matrix of holes made by soil life and water can

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percolate, as well as roots going through that matrix structure,

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to bring water up again.

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Digging sometimes to me feels a bit like ripping off the clothes,

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you know, it's a bit aggressive,

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and I think then soil thinks, "I'm not sure I like this."

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And it wants to recover.

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Recover means getting over what's happened but also literally,

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in soil's case, recover with weeds.

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It gives you incredible benefits going on through the season

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and I find I'm doing less weeding.

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And it's one of the reason I can run a quarter-acre market garden

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and be very productive. There's really very little weeding to do.

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The undisturbed soil with its compost mulch stays clean.

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I never set out to change anything, really,

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but what I didn't like was the way a lot of chemicals were being

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used to grow food and so I was looking at how to grow more

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healthy food, healthy for the environment and healthy for people.

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During the '80s, with every year that passed, organic became

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a little bit more acceptable, more and more people got interested.

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I remember one day, summer 1988,

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I was in my garden and this guy hopped over the fence.

0:21:240:21:27

It turned out he was a Gardeners' World producer and that ended

0:21:270:21:30

with Geoff Hamilton coming - and we got on really well.

0:21:300:21:33

Charles, the crops are looking really good.

0:21:330:21:36

What fertiliser are you using on them?

0:21:360:21:39

I'm not using any, Geoff.

0:21:390:21:40

It's good soil and we're putting on quite heavy dressings of

0:21:400:21:44

-manure and compost and that's enough.

-No chemicals at all?

-No.

0:21:440:21:48

That is really quite remarkable.

0:21:480:21:50

'What he was concentrating on was organic because, even in 1988,

0:21:500:21:55

'organic was still very new and talking with Geoff, you know,

0:21:550:21:59

'I realised it could become quite mainstream.'

0:21:590:22:02

The compost, that just spreads over the top, does it?

0:22:020:22:06

Just sprinkled on top.

0:22:060:22:08

How's that? I'm not a dab hand at this job.

0:22:100:22:12

That's fine. That's the idea anyway.

0:22:120:22:15

After that, he really promoted it and

0:22:150:22:18

he was the catalyst for making organic gardening very acceptable,

0:22:180:22:22

showing how it's possible and I'd love to think,

0:22:220:22:25

if he was still around, I think he'd be really up for No Dig as well.

0:22:250:22:28

Starting out depends what you've got,

0:22:370:22:40

particularly in the way of weeds.

0:22:400:22:42

I would say, on the whole, if you've got a lot of weeds,

0:22:420:22:45

actually that's not a bad sign.

0:22:450:22:48

Weeds don't grow on barren soil or in poor conditions.

0:22:480:22:51

It's really straightforward to begin.

0:22:530:22:55

You can just make a bed on the weeds, the grass,

0:22:550:22:59

whatever it might be that you have.

0:22:590:23:02

Put down a frame and fill it with compost.

0:23:020:23:05

And the compost you use will exclude the light from the weeds

0:23:050:23:10

and so you haven't got to worry about removing turf or scarifying

0:23:100:23:13

the ground in any way, removing anything that's there.

0:23:130:23:17

I like to keep the finest compost I have for the surface layer

0:23:180:23:22

and that means I've got a good surface for sowing and

0:23:220:23:25

planting and it's ideal, really, if it's a little bit dry. In my case,

0:23:250:23:28

I'm using mushroom compost.

0:23:280:23:31

Bought compost from the supermarket in big bags would be suitable

0:23:310:23:34

as well and you can sow and plant into that straightaway.

0:23:340:23:37

So that gives you a lovely sense of completion.

0:23:390:23:41

It's a one-afternoon project, if you like.

0:23:410:23:43

Many gardens now are No Dig.

0:23:480:23:50

They might not always say so, in fact, that it's, yeah,

0:23:500:23:52

really getting out there.

0:23:520:23:53

And I love sharing it, I really like talking with people,

0:23:530:23:56

particularly gardeners,

0:23:560:23:57

and I think a lot of gardeners have got a great curiosity and are

0:23:570:24:00

a bit frustrated by always being given almost a set of rules,

0:24:000:24:03

so I'm always saying, you know, "Try different things."

0:24:030:24:06

And No Dig is different in so many ways and it opens up

0:24:060:24:10

so many possibilities, so there's a bit of game changing going on

0:24:100:24:13

and I'm really happy to be part of it.

0:24:130:24:15

For years, I had this idea that somehow digging was

0:24:260:24:30

a sign of morality, even virility,

0:24:300:24:34

and used to dig with enthusiasm but I'm a convert now.

0:24:340:24:37

One should dig as little as possible.

0:24:370:24:40

It has been another glorious spring day here at Longmeadow.

0:25:060:25:11

Let's see what the weather holds in store for us gardeners this weekend.

0:25:110:25:15

It is a glorious but busy time of year and it can feel

0:26:040:26:08

bewildering - you don't know where to begin.

0:26:080:26:10

Well, I'm here to help you.

0:26:100:26:12

Here are the jobs you should be doing this weekend.

0:26:120:26:16

If, like me, you planted some seed potatoes in bags,

0:26:260:26:29

they should be showing signs of growth.

0:26:290:26:32

And if you earth them up now, that will protect them from frost

0:26:320:26:35

and encourage greater tuber development.

0:26:350:26:38

Just add some compost around them,

0:26:380:26:40

leaving the tip of the foliage showing.

0:26:400:26:43

Citrus plants are showing signs of new growth and it's a little early

0:26:480:26:52

to put them out unless you live somewhere warm but it's not

0:26:520:26:55

too early to feed them.

0:26:550:26:56

I use liquid seaweed.

0:26:560:26:58

Mix it up and give them a good drench.

0:26:580:27:02

A weak solution once a week is all they need.

0:27:020:27:05

If you didn't trim your lavender last autumn,

0:27:110:27:14

now is the time to do it. Cut them back, removing all the old growth,

0:27:140:27:18

but leave a few of the new shoots.

0:27:180:27:21

This will set them up to be good, compact shrubs

0:27:210:27:25

with lots of flower spikes.

0:27:250:27:27

Spring comes in waves in the garden and I always feel that when

0:27:340:27:39

the tulips really start to get established,

0:27:390:27:42

this is a completely fresh wave coming through.

0:27:420:27:46

We're not quite there yet but there is always

0:27:460:27:50

a point somewhere around the end of April when we reach peak tulip.

0:27:500:27:54

And then the garden opens out and the floodgates of colour pour in.

0:27:540:28:01

But they won't be pouring in today because we've run out of time

0:28:010:28:05

and we're not here next week but I'll see you back here at Longmeadow

0:28:050:28:08

in a couple of weeks' time and who knows? Could be peak tulip.

0:28:080:28:13

Come on.

0:28:130:28:14

Monty Don continues work in his courtyard, where he gives advice on plants which thrive on shady walls, sows root crops in the vegetable garden and catches up on work in his cottage garden.

Joe Swift pays a visit to a small-town garden to find out how an interior designer has transformed her outdoor space, and gives tips on how to bring elements of design into back gardens. The team meet Charles Dowding who, since the 1980s, has pioneered the practice of 'no dig' organic gardening. Flo Headlam showcases her golden jubilee plant.


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