Episode 8 Gardeners' World


Episode 8

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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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Now, it's been raining all night

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and it's still mizzling and drizzling today,

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and that means that all the new growth, which is lush and soft,

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is drooping and bent and needs a bit of support.

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And nothing in the garden, in this month of blossom,

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is more fulsome or voluptuous than the peony Sarah Bernhardt.

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And all these peonies that I planted a couple of years ago

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in the orchard beds are just about to come into flower.

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And the whole garden is frothing with flower,

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and underneath it is this incredible, electric green energy

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that runs and zings through May.

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It is the best time of year to be in a garden.

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On tonight's programme, Carol Klein is in Somerset

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to meet one of her gardening heroes -

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the highly respected gardener and designer Penelope Hobhouse.

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And we also visit an inspiring cut flower garden in the Peak District.

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I'm bringing these cannas out of the greenhouse

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where they've been since last October,

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sheltered from the worst of the winter weather.

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They're growing well, and if I plant them out -

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and the weather is warm and damp - they will thrive,

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but never take plants from a greenhouse straight into the garden,

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certainly not at this time of year. It's too much of a shock.

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They need to acclimatise so they will sit in this area,

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which is protected from the east and the west winds for at least a week.

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Now, one of the real problems at this time of year

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if you grow your own plants, or you overwinter them,

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is you run out of space.

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Everything's growing like mad, the garden isn't quite ready for them

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and there's nowhere to put them, so I'm doing a bit of shuffling.

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So I'm going to move these dahlias, which have been in the cold frame,

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over next to the cannas...

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You can see these are very healthy plants.

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So, having made a bit of space,

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these cosmos can go into the cold frame

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and start the process of gradually acclimatising.

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And the reason why you do all this is if they go out and they freeze,

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literally plants just stop growing.

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That is when they get hit by snails and slugs and maybe some viruses,

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so keeping the plant healthy by keeping the growth steady

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is all part of the bigger picture of a healthy garden.

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Now, you may have noticed that Nigel is not with me today.

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It's just Nell, and that's because he's having a day out.

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He's gone for a long walk with my son.

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If you don't have cold frames...

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And I would recommend even one small cold frame

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can make all the difference - I love them, they're fantastic.

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But if you don't have them, all you need is some fleece.

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And this is enough just to protect plants from frosts

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so I'll cover the cannas and dahlias outside the cold frames

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if there is a frost report,

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but ONLY use it for frost.

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You want them to get cold,

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you want them to get used to variations in temperature.

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That's all part of hardening off.

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Right, that's the easy stuff. Let's do the big boys.

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This is the banana Ensete.

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It spent its winter in the tool shed,

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where it's dark, cool, but frost-free.

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Even so, in the dark, it started to grow

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because I cut this right back last October to protect it,

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and this is really tender,

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the tenderest thing I grow in the garden.

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And I have heard it said that if you say the word "frost"

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too loudly in its presence, it'll curl up and die.

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The next stage is take it into the greenhouse, water it, feed it,

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let it get healthy and then, when it's too big for the greenhouse,

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pull it outside for a week.

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And I won't plant it into the Jewel Garden until June.

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That will now, in response to heat and light,

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really start to grow well.

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Now, over this year,

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Carol has been visiting some of her gardening heroes,

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and this week she visits someone who has been a dominant figure

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in my gardening lifetime.

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Penelope Hobhouse is one of the most distinguished gardeners

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in the country, and to prove it she's been awarded

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the highest accolade that horticulture can offer -

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the Victoria Medal of Honour.

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Over the past few decades, she has built up a formidable reputation

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as a garden designer, a writer and a historian.

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She has travelled the world designing gardens.

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Amongst her many famous creations are an English cottage garden

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designed for Apple founder Steve Jobs

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and a garden for the Queen Mother

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in honour of her 95th birthday.

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Penelope is renowned for her use of colour,

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combined with clean, structural lines.

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Her style was heavily influenced by trips to Italy as a young woman,

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visits that originally inspired her passion for gardening.

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I was bowled over by suddenly realising it was about...

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Gardening is about beauty,

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not just being practical and keeping the nettles from the door.

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So that Italianate influence...

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It was very strong.

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And still affects your work.

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I think it affects me as it is about the straight lines and everything.

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I think that I haven't changed,

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and also it taught me that flowers

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were not the most important thing always.

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Shapes and spaces, and shadows and light.

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You must make the bones of the garden first, the skeleton -

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the hedges, the walls, decide where big trees should be.

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That's what you learn in Italy, really. Incredible.

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Penelope is fortunate to have lived in two historic stately homes,

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where she honed her craft by designing their gardens.

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At Hadspen Manor in Somerset, she created an Arts and Crafts garden

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before moving to the National Trust's Tintinhull House.

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Having spent all of her gardening life

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in places on a pretty major scale,

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at the tender age of 82, Penny decided to start a new garden.

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This is it. It's here, in the heart of Somerset at Dairy Barn.

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But it's on a tiny scale compared to everything she had done before.

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Nonetheless, though, it practises all of those principles

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which have informed all her garden designs.

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One of the defining characteristics of any Penelope Hobhouse design

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is straight lines. All the paths here are straight.

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They crisscross, they form frameworks

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within which the plants grow.

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The yew hedge is cut straight at the back

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so the whole place is enclosed too.

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And then, of course, in the background

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there's the borrowed landscape.

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All Penelope's gardens sit in the place they're made perfectly,

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really happily.

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So what made you, at the age of 82,

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start a brand-new garden and come here?

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My aim here was to just grow the plants I really loved.

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I thought... I don't have to design to please a client any more.

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-No.

-And I had 64 plants in pots that I brought with me.

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When I moved here, my new neighbours looked at me with horror

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as I planted these tender plants and they said,

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"You're not in Dorset now. Somerset's very, very cold."

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So I was very nervous, but actually they've pretty well all grown

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because I fleeced them the first few years.

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It's those first few years that are so important.

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What I hadn't realised was how rich this soil was already

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because this had been a cow yard.

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The house was a dairy.

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-Right.

-And the cows were all in here.

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Right. So they deposited their dung.

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So I was adding fertile compost to this

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and that's why everything has grown absolutely huge.

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Do you think you'll ever stop gardening?

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I'm extremely happy here.

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It suits me down to the ground

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and I'm hoping it's going to work in my old age

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because I think what is very hard for the old

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-is to sit in a wheelchair and watch your garden getting in a mess.

-Yes.

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And I'm incredibly lucky at my age

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that I am physically still able to garden for five or six hours a day.

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And I feel protected by my plants from the world. I love it.

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I really do love it.

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I just think it's a great pleasure in my life.

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I couldn't have existed without it.

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I have to say that I, too,

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am completely influenced by Italian gardens.

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And if you've noticed, Longmeadow is full of vistas, symmetry,

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punctuation points.

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And it's a cliche but it's true -

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if you don't have good bones in a garden,

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then it doesn't matter what planting you have.

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Come on. What you got?

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What have you got?

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Come along. HE WHISTLES

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Good girl.

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As part of this process of moving plants into summer,

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it's time to start planting tomatoes into the greenhouse,

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and I would stress into the greenhouse.

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It's very early to think of planting tomatoes outside

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because even if you don't have frost,

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there can be big variations in temperature and tomatoes hate that.

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They like a nice even temperature,

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which I can give them in the greenhouse, and they're ready.

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You can see they're getting a little bit yellowy.

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That means they have outgrown the nutrients in this small pot.

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So I can either plant them into the soil here or pot them on.

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Right.

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If you're growing them in a bed in a greenhouse, as I am here,

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you will need to replace the soil about every three years,

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otherwise you get a build-up of viruses.

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I'm planting Gardener's Delight on this side.

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It's halfway between a cherry and a normal-sized tomato

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but it's great eaten raw,

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it makes very good sauce, and it's a reliable tomato.

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Now, spacing is quite critical

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so roughly 15 inches equidistant is all they need.

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Each plant, if you imagine a circle around it,

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has got a decent amount of root system that can form,

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but not so much that they will have masses of leaf and no fruit.

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Now, whether you are planting your tomato in a greenhouse, outside,

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in a grow bag, in a pot, there is one rule that always holds true,

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which is to plant it nice and deep,

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and by that, I mean at least up to there.

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One - it anchors it, so you get this big, heavy plant

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that is much more secure in the ground and two -

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and this is really important, you get roots forming from the stem.

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More roots means more feed, more nutrition, a healthier plant.

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In there.

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And bury it like that. And firm it in well.

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At this time of year, a good soak once a week should be enough.

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When I've got all the tomatoes in,

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I'll build the structure out of bamboos

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so there's a really good support for the growing plants.

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Now, every week, we've been looking for the plant

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that has had the biggest impact on us gardeners and our gardens

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over the last 50 years,

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as part of our Golden Jubilee celebrations.

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And this week, it's the turn of Alan Power

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to make his case for the plant

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that he thinks has been the most important.

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Top of my list for the Golden Jubilee plant

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has to be the Japanese maple groups, the Acer palmatums.

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We've all known them and loved them

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and, over the past 50 years, they've appeared in gardens

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all over the country in various sizes and forms.

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They've appeared in pots and patios,

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in groups like this wonderful Acer palmatum Bloodgood,

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giving that striking purple and focal point to a garden.

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Or you wait for some of the greens to turn during the autumn

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and they perform spectacularly.

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The detail in the plant, that's what really gets me.

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The architectural foliage,

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the shape of the plant itself made me fall in love with the Acer.

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They don't like to be baked in full sun.

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They do need a little bit of protection

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and these are kind of perfect in that dappled shade

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on the edge of the woodland.

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When I first started gardening, they were the plant that

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I would be attracted to in a garden straight away.

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That's why they are right at the top of my list

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to be the Golden Jubilee plant.

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Come on, Nellie.

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Come on.

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Thank you very much indeed.

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Thank you for your help.

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Well, I don't know if you think that the maple is the most important

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and influential plant of the last 50 years

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or whether you passionately disagree.

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You will be allowed to express your opinion

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when we've finished all ten,

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and then you can choose which of those ten that you think has had

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the most influence on us gardeners over the last 50 years,

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and we will be announcing the one that is most voted for

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at Gardeners' World Live at our big Jubilee bash.

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Now, I suspect that nobody in their right mind

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would think that Ammi majus is the most important plant

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of the last 50 years but I like it

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and I love its sort of white, frothy, umbelliferae flower,

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and I planted out about 50 here last week

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and every single one has been eaten by rabbits.

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I'm certain it's by rabbits because we see rabbits in the garden

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and we don't get that kind of damage from anything else,

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so if any of you have got any good ideas of how to deter rabbits

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and stop them eating my precious plants,

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I'd love to hear from you.

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Anyway I'm planting Orlaya, which I've grown from seed.

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Hopefully the rabbits won't like it so much.

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But it is an umbellifer and so it has the same feel as Ammi.

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Now, if the rabbits don't eat them,

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all these will be allowed to grow and flower

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and set seed exactly where they are.

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Of course, it's very nice to pick some of the flowers,

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take it indoors, but to do so means reducing the border, and the answer,

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of course, is to grow some cut flowers separately

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and Gill Bagshawe has taken that idea of the cut flower bed

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one step further and made her own cut flower garden.

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I've always been a keen gardener but I had never tried growing flowers

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for cutting before and the thought

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of being surrounded by lovely flowers,

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celebrating the seasons,

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I just thought that was something that I had to try.

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My cut flower plot is in Derbyshire, in the Peak District National Park.

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It's a lovely, sunny, open plot.

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I've got walls all around to give me a bit of protection from the wind,

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and very good soil here.

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The majority of flowers that are for sale in this country at the moment

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come from overseas,

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where they are grown in large monocultural polytunnels.

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Often bees and butterflies don't get a look in.

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What I'm doing here is growing flowers in a natural way.

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I don't have a polytunnel.

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I don't try and force flowers or hold them back.

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I don't need to, really. There are always more things coming -

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you know, beauties of each season to enjoy.

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I do have a tiny little lean-to greenhouse in my own back garden.

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I find that's fine for starting off my seeds.

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Then I pot them up at home and bring them up here.

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My heart sings when I come through the gate.

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It's wonderful being here. It's a place of quiet contemplation.

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This is a lovely way to celebrate the beauties of each month.

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In addition to the flowers, I do try to include herbs, fruit, seed heads.

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They are things that all help to create

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that sort of slightly foraged country garden look.

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There are many advantages to growing in raised beds,

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one of them is that the sides offer the seedlings

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a bit of protection from the wind in the winter.

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Also different flowers have different soil requirements

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and if I have one thing in a raised bed,

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I can make that soil whatever I want it to be.

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Many of the plants I have in here are what I call hungry feeders.

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For example, dahlias and roses and sweet peas,

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and having them in raised beds means

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I can add nutrients on a regular basis

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to make sure that they get everything that they need.

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Cutting flowers is normally confined

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to either early in the morning or in the evening.

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It's important not to cut in the heat of the day.

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Often when you cut flowers, you will notice that they've visibly slump,

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so it's a good idea to put them into water for a few hours,

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or ideally overnight.

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I always cut to another bud.

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It's always a good idea to cut the bases at an angle, like that -

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that increases the surface area for the take-up of water.

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This is one of my favourite foliage plants.

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It's called Moluccella laevis.

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Common name is Bells of Ireland.

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I've got it growing through horizontal netting.

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That's because it has a tendency to flop in the rain.

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As I'm removing the leaves,

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what you can see...

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are beautiful emerald green bells.

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This is a really good foil for other, more colourful flowers.

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Beautiful emerald green colour.

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The flowers are actually inside these little bells.

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The flowers are very insignificant, so it's not grown for the flowers,

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it's grown for the bells.

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This place is my own Utopia.

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I absolutely love being here. I feel very, very privileged.

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Anybody at home, if you had three raised beds,

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you would be able to grow enough flowers for your own home

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for most months of the year, with a bit of careful planning.

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Gill's garden proves that cut flower beds aren't just practical,

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they're beautiful too.

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I've made two of these large beds in the cottage garden

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into cut flower borders.

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I started last year and they did really well

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and, this year, I have a distinct brief

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because my eldest son is getting married at the end of July,

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so we have said we will grow some flowers for that.

0:21:200:21:24

So we are growing sweet peas

0:21:240:21:26

up these three runner bean type supports.

0:21:260:21:30

They're all white because that is the theme of the wedding.

0:21:300:21:34

Now, the whole purpose and the difficult thing

0:21:340:21:36

is to get it so that these are at their very best

0:21:360:21:39

and most productive at the end of July.

0:21:390:21:42

There's always a debate when it comes to sweet peas

0:21:420:21:45

about how best to manage the flowering -

0:21:450:21:47

whether you pinch them out hard or not.

0:21:470:21:49

Because pinching out sweet peas

0:21:490:21:52

will encourage a stronger, bushier plant with more side shoots

0:21:520:21:56

so, in theory, more flowers.

0:21:560:21:58

But they will flower later,

0:21:580:22:00

whereas if I don't pinch them out and just tie then up,

0:22:000:22:03

they will grow taller

0:22:030:22:05

and probably will have more flowers at the end of July,

0:22:050:22:09

so what I thought I'd do is do half pinched out, half un-pinched,

0:22:090:22:15

as a little experiment.

0:22:150:22:16

Now, when you're pinching them out, you do need to be brave about it.

0:22:160:22:22

So I've taken a good amount of plant off

0:22:220:22:25

and I'm cutting just above a pair of leaves,

0:22:250:22:30

and that will stimulate side growth and it's the same with any plant,

0:22:300:22:34

if you take out the leader, you get more vigorous shoots coming from it.

0:22:340:22:38

So I'm going to go along the whole of this front row,

0:22:380:22:41

pinching out, and I'll tie up the back.

0:22:410:22:43

Now that's this bed.

0:22:530:22:55

In the other bed,

0:22:550:22:56

I've got the complexity of growing bulbs

0:22:560:22:59

as well as perennials and annuals.

0:22:590:23:02

In this bed,

0:23:070:23:09

we've just got tulips at the moment

0:23:090:23:11

and I want to mix and match as much as possible,

0:23:110:23:14

use the space as best I can.

0:23:140:23:16

And, if you've got bulbs, you've always got a slight problem

0:23:160:23:20

because obviously the bulbs are underground

0:23:200:23:22

where you want to be growing other plants,

0:23:220:23:24

so you either let them die back completely before you plant

0:23:240:23:28

or you can lift them and let them dry out,

0:23:280:23:31

or I suppose you can get rid of them.

0:23:310:23:32

But for the moment the tulips are still flowering

0:23:320:23:35

and still harvestable.

0:23:350:23:37

Tulips for cut flowers are best with long stems

0:23:370:23:41

and you can see that some,

0:23:410:23:42

like these Queen of the Night, have got really long stems,

0:23:420:23:45

and that's because I planted them very deep.

0:23:450:23:49

The deeper you plant a tulip - and it applies to many bulbs -

0:23:490:23:53

the longer and the stronger the stem will be.

0:23:530:23:55

Now this tulip, called Danceline, is a new one on me

0:23:570:24:00

and I think it's an absolute delight.

0:24:000:24:03

It's gorgeous. Lovely, lovely flower.

0:24:030:24:06

And I will definitely be growing this again next year.

0:24:060:24:10

What I've decided is they are a crop.

0:24:110:24:13

When what I've needed has been harvested,

0:24:130:24:15

the rest can be dug up and put on the compost heap.

0:24:150:24:18

Not all tulips flower well in the second year anyway,

0:24:180:24:22

and much better for cut flowers to start again -

0:24:220:24:25

new bulbs, nice big flowers.

0:24:250:24:27

But for the moment, this, as I say, is a crop,

0:24:270:24:31

and a crop has to be harvested.

0:24:310:24:33

Now, I think that is the most gorgeous handful of flower.

0:24:430:24:50

Now, today we've had sun, we've had rain,

0:24:500:24:52

we've had blue sky, we've had thick black cloud,

0:24:520:24:56

but much more important to know

0:24:560:24:58

what the weather is going to be like this weekend for us gardeners.

0:24:580:25:02

I've spent a lot of time today moving plants around,

0:26:040:26:08

ensuring that they harden off and acclimatise,

0:26:080:26:11

but another way to do it, of course,

0:26:110:26:13

is to let the weather into the greenhouse.

0:26:130:26:15

So this wooden greenhouse,

0:26:150:26:17

what I'm doing is opening all the doors, all the windows,

0:26:170:26:20

all the vents, cooling it down,

0:26:200:26:23

letting the plants get used to the idea

0:26:230:26:25

that they're going to have to cope with the weather

0:26:250:26:28

and then, next week, one of the jobs will be to get them all out.

0:26:280:26:31

But, before that, we've got this weekend,

0:26:310:26:33

so here are some jobs for you.

0:26:330:26:35

You may have noticed that your strawberry flowers

0:26:430:26:46

have a dark centre or a black eye

0:26:460:26:49

and this is because they've been hit by frost.

0:26:490:26:52

But if you cloche and protect them now,

0:26:520:26:55

remaining flowers will have every chance

0:26:550:26:58

of developing into delicious fruit.

0:26:580:27:00

In order to harvest sweetcorn in late summer, it's time to sow them.

0:27:080:27:13

I like to sow them in plugs so they have a nice deep root

0:27:130:27:16

with one seed per plug.

0:27:160:27:18

Put them somewhere warm to germinate

0:27:180:27:20

and they should be ready to plant out around about mid-June,

0:27:200:27:24

at which point you can do another sowing direct into the soil.

0:27:240:27:27

As the flowers of the early clematis begin to fade,

0:27:320:27:35

the shoots of the later flowering ones, group three,

0:27:350:27:38

can get top-heavy and sprawl and fall

0:27:380:27:41

and even break, so tie them in securely.

0:27:410:27:45

And this is not just a job for this weekend

0:27:450:27:47

but should be repeated at least fortnightly

0:27:470:27:49

for the next month or so.

0:27:490:27:51

That should hold it in place, even if the wind does cut up rough.

0:27:550:27:59

And that is it for today, I'm afraid.

0:27:590:28:02

But the good news is not only are we back next week,

0:28:020:28:05

but we're back for a full hour.

0:28:050:28:07

We will cover the Malvern Show

0:28:070:28:08

and have lots going on here at Longmeadow

0:28:080:28:11

and we're on for an hour for the whole of the rest of the summer.

0:28:110:28:17

So hopefully the weather will be a bit better next week

0:28:170:28:20

but, rain or shine, I'll be here so I'll see you then. Bye-bye.

0:28:200:28:23

Monty gets to work in the cutting garden, plants his tomatoes and brings pots of citrus out of the greenhouse and into the garden for the summer.

Carol Klein visits another of her gardening heroes, Penelope Hobhouse, and finds out about her lifetime of making grand gardens and how she has now created a low-maintenance haven for herself filled with foliage and colour in her small Somerset garden.

We meet Gill Bagshawe, who has filled her plot in the Peak District with raised beds to grow as many different cut flowers as she possibly can. And Alan Power extols the virtues of the Japanese maple as his choice of plant for the golden jubilee award.


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