Monty gets going on planting herbs in his new herb garden and gives advice on how to move ornamental grasses. Jekka McVicar builds a herb garden at the Malvern Show.
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Hello, welcome to Gardeners' World.
It's almost a sad moment when the tulips finish.
Not that they all have,
but certainly these ones have done their stuff.
But you can't stay sad too long at this time of year
because as one set of flowers finishes
another comes bursting gloriously through.
And of course, here in the Jewel Garden, it's the alliums.
This is the Allium Purple Sensation,
and it's never so purple as it is at this moment,
just as it's about to open fully,
and then you get this incredible, dazzling display,
like purple stars in a night sky.
And also, right across the garden, everywhere you look,
there are new flowers venturing out into the spring sunshine.
Now, on tonight's programme, which of course is a full hour long,
we shall be venturing to the RHS Malvern Spring Festival
as well as doing lots of gardening here.
And we'll be bringing you the very best from the show.
In tonight's show, Carol will be scouring
Malvern's impressive marquee to discover what new floral delights
are on display this year.
And Joe and Frances will be exploring the showground,
taking a close look at the very best of the gardens and exhibits.
A couple of months ago,
I cut back the grass borders right down to the ground,
clearing all last year's growth.
And I said at the time that you don't want to move or divide grasses
until they're growing vigorously.
The first grass I want to reposition is a calamagrostis.
Now, this is Calamagrostis Karl Foerster
and calamagrostis is one of the first of the grasses to grow.
It has really deep green, lush growth early on,
and it then develops very upright stems
which can hold nice and firm in any weather.
So it's a really good grass to add vertical lines to a border.
But it is being crowded out by this cardoon
and I don't want to move the cardoon,
so what I'm going to do is lift all or some of that.
The garden here at Longmeadow...
..has been very dry.
It's been really the driest in May I've ever known it.
Obviously a lot of things suffer,
but most grasses cope very well if it's dry.
There we go, I think that's coming. Out you come.
I'm bringing it over here because
I don't have any calamagrostis in here.
It is a plant that does much better in full sun.
If you position Calamagrostis in shade, it'll grow, but it flops.
But as far as soil goes it's pretty adaptable.
It's worth saying that at this stage I could divide this.
Obviously now is the time to do it,
and it's a good way of propagating grasses.
However, when you divide it and replant it,
it won't grow much for the first year
and then will gradually take off.
This pheasant grass seeded itself in here
and I never got round to moving it last year.
Pheasant grass has got a new name.
I know it as Stipa arundinacea.
The new name, I always mispronounce.
But effectively, it is part of the Stipa family in growth habit,
if not literally in name.
And all the stipas like really good drainage.
Bright sunshine, good drainage.
And I want to use it as an architectural plant.
They're the exact opposite of calamagrostis,
which is very upright -
this needs space to flop.
It's not wholly hardy.
It's good down to about minus ten.
The plan is to put that there.
So you can see that it immediately creates an architectural feature.
The big difference with this pheasant grass
is that it is short lived,
but because they seed themselves so freely, you just replace it.
Now, even though this needs really good drainage and loves hot sun,
it does need a good soak when you plant it.
The same for any plant that you transplant.
Ideally, soak it the day before you move it
and definitely give it a good water after you move it,
and then water it again once a week until you see it growing strongly.
Now, this may not look like much, but this is our new herb garden.
Focusing on culinary herbs.
It's near the kitchen and the idea is to give us masses of herbs,
have generous quantities for cooking.
Today, I just want to start by planting
some of the Mediterranean herbs that need extreme conditions.
And I've already dug out three pits because I want these to have
the best possible drainage and very poor soil,
because herbs like thyme thrive in poor conditions.
Think where they come from - baking-hot Mediterranean hillsides,
it may not rain for months,
the soil will be all stony, and that is what they like,
so that is what I'm going to give them.
Now, to that end...
..I've got a load of rubbish!
Think of this like a pot where you're putting lots of crocks
in the bottom. That's just to ensure that when the roots go down,
they don't find a pool of water.
Now we add a bit of soil onto there.
This is horticultural grit.
But any grit will do, and you can use sand if you like.
A little bit more soil.
If you're mixing up to do this in a container,
put a quarter of the pot with crocks or stones in the bottom then mix up
some potting compost with at least its own volume of grit.
Now I can start planting.
And what I'm going to put in here is lemon thyme.
Lemon thyme is particularly good for cooking,
but I like to have lemon thyme, normal thyme, silver thyme.
But the one thing I've learnt over the years with thyme...
..is that it cannot take any shade.
It gets very twiggy and the result is that it starts to die back.
Just because these are Mediterranean plants that love sun,
it doesn't mean to say they don't need watering in.
But never feed them.
Don't mulch them with compost.
You could put gravel on if you wanted to, but let them grow hard.
And apart from anything else, as well as lasting longer
and being happy, they will taste much better.
OK, it's a small start, but it's beginning!
The herb garden is up and running.
I've got three bags like this of fennel
that we dug out of the borders there.
I want to just recycle them because fennel,
not only does it taste really good, both the foliage and the seeds,
but it looks wonderful.
Topped by umbels of flower and then the dried seedheads,
You can see I'm not trying to space these out, I want clumps.
These will need watering until they're nice and upright.
Now, the idea of these is they will grow tall,
up to about the first tier of the pleached limes,
and then in between them I'm going to put some sage,
which will give me a shrubby mid-layer, and then underneath,
lots of oregano, marjoram, which will spread and create ground cover.
The whole point about this is we've got lots of room,
but I'm building it as a garden.
I am creating the beds, which have rhythm and texture and colour.
A herb garden is not just a little adjunct,
it can be a really beautiful place.
Right, that's a start,
and in a month's time this will be full of herbs,
and it will be a nice herby replacement to the box balls.
Now, this week saw the beginning of the RHS's Malvern Spring Festival
and Carol, Joe and Frances went along to see the show gardens
and the plant displays, all set on this remarkable showground
beneath the spectacular backdrop of the Malvern Hills.
The medicinal qualities of Malvern's local spring water
has been well documented since medieval times
and brought to the area the great and the good,
including Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale.
And it's this spa heritage that has created the theme
for this year's show - it's all about health and wellbeing.
If there's one place that really gets me buzzing
it's the Floral Marquee.
It's packed with plants, lots of them new, and new exhibitors too.
This is my very first RHS Malvern Spring Festival and I'm looking for
plants that have a purpose as well as being good for your health.
There are six large show gardens here this year
and all are striving for a really good RHS medal,
and ideally a nice shiny gold one.
This garden is called The Retreat. It's designed by Villaggio Verde
and it's for a retired couple who have moved to France
and created their dream garden.
It's sort of wellbeing with wedge.
There's a lot of money been thrown at this garden
and there's plenty of structure that I really like,
these huge olives and these wonderful terracotta pots,
and then there's this outdoor kitchen.
We've got this wonderful outdoor shower as well.
Which works, nicely.
And right in the middle,
dominating the space entirely, we have this hot tub.
That is a tempting temperature, there,
which is fired by this wood-burning stove.
This garden is seductive.
Once you're in it you feel good, no doubt about it,
like you might if you're in a posh hotel.
But really, the garden is over here.
I like the bleached deck boards and
this sort of garden is achievable at home.
A lot of these plants will grow outdoors,
even the olives, and we've got those aromatic plants,
things like the lavenders, the sage, the thyme.
They love the sun beating down on them as they release
those aromatic oils and make you feel even better.
Well, the judges liked this garden - they gave it a Silver-Gilt -
but I just think they thought perhaps it was
a little bit too much jacuzzi and not enough garden.
This is The Refuge Garden,
it's designed by Sue Jollans and it highlights the plight of refugees
searching for a safe place to live.
And this boardwalk that leads you in is all part of the journey,
all part of the narrative of the garden.
It's not straight, it's not easy,
it's really quite difficult and kinked,
and it's quite trepidacious, walking down here, and that's the idea.
But there is beauty too, because we look over
this wonderful wildflower meadow that's sunken,
and then these water features which represent travelling over water
but make great garden features in themselves.
And when you reach the other side,
you do feel as if you've made it, you've got to the sanctuary.
And this is a community space, it's a safe place.
Now, what I like about this garden is it works on different levels,
as art forms should.
One level, you look at it and you think, "Yeah, lovely garden,
"packed full of beautiful plants," but if you start digging deeper,
the meaning and the narrative become more and more relevant.
And that, to me,
is an example of a really good and interesting show garden,
and the judges really liked it too.
They gave it a Gold Medal, and it's really well-deserved.
Well done, Sue.
This is the Molecular Garden, designed by a Russian design duo.
Now, they were brought over as part of an exchange that Malvern have
with the Moscow Flower Show, so they exhibited there last year
and one of the spa gardens' exhibitors
will go to Moscow this year,
so that's exciting.
Now, they literally took the meaning of a spa garden to heart.
They've created a garden where you come out of a spa
and it's a place to relax and chill out in, surrounded by nature.
And they have done an astounding job.
The level of detail in this garden is fabulous.
I like the light paving surrounded by the lush green planting,
and then these wonderful sculptural benches that just look great.
They don't look that comfortable, do they?
But you know what? They really are.
They are flat-pack, they brought them over from Moscow with them.
And from here you can see the planting,
you feel in amongst it, and it's very relaxing.
And that molecular theme runs through the alliums, the angelica,
to the sculpture at the back.
So it's a really nice, cohesive design,
and I think they've done a fantastic job.
But it's not only me, because the judges loved this garden.
They gave it a Gold,
they gave it Best In Show in the Spa Garden category.
So, watch out, everybody, the Russians are coming.
One of the country's leading designers, Peter Dowle,
is no stranger to the show.
He's supplied plants, built gardens for others
and designed many himself too.
Now, this year his design is called At One With,
a meditation garden, and a few weeks ago
Frances visited him at his nursery in Ross-on-Wye
as he prepared for the show.
We're used to hearing gardens described as nice or pretty,
but the reality is that there's often a much deeper significance
that goes beyond the aesthetic.
At this year's show, Peter Dowle has been exploring the deep connection
that we have with our gardens.
So, Peter, your garden is called At One With.
What's the thinking behind that?
It's exploring the idea of a garden space having a meditative
-or contemplative feel about it.
That when you're within the garden or viewing the garden,
that you have a feeling of serenity, and that's the real challenge.
It sounds like an amazing idea, but how do you kind of begin
that design process and really put it into practice?
We know the site at Malvern.
We've got the lovely hills as the backdrop, of course,
and that in itself is an inspiration.
And then you start playing with the idea of reflection, with water,
the earthy elements, with rock,
and then obviously the muted palette of plants.
Exploring ranges of greens, textures and forms,
with the Malvern Hills in the background...
-..is the idea.
And when choosing your plants,
I'm guessing that you use the nursery round here for inspiration.
Yeah, we've got some fabulous ones in the tunnel, actually.
-Want to have a look?
-I'd love to see them.
-Let's have a look.
So, this is one of your polytunnels.
-And I can see an amazing array of plants.
Can you tell me what these plants are
and how you'll be using them in the Malvern Show?
The selection we see here really just goes to show
the variations in green.
And then, if you start looking at textures,
we've got the lovely hakon grass, the Hakonechloa macra.
The best way that I like to use them
is en masse, so that when you get the breeze running through,
the whole thing moves and shimmers.
They're also very soft and they're also very understated,
so if a plant could be described as calm,
I think the hakonechloa is absolutely on the calm list.
I agree with that.
And then plants that people will want to know about
because they've not seen before.
So things like the wollemi pine being just a talking point.
Have you ever seen one as big as that?
I haven't, actually.
It's an impressive specimen.
I mean, it's an impressive story and a tree in itself.
Cos it was one of the most recent discoveries.
I think it was 1996, wasn't it, in New South Wales?
But it's a plant that was thought to be extinct,
-and it dates right back to the Jurassic.
And here we are, 2017, and it's headlining in a show garden.
-It's great, isn't it?
I see you have some very large gunnera there.
-Will you be using them at the show?
Yes, we will, yes.
Because obviously it can take over a space,
it's got a bit of a reputation as a thug, and it grows so fast -
what, two centimetres a day, something like that?
In absolute ideal conditions it can become a bit of a thug,
but you just need to contain it.
We've had one growing at home in a large tub for the last five years.
It will make two metres by two metres at the end of the season
as part of a tropical corner, and it's fabulous.
It produces this prehistoric-looking flower in the centre,
and the sound of rain water on it, and seeing it rush down the veins,
it's just awesome.
This is an amazing grove of acers, isn't it, Peter?
And obviously something you're well known for.
So will acers be featuring very heavily in your Malvern garden?
We've got a couple of gems which will be used as highlight plants.
-This is the Acer japonicum Vitifolium...
..but the spring flush, you see the range of greens
and see how the shadows work as you look through
-and the sun is coming through.
-With that red background as well,
it's an incredible variety, isn't it?
It's lovely, isn't it? It's got a good, solid look about it, you know?
Unlike this fella, which is...
It looks so delicate, but a lot tougher than you credit it for.
This one definitely will be going to Malvern,
it's one of my favourite varieties.
It's a palmatum Koto-no-ito.
Very tactile, and I think it's such a lovely contrasting plant
for bolder foliage as well as having a great green presence about it.
Wow, that's an amazing specimen, isn't it?
Isn't it gorgeous?
It's the variety Acer palmatum Kashima.
It's naturally a dwarf, or a slow-growing one,
-and it's about 25 years old.
It's got such a characterful form.
Well, Peter, the garden is a triumph.
It is, it's just absolutely breathtaking, I think.
It just feels like it's been here forever.
You got a Gold, you won Best in Show,
-how are you feeling?
The thought of just coming down and seeing life,
all the world at a different perspective was the idea of
bringing it in as a sunken garden, and then opting, really,
for a very soft palette of plants, so not putting in too many colours
and just trying to make it as restful as possible.
I just love the way you've embraced the Malvern Hills.
It's just the most fabulous backdrop.
It's a term I use often in design,
and it's a Japanese form of design called shakai,
which is the borrowed landscape.
By picking out the profile of the hills
you can control the foreground and miss out the mid ground
and, if you do that, you get the two to connect.
But we just see the finished garden.
We saw the plants at your nursery with Frances,
but actually getting them here and keeping them looking so good
-is quite a feat.
-It is, yeah.
We've had one of our guys on watering
for pretty much nine hours a day,
just keeping the plants at peak perfection.
It really is special.
This garden, within the setting, I feel...
You know that sense of wellbeing
and gardens being really good for your soul?
-I'm feeling it right now.
To be able to slow down and hear the birds, the sun,
the sound of water...
..I think it's fabulous. I think it's why we garden, isn't it?
This year at Malvern, the marquee is absolutely massive.
It's almost 200 metres long
and it's packed with nursery people from all over the country,
and full to the gunwales with the wonderful plants
that they've brought for our delectation.
And I'm really privileged to be in here before everybody else
to see exactly what's new.
Brand-new exhibitors at Malvern are Gail and David.
It is just out of this world, this stand.
It's full of woodland plants,
and a few auriculas if you've got a sunny place,
full of plants that anybody could grow,
but right in the centre of the stand
is something which is almost mythical.
It's a meconopsis, but instead of those blue ones,
this is red.
It's Meconopsis punicea,
it's from Sichuan and Tibet,
and it's got this exotica, with these languid red petals.
Almost look as though they're made out of silk.
And right here is another exotic-looking plant,
This is a hardy orchid. And you'd think at first,
"Yeah, it's all very well for them,"
but you can grow this too.
Given some shade, a lot of care and some patience,
you too could have a fine dactylorhiza in your shady bits.
And then, look at that, as the centrepiece, an anemone.
This is trullifolia,
and it looks as though it knew it was coming to the show.
Each of these petals is perfect.
Each of these round flowers looks out symmetrically
from this clump in the centre.
It really is exquisite.
I think it's a beautiful stand.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you -
it's a dandelion at Malvern!
This is Taraxacum pseudoroseum, but whatever its Latin is,
it's definitely a dandelion.
Pretty in pink, but I don't know whether I'd have it in my garden.
Everybody's intrigued by cacti.
Some people love them, some people hate them,
but who could resist this kaleidoscopic display
from Southfield Nursery?
Nearly every plant on the stand is in flower and
over the last 30 years, Southfield have been working towards
increasing the flowering capacity of their new hybrids.
And this year they've introduced this new plant, Matucana Festival.
It's almost fluorescent in its colouring.
How about this?
This is a brand-new epimedium called Rhubarb And Custard -
obviously because of the combination of colour within its flowers
and the combination between the flowers and these lovely new leaves.
There's nothing like the new leaves of epimedium.
They're almost translucent, they're delicate and delightful,
and they really just epitomise the spring.
They are the go-to plant for dry shade.
They're tremendously easy to grow
and they'll compete even with tree roots.
Splendid plants all round, and I think this is a real winner.
This is the Grow Zone, and it's been designed to show you
what's achievable even in a really tiny space.
Each of these plots is two by two metres and absolutely crammed
full of not only beautiful but really usable plants.
Things like foxgloves, which are great for pollinators
but also really good medicinally, and edibles.
Dahlias you don't think of as edible,
but this is called Malvern Spring and it's bred especially
for the festival. You can eat the tubers, as with all dahlias,
though they may not taste great.
But if you want great-tasting veg,
through here it's absolutely crammed with it.
These are the edible beds.
They're a brand-new feature at this year's festival and they showcase
food-growing projects from all around the country
that aim to improve the environment and enhance people's lives.
There are some farming sisters that I've been told I have to meet.
Tell me about what you do.
We want to sort of give children the opportunity to find out
where their food comes from, so back to grassroots
and thinking that actually a carrot doesn't come in a packet
in a supermarket, we can go and dig it out of the garden.
So, what have you put in your bed?
We've got... These are the things that we plant
-in the fields on the farm.
We've got some wheat at the end and we've got barley.
We've got beans, which are your broad beans.
We've got some peas, haven't we, Josh?
And then this is some of the wild flowers that we have in the borders
to encourage bees, butterflies, the pollinators for the crops.
Fantastic. Love your beds, they're absolutely crammed full of bees.
-Always good for edibles.
We'll be returning to the show later on.
Now, I said last week that it was time to start
hardening off plants and get them out.
And certainly now you can safely put out citrus.
I've taken one lemon to the mound, where they spend their summer.
Let's take this one.
Now, the first thing to do is to set these up on blocks...
..to improve the drainage.
Now, when you get them out, have a chance to look at them,
it's a good time to prune. All citrus will take hard pruning,
so don't be shy about it.
The worst that can happen is you'll get masses of regrowth.
And what you want is a nice, open centre.
Now, this is growing too much inwards,
it's shading out that at the back, so I can take this off right back...
Now, immediately that's more open.
I've got an inward-growing branch there
so I'm going to take that right off.
OK, what I must do now is reinvigorate it,
because these are quite hungry plants.
Rather than just top-dress it,
I'm going to scrape off the top inch or so of soil.
So I'm making room here to add some garden compost.
And actually, what I'm taking off
is last year's dressing of garden compost.
Don't want to damage the roots,
so as soon as I see roots appear under the trowel I'll stop digging.
Now I'm going to top-dress that with fresh compost.
It wants to be watered so it's drenched,
so the water is running through the bottom.
On top of that I'm going to add some seaweed every time I water it.
As with all feeds,
don't be tempted to make a stronger mixture than it needs.
The plant simply can't take up too much, you won't be helping it.
Now, that should start to appear out of the bottom.
If it doesn't, it means the drainage isn't good enough.
I shall feed this every week right through till October.
A big water once a week is far better than a sprinkle every day,
or every other day.
Well, with any luck, the lemons will not only grow successfully
but also avoid the predations of the local rabbit population,
because they have become a real problem.
All Miami I planted here on the mound a few weeks ago
were eaten to a stub overnight.
They've eaten sweet peas, roses - they are becoming a real pest!
I asked you to send in ideas on how to control them
and we got a few serious answers, and we also got other ones
that included playing Bright Eyes on a loop,
keeping a pet fox, having wind chimes,
having Nigel sitting up all night on guard -
you obviously haven't seen him chasing rabbits,
or failing to chase rabbits!
However, it's a serious problem and lots of us are sharing it,
increasingly so, and we will be looking at serious ways
of dealing with it in a few programmes' time.
Now, moving onto happier things, because it is Adam Frost's turn
to put forward the plant that he thinks has had most influence
on our gardens over the last 50 years.
The plant I want to champion is the rose.
For me, it sits head and shoulders above all the other plants.
When you think about it,
over the last 50 years this plant has travelled
and it's changed with us.
Whatever style you wish to garden in,
whether that's formal, informal, these plants sit comfortably.
On top of that, we mark these important occasions in our lives
with this plant, and you can get one for any conditions - shady, sunny.
The flowers, the array of them, the scent, just beautiful.
Fantastic hips - what else could you want from a plant?
And if I had to pick one,
it would be Rosa Gertrude Jekyll,
my go-to rose.
For me, the flower is fantastic,
it'll grow as a climber, it will work in the border.
So, there you go, my plant for the Golden Jubilee
has got to be the rose.
We have just one more Golden Jubilee plant to reveal which, next week,
will be Carol.
Then you get the chance to vote for the plant that you think
has had the most impact on our gardens over the last 50 years.
We'll let you know how to do that next week and we'll be announcing
the Golden Jubilee plant at Gardeners' World Live in June.
Well, at this time of year it's hard not to love any kind of rose,
although my favourites, in May, are the species roses.
This is Rosa hugonis,
which has this delicate primrose, very simple flower.
Covering the shrub, which is tall and arched,
for about three weeks, and then that's it,
that's its performance.
But worth waiting 49 weeks of the year for.
And the whole of the spring garden now changes.
At the beginning of the year it's quite an ordered place
and the colours carefully controlled with the bulbs appearing,
but by May the cow parsley has swept in
and we just have this simple froth that takes over,
and the whole of this part of the garden
feels like it's slipping back to nature.
The wildlife garden here at Longmeadow...
..has become one of my favourite places, actually.
I come up here at least once or twice a day.
And the key to any wildlife garden is not just to make it good
for wildlife but also good for you, the gardener.
It's got to look good, and that's the balance.
By the way, the pond I have not touched,
but it's packed full of beetles and frogs,
and I've seen hedgehogs come down to drink.
Whatever it's doing, it's doing right.
Now, a plant that we all grow you won't find
in the average wildlife garden is a sweet pea.
However, they do make the perfect show plant,
and we visit an exhibitor at Malvern who has been growing
show sweet peas for the last 70 years.
Mind you, he needs to draw upon the experience of all those 70 years
to get them ready this early.
There's no question about it, I like sweet peas,
but I wouldn't say I love sweet peas.
I wasn't going to be a gardener.
My father rented a large allotment from the local farm
and by that time I was seven years old,
the eldest of three children and big enough to move a barrel
and big enough to handle garden tools,
so it was my job to assist in this.
And I can't truthfully say I liked it because my mates in the street
didn't have the same privilege of having an allotment
and therefore they got more time to play.
So I swore I would never have a garden.
In this property that we're in now,
we moved in in 1966 and my father came along and said,
"Why don't you grow some sweet peas?" he said.
This was the fatal words, of course.
He said, "I'll sew you some seeds, you prepare that trench."
Anyway, they started to flower.
I was cutting probably 10,000 flowers a week
but I wasn't going to be a gardener, I was never going to be a gardener.
I would suffer this, but that would be it, you see.
I thought, "Next year, I could enter a flower show."
In the middle of town, a banner appeared.
The local show rules said you could enter up to nine o'clock
on the morning of the show.
There was only three entries in the class,
so because there were only three entries
I could get a prize because you never know,
some of the others might even get disqualified,
and I could see they were better than mine.
Anyway, the prizes had been awarded, first, second and mine.
Not even a third prize out of three.
And I looked in the mirror and I said,
"Tom, if you're not good enough to get third out of three,
"you need to do something.
"Either forget it altogether or do something about it."
So I went to the library and I borrowed a book on sweet peas.
I became really hooked.
I grow 1,300 cordon plants,
essentially for personal exhibition,
but I do grow them in next door's garden as a kind of overspill.
He just popped around one day and went,
"You're not using the bottom of your garden, can I just borrow it?"
I've got some in the local park
planted by some of the local children.
Also, I've got some planted in the local hospital.
He's the Chorley Mafia for sweet peas!
I never planned it to be that way and I never said,
"I'm going to do this," it just evolved.
I have no passion for the flower.
To me, it is a means to an end
of occupying time and interest and socialising with other people.
The sweet pea is the catalyst that allows all this to happen.
I don't have anxieties about Malvern, just terror,
because obviously it's not the sweet pea season
and to do something out of season is a lot of special preparation.
In the fridge we've got three plants at this moment,
two rather straggly ones that we might get a few cut flowers off
to put in a vase and another one that's been in now
for nearly four weeks which we've christened Nell
after Eskimo Nell because it's spent most of the four weeks
in the fridge - it gets an airing for an hour or two.
I'm not sure that she's going to make it
because it's still a week off the show or so at the moment,
so we are hoping this year
the season appears to be a little earlier.
It is a little bit a wing and a prayer.
We will, I'm sure, have a stand together.
Unfortunately, I do realise I'm not a young person
and I do have certain infirmities.
But I would like to think I can keep on growing something,
if it's only some of the dwarf ones or some of the species.
I don't know whether that's a retirement from sweet peas
or burial to put under the sweet peas
to get plenty body in the ground!
But I've bequeathed my ashes already to them, you see,
because it's good for them, you know.
So, Eskimo Nell made it!
Yes, we didn't think she was going to but she's here.
Perhaps she's not shivering now in this heat
that we've got here, it's a change for her, so she's enjoying it.
But she's obviously absolutely perfect
because you've won a Gold Medal.
Yes, and we've placed it on top of Nell.
We decided that that was only fair, you see.
It is for the whole stand, it's not just really for Nell.
And I think what's so marvellous is that this is a joint effort -
you've had sweet peas and people helping from all over the country
from the National Sweet Pea Society.
Yes, it was Tuesday afternoon before we knew exactly
what we were going to get. We had telephone calls,
"I'm stuck at traffic lights at such a point and I've got such a thing
"in the car," and we're trying to find a space on the stand for it.
We've changed the design at least six times, but it's here,
it's wonderful and, yes, a lot of contributions from everywhere.
But people would never believe it, seeing this.
It all looks so cool, calm, collected and absolutely perfect.
One of the aims of the National Sweet Pea Society
is to draw in young people too, isn't it?
And get them growing these wonderful flowers.
Yes, in any society it's necessary to keep continuity.
You've got to have succession and if you're not careful,
you get too many people with my colour of hair
and we do need to think that we'll be here into the future.
Well, with such a superb display,
I'm sure you're going to be pulling lots of young people into growing
these beautiful flowers.
I don't feel quite safe here, Matt.
You'll be all right, Carol, don't get too close!
So, you've won Best Exhibit in the Floral Marquee and no wonder,
-Oh, it's brilliant.
This is our 20th year at the Malvern Spring Flower Show
and this is the first time we've ever had Best In Show,
so it's fantastic. Really, really pleased.
Tell us a bit about them.
I mean, all these plants look as though they're closely related.
They do, and they all look very tropical and exotic,
but the only thing they've got in common is that they've all gained
their nourishment from insects,
or in some cases small mammals, rather than from the soil.
So they all grow in areas which are very low in nutrition,
they've adapted these unusual-shaped leaves to capture their prey
or their food.
But how about hardiness? Can we grow them in our gardens?
There are a wide range of plants here.
This one here, Sarracenia, North American pitcher plant, very hardy.
They can be grown outside in a peat bog garden quite easily.
Whereas the tropical pitcher plant here, nepenthes, or monkey cup
as they're known, these need to be very warm and humid
-and grown with orchids in a tropical heated greenhouse.
So, any of us could grow it,
provided we've got the right conditions.
Put it in the right place, it's going to survive.
Exactly, no problem at all.
And look beautiful, but not quite as lovely as this.
-You never know!
-Thank you. Thanks, Carol.
Now, here at the Malvern Spring Festival this year
we have horticultural royalty.
We have the queen of herbs herself, Jekka McVicar.
Now, this year she's taken on the task
of creating a permanent display garden here
that can be visited all year round.
One there, please.
Every time I come on-site,
doesn't matter whether it's a show or not a show, I really feel ill.
It's like a performance.
Sort of mound in the middle there.
'Will my vision work? Is it possible?'
Because each garden is a bit of you going on show.
Just there. Lovely.
Yeah, perfect, yeah.
Quite a lot to get on with today,
because we've got to get bed one and two finished today
so that then tomorrow we can do three and four,
and then we top-dress and leave it and come back in two weeks' time.
A bit beyond.
In triangles, so you go like that, one, up, down,
so it will go there.
Same depth. That's it, lovely.
'The Three Counties Showground invited me to revitalise
'this garden here on site, which is a permanent garden
'which is used by a charity for adults with learning difficulties
'and for the local schoolchildren.'
The very first time I approached this garden
was down this cherry walk,
and there was a polytunnel, and it was all fragmented little rooms,
and it wasn't inviting.
So, when I designed it,
I designed it so that there was a centre that you could sit,
because in Ayurvedic medicine you sit in the middle of the garden
because that is healing.
The idea of the ellipse is, when you're in a low mood,
you always look at your feet.
You don't actually walk in straight lines
because you walk like this,
you walk as you go and you just follow your feet.
Now, if you've got an ellipse
you will just follow it all the way round
and it's very soothing.
The balance of the garden, it's all about health and wellbeing.
All the plants in it are all about health and wellbeing.
This corner of this bed is a seating area,
and I wanted the rosemary to sort of embrace the people
when they're sitting down
because rosemary is all about memory
and the actual scent of it promotes memory.
Everybody knows parsley, but parsley is so beneficial.
It makes your mouth water and it makes you feel hungry,
so if you've got someone who's lost their appetite,
all you've got to do is have fresh parsley mushed up with some eggs
or with mashed potato and then they get eating again.
And it's very high in iron and very high in minerals,
because it's got a long tap root which goes down into the soil
and brings it all back up into the leaf.
My love and passion for herbs started from childhood.
My grandmother was the most fantastic cook,
my mother had the most fantastic garden,
and I could tell the difference between apple mint and spearmint
before I went to school.
Every day, I'm learning something new.
I don't know of any other world where every day
you can have something given to you for free like gardening.
You've got cardoon, which is a bitter herb,
and it's the leaf ribs that are eaten
and that helps your digestion.
You've got lemon balm, and lemon balm relieves tiredness,
headaches and tension.
You've got woad.
That was used traditionally as a dye plant.
Now it's under research in Italy for its natural antibiotic properties.
There's so much, and there's so much in here that can be of use to man.
Well, we've nearly finished bed one.
Wonderful! It looks amazing, better than I imagined,
and I'm really chuffed.
I'm hoping that when people come into this garden at the show
they'll be able to sit down for five minutes,
breathe and relax,
have a cup of tea,
and then be able to go and face the show again.
Well, Jekka, this is fabulous!
We've even got a bluetit nesting in the box over there.
And she's been flying in and out while I was tidying the place up.
Oh, this is wonderful. What a great space!
I love the way the heart of it is the seating area here.
You're just looking through your fantastic planting,
I have to say.
It's planted to grow, not for show.
Spacing of plants is very important,
and people see show gardens and think, "Pack them all in,
"don't leave any soil on show at all,"
but, you know, within six months you're taking plants out.
If you do give them space to grow
you'll actually get the shape of the plant,
and that's what's so beautiful.
And so they then kiss like that, and you've got the mounds.
But if you cram them together,
they all go up like that and you don't get that lovely flow.
And to see that it's already giving pleasure to so many people is magic.
Yeah. Well, I'm going to really look forward to coming back
-to this garden year-on-year.
-In two years' time, yes.
Yeah, and watching it grow and develop,
as a real gardener should.
-Well done, Jekka, it's beautiful.
-Thank you very much.
What a great show! I think this is the best show ever at Malvern.
Yeah, and that big marquee is splendid, isn't it?
I think it's superb.
What's your favourite bit, then, Carol?
I think it's got to be that Master Growers display.
The RHS are running this scheme, so at every show
one nursery is being asked to do a really big, wonderful exhibit,
and this time it's just out of this world.
They've got ferns, pelargoniums and ivies,
and the quality is just... It's utterly superb.
What about you?
Well, it's kind of overwhelming because it's my first Malvern,
so everything! But I think if I had to pick,
some of the alpines on the stands. I've got loads of succulents
and now I've just bought loads of alpines too,
because you can grow them everywhere,
just a bit of light, not much water.
-Good for me!
-Bit of grit.
And the great thing about them is you can have lots, can't you?
Exactly, really cram them onto the window still.
Yeah, that sounds great.
My bit... This sounds a bit self-indulgent, this,
but I came up with the concept for a Plant Finder's Parlour
in the floor marquee. The idea is it's sort of Victoriana,
and the team here just picked up the idea and ran with it,
and so over the weekends there's going to be talks
and we're going to get nursery men and women up there
who are going to talk about the history of the plants and how those
Victorian plant-hunters travelled round the world,
those intrepid plant-hunters.
Yeah, and gave us all the plants that we grow in our gardens.
Yeah, exactly. How's that swing?
-I want a go!
You have a go, Carol. Go on, I'll push her.
-Can we both fit on?
And then we'll get an ice cream later.
Now, this is a proper day out.
I'm just giving this Clematis gouriana a little bit of support
so it can clamber into this Rosa Complicata
rather than sprawling all over the border.
Now, if what you've seen makes you feel you would like to
go along to Malvern, do. It's open till Sunday night
and if you go to the RHS website,
you'll get all the details about tickets and directions
and opening hours.
But there's no doubt about it,
the show is a lot more pleasant if the weather is good,
so let's go and see what the weather for the weekend has in store.
Well, whatever the weather,
and even if you're going to the show,
I'm sure you'll find time to do some jobs this weekend.
Here are some ideas.
If you grow peas they will need supporting,
otherwise they become a tangled heap.
Traditionally you use pea sticks,
which is the brushwood top part of bean sticks.
However, netting of any kind will do the job just as well,
but make sure it is firmly supported.
If you've got plenty of dahlias
it's a good idea to spread the flowering,
and you can do this by reducing them by a third or even a half,
cutting above a pair of leaves.
This will stimulate more side shoots,
which will carry more flowers,
albeit a little bit later than if you'd left them uncut.
At the beginning of the programme I was taking spent tulips
and their pots, and the idea is to lift them out the pot and dry them,
leaves, stems and all, and then keep the bulbs.
And in fact, I plant those in a nursery bed
and use them for cut flowers.
But if you grow tulips in the border,
as I have here in the Writing Garden, this is spring green,
you want them to reflower in the same place next year
as well as possible.
And a little job that will help that is to break off the seedheads,
because the formation of seed is taking energy away from
the formation of next year's bulb.
Don't take off the stem and certainly don't cut back the leaves,
let those die back naturally.
The goodness will go into the bulb and there's a fighting chance
you'll get a really good display next year.
I'm afraid there's no chance that we'll continue further on
today's programme because that's it, we've run out of time.
If you go to Malvern, have a fabulous time.
If you can't get there, well, enjoy your garden
and I look forward to seeing you back here at the same time next week
for another full one hour's programme.
Until then, bye-bye.
There is a full hour of gardens and gardening from not only Longmeadow but also the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.
Monty gets going on planting herbs in his new herb garden and gives advice on how to divide and move ornamental grasses.
We meet the queen of herbs, Jekka McVicar, as she builds a herb garden at the Malvern Show and join Carol Klein, Joe Swift and Frances Tophill as they bring us the best from the floral marquee and show gardens. And Adam Frost explains why he has chosen a rose as his golden jubilee plant.