Episode 1 Gardeners' World


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Episode 1

A new gardening year begins at Longmeadow and Monty reveals his new plans for the year as well as taking stock of any winter damage.


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Transcript


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Hello, welcome back to Gardeners' World.

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Now, it might be spring by name

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but it's certainly not by nature today here at Longmeadow.

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We have had a smattering of snow, we have got more forecast

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and there is an icy wind cutting in from the east.

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It is distinctly chilly.

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I'd planned to show you the spring garden in all its glory because

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it's been good so far this year. It's still got snowdrops, crocuses

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coming through, daffodils,

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hellebores, these early perennials starting to kick into flower

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but today they have been bent by cold and a bit of snow.

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They are beginning to reassert themselves

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and if you find at this time of year you get a batch of bad weather,

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which we do get, do not worry.

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The plants will recover with extraordinary speed.

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They may look as though they have died

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but a bit of sunshine and they will be as good as new within a day.

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We have been busy over winter.

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We have made some changes and I will show you those.

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We have got more planned and, of course,

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lots to be getting on with, so it's great to be back.

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On tonight's programme we visit a garden in Wolverhampton with

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a surprise around every corner.

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A smallish, suburban garden doesn't have to be boring.

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You just feel as if you are in another world.

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And Adam Frost shows how, with a bit of imagination

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and some clever design, you can make every space count.

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I think it is just one mistake that so many people make.

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They start building their garden before they have really measured it.

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Longmeadow has had a robust winter.

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We have had a lot of weather, including a very heavy

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fall of snow in December.

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In one day we had about two foot of snow

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and the effect was literally to crush things.

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The grass borders, which can look the best thing in the whole

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garden all winter, were just flattened.

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All this damage was done in one day.

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And now they are ready to be cleared and, as soon as the weather

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gets a bit better, that is going to be one of the first jobs.

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Come on.

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Well, the fickleness of March weather is certainly living up to its name.

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We have got a blizzard, we have got sunshine,

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who knows what we will get next.

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But before Christmas, as well as heavy snow,

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we had a really cold night.

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It got down to -14 here at Longmeadow.

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And the effects were pretty lethal to some of these herbs.

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The bays, for example, did not like it at all.

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They are actually not dead.

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The top is but at the base you can see there is green growth.

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It means that these have lost their structural value.

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I will dig them up and see if we can salvage them, but replace them

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and probably with more of these Irish yews.

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I put these in in autumn to create a brand-new avenue

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here in the herb garden and I think it is looking great

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and I'm really excited about it.

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There is another change which is even more dramatic.

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The real big change is here.

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Now, for nearly 20 years we have had a greenhouse here

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and it has done us proud.

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We have grown tomatoes every summer, salad crops in the winter

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and it has worked fine but gradually it started falling apart

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and by the end of last year it was positively dangerous.

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So that has been taken away and this space, which now reveals

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quite a big area, is going to become my new Paradise garden.

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I spent a lot of last year travelling around filming

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Paradise gardens and it made a big impression.

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What I want to make here is my own Paradise garden.

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It will involve formal water,

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a building, a rill,

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borders, hedges, hard surfaces

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and that will all unveil itself as we progress throughout the year.

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It is this year's big project.

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I really love starting a new project.

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And with some inspiration,

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and a bit of imagination, really you can achieve anything.

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We certainly discovered that last August

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when we visited a garden in Wolverhampton.

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Originally, this had been an unremarkable suburban back garden.

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But now it's been transformed.

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We call it the gardeners' surprises

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because the idea is that as you go round the garden

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you come around a corner and go, "Oh, I wasn't expecting that."

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We first moved here in 1990.

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The garden was just lawn and conifers and nothing else, really.

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We wanted it to be a garden

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where you couldn't see it all in one go.

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We wanted to try and divide it up and so it gradually evolved.

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There wasn't a plan, was there?

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I'm the creative director and I'm particularly

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interested in the different uses of plants but also the myths

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that exist about the plants in the countries that they came from.

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My role is more mundane in that someone has to do

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all of the maintenance and the propagation.

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When we have agreed that we need a structure in the garden,

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I'm the one that builds it.

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A lot of the enclosure of the garden is actually coming from borrowed

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trees in neighbouring gardens

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which helps give it its special atmosphere.

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The two issues with the trees is dryness

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and light for growing plants underneath them.

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One of the obvious things to do was to put some

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structures in where we couldn't grow anything.

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I've been to Japan a couple of times and was inspired by their gardening.

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I built this Japanese teahouse and we have picked a range of plants

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and arranged them that gives a Japanese flavour to it.

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With the different types of bamboo we've got three or four acres here

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and we have bought some features such as the dragon.

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This is the Indian ink plant. It comes from North America.

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It is also called pokeweed.

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It has spikes of white flowers and then it has these

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wonderful red berries that go black over time.

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It does this in one season.

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It's quite good-tempered, part shade.

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It's not especially bothered about moisture

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and it was used by the Native Americans to make war paint

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and dyes for textiles

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but it was also used by the early settlers in America

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to make ink and there is a story that the

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American Declaration of Independence

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was actually written in ink made from this plant.

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This is another interesting group of plants, agaves.

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They come from Mexico and middle America and they grow in the desert.

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They can make agave syrup

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and they can also produce sisal to make textiles with.

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We have all sorts of interesting comments from visitors

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to the garden.

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Some of them I find wandering around in the middle of the garden

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saying, "I'm lost, where am I?"

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Which is really what we are trying to achieve,

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that people are in another world.

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The folly, which looks like the corner of a monastery,

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somebody said to me,

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"Oh, I didn't know there was a ruined monastery in Wolverhampton."

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I said, "Well, there isn't."

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The inspiration for the summer house came from Castle Corfe where we

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liked the arts and crafts effect that was created.

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It has been built with reclaimed stone and reclaimed doors

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and windows from a very old summerhouse that stood here

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and hopefully gives a very warm feeling

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when you can sit here on a late afternoon with the sun and have a

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view of the summerhouse border and the mock folly at the bottom.

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This is the 1939 brick air raid shelter which, as you can see,

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we have turned into a shell grotto.

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The themes are designed by Anne and represent fire, earth,

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air and water and day and night.

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The time it took to do this was probably seven years.

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It was one of those things where you start off with a good idea and then

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much later you suddenly think, "Why on Earth did we get into this?"

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But you can't get out of it.

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A smallish suburban garden doesn't have to be boring.

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We are only 1.5 miles away from the town centre but you just feel as

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if you are in another world because of the way it wraps around you.

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That is what a garden needs to be,

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it needs to take you to another place.

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I think that does show that if you have got some imagination,

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and a little bit of drive,

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you can do anything in your garden, just go for it.

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Now, I'm feeding the birds, I love feeding the birds

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and I love watching them, so we have them on a table here

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outside the kitchen window, but it is important when

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the weather is like this, if you can, to provide them with some food.

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We use old logs of wood that has got crevices

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and that means the bigger birds will not be able to hog it all and

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tits and finches can get in there and work in all the cracks.

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A little bit of cover so if it snows or rains hard you've got some

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dry food and, again, put a few sticks and twigs down.

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They can get under it, they can stand on it,

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it makes it more interesting.

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You do need to include some water.

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That obviously has frozen overnight so you need to check that, and

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a shallow dish, not a deep one

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so they can get in, small birds, and can drink

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and if you have got it, an old dustbin lid is ideal as a bird bath.

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We deliberately do not cut back that brambly shrub on the wall

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because that gives cover to the small birds.

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If you have got a shrub, put a feeding station right in amongst it.

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The pigeons can't get there.

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The sparrowhawks can't fly in and also it is

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trickier for the squirrels.

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Talking of squirrels, fat and suet is really important.

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We hang it up in cages so they can't get it.

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One final note, it is cold, it is a busy time for birds, they're

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using a lot of energy, so if you start to feed them, continue right

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through until we reach good weather, which will be the end of this month,

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at least, because they use a lot of calories coming up to find the food.

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If there is none there, then it is wasted energy.

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But I think the return and the pleasure from watching these

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little birds is as good as a gorgeous flower bed.

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In you come, come in the warmth.

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Come on, in you come.

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Oh, it's nice to get in out of the cold.

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One of the things that has really horrified me, looking at the

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garden over this winter, is the amount of plastic

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that we are using here.

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We have plastic pots, we have plastic seed trays,

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almost everything I buy is wrapped in plastic

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and I think that is not acceptable any more.

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So, personally, I want to do something about it.

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I'm taking stock of the plastic I'm using in the garden,

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with the idea of cutting down.

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Now, I do stress I have got no answers.

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I'm not sure how to do this.

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I'm going to try lots of different things and share them

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with you and if they work, great, if they don't work

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I will be honest about it and we'll have to try something else.

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The first thing is to take the plastic you've got

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and do an audit on it.

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For example, these plugs, which are very useful

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and we use all the time, are very flimsy.

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That means that we use them a few times

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and then they rip and they tear and we chuck them away.

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What I'm going to do is use them till they drop

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and then replace them

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either with a nonplastic type of plug, or something much more robust.

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I think that's the sort of thing,

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whereas this seed tray is really robust.

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I don't know when I bought this, probably four or five years ago.

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It's probably good for another three or four years.

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If you are buying plastic, buy good, solid stuff

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because the best way to recycle is to re-use.

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Use it and use it and use it again.

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That's number one.

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Number two is to look for alternatives.

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I have got various pots here.

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Pots made out of coir,

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this is the outside of coconut.

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You can get pots made out of miscanthus.

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Miscanthus is a grass,

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they claim to biodegrade and go on the compost heap.

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You can get kits to make pots out of newspaper.

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You can use toilet rolls. There are all kinds of different ways

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but today I'm going to start doing the obvious alternative

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to plastic which is to use terracotta.

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There is no reason why you can't sow in terracotta pots.

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If you look after them you can use them and re-use them.

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It is important to sow tomatoes

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and chillies, in particular, as early as you can.

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If you haven't sown any, and you want to grow them,

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this is something that you really want to get on with this weekend.

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If you are growing them outside there is not quite so much hurry.

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I'll take my gloves off. That's how daring I'm feeling.

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OK, the thing about these pots that I've got, and I've had

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these for a number of years and recycle them, is

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that they have a big hole in the bottom.

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I do need to cover that over, otherwise the seed compost

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falls through it.

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And seed compost, by the way, tends to be lower in nutrients.

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It is a good growing medium

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but it's deliberately not too rich

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because we want these seeds to grow at their own pace.

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We do not want to force them on and then we can pot them on later.

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This is pepper called Long Red Marconi.

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Not many seeds in there.

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I will just put them into my hand.

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That's plenty.

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I'm going to see if I have got my glasses

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because the truth is I can't see the seeds in my hand.

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I can feel them but I can't see them.

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I really do not want these to be touching if I can help it.

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Because if you cram the seedlings too close together

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they will from day one grow without the strength that you want.

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I will just put one more in there and that is it.

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Cover those over lightly...

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..with just a little sprinkle of compost, and you could do it

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with just vermiculite or grit, if you have got it.

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I will water that.

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With these peppers, they do need heat.

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Ideally, they need about 23 to 26 degrees.

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If you have got a heated mat with a thermostat then you can set it,

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otherwise on a windowsill, above a radiator.

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A little tip if you're growing chillies or peppers, is water them

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with warm water.

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Cold water cools them down and they do need heat.

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Now, as well as looking at alternatives to plastic

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throughout this series, we are also very keen to maximise

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the potential of every space in the garden,

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it doesn't matter how small it is, every bit of space counts.

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And a few weeks ago Adam Frost went to visit a small back garden in

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Bristol to demonstrate that you can transform even the smallest garden.

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Do you know, for me, designing a garden is one of the most exciting things you can do.

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But I get that some people find it a little bit frustrating, maybe even

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daunting, especially when you're working with a really small space.

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But, for me, just with a little bit of thought,

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it's amazing what you can get out of even the tiniest of gardens.

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Small gardens can be quite tricky but hopefully I'm going to

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show you it is possible to make every space count.

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-Right, my tiny, little garden.

-That is a bit tight, isn't it, that step?

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-That step is a problem.

-It is.

-It really is.

-Yeah, it's, um...

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-It's quite a small space.

-It's tiny.

-It is, isn't it?

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What is it that gets you down and makes you feel sort of a little

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bit grumpy about the whole thing, I suppose?

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I think the walls are very oppressive.

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-I feel they are coming in on me.

-Yeah.

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It is dark, it is miserable and it just looks horrible.

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The floor, the deck, is awful. It's uneven.

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-It looks a bit uneven, doesn't it?

-And is quite dangerous, I think.

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And I've tried this bed, I've tried to grow flowers

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and pretty things and it just doesn't respond to my kindness.

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-I want it to feel happy.

-Happy.

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So you want it to put a smile on your face.

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At just three metres by six metres, Sue's garden is compact.

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But I'm sure we can bring new life into this dark, pokey old space.

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The first thing we need to do is get measured up.

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This might seem like an awful lot of work for a small space

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but I think it is one mistake that so people make,

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they start building their garden before they've really measured it.

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So making sure you have got everything on a piece of paper

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is a great way of understanding that space.

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The next thing you want to worry about is where the sun comes up

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and where the sun goes down.

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I mean, if the back of your house faces north

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and it doesn't get a lot of light right through those winter

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months, and I put you a smooth surface out the back there,

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it's going to become really slippery and dangerous.

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You know, light levels really affect that whole design process.

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I really love the curved wall

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and I'm going to use that shape on the ground to create an upper

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level, so the step outside the back door feels more comfortable.

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It will also help bring the wall down into the garden.

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This will then give me

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a lower usable level where I can put some seeds in.

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I'm taking out half the raised bed to give more functional space.

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I'm using three main materials -

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brick to link the surface area to the walls,

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light textured paving on the upper level,

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not only to make the area feel brighter but also to make it

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safer to move around.

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Lastly on the lower level, I'm going to use gravel,

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which will not only provide textural interest

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but also help the area drain.

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As soon as the landscapers are finished,

0:19:490:19:51

we can get on with the planting.

0:19:510:19:53

I've bought you some goodies.

0:19:530:19:55

Wow, they look fantastic.

0:19:550:19:57

A garden for me is never, ever really a garden

0:19:570:20:01

-until we get those plants in.

-Oh, they are beautiful.

0:20:010:20:04

-Are you going to help me?

-Yes, please.

-Let's get stuck in.

0:20:040:20:06

The first thing I want to do is add some interest to the wall

0:20:080:20:12

with this beautiful climber

0:20:120:20:13

that works really well in shady conditions.

0:20:130:20:17

So we start with the hydrangea.

0:20:170:20:18

This will leaf up well, lovely white flower.

0:20:180:20:21

-It will self cling to the wall.

-Oh, that's brilliant.

0:20:210:20:24

But also I think it will wrap around your water feature.

0:20:240:20:26

-You know, so even in winter this will look good...

-Yes.

0:20:260:20:29

..against that wall. I think, while I'm putting the gardens together,

0:20:290:20:33

all I'm trying to do is slowly build them up in layers.

0:20:330:20:37

-I have got you a whole array.

-They look beautiful.

-Yeah.

0:20:370:20:40

We have worked a lot of compost and organic matter into your soil

0:20:400:20:43

so it is good, moist but shady, semi-shady conditions.

0:20:430:20:47

The ferns are going to be brilliant.

0:20:470:20:48

That gives you that lovely sort of texture.

0:20:480:20:50

-Wonderful colour, too, isn't it?

-It's beautiful, isn't it?

0:20:500:20:54

-Here we go, look. I know you like your pink.

-I do.

-All right.

0:20:540:20:58

If you look at your hellebore there, bring this euphorbia across.

0:20:580:21:01

-Look, that pink tinge.

-Isn't that...it matches perfectly.

0:21:010:21:05

It is those little bits of detail,

0:21:050:21:07

so as that sits in, and they have just a little bit

0:21:070:21:09

of a relationship, just that little bit of tone picks up really nicely.

0:21:090:21:12

They look gorgeous.

0:21:120:21:14

So everything you have got in here will grow in that

0:21:140:21:16

sort of shady or semi-shady conditions. They come up every year.

0:21:160:21:21

-So they don't need replanting?

-That's it.

-Wonderful.

0:21:210:21:24

All I do want you to do is every year maybe put a bit

0:21:240:21:26

of compost back on top, some sort of food, to keep things growing.

0:21:260:21:30

And this plant here.

0:21:300:21:31

Doesn't look much at the moment but this astrantia here,

0:21:330:21:36

beautiful white flowers.

0:21:360:21:38

-Look like paper.

-Wonderful. I'm looking forward to seeing that.

0:21:380:21:42

That's lovely, and it will keep flowering and flowering.

0:21:420:21:45

So, really, all we have to do now is just get them in.

0:21:450:21:47

When you are choosing plants for a small space,

0:21:500:21:52

don't just think flower, think about leaf shape,

0:21:520:21:56

habit and texture.

0:21:560:21:58

You can even go big and bold if you want to.

0:21:580:22:01

But don't use plants that are too heavy as they will block out light.

0:22:010:22:05

Go for light and airy plants.

0:22:050:22:08

If your space is dark, choosing flowers

0:22:080:22:11

and foliage that are light in colour will really help lift your garden.

0:22:110:22:16

Just make sure whatever you decide to grow will be

0:22:160:22:18

happy in the conditions you have.

0:22:180:22:20

Once all the plants are in, it's just the finishing touches.

0:22:220:22:24

The last one on there.

0:22:260:22:28

-That's amazing.

-There you go.

0:22:280:22:31

Thank you, it looks beautiful. It's my happy garden.

0:22:310:22:36

It is, and I love today,

0:22:360:22:37

you've smiled so much, but take yourself back, you were scared

0:22:370:22:40

-to come out because you were worried about slipping over.

-Yes.

0:22:400:22:43

It was dark, it was dingy.

0:22:430:22:45

It proves, doesn't it, even if you've got the tiniest of space,

0:22:450:22:48

just with a little bit of thought, you can

0:22:480:22:51

-create a really lovely, little garden.

-Absolutely amazing.

0:22:510:22:54

You have done a wonderful job. Thank you.

0:22:540:22:56

-I hope you enjoy it.

-I will!

0:22:560:22:58

Good.

0:22:580:23:00

Well, that does show what you can do,

0:23:090:23:12

it doesn't matter how small the space is,

0:23:120:23:14

and this year we do want to celebrate small gardens.

0:23:140:23:18

We are running a competition.

0:23:180:23:20

We would love to hear from you if you have a small garden,

0:23:200:23:25

no more than 36 square metres, that's six by six.

0:23:250:23:28

Send us four pictures, not hard copies. They must be uploaded.

0:23:280:23:33

They can be on the same day, or taken across the seasons

0:23:330:23:36

and show the innovation and the design.

0:23:360:23:39

We are looking for creativity.

0:23:390:23:40

And, of course, it must be your work, not something you've paid for.

0:23:400:23:44

Then we will choose what we think are the five best gardens,

0:23:440:23:48

come and film them,

0:23:480:23:50

show them on the programme so you can all have a vote and then

0:23:500:23:54

we will announce the winner of the competition on Gardeners' World Live.

0:23:540:23:58

All those details are available on our website.

0:23:580:24:01

What we are really after is to prove

0:24:020:24:05

that no matter how small, every space counts.

0:24:050:24:09

Well, although this weather does limit what you do in the garden,

0:24:180:24:21

there's no point in trying to plant or do

0:24:210:24:23

anything like that, there is no reason why you can't prune.

0:24:230:24:26

And pruning in cold, frosty weather will do no harm

0:24:260:24:30

to the plants at all.

0:24:300:24:31

So you could do apples, you can do clematis, you can

0:24:310:24:34

do buddleia and you can do roses.

0:24:340:24:37

Now is a good time,

0:24:370:24:38

any time in March is a great time to prune roses.

0:24:380:24:41

Now, these shrub roses,

0:24:410:24:43

what you're looking for is to create a good shape.

0:24:430:24:46

This is a rose called Complicata.

0:24:460:24:48

And you can see that it has become

0:24:480:24:50

entangled, nice and healthy,

0:24:500:24:52

it has been pruned back in autumn but I want to thin it out.

0:24:520:24:56

When you are reducing the tangle, what you want to think of is

0:24:560:24:59

creating a shape where every branch, every stem has space around it.

0:24:590:25:04

And the real thing to remember

0:25:040:25:06

when pruning roses is the weaker the growth, the harder you cut it.

0:25:060:25:11

That is counter intuitive.

0:25:110:25:13

But you will stimulate nice, strong growth by cutting back hard.

0:25:130:25:16

So I'm going to get right in down the bottom, which is

0:25:160:25:19

why I have brought the loppers.

0:25:190:25:20

You see, I think that central one, which looks nice and strong

0:25:220:25:25

but actually is crowding the middle, that could come out.

0:25:250:25:28

Any shoots that are damaged,

0:25:280:25:31

you want to cut back below the damage

0:25:310:25:33

and any that are crossing,

0:25:330:25:34

and they will rub against each other and that will cause an open

0:25:340:25:37

wound, which will be much more prone to fungal or virus infection.

0:25:370:25:41

They need to be cut back.

0:25:410:25:44

Come on, out you come.

0:25:440:25:46

Next step is to remove the weaker growth.

0:25:480:25:51

And, in fact, I'm going to take that off right back there.

0:25:510:25:54

We've got this which is crossing, so that can come off there.

0:25:560:26:00

But this is not a fine art

0:26:000:26:02

and I don't ever spend more than about ten minutes on any one plant.

0:26:020:26:06

So don't feel that there is an absolute correct way to do this.

0:26:070:26:12

But don't be frightened of it. You're not going to do any harm.

0:26:140:26:17

These are tough plants.

0:26:170:26:19

Now, if you haven't got roses and you don't feel like pruning,

0:26:190:26:22

or it is to cold, don't worry, whatever the weather, I've got

0:26:220:26:25

some jobs for you this weekend.

0:26:250:26:27

If you grow rhubarb, it is a good idea to force some

0:26:350:26:38

and the time to do this is now,

0:26:380:26:40

before you have seen anything other than the first sign of a bud.

0:26:400:26:43

The important thing is to exclude all light

0:26:430:26:46

and it really doesn't matter what you use to do this.

0:26:460:26:48

Leave the cover on for about four weeks

0:26:500:26:53

and then you will have extra succulent, sweet shoots.

0:26:530:26:57

Now that we are in March, it is

0:27:010:27:02

time to prune late flowering clematis like this viticella

0:27:020:27:07

because they produce all their flowers on new growth.

0:27:070:27:10

This means you can cut them right back to the ground

0:27:100:27:13

but if you grow them in a border, like I do,

0:27:130:27:15

I've found that it's a good idea to leave a foot or two of growth

0:27:150:27:18

so that the new shoots begin their life without

0:27:180:27:21

the competition of surrounding growth.

0:27:210:27:23

More house plants are killed by over watering than anything else.

0:27:270:27:32

Now, a good way to avoid this is to put a saucer underneath each pot

0:27:320:27:36

and never water more than once a week.

0:27:360:27:39

When that saucer fills up, immediately discard the residue.

0:27:390:27:43

However, it is a good idea to mist house plants at least once a day

0:27:430:27:47

and a good tip is to use rainwater, rather than tap water.

0:27:470:27:51

Well, it's certainly been a chilly start to our gardening year.

0:28:020:28:07

But come snow, wind,

0:28:070:28:08

rain or shine we'll be back here at Longmeadow next week.

0:28:080:28:12

So until then, bye-bye.

0:28:120:28:14

A new gardening year begins at Longmeadow and Monty reveals his new plans for the year as well as taking stock of any winter damage. As well as seasonal hints and tips he is embarking on a mission to reduce the use of plastic in his garden and starts by exploring alternative containers to use for seed sowing.

Adam Frost brings his design expertise to a tiny back yard to demonstrate that no matter how small, with a bit of ingenuity, every space can count when it comes to gardening and we meet a Wolverhampton couple who have created an inspirational garden packed to bursting with surprises.