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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.
Well, the winter madness of the weather seems to have gone
and what's left behind is a slightly dazed garden,
but nevertheless, one that is firmly in spring and we must
get on with our spring jobs, and this is one of my favourites.
It's pruning back the pleached limes.
The reason I'm pruning it back is to get back to the bare
structure of the pleached branches, and in this case it is to create
a cube, but I've also got them lining the cottage garden.
By pruning them now, that will invigorate
the plant to throw up new stems, which will provide a canopy,
and also keep really good colour next winter.
If you look at these branches here,
you can see this is Tilia platyphyllos Rubra
and the Rubra refers to these lovely red bark on the stems.
That gives good, strong winter colour.
Although the limes are really important at Longmeadow, because
we have got quite a lot of them, you can actually apply this
pruning to a number of different plants
like willow, like dogwood,
but if you prune them back hard now,
they will respond by throwing up vigorous new shoots
across summer, and next winter those shoots will be really decorative.
Now, we've got lots going on today's programme,
because not only am I cutting back, but I am also planting.
I've got a tree to plant, which is always a big moment in any garden.
This week, Joe is planting up containers to introduce
a welcome splash of colour to what can be a monochromatic March.
And Carol is visiting a magnificent garden in North Wales
to celebrate some extraordinary seasonal planting.
In early December, we had two foot of snow in a day and it was wet,
heavy snow and it lay on all the evergreens
and these poor old grass borders were just smashed flat.
Normally in December, and even January,
they are best thing in the garden, not this year.
Anyway, it's time to clear them up and clear away all the old
growth, ready for the new growth to come through.
A few weeks ago, I would have given anything to have felt
a little bit too warm.
There we go.
The important thing at this stage,
when you're clearing grasses,
is just to remove the growth that is loose.
Don't yank at them because sometimes you can pull up the whole plant
and sometimes you can damage them.
But however much of a muddle it looks with all the grasses
fallen and bashed, it is important to leave that
over the winter months, because the last two years I have cleared this,
I've found hibernating hedgehogs in amongst the grasses and
if it's not hedgehogs, it's great for birds
and small mammals and insects.
It is really good winter cover.
Now that it's spring, obviously you can clear it away,
but go steady as you go, because you'll never know what you'll find.
Can you see how the new grass is beginning to appear?
I'll cut that, I won't pull.
What I want to avoid is cutting any of that back,
because it grows from the base.
So if you cut the top off, it looks artificially trimmed
and we want to keep nice form as it grows up.
We can come back to that to tidy up,
but that's starting to see next year's shoots.
This is a miscanthus.
And it is really dramatic and tall.
It's good for small gardens if you want drama in a limited space.
It needs cutting back and this is a secateurs job,
because these are almost like bamboos, they're so thick.
This is actually a good example, now I've cleared it.
You can see how the plant is spreading out.
The growth is all around the outside
and the middle is empty.
That's how it spreads. It spreads out as a ring.
What I could do is cut that in half
and replant the other half
and that will invigorate it, but not now.
This is not the time to do it.
It is fine for most herbaceous plants, but grasses
that are transplanted into cold soil
really run a high risk of dying.
So wait until you see new, fresh growth,
which here at Longmeadow will be well into May,
and then that is the time to move it.
You only should cut back deciduous grasses.
Most grasses are deciduous, so that in itself is not a hugely
difficult thing, but some, really good ones, are evergreen.
And this is a pheasant grass.
You can see there is plenty of green in there
although quite a lot of brown, too,
and that's pretty common.
Some plants, as they get older, get browner and browner
and the way to deal with these is completely different.
Don't cut them back.
But using your fingers, and you may want to use gloves for this,
just comb through them like that,
pulling out any dead material that wants to come.
And the living green will stay put.
You just comb them out.
It's a bit like brushing Nigel.
Now the one thing that grasses cannot do for you until autumn,
when their seed heads appear, is give you good colour,
and all of us crave colour in spring.
Now, it doesn't matter how small your garden is, or even if you
have got no garden at all,
you can have spring colour, and Joe shows us how.
March is such an unpredictable month
and as gardeners we are desperate for spring to...well, spring.
And apart from a few evergreen shrubs,
the garden is dominated by bare soil and twigs.
What it really needs is a shot of colour to help separate
the garden from winter into spring proper, cheat the seasons
a little bit, and all you need is a pot...
..and some creative planting.
We have this lovely evergreen skimmia.
It's in flower and it'll have lovely berries in the autumn, as well.
It's an acid loving plant, so I'm going to use ericaceous compost
in here, which I think the other plants will be absolutely fine with.
It's a really good plant for this time of year,
nice, glossy foliage, and this is a really good shape.
Now, when you think about placing of it,
you know, are you going to put it in the middle,
is this pot going to be walked around
and seen from every angle,
or is it just going to be seen from one side?
I'm thinking of placing this up against the wall
so it will be placed towards the back
and the other plants will fill in in front of it.
I'm just going to turn it upside down,
give it a good tap
and there you go.
That's going to sit at the back.
In fact, do check, because a lot of plants have one good face,
and make sure you have got the good face.
This is a combination of gardening and flower arranging, really.
Now, the next plant is another shrubby plant,
it is a euphorbia, and this one,
martinii, has lovely, ladybird-red flowers
right in the middle of those bracts
and that will pick up nicely on the purple stems of the skimmia here.
It is quite a small plant at the moment, which is nice,
because it's also got a small pot.
Just slightly at a rakish angle.
I wanted something with a very different form to help break up
the edges of the pot, so I went for this lovely, lime-green carex.
It has some flowers on it just coming through at the moment.
They're almost black.
It's as if someone has gone along with a paintbrush
and just added a little bit of detail.
It gives it nice definition.
Now for the colour, and to really add the icing on the cake,
I've got these polyanthus.
You can get them in all sorts of colours.
Really garish colours, if that's your sort of thing, then go for it.
I've picked just two.
I went for this lovely velvety red
which has a yellow centre,
and then this butter-yellow one.
I've got some in flower, some in bud,
so they will keep flowering for many weeks to come
and you just pop those into a gap
where you think they will look good.
They sort of add that mid-level to the planting.
On the lower level, I've gone for a variegated ivy to trail over
the edges, which draws the eyes down the pot nicely
and adds another layer of interest to the design.
Well, I'm pretty pleased. I think the combination of plants go together nicely.
There is good texture and there's plenty of colour still to come.
It has got a certain energy about it which is just what
we need at this time of year.
If you want to go for a completely different colour scheme,
obviously, choose what you want, but this is a cooler palette,
but in a way it's the same approach, in that I've
gone for an evergreen shrub as a fulcrum to the design.
This is a Drimys lanceolata, which is a mountain pepper.
It's got this wonderful, evergreen foliage
and these lovely, purple stems
and it has got a beautiful,
scented flower, a bit later in spring.
I've got a grass, which is nice and feathery on one side.
This is a nice, simple, green carex and the shots of colour in
front come from this lovely primula
with these rounded flowers, lovely, deep purple
and with a dusting of snow, yes, doesn't it look pretty?
Honestly, it's perfect.
I said right at the beginning, unpredictable March,
you saw it right here.
It doesn't mean you can't get some colour in your garden
with your pots.
Right, you're coming with me.
Well, I love containers and we use them all year round at Longmeadow,
but in spring, there is one tip that always works.
That's to condense them.
Get all your pots and put them into one place.
Whereas, if you spread them out around the garden, they do tend
to get lost in the brownness of March.
This may look as though I'm just digging into sort of prepared soil,
but there is a big story behind this,
because we did have a tree here.
This is the end of the cricket pitch, the main focal point
of the whole garden, and we had a horse chestnut which I planted about
20-odd years ago and was growing well
but then it got a bleeding canker.
That resulted in it splitting, it became dangerous, so we cut it down.
In fact, the stump is over there.
What I'm left with is a space to plant another tree,
because I still need that focal point.
The tree I'm going to plant this time is a hornbeam.
This is in a plastic bag,
but what I will do is re-use the bag,
and if you can, look for bare root trees wrapped in hessian,
which they always used to be.
However, the tree itself is fine
and bare root trees are those that don't come in a pot.
They haven't lived in a pot at all,
this was in a field until a couple of days ago.
The advantage of bare root is that they are cheaper
and you tend to have a much wider choice to choose from.
Now, this is a hornbeam,
called Frans Fontaine.
The critical thing is not to let them dry out.
I don't know if you can see these little fibrous roots here.
These are the feeding roots.
The big ones like this don't matter so much at all.
If you let these dry out they can die.
If I put this on there...
Actually, that is pretty much perfect height.
You notice, I haven't added any compost at the bottom of the hole.
I don't want the roots to stay in this hole.
I want them to grow out of it into the soil.
And also, I want this point here
to be slightly higher than the surface.
Never plant in a saucer, because trees are more likely to
drown than they are to suffer from drought.
However, I will add a little mycorrhizal fungi,
which just gives it a start.
The fungi lives off the sugars from the tree
and the tree has much better access to the nutrients in the soil.
There are two reasons really why I've chosen this hornbeam.
One, because it's hornbeam, it will be very happy in clay,
it will relate to the hornbeam hedges and that will work well.
Two, because it is a fastigiate type.
I looked up fastigiate because I knew it meant an upright tree,
but I didn't know the source of the word.
Actually, it comes from the description of "like a gable".
A tree that grows to a point, like the gable end of a house.
It's a 17th-century word.
It makes sense when you think about it,
although generally it just means an upright growing tree.
And in a large garden, they make a good feature,
but they are really good for a small garden.
A real, proper, fully grown tree
that doesn't take up too much space.
A tree this size needs supporting for about three years.
But if you're planting a tree that is five feet or less,
it is better not to stake it,
as it will establish secure roots more quickly.
If you are using a stake,
set it at 45 degrees to the tree,
directed into the prevailing wind,
which in this case is from the West,
blowing straight down the cricket pitch,
and then tie it with a tree tie
making sure that the stake and the tree can't rub.
When you're done that,
give it a really good soak and then it's time to mulch.
The mulch is really important.
This is garden compost, which is ideal.
But it doesn't matter what you use so much as you use something
that is thick, because the idea is not to feed the soil, particularly,
but to suppress competitive weeds
and grass and to keep the moisture in.
Now, this gives me instant structure and that's exciting but,
of course, like the rest of the garden, I can't wait
until the leaves start to appear and then it really will look good.
Now, most of our gardens improve dramatically as spring
progresses, but Carol has been to North Wales to visit
one of the country's great gardens
that looks good all the year round.
In the early part of the year, some people feel
they have just got to put up with a dismal, gloomy garden.
But here at Bodnant, the Winter Garden,
they demonstrate just what a magical season this can be with colour,
shape, structure and, from time to time, wafts of the most
Although this is a big garden, there are lots of small cameos -
beautiful sorts of associations
which are very appropriate in a much smaller space.
Take this very simple combination of two plants.
For a start, there's these big uprights of the Pinus mugo.
This is Winter Gold.
The clue is in its name.
It's at its best during this season
and it's rising up from this carpet of white heather.
This is Erica carnea Springwood White.
It opens all its flowers right the way through the winter
and is an incredibly important source of pollen
and nectar to any visiting insects.
It's simple, but it's beautiful
and very, very easy to maintain.
Here, the combination is all about structure and texture.
In the background, we have got these great columns,
and here springing out are these acers.
It is Acer conspicuum Phoenix.
It's rising again
and at my feet the most glorious repetition of colour.
From hellebores right through to
this little Leucothoe.
It's called Curly Red.
Then onto the big, plain, straightforward leaves
of Bergenia Helen Dillon.
Absolute fabulous combination
and something you could take any part of and do yourself.
This garden is packed with all sorts of rarities and treasures,
but also there are plants that we are all used to seeing.
Take this one, you Euonymus fortunei Silver Queen.
You see it in almost every sort of municipal planting scheme,
which proves it's a really straightforward plant to grow.
But at this time of year it's lifted to a whole different
level by having these stems of this gorgeous cornus,
just springing out through the top of it.
It brings the whole thing to life.
And there are all manner of these different coloured cornus.
There is one black one here, which is called Kesselringii
and then there is Cornus alba Sibirica with bright red stems,
a Midwinter Fire that is pale and orange.
And in every case, you can find great plants to associate them with.
Scent is one of THE most alluring qualities of the Winter Garden.
Here, it's supplied by such plants as Daphne,
But within the rest of the 80 acres, there are so many wonderful
things, including some beautiful stand-alone specimens.
Like this beautiful Arbutus andrachnoides.
It's a delight and its peeling bark has been
rubbed by countless hands, so it has developed this fine polish.
It's truly sculptural.
And on the walls around about
are all sorts of painterly touches.
Ribes laurifolium has to be one of the most beautiful things
you could ever meet in the middle of winter.
It's totally exquisite.
Bodnant is an inspirational garden.
It's packed with creative ideas and exciting plant combinations.
If your garden isn't looking quite as bright,
now is the time to plan for next winter.
All you need is a few simple ideas.
Incorporate a dwarf conifer with a good shape or perhaps a shrub
with highly coloured branches.
Surround them by evergreen ground cover and a big
sprinkling of winter flowers
and perhaps some early spring bulbs.
That way, you'll ensure that your winter garden is superb
and a fitting prelude for the season to come.
One of the measures of a garden is how good it looks in winter.
And Bodnant certainly looks good.
I actually haven't been for about ten years or more,
and it is high time I made a return visit.
I last went in late spring and it was glorious,
but having seen that, any time of year is going to be good.
And these crocus have done me really well this winter.
It is Crocus sieberi Tricolor and they flowered bravely
through the ice and the snow and the wind and the rain,
and I'll certainly be planting more of them for next winter.
Now, this year, we are very keen to get out
and help you out in your garden as best we can,
and the best way to contact us is via our Facebook page.
So if you go to our Facebook page
and present us with a gardening problem that you think
we could help with, we may well come out and see you.
Last spring, I made this new soft fruit garden,
and planted blackcurrants, redcurrants,
cordon apples, pears and gooseberries.
And I wanted to plant raspberries,
but by the time I got round to it, it was too late,
so I've had to wait almost 12 months to complete the planting.
Now, I do think that raspberries are a fruit
that should be at the top of everyone's list.
They are absolutely delicious.
So, what raspberries like is a cool, damp summer
and a cool, mild winter.
They don't like being too dry
and they certainly don't like sitting in cold, wet soil.
So I've added some compost.
This will lighten it up, as well as feed it.
It is important to make sure you have got good drainage.
If it is really heavy clay, it is
probably worth investing in a bit of grit, which will lighten it up.
These are long-lived plants. They will live for at least ten years.
Now, what I've got here is some bare root.
They are all the same variety, it's Glen Ample.
And it will produce its fruit from the middle of June to early August.
Then, when you are looking at buying canes,
go for something with pencil-thick canes already.
You will see the new shoots, which are appearing here,
will carry next year's fruit.
So, summer fruiting raspberries produce shoots one year
and fruit the next.
I can space these out.
About two foot apart.
Which is about 60 centimetres in new money.
I don't want to put them in the ground too deep.
So the point where the buds come from,
that wants to be just about at soil level.
The roots are fairly shallow.
The woody root is not really important.
What matters are these fibrous roots, which will become
a mat as the plant grows.
Actually, that is going to influence how you weed them,
because it means you can't hoe round them,
you can't fork, but what you can do is mulch them really thickly.
That will keep the weeds down and also keep those roots nice
and cool, which is what they like.
Once you have got them in the ground,
tie the canes to the bottom wire
and this will stop them rocking in the wind and damaging the roots.
Then give them a good soak.
Now once you've watered them, the next stage, and this is
important, is to mulch them and don't just use any old mulch.
This is our Christmas tree, put through the shredder,
but what's marvellous about this is it's ericaceous
and that's what raspberries like.
That will keep them weed free, it'll keep the moisture in
and they'll be all the better for it.
And basically, the one thing that is really important is do not use
mushroom compost on raspberries, because it's alkaline.
Now, the one point I would stress that if you're going
to plant some raspberries, do it this month,
otherwise you have to wait until next February or March.
But here are some jobs that you don't have to wait for,
because you can do them this weekend.
With any luck, the worst of the wintry weather is now past,
but the soil will remain cold for a while yet.
However, if you have some cloches, and failing that, fleece,
cover an area of ground and this will gradually warm the soil
so that when you are ready to sow, or plant out, everything will
grow much faster.
Buddleias produce their flowers on new shoots
and this means that now they can be pruned hard,
right down to the bottom bud if you choose.
This will stimulate fresh growth with a good crop of flowers
later in the summer.
If you want to grow sweet peas from seed, this is something you
must get on with now to give the plants a chance to develop.
I'm using cardboard tubes filled with a coir-based compost
and putting two seeds per tube.
Put them somewhere warm to germinate, keep them watered
and then gradually harden them off
before planting them out round about the beginning of May.
This is the last of this lovely witch hazel.
It's Hamamelis Pallida,
and the yellow has all the freshness that is so good about spring.
That's the last of today's programme, too. That's it.
Don't forget that our competition, Every Space Counts,
is still open until midnight next Thursday.
You can get all the details on what are the requirements
and how to enter from our website.
And I shall be back here, hopefully with spring
just that little bit further on, next Friday at the same time.
Until then, bye-bye.