Winter Life in a Cottage Garden with Carol Klein


Winter

Series following a year in Carol Klein's garden at Glebe Cottage. In January and February, the frosts of a hard winter have not yet released their grip on the garden.


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Transcript


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I'm Carol Klein and this is my garden, Glebe Cottage,

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nestled in the heart of the North Devon hills, 15 miles from the coast.

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For more than three decades, I've cared for this garden.

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I love it, and so do my family.

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I know every inch of the place and every plant.

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It completely absorbs me. I love spending time out here,

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surrounded by the tranquillity of this beautiful countryside.

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Every season brings its own delights and its own problems and challenges,

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but that's the thing about gardening,

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it's ever-changing and it's always exhilarating.

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It's a privilege for me to feel part of the process.

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Over the next six weeks, I'm going to show you

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a whole year in my garden, how it grows, flourishes, dies and is reborn.

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When you live intimately with your garden, its story becomes endlessly fascinating.

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I love my garden.

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I absolutely adore it. We've been here now for more than 30 years.

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During that time, everything's changed dramatically.

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Not just once, but all the time, continuous change.

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When we came here, though, you wouldn't have recognised it.

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It was full of old cars, old buildings, loads of sheds.

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But it's been transformed.

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I've really enjoyed making this part of the garden.

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We call it the brick garden for obvious reasons. All the paths are made out of bricks.

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But it's got loads of grasses. It's a very animated part of the garden.

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And over here are the hotbeds.

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They don't look so hot at the moment, but later on, you wait.

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They're packed full of all sorts of exotics.

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Cannas, dahlias, even the odd banana or two.

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And the colours are outrageous, really brilliant reds, very, very zingy.

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You could almost warm your hands on them.

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And through here, you can see across to my favourite bit of the garden.

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There's a big track that sort of bisects the garden

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and the two sides of it have got completely different characters.

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Over here, everything is open.

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Over there is my favourite, favourite bit, it's woodland.

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I planted all those trees to create shade

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for all those little delicate plants that I love to grow.

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We've got two daughters and they've each got their own garden.

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This is Alice's garden.

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Full of the kind of colours that she loves, whites, pinks, crimsons.

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'Alice is 28 now. She lives in Brighton, but she comes back from time to time.

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'And when she's here, she loves to be in the garden.'

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And down here

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is Annie's garden.

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Annie is my eldest daughter.

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She's 29 now, she's in South America.

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But I'm dying for her to come back and see what I'm going to do this.

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I hope she's going to join in, too.

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At the moment it's a typical example of the rest of the garden.

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Everything looks dormant, if not dead.

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But don't you believe it. Underneath the surface of that soil, all sorts of things are happening.

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Roots are thrusting their way out, new shoots are being formed

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and very soon the whole garden is going to green up.

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That's what it's all about, the death, the rebirth, the life of everybody's garden.

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It's January and February, but amongst the bleakness and cold of winter,

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there will be the first splashes of colour

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and incredibly for this time of year, I'm already thinking about my first seeds.

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These months of short days are packed with frantic moments,

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cleaning the remnants and debris of the previous year and getting the garden ready for the time ahead.

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You reckon that's stable? Ish!

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How about this for a complete tangle?

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I've got two wonderful plants here and the whole idea is they grow in sweet harmony.

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This clematis Huldine, it belongs to the Viticella group.

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It's completely taken over and it's actually distorting and pushing apart this lovely crab apple.

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If you're wondering who this bloke down here is, it's Neil, my husband.

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Ideally with a clematis like this, I should be able to prune it down to two buds from the ground.

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But if I do that I'm going to miss the beauty of some of these flowers at a sort of taller level.

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Although I should prune it when it's dormant, can you see it's already beginning to come into bud?

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So there's no time like the present.

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I'll pull as much of this tangle out as I possibly can

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and then I'll try and select a few shoots to be reintroduced.

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I'm going to shut up and get tugging.

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What a cruel winter it's been. I think it's been probably the cruellest winter

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since we been here, and that's more than 30 years.

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We've had the lot and we've had deep snow - we were snowed in for a fortnight.

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But the worst thing of all has been the frost.

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It's done such an amount of damage.

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My pots with the tulips in at the top are completely shattered.

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You can see all the roots and these plants struggling to survive.

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And as for my beautiful brick paths, they're just in pieces.

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And amongst the plants there have been so many deaths and when things haven't died,

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some things are maimed so badly. There really is quite a lot to get over.

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Ooh!

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That's so much better.

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Thank you for your services. I thought you were stuck to that ladder.

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How about a cup of tea?

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That would be lovely. It's all work, work, work isn't it, Neil?

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Well, what d'you think?

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It's a whole lot clearer now. I can really see what I'm doing when it comes to pruning this tree.

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But first of all, it's a question of dealing with the clematis.

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Can you see the masses of these stems which have actually layered themselves into the ground?

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I want to take a few of these out.

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I want to retain some so that I'll get these lovely starry flowers decorating the top branches.

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But look at this one,

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that's sort of coming right out onto the trap,

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so I think I'll be able to pull that one out.

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And I'm going to prune it just as you would

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any classic sort of group three clematis.

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So if you just trace the stem to where it's coming from here - it's quite old wood, this.

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I just need to leave two or three buds there, probably do it to that one there.

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You don't make a sloping cut like a rose

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because it's got two buds, one on either side.

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All I want to do is make this little shallow trench along here, just a couple of centimetres deep.

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Each one of these buds along the stem will break and make a brand-new shoot.

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That just wants to twang upwards, so weight it down with a stone.

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I'll keep a check on that, wait for some new shoots

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and then maybe replace the stone with a staple, but meanwhile where's my shoot?

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I'd better finish the job. It's behind me.

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It's a question of pulling it right out of here, I feel a bit like a bell ringer, but here we go.

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I might disappear out of sight.

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As the autumn fades into winter

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and the new year begins, all the colours within the garden become generalised.

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Everything's brown and dun.

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It's like a sepia photograph.

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This is Annie's garden and it's the site of the biggest revamp of the year.

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It's a major project.

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And before I do anything at all, I've got to clear away all this debris

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so I can see what's in here, I can see what these clumps are.

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And once I can identify everything, I'm going to lift it all out on to the tarpaulin.

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And having done that,

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I'm going to make a quick stock list, see what I've got

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and think about what the design of this is going to be.

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I've got one major decision, because at the end of the border there's this old apple tree.

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It's full of canker and disease.

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We've tried all sorts of things, tried pruning it, all manner of stuff.

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But I'm going to have to make my mind up eventually whether it stays

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or whether it goes, but for now there's plenty of work to do.

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I suppose winter seems a very long sort of season.

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It's a time when everything's dormant, dying, dead, perhaps.

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Although the majority of the garden is brown and very austere,

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there are already things starting to happen.

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If you look at the ground, there are shoots beginning to appear and in the hedges,

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catkins are beginning to dangle those lovely lamb's tails

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and spreading the pollen if you get a windy day.

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But the stars of the moment have to be my snowdrops.

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They are the plant that invites us into the new year.

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The dark, dank earth, you can almost hear it being split asunder as their shoots pierce it and up they come.

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The flower is just so perfectly designed.

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This great long pedicel, skinny, tiny, the stalk which supports the bell

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and you wouldn't think it could hold that great weight.

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But it enables these bells to move backwards and forwards

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in the thrashing winds that we get in January and February.

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Look how it's clumped and moved itself around and you can exploit that

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with any snowdrop by digging it up just as it goes to ground.

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As the flowers and foliage begins to fade and separating the bulbs and replanting them straightaway.

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The other way is to twin scale them. Take your bulbs at the beginning of their dormancy in June or July.

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And you slice them vertically with a completely clean knife. You must make sure everything is sterile.

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Each piece must have at least two scales and a bit of the basal plate.

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Then you put those pieces into a bag of vermiculite and put it away in a nice, warm, dark place.

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After a few weeks, new bulbs will start to form

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and then you can line them out into seed trays in decent compost.

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Grow them on and after a couple of years you should have decent-sized bulbs

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and then you can put them out into the garden to start the whole cycle going again.

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We've been getting on famously with Annie's border.

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And just as I'm congratulating myself, what happens?

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The clouds open and the rain pours down.

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It's typical January weather, isn't it? So unpredictable you can have the whole lot all in one day.

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Still, there's plenty to get on with.

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I just love this shed.

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I love this time of year because even though it's gone dark outside,

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I can still come in here and carry on gardening.

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There's so many things to do and you're so close to everything in here.

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You can pot up these primroses.

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Just look at them and anticipate just what they're going to be

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and the times when they're growing away outside and how the year is going to progress.

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Not always going to be dark like this.

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Eventually the garden will change and things will heat up.

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But for now, it's just lovely to be in here.

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That's the very last of that debris from Annie's border.

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I can't believe how much I've taken out.

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But I'd hoped to come straight down this morning, shift the last

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of the rubbish and get right on to lifting those plants, but not a chance.

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It poured down during the night, absolute deluge.

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But there are other things I can do.

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While I'm waiting for that to dry out, I think I'm going to take these out.

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This is Phlomis lanata.

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It's a from hot, dry sunny places and it's got grey, furry leaves.

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But they should be grey-blue. At the moment they're brown.

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The whole thing is as dead as a doornail.

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Fortunately for me, I took cuttings last year, I always do take cuttings

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from the tender plants, or the borderline plants, and they are thriving in a cold frame.

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All I did was in June, July, take little side shoots with a heel.

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Or you can get your knife in right under a leaf node.

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Nip the top out, put them all round the side of a pot of gritty compost and they root fairly rapidly.

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It's worth doing it two or three times, though, different weeks.

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But I think it'll be fairly easy to get it out.

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I shall replant some of those plants in here,

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but I certainly won't do it yet. I'll wait till the weather warms up.

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Things won't warm up for ages yet, but at least the rain has eased

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and finally I can get on with Annie's garden.

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Are you helping?

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At long last.

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I can almost hear that roll of drums.

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I can get cracking and start taking these things out.

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Something tells me

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it's going to be a lot easier said than done.

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This is a Phlox.

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It's strange to think that when they went in, these plants,

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they were tiny, they were minute little things and just look at them now.

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This is one of the smaller ones, too.

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What I like to do when I've got them all here is to divide them,

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to put some into a nursery bed, to look after them, anyway.

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I'm sure they will be fine.

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And then I can get to work on this soil, preparing a really lovely home for my new design.

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Some of them are going to come back in here, but they will be joined by all sorts of other lovely things.

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Each day you come out at this time of year, it's different.

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You get days where the sun is sparkling through the trees

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and then you'll get other days where it's foggy, really misty.

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Traditionally, the shortest day of the winter solstice is the day for putting your garlic in the ground.

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But I never do that because it's so wet and soggy here.

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I prefer to start them off in modules. That way they're off to a flying start.

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Most of the weather in my garden comes from the west, from the Atlantic.

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But in February, it comes from the east.

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Bitter winds bite you to the quick.

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They don't come round you, they go straight through you.

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It's a wonder anything survives at all.

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I'm taking down these completely rickety wattle panels.

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The weather has finished them off.

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I want to get at this hedge behind here.

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This is our native hedge that runs right the length of the garden and today Marcus Tribe,

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who is an incredible woodsman, is going to come round and help lay this hedge.

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Hello, Marcus.

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-Good morning, how are you?

-Lovely to see you.

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Step across your garden.

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Step across. Do you think we could get through here and then we can see what's happening?

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-It's what I spend most of my time doing, going through hedges.

-I know, you're good at it.

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My maths teacher always used to say I looked like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards.

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-Now you know where it comes from.

-Yeah.

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-Can you get them through?

-There you go.

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They're sturdy, aren't they?

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Yeah, these are good stakes.

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-It's grown, hasn't it?

-Yeah, that's come on nice.

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-They're good enough to lay now.

-You reckon you can do a good job with that?

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-We can match it in with the rest of the hedge now.

-Fantastic.

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We've got two there.

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Just going to pull that one in.

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This one, I won't cut this one, I'll just lay this one in.

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Just weave it in.

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OK, the idea is we've got to cut

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three quarters of the way through the stem,

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but leaving enough on there

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so that it stays attached.

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You want a little bit of the wood, a little bit of the cambium layer and the bark.

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That's the layer all the sap passes through.

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And that will carry on up through there. There's enough there for it to keep on living.

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We just put the billhook in there and split that off and pull it over gently.

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-Weave it between the posts.

-Into the big hazel supports.

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And the whole idea of doing this is that sap's going to come rushing through.

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That sap will rise up the tree and it will also create new shoots that will come off there.

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So we're going to have all that growing up there?

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Plus a massive new shoot produced at the base.

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And then in future years, you layer those two.

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And later on we'll lay them again.

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This is part of the hedge that Marcus laid about four years ago.

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And it perfectly demonstrates what happens.

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All these laterals have sprung up, all those new shoots

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and they themselves can be laid, too, to thicken the hedge even more.

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It's a sort of ongoing process.

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It gives me an opportunity to grow a forest full of trees, really.

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There are about 10 or 12 different native species here.

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So we get a really rich tapestry, all manner of leaves, beautiful flowers,

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incredible fruit, climbers through here and, of course, it's loved by wildlife.

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It's a real sort of corridor. It's beautiful, I couldn't live without it.

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Another part of my garden that I absolutely love is the woodland area.

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Nestled deep in one corner, there's a lovely little stream.

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After all the rain and snow it's gushing away

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and it's completely clogged up

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so I have to get in there and clear all those leaves out.

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I suppose it's over here that the hellebore

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really introduces itself. What I think I love most about them

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is how different they are, how diverse.

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Some have pure white flowers and you've got everything,

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through a huge range right the way through to black.

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And they're fairly trouble free, but one thing I always try and do

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is cut all the old leaves off each and every plant.

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This makes sure that disease isn't harboured.

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It also means light can get into the centre of the plant so the new growth can really shoot through.

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I think when you've got a few hellebores,

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one of the most exciting things you can do is to try pollinating some of them.

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And you just choose two plants.

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From one you collect the pollen and you do that either with a little paintbrush

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or by rubbing the lid of a Biro on your knee

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to create static and collect the pollen from the anthers of that plant.

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On the plant you've selected to receive the pollen, you find a flower

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which is just about to open and you pull those petals

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gently back and you introduce the pollen from your Biro or your brush

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on to the stigma in the centre of the flower.

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You close the petals carefully and repeat the process on three days

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to ensure that pollination has taken place.

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And then to identify the flower you pollinated,

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just tie a bit of embroidery thread or a bit of coloured wool on the back of the flower.

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And then come the end of May, the beginning of June, in some cases, watch your plants carefully

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and as those seed capsules start to burst asunder,

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move in with your paper bag and collect the seed.

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Take it off and sow it directly on to the surface of good compost

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in seed trays or big pots.

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And cover it with grit, leave it outside, water it regularly

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and in September or so, these new seedlings will start to pop through.

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Keep on potting them on and within a couple of years,

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you'll see these brand-new flowers, flowers that have never been seen before.

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It's the end of February and the long winter's drawing to a close.

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It's wonderful to reach this stage in Annie's border.

0:27:160:27:21

We've got everything out now.

0:27:210:27:24

The whole thing's been dug over, forked over

0:27:240:27:27

and I'm at the stage where I'm adding compost to it.

0:27:270:27:30

This wonderful, fantastic black stuff

0:27:300:27:35

that's going to make everything I replant in here thrive.

0:27:350:27:38

I never feed my plants, I feed the soil because it's the soil that feeds the plants.

0:27:380:27:44

That's the way to do it and compost is just such magical material.

0:27:440:27:49

To think that this is just all that death,

0:27:490:27:55

all those plants that had died down,

0:27:550:27:57

all that detritus, that rubbish and it's turned itself magically with the help

0:27:570:28:03

of thousands of micro-organisms and worms and all sorts in this lovely process,

0:28:030:28:09

into this fantastic black stuff that's just going to feed my whole garden.

0:28:090:28:16

These two months, although they moved very, very slowly, they've consolidated

0:28:160:28:22

the whole sort of beginning of the year,

0:28:220:28:25

laid the foundation for everything that's going to happen afterwards.

0:28:250:28:29

I can already tell that things have begun to accelerate.

0:28:290:28:34

There's already that sniff of spring in the air. I can't wait.

0:28:340:28:39

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:490:28:51

Email [email protected]

0:28:510:28:54

In this new series plantswoman Carol Klein shares with us a year in her garden at Glebe Cottage in north Devon. Carol has looked after her garden for over thirty years, and each year brings with it its own rewards and delights, as well as problems and challenges. Follow Carol as her garden grows, flourishes, dies and is reborn.

The first episode covers January and February. The frosts have not yet released their grip on the garden, and the devastation of a hard winter is scattered all around. There is much to do; cutting back, preparing the soil and garlic planting. The first green shoots of the year begin to appear, as drifts of snowdrops carpet the woodland floor and hellebores reveal their ravishing colours. A local woodsman joins Carol to lay a native hedge. Slowly the first signs of spring appear.


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