Spring into Summer Life in a Cottage Garden with Carol Klein


Spring into Summer

Series following a year in Carol Klein's garden at Glebe Cottage. In May and June, Carol is planting out sweet peas and staking perennials.


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Transcript


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I'm Carol Klein,

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and this is my garden,

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nestled in the heart of North Devon 15 miles from the coast

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and surrounded by this tranquil and beautiful countryside.

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I've taken care of my garden for 30 years.

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I know every inch of this place,

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and every plant.

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Each season brings its own delights.

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There are plenty of challenges too,

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but that's what makes it so exciting and so fulfilling.

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It's late spring

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and the whole garden is exploding into life.

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Over the next half hour

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I'll be enjoying the bounty of this season

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and following the garden's rush into early summer.

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May and June are the time of exuberance,

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of lushness.

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Everywhere you look things are surging forwards.

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You almost feel as though the rest of the year

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has just been a preparation for this moment.

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And yet at the same time there's so much to do

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to prepare for other seasons yet to come.

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But it's hugely important to grab the moment,

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to enjoy it,

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just to stop and stare and take it all in.

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BIRDSONG

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May is all about abundance.

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It's all about wallowing in this wonderful effervescence.

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The branches are laden with blossom

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and the hedgerows are thick with hawthorn blossom,

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pure white and sparkling.

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And all along the ditches, cow parsley spumes in a great wave.

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And leaves are translucent.

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You just know that they've never been seen before.

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They're fresh and bright and brilliant,

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but so tender as well.

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Spring is a time to get out,

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to fill your lungs.

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There's so much to see.

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Inspiration abounds.

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People talk about woodlands being "magical",

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and they are.

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Look at this, Fleur!

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Just look at that!

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I think everybody has their favourite kind of environment.

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My mum used to love being on top of mountains

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and she used to love feeling the wind in her face.

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But what I love is to be deep inside a wood.

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It's so tranquil.

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It makes you forget everything.

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You can almost hear the earth breathing.

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I think Devon woodlands particularly

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have an extra sort of magic.

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The climate here is so moist

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and so conducive to all the things that love to live in woods -

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for a start, to the trees

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and the plants that carpet the woodland floor.

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Look at the bluebells,

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and these magical ferns.

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Ferns adorn my garden.

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I just love them. They've very special plants.

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They have their own secret lives.

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They're quite different from other plants.

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They're probably the reason I came to Devon in the first place.

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All the hedgerows were so thickly thronged with ferns,

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I couldn't believe it.

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And now my garden at Glebe Cottage is the same.

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It's now that the woodland garden reaches its zenith.

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There have been a succession of plants,

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starting with snowdrops.

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Then hellebores,

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and primroses.

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Now it's the turn of the grand finale:

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bluebells,

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aquilegias,

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woodruff and foxgloves.

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Foxgloves really fit into my garden,

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but I prefer the white ones.

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All forms of Digitalis purpurea are biannual.

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In the first year they grow a rosette,

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but in the second put on a towering flower spike.

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They set seed and then they die.

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Every year I sow my collected seed in either a nursery bed or a tray.

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But it doesn't always come true.

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When the seedlings are still young, you can spot which will be pink.

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There's a sort of redness, a purpleness,

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running through the stems.

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So I rogue those out and I grow them on

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and put them in the bottom of my native hedge.

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The white ones have much softer, pure green foliage.

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It's paler too.

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These I pot up and grow on.

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I plant them out in the final flowering position

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either in the autumn or in the following spring,

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and the whole cycle starts again.

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Every year produces its triumphs and tragedies,

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and I certainly wasn't expecting this one.

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I've been turfing out some of my exotics

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that are bound for the hot border.

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But my beautiful red banana...

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just hasn't made it.

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Look at it.

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I kept burrowing down further and further

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just hoping it was all right,

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but this is the old root ball

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and there's nothing here any more.

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It's just gone.

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And all this dead foliage,

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which I was hoping to strip off

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and reveal wonderful new shoots.

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And look at this base.

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I mean, it's actually squidgy.

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Oh, it's such a tragedy!

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I've had these for about four years.

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Each year I've protected them over the winter, then put them outside,

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and they've been so dramatic.

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It's instant drama, really,

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and glamour too.

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But it's not very glamorous now, is it?

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Aww...

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Just look how leafy everything's got!

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But this morning there was actually frost on the field.

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But I'm determined to get to grips with my hot borders.

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Let me introduce you to them.

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They're not so much borders as beds, really,

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because "borders" implies that they've got a back and a front,

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and these are very three-dimensional.

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You've actually got these two completely separate beds

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joined together with this box.

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And isn't it looking smart?

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So you've got a constant sort of backdrop and looks through.

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But all the plants in here are hot coloured.

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There are things that start the show,

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like this Rheum here.

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And that foliage stays for ages.

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But look at this!

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Look at this cheeky Lobelia tupa.

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It's poked its way right under this sleeper, and it's pushing out.

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It's brilliant that it's survived.

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But now I'm going to get on with planting.

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And one plant in particular.

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It's this fine rudbeckia.

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It's a big, yellow daisy.

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It doesn't come out until later on, at which time it will accompany

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all these cannas and dahlias,

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and the whole thing is going to be a seething tropical mass.

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And I'm going to break it up and divide it

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to really thicken up this line.

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I couldn't work in here at all, as you can see,

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because the hedge sparrow's nest was in there.

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But now I feel I can do whatever I like

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because the birds have fledged.

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I'll start off with this rudbeckia.

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The whole idea is to link this side of the garden with the other side,

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particularly with the brick garden over here.

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This is a poppy called 'Beauty of Livermere' - or it used to be.

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It's now called 'Goliath Group'.

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And it's magnificent -

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great, towering stems with big red poppies.

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And you wouldn't believe...

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that this is the same thing.

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Even though this has started to make good taproot down here,

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those roots want to get into the ground.

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They're dying to get in there.

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Do you know, those stems have grown a foot in the last week

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and those fat buds are already starting to swell there.

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I'll tell you what, if I don't stake these poppies now,

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they could be disastrous start to the hot borders.

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This is my raised bed.

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I built this maybe...

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25 years ago

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because I wanted to be able to grow some of the plants

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that I just couldn't grow anywhere else in the garden.

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Things like the pulsatilla,

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and these eryngiums.

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And one of the major features in here

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were three of these lovely Phlomis.

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It's Phlomis lanata, meaning woolly.

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They've been here for several years

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and they form the backbone of this bit.

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But in the last winter they succumbed. They died.

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-But, fortunately for me...

-SHE CHUCKLES

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on this occasion I'd actually propagated some more.

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It's something I try and do

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with anything that's on the edge of tenderness.

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So I'm going to put these three in here.

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I just adore this place. It basks in the sun all day long.

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Plants like that love to live here,

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and so does this,

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this little tiny erigeron.

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This is karvinskianus.

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It's a Mexican plant,

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and in full summer you can't even see these stones at all.

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It's just full of this great curtain of white and pink daisies.

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I thought last winter had done for it,

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but look, it's reappearing already.

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This also provides a perfect home for my family of lizards.

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They love coming out here, and if you're very quiet,

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on a hot, sunny day you can watch them just basking in the sun.

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BUZZING

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The welcome hum of insects has returned to the garden.

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Somehow the garden's not alive until you hear that sound.

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My husband Neil is really keen on bees,

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and last year a swarm attached itself to this tree,

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completely spontaneously.

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We were thrilled to bits.

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But it was late, the swarm was small,

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and after that brutal winter the whole lot died.

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Well, Neil's determined to carry on, and so am I.

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We really want honeybees in the garden.

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We've invited beekeeper Phil Chandler

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to come and show us how to keep bees the natural way.

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ELECTRIC DRILLING

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Can I lend a hand? You look very competent.

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What a wonderful design! It's intriguing.

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I'll tell you what's intriguing me. You brought the bees yesterday.

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Why did you do that?

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To give them a day to settle down and orientate themselves to this location.

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They'd been used to being somewhere completely different.

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So we'll put this hive where the travelling box is.

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That's right. Even two feet will make a difference.

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It's like a sort of trough, isn't it?

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Yes, it is. It's very simple. It's just a long box.

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This design has sloping sides,

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and we just use these top bars,

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which is why it's called a top bar hive,

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base it across the width of the hive,

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and the bees build their comb underneath.

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Put those in place.

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The comb, which is the remains of an old frame.

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And there again, this is a lot of brood on here.

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-Here you can see the beginnings of a natural comb.

-Ah!

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That's how they start building their comb.

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And you can see, as long as you remain calm,

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that the bees tend to stay calm as well.

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This next one has got two combs.

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They're building up a single bar.

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-Will they join it into one?

-Eventually, yes.

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This is worker-size comb. You can see by the size of the cell.

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That's the size the worker brood will emerge from.

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Ah, there's the queen.

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-The queen is longer than the other bees.

-Oh, yeah!

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Long abdomen,

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and that's where she stores all her eggs-to-be.

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I suppose you shouldn't interfere with her or touch her.

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I have a rule: never touch a queen unless absolutely necessary

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because...

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you don't want to get her smelling like a human.

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Now if you could take the duster

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and just gently dust over the tops of the bees,

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that'll keep them calm.

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The idea is that you coat the bees with a light layer of icing sugar

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and they immediately start grooming each other.

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It smells much nicer than smoke does.

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CAMERA CLICKS

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That all seemed to go very smoothly, didn't it?

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-They look quite at home.

-Yes.

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Yes. The bees were well behaved. That went very well,

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considering how much they've been disturbed.

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RUMBLE OF THUNDER

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It's June, and late spring is a thing of the past.

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The frosts are gone and we're gliding into glorious summer.

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But just typical! Look at those clouds.

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How's that for glamour? That Chelsea nail job didn't last long!

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Do you know, the last week in May,

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every single year for the last 20 years,

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I've been away from my garden and going to Chelsea.

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And when I come back, everything's transformed, totally different,

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and I always miss that wonderful time.

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But look what's here to greet me when I get back.

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This lovely oriental poppy. Isn't it magical?

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And I'm so glad I got in there and staked it before I left.

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But look here.

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You can tell, can't you? Do you love these elegantly curved stems?

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This plant was almost prostrate when I came back.

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I hadn't got round to it, and it was just lying along the ground.

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But put these stakes in as a sort of temporary measure

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and just tie this around them.

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But what I need to do both with these and all these other stakes,

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now that I see where those poppy buds are about to explode,

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is to reduce them,

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to take all this ugliness away.

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I'll take this down so I'm actually not aware of these stakes at all.

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And then we can just enjoy these buds.

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And this Cotinus...

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I pruned this earlier on and it really is looking pretty good.

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But if you look right through the bush,

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there are these stems which just didn't grow.

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I pruned them very nicely, according to the book,

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but to make the most of it

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I've got to take off all these little pieces

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right the way through the shrub, then we can just enjoy it.

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What a beautiful background it makes for these poppies.

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Just look at that appearing through the sort of mist.

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And it's got its hat on!

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Oh!

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And now it can just expand.

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Perfect place for it.

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WIND RUSTLES THROUGH TREES

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One minute it's spring, then suddenly it's summer,

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with all its glorious abundance.

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And nowhere is this more apparent than in my daughter Alice's garden.

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Her garden is packed full of all those glorious plants

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that just remind me of Alice.

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There are crimsons, there's pink, there's white,

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and everything's soft and beautifully mounded.

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You just wait till this white phlox starts to flower.

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That's Alice's grandma's plant, and it's all through this garden.

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But meanwhile, look at these astrantias.

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There are astrantias of all different kinds in here,

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some of them white, some of them dark,

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but this probably is my favourite.

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It's Astrantia 'Roma' and it's a sterile hybrid,

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so it keeps on flowering.

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And the place is full of white geraniums

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right from spring into the autumn.

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But during June this is the one that's at its best.

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It's Geranium sanguineum 'Alba'.

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If you've got to choose one plant that typifies Alice's garden,

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it's this lovely rose.

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It's Rosa mundi,

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and Alice's second name is Rosamund,

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and they were planted just for that reason.

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It's got these gorgeous pink-and-white petals

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that change all the time,

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masses of buds,

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and it's at its best for her birthday month, June.

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Just lovely.

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A few herbaceous plants, like oriental poppies,

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acanthus,

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and Crambe cordifolia

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have long, fleshy roots

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which make them perfect candidates

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for creating new plants from root cuttings.

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Earlier in the year, I exposed some of the roots on this Crambe.

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I severed them from the mother plant

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and cut them into short sections.

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I inserted them into a good, gritty potting compost.

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After three or four weeks, top growth began to show.

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Once this crown of healthy new shoots has developed,

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new roots begin to develop afterwards.

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At this stage they can be pushed out,

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potted up

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and grown on.

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With a bit of luck, the new plants

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will be ready to plant out in the autumn,

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or, failing that,

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in the following spring.

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And after a couple of summers look at what you get.

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These magnificent, towering stems

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covered with a myriad of tiny little flowers.

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It's so light and fluffy.

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It's the pure essence of the season.

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OWL HOOTS

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This gravel track runs right the way through the garden

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and it's the source of all sorts of wonderful plants

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that seed themselves freely everywhere.

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I can remember the very first time a source of mine seeded itself.

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It was a geranium up by the kitchen.

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I couldn't believe it! But now they're everywhere.

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And sometimes these plants will put themselves

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into the most beautiful arrangements,

0:23:040:23:06

things you could never replicate.

0:23:060:23:08

You could never do this sort of thing yourself.

0:23:080:23:11

There's a whole little garden here

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full of alchemilla and beautiful geraniums,

0:23:130:23:17

and then this great fennel in the centre,

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this lovely, feathery thing.

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I just leave them because, not only are they not in everybody's way

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but you enjoy them - they're lovely!

0:23:260:23:30

But sometimes they're on a path

0:23:300:23:33

or in a place where they're not going to thrive and flourish,

0:23:330:23:37

and then you can get in there with your little fork.

0:23:370:23:41

This is Geranium nodosum in here,

0:23:460:23:48

shade-loving geranium.

0:23:480:23:51

Just tuck it into a pot straightaway.

0:23:510:23:54

Put some gravel on the top of it.

0:23:540:23:56

And that's it. I'll give it a good water later on.

0:23:590:24:02

There's oodles of them here, absolutely masses.

0:24:020:24:05

Ooh! Such bounty!

0:24:070:24:10

That's what the garden gives you.

0:24:100:24:12

Look at that.

0:24:350:24:37

A beautiful, big grass snake.

0:24:380:24:42

I'm pulling this plastic up because I want to water it thoroughly,

0:24:420:24:46

because this is where we grow all these climbing pumpkins,

0:24:460:24:49

these great big trailing things.

0:24:490:24:51

It gets really warm

0:24:510:24:52

and that's obviously why the snakes come in here.

0:24:520:24:56

I wonder if she's laying her eggs.

0:24:560:24:58

SHE GASPS

0:24:580:25:00

Compost is at the heart of all I do in my garden.

0:25:100:25:14

Making it is a never-ending cycle.

0:25:140:25:17

This is my present compost heap.

0:25:240:25:27

I've been collecting all this lovely green stuff -

0:25:270:25:31

fabulous nettles and all the leftovers from my chard -

0:25:310:25:37

to put on this heap.

0:25:370:25:39

It's a fast heap. It's only been built during the last few weeks.

0:25:390:25:43

This is what I always do in summer,

0:25:430:25:45

and I'm putting this green stuff on to really speed everything up.

0:25:450:25:50

And underneath I've got a lovely brown layer

0:25:500:25:55

with all manner of stuff.

0:25:550:25:57

There are twigs and also layers and layers of muck.

0:25:570:26:01

When I shove my hand under there, I can feel the heat.

0:26:010:26:05

It really is beginning to hot up.

0:26:050:26:07

Compost is the lifeblood of my garden.

0:26:070:26:11

I just couldn't grow things the way I do without it.

0:26:110:26:17

But I'm just going to...

0:26:170:26:18

SHE CHUCKLES

0:26:180:26:20

Over the top!

0:26:210:26:23

I'm going to spread it around,

0:26:230:26:26

make a thick layer of it,

0:26:260:26:29

and then later on, as soon as I've got it,

0:26:290:26:31

there'll be more brown stuff on the top too, so...

0:26:310:26:35

Those nettles were a bit...

0:26:370:26:40

they were a bit stingy, but I'm all right, actually.

0:26:400:26:44

Nettles are one of the best ingredients

0:26:440:26:48

because they bring all sorts of trace elements

0:26:480:26:52

up from the soil underneath them.

0:26:520:26:55

But I'll tell you what,

0:26:550:26:57

some of this chard...

0:26:570:26:59

looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?

0:27:010:27:04

Perhaps we ought to have a bit of this for supper.

0:27:040:27:07

Yesterday was the summer solstice,

0:27:110:27:15

the longest daylight hours of the entire year.

0:27:150:27:19

But during May and June the garden has changed immeasurably.

0:27:190:27:23

It's become an entirely different place.

0:27:230:27:27

At the beginning of May, you could stroll around this way and that,

0:27:290:27:33

but now, the garden encompasses you.

0:27:330:27:36

It draws you in. Every step you take,

0:27:360:27:39

you're touched by plants.

0:27:390:27:41

You can feel them caressing you.

0:27:410:27:44

And the whole place is full of wondrous texture.

0:27:440:27:48

Lovely, gorgeous, soft, undulating growth,

0:27:480:27:52

and beautiful, frothy flowers.

0:27:520:27:55

And the scent is like nothing else.

0:27:550:27:58

The scent of honeysuckle and Hesperis pervades the air,

0:27:580:28:03

especially in the evening as the sun sinks lower.

0:28:030:28:07

Although I adore this time of year,

0:28:070:28:11

I'm looking forward to July and August,

0:28:110:28:14

all those dog days of summer,

0:28:140:28:17

the real sort of explosion that you get at that time of year.

0:28:170:28:23

But for now, this is where I want to be.

0:28:230:28:26

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:530:28:55

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:550:28:57

Plantswoman Carol Klein shares with us a year in her garden at Glebe Cottage in north Devon.

In May and June, everything in the garden is surging forwards, full of exuberance. Rather than sitting back to enjoy it all, Carol is planting out sweet peas, picking the first salad leaves and staking perennials.

Blossom drips from the trees, the woodland garden is carpeted with bluebells, and primal ferns begin to unfold. Carol's opulent oriental poppies pop their hats in the early summer heat and, as the welcome hum of insects returns to the garden, Carol and husband Neil take delivery of their first hive of honey bees.


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