Episode 7 RHS Chelsea Flower Show


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Episode 7

Nicki Chapman and Toby Buckland turn their attention to the plants of Chelsea, in a programme packed with advice on how to choose the right plants for your particular garden.


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The show gardens here at Chelsea are always immaculate, packed with

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plants at the peak of perfection. On the show this afternoon we're

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bringing you tips on how to enjoy your own blemish-free garden with a

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few simple steps to choosing the right plant for the right place.

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Coming Up: back to basics - Andy Sturgeon looks at flowers that

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flourish in different types of soil. If you happen to have a sandy soil

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- because it's free training, it will -- draining, it will allow you

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to grow some of these bowls. Toby picks out the Chelsea shurbs

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picks that are perfect for acid soils. And climate change -

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how to choose the right plants for your own garden conditions.

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Good afternoon, and welcome to RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It's Wednesday,

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and the event, supported by M&G Investments, has already brought

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tears and cheers to the designers and exhibitors alike.

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Yesterday it was all about medals. But in keeping with tradition,

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Wednesday is the day we concentrate on the plants themselves, and

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particularly this year, the right plants for your gardens. We all

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like to replicate what we see here at Chelsea, but it doesn't always

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work out that way when we do our plants a home. No, because you

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can't copy a show garden because you might not have the right soil

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type. You have to get that right. It's all about the ground type?

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people always say to me, "I can't grow this."

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"I can't grow that." - plants grow themselves if you have the right

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soil to start with. What is ideal for your garden? Most gardens have

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a type of loam which is a soil that's got some silt in it, some

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sand in it, clay, a lot of worms and compost in it. It's a blend,

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and nothing is in such a perfection it affects how it behaves. It's

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just soft. That's what we aspire to? Yes, crumbly, perfect. What

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about this? We're getting dirty today, aren't we? Definitely.

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this how we can tell at home what our soil is like? I don't know what

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my soil is like. Soil can vary from street to street. So parts of the

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country it might vary, and you can get a chalky in one section and not

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another? Actually, you can get chalky in the front of your garden

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and not in the back. Clay you can get wet... It's really sticky.

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the only soil you can mould into a sausage saip, and it will stay like

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that. Hard work this your garden, back-breaking work. Very. It's very

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unlikely you'd have a potter's clay, but a quarter of it is made of

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these small clay particles, and you need to open them up and get some

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compost to add. What's this one? This is a chalk. It doesn't look

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like soil at all. No. You get it wet, and it's very slimy. Sometimes

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you get stone in it or large pieces of Flint. That doesn't want to

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break up. Some plants love it. Clematis are fantastic in it, very

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free draining, sometimes slimy. It's very alkaline. Where would you

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find soil like that? I had a garden in Cambridge that looked just like

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that I used to grow lots of cut nowers on it, and they loved it.

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Root crops are a no-no. What type of soil is this? Oh, it's bitty.

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Sandy soil, so it's a loam with a high proportion of sand. That makes

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it free draining. The other thing about sand is because it's free

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draining, you tend to wash out all the lime that's in it, so it's good

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for rhododendrums. A soil master class.

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So when you know what soil you've got, the next step is to know which

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plants suit it. So Andy Sturgeon's been to the Great Pavilion to

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compile his Chelsea guide. Now, people always moan about clay

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soil, but looking at some of these plants, I really wish I had it. One

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of my favourites is this plant. It's also got wonderful foliage. At

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this time of year in spring you can have carpets of it in a great clay

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soil and also this plant. It likes things a little bit damp, so it's

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the damper end of clay. The thing about these plants is they look

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superb together. It's the combination. You can have all of

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this froth, but you need something to anchor it. This plant will do

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just that. A huge plant like this will put punctuation into the

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planting. The leaves are this wonderful bronze when they come out

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and fade to a green as they mature. If you happen to have a sandy soil

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because it's free draining, it will allow you to grow some of these

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great bowls because the winter wet won't cause them to rot. If you're

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growing tulips, you know some will last forever, pop up year after

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year, but others will slowly fade away, and you have to keep

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replanting every two or three years. That's something I find with tulipa

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ballerina, but it's got a great colour. As the tulips fade away,

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the alliums pop up to take over the show, some of these wonderful

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globes like Mt Everest here, the white one. They really are

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spectacular. They'll really thank you for giving them a well-drained,

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sandy soil. Now, I get on with chalky soil. To be honest, I do

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find it a struggle at times. There are great plants you can grow. This

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is one of them. What I love about this is it flowers for ages because

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the flowers open at the bottom, and they die off. Then the one at the

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top open. It goes on for ages and ages. There are more spikes that

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come off at the sides. It also sows seeds, so you get seeds for free,

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sometimes more than you want. There's purple version as well. It

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looks fantastic alongside this huge plant, giant antic grey leaves with

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yellow flowers. Then there is this. This is something really special.

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It's good to have something special in your garden. This is a digitalis

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from Spain. The thing about this is it really loves growing on a chalky

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soil. That's bonus. How about this plant? I think it's pretty easy to

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see why "ladybird" is in the name. You see it growing all over chalky

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downland. It will sow seed, but only germinate if you disturb the

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ground, then it will pop up all over the place, a wonderful thing.

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It just goes to show, no matter what type of soil you've got, you

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can always turn it into an asset. Whilst chalky soil is very alkaline

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- or sweet as we gardeners say - there is another type, which is at

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the opposite end of the scale. Ericaceous soil is much more acidic.

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It builds up beneath disSiduous trees. On the ground they're broken

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up by the bacteria in the soil. Because they perspire all the time,

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what happens is, is they give off acidity. That makes the ground lose

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any sweetness it has and makes it perfect for a very specific palette

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of plants. There are easy ways to tell whether you have acidic soil.

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If you live on the coast, look your neighbours' gardens. If they can

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grow blue hydrangeas, your soil is acidic, if you live inland and see

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rhododendrums or heather, your soil is acidic. If you're still not sure,

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you can go down to the garden centre and get a soil tester kit.

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Put in some soil, add water. Add the magic moisture. If it comes out

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red, you have acidic soil, and you can plant wonderful plants like in

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this garden. One of my favourites is this plant. It has lovely winter

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leaves that look good all year long. If you think the rhododendrums are

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a little bit on the gaudy side, what about this one? This is a

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connoisseur's plant. The flowers - they're not as important as the

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leaves. The leaves are covered in this quilt-like substance. It has

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an insulating layer that stops the plant losing too much moisture and

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keeps the flower buds protected from frost, just gives the garden a

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whole glow. Finally, the other type of plants you must grow if you have

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acidic soil are ones that like deep, rich ground, and Chris has got a

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whole range of them here - hostas, ferns and others. Chris isn't the

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only gardener that's used a woodland setting to inspire

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gardeners in this Chelsea Flower Show.

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James Alexander Sinclair has been This is the Bradstone Pan ash

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Garden. The whole thing is about vitality, colour and excitement.

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This is inspired by fluttering kites, and the colours change all

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the way down. To make it more exciting, there is a wall that goes

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all the way back down that way, then the colour from the sculpture

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is picked up in the planting, so you have this vortex of planting

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that whizes its way in, and we have geraniums and all sorts of things

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rotating around a strong vertical - one birch tree that goes straight

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up in the air. Around the edge of that there is yet another curve -

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there is a curve of painting, then all the way around the edge is this

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far more delicate band of woodland and shady plants that ends up round

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about here. Now, woodland is really a posh name for shade. Pretty much

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anyone who in their garden has a decent-sized shrub like this hazel

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underneath it, under it you can grow things that don't like the sun

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like this grass or fern or this plant. All of these things need to

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This next garden continues the woodland theme. This is Petra,

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Tranquility Set in Stone. I am standing here surrounded by very,

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very wonderful multi-stemmed acer campestre. Usually you find it in

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hedge rows. It's a field maple. What's special about this tree is

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come the autumn time, all of these leaves turn the most wonderful

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butter yellow, so we're emerging from the woodland into a woodland

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glade - except that this woodland glade is not as you would expect -

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close-cropped grass and grazing deer and bunny rabbits. This one is

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emerging into a garden with all the necessary mod cons you may require,

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for example, over here is a fully- funking plunge pool - not just any

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old plunge pool. It is cleaned by this rather fantastic bog bed just

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there. On the edge of the woodland is this wonderful undulating wild

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flower meadow, then a wall, then set into the wall are very

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comfortable-looking chairs which seem to be beckoning me forward to

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sit down and enjoy the peace and We're spending the afternoon

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looking at how to choose the right plant for your garden conditions.

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We have looked at soil and habitat. But the other really important

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thing to consider is the aspect, and this stand has some great

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plants that'll thrive in full sun. These plants are really all about

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the flower, and if they don't have plenty of sunshine, it just won't

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happen, and the trick here is to make sure that the base is

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absolutely baking in full sun. Do that, and they'll reward you with

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Now, if you're not sure whether a plant likes sun or shade, there are

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a few pointers, a few things to look for, like this plant, for

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example. It's got a very silvery leaf. That's a great indicator it's

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going to like full sun because it's probably from a Mediterranean

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climate where it's very hot. The reason it's silver is because it

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will reflect lots of light and keep the plant nice and cool and cut

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down the water loss, so look out for that. Something else to look

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for is the leaf size and shape. This lavendar has small narrow

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leaves. That's also to cut down water loss. If you don't grow this

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in full sun, it will get tall and leggy and ugly.

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Make sure it's absolutely light. There are some plants that can take

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plenty of sunshine as long as their feet are permanently wet. One of

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those is this plant which loves the boggy soil. Look at those fantastic

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little flowers. If you want a ground cover, you can't do better

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than this plant. If you have a damp soil, this will carpet it

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wonderfully, and this is a relative of a giant, with these superb, huge

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leaves. Most gardens have at least some

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shade, and the great thing about shade is it allows you to grow lots

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of wonderful ferns. The superb shape is such a fantastic contrast

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It's difficult to find flowering plants where there isn't much sun

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life. For did dappled shade you can't get better than the this one.

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The flower lasts for ages but the leaf's important too. You get a

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carpet of foliage that smothers the ground. Hesperis, the sweet rocket

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harks a wonderful evening scent. It self-seeds, and the white version

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is fantastic, because as twilight arrives it gleans out from the

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darkness -- gleams out from the darkness. It is good to know that

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whatever challenges your garden givers you, you can always find the

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perfect plant. There's a lot more to come on this

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afternoon's Chelsea Flower Show. Coming up: against all odds - we

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visit the show garden proving that flowers can grow in the most

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impossible conditions. The perfect plant - RHS judge

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Raymond Evison reveals the star qualities between the 2012 Chelsea

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Plant of the Year. Today at Chelsea we're bringing you

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expert tips on how to find the right plants for your garden. Well,

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there is one family of plants that can adapt to almost any gardening

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conditions and those are much-loved hardy geraniums. Here's Chris

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Beardshaw with a guide to the best one for you.

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Amongst the plants that at the Chelsea Flower Show there is one

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that stands out as offering the greatest range of habitats in which

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it thrives, and the greatest diversity of structure and colour

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variation. It's the geraniums and here is one of them. This is our

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British native displaying all the classic characteristics of the

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family - five petals and protruding sexual parts at the centre of the

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flower, a rather cut and divided leaf. The common name, crane's bill,

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comes from the fact that the sexual parts of the flower, once the

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petals have fallen, you reveal the carpals, distinctive like a bird's

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beak. A geranium that demands the deep

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shade of woodland is this one. The so-called morning widow. This is a

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perfect example. Dark petals swept back, plentiful on the flowering

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spike. It's got a common name of mourning widows because the pettals

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resemble the hats worn by the widow. This is Samobor, with dark notling

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on the foliage, which adds an extra dimension to your designs.

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If you want a second crop of flowers, as soon as the first crop

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has gone, cut it down to the ground to encourage fresh leaves and a

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second bloom. If this is too dark for your shaded woodland area, try

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the geranium phaeum. It's pure and beautiful.

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This is geranium palm atum. Its home is madderia in the Canary

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Islands, where it loves the sun- drenched free-draining soils. It is

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later flowering and that's why at this time of the year you only see

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the buds. But when they burst, they are Madgents ta in colour and

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persist through to the frosts. One of the geraniums that rivals in

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open sunshine is this. As the species name suggests, it is drived

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from the foothills of the mountains, where it grows in the most vigorous

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and opulent grassland. It is that that gives ate rather wonderful

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habit that is of use to gardeners. If you allow it to drift through a

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meadow, it prospers, but equally if you blend wit other herbaceous

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perennials it is a great competitor, forming low mats and creating

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flowers that pop up through the canopy of its neighbours. This

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geranium also share as character resist wick all of those in the Jen

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us understands is promiscuity. They cross readily. If you introduce two

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species into your garden the poll than will be transferred and as a

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consequence a new form of the plant could emerge, which means if you

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elect those seedlings and grow them on, in future years you too could

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:20:24.:20:24.

have a Chelsea winner of your own. This afternoon we're looking at how

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to create the perfect garden by choosing the right plants for your

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particular circumstances. But Toby, is there ever an environment that

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is impossible to plant? I've tried to think of one but I know from my

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own experience my drive, which gets mossy and mud on it attracts the

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weeds. Even on concrete plants will grow. This is a very, well, a

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climbing garden, it is tranquil but it represents in demilitarised zone

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in Korea. This is the first time I've been on this garden. Just

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looking out you do feel calm and peaceful and then you are reminded

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by this barbed wire, we have a watch tower behind us. When I first

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saw the garden I thought it was nature reserve and then you see

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this tragic humanity, the bullets, the soldiers' coat buttonness to

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floor. It is very moving. The garden tells a story, that there

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was a war in Korea, the Korean War 60 years ago, and since that time

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there's been this no-man's-land colonised by nature. So in a way it

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is reclaiming it is it? Yes, I think that's the message of the

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garden - where there is conflict, nature ignores it. The stream runs

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through the fence, and the plants don't care about man-made

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distinctions about who owns what. Do plants adapt to different

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environments? Obviously the soil here, if you have had a whole Army

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going through, there couldn't have been a lot of goodness around at

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that time. The plants improve the soil for other plants to grow.

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That's the trick. If you have a difficult place to plant at home,

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scatter a few seeds or have weeds growing in it, because it

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conditions the soil. That's what's happening in this soil. Are these

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all weeds? For example that orange plant, it is beautiful. Is that a

:22:21.:22:31.
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weed? That's a country cousin of GM. They can cope in rocky ground.

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Ideal for bomb craters I guess. these here? Crane's bills, they

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have shallow roots. It does have a feeling of peace, of tranquillity.

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And claiming nature is what's rightfully hers. There is even a

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pair of nesting blackbirds. shows it doesn't take long. Such an

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impactful garden. In the quest to find the perfect

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plant for gardeners up and down the country, every year the Royal

:23:02.:23:04.

Horticultural Society award one new plant at Chelsea the enviable title

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of Plant of the Year. Here's Toby with some of the worthy contenders.

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This year there've been some sensational new plants for indoors

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and out. Starting with this. Dianthus memories is a new take on

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an old garden favourite. It has upright flowers in profusion and

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they are exquisitely scented. Digitalis silver cub is a special

:23:41.:23:51.
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fox glove. If you sow it in February it flowers earlier.

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These pet uenias are a break listen through in breeding. They can cope

:23:58.:24:04.

with the cold, minus 5. For the first time there are Petunias for

:24:04.:24:12.

late spring bedding. Royal Navy is deep blue and sweetly scented in

:24:13.:24:17.

spring. If you like your flowers compact and full, this is one for

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you. The thing about cape daisies is

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they flower for a long time. This in the pink is no exception. What

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:24:39.:24:44.

makes it special is its leaves. Heuchera is a chameleon of a plant.

:24:44.:24:54.
:24:54.:24:55.

Its Las Vegass turn plum and purple. There's a new house plant on the

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block. What makes it special are these fabulous leaves, shaped like

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a dragon's tongue. All are good enough to scoop the

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top honours but which plant beat all of these?

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Raymond the worthy winner for 2012 is... It is this fantastic Foxglove

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Digitalis Illumination Pink. Isn't it a fantastic plant? Beautiful. It

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:25:34.:25:35.

has the wow factor straight way. straight away. Absolutely. The

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judges selected this because of its outstanding uniqueness. Is going to

:25:40.:25:47.

be a worldwide sales hit. It is going to be with us for a very long

:25:47.:25:52.

time. Foxgloves are so popular in our gardens. Why is it our winner?

:25:52.:25:57.

Why it's different, all the foxgloves we currently grow are

:25:57.:26:02.

biennial, they grow one year, they flower the next year and they die.

:26:02.:26:05.

This is a perennial plant, so it will go on for a long time. It is

:26:05.:26:11.

ideal for growing in a pop. Hate so many atry buects ideal for a small

:26:11.:26:17.

or large garden. So I could have this in my garden for four or five

:26:17.:26:21.

years? Longer than that I'm sure. How long will it continue flowering

:26:21.:26:27.

for each year? I have not grown it yet but I'm told it is going to

:26:27.:26:32.

flower for a lot of the summer. If you look at the detail of this, it

:26:32.:26:37.

is fantastic. I need to put my glass on but the detail is

:26:37.:26:40.

fantastic. Foxgloves are known to spread throughout the garden.

:26:40.:26:44.

is sterile so it means that it won't put seedlings all over the

:26:44.:26:51.

garden. You plant this one and it stays and doesn't spread. It is

:26:51.:26:54.

controllable. It is the ultimate accolade to be Plant of the Year

:26:54.:26:58.

2012. How long do the breeders work on a plant in development? This

:26:58.:27:01.

plant was in the planning and thought to be impossible but it has

:27:01.:27:06.

been possible by some very clever breeding work. This would have been

:27:06.:27:11.

thought of four or five years ago, probably more. It is such a

:27:11.:27:16.

prestigious award. Can we get it in the shops now? You can buy it

:27:16.:27:21.

online. It is not in garden centres yet but look out for this lovely

:27:21.:27:28.

winner of Chelsea Plant of the Year 2012. So if we good to the RHS

:27:28.:27:36.

website and follow the link it will give the details? Yes. Thank you.

:27:36.:27:43.

A worthy winner. Time for one e-mail. Kelly Bennett

:27:43.:27:47.

has said yesterday James visited a Japanese garden in the artisan

:27:47.:27:51.

section. It won gold. It is beautiful. It can have on it what

:27:51.:27:54.

can only be described as moss pebbles. Can you tell me what they

:27:54.:27:59.

are and where they can be obtained from? They are pin cush moss. They

:27:59.:28:03.

are a fabulous moss. Designers like them because they are the first to

:28:04.:28:08.

tell when the soil is drying out. The tips start to go white. It is

:28:09.:28:13.

like a cannery down a mine. Where to buy, it is one of those plants

:28:13.:28:19.

you will have to hunt out on the internet to find a specialist

:28:19.:28:22.

supplier. There are you are Kelly. That's your answer.

:28:22.:28:25.

Well, that's all we have time for this lunchtime, but Alan is back on

:28:25.:28:29.

BBC One at 7.30pm, when he'll be looking at the exhibitors who are

:28:29.:28:32.

advocating a Mediterranean style of gardening.

:28:32.:28:35.

Nicki Chapman and Toby Buckland turn their attention to the plants of Chelsea, in a programme packed with advice on how to choose the right plants for your particular garden. There is a master class on how to identify the type of soil in your garden, and a look at the plants that can withstand the most hostile of conditions. Toby also finds out which flower has been voted RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year.