Episode 8 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Episode 8

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Yesterday we celebrated a medley of medals at the Royal Horticultural


Society Chelsea Flower Show supported by M&G Investments. Now


we are looking at the plants that love to bask in the heat of the day.


Coming up: Italian-inspired designer Tom Hoblyn shows us round


his Renaissance garden. Rachel De Thame in search of the


Great Pavilion plants that conjure memories of our European holidays..


If you have small children and you have these, I would wait a few


years. And in praise of pelargoniums, Christine Walkden


searches out the perfect patio plant. Easy to grow plants that


will flower all summer. Good evening from the grounds of


the Royal Hospital in London. Tonight we are delving deep to seek


out Chelsea's true attraction, the plants. It is remarkable, many of


the designs weren't able to use the plants that would be their first


choice, the stalwarts, the iris, the peonies and poppies. These


didn't come into flower, so the designers had to look outside their


comfort zone and the show is better for it. How did it trouble you on


your Furzey garden? By the time February came and the heat kicked


in, we thought everything would be blowing, just gone, and then the


leaden skies cooled everything down and the season's been perfect for


me. A nightmare for everyone else but refer for rhododendrons.


lucky choice. We always have Chelsea Plant of the Year. There


are thousands of new plants, one plant, a perennial foxglove called


digitalis illumination pink. Perennial foxgloves are useful in


the garden and a good stalwart of Chelsea too. To use them amongst


trees and ferns, they don't mind sitting in the sunshine. It's a go


anywhere do anything plant, and the fact that it's a perennial and such


a vivid colour means it is going to be a win erring. Perennials are big.


Where once it used to be rhododendrons and hostas, some said


it is not the royal horticultural society, but you do feel a gear


change, perhaps back to drifts again? Maybe drifts but with


structure. The danger is we are playing with soft mixes, if we had


a bit of shrub structure we would get a different look. There's a


distinct Mediterranean feel, with a plethora of plants more reminiscent


of the south Italian coastline than windswept Britain. Tom Hoblyn has


decided to have a garden inspired by the Villa d'Este in Tivoli. We


caught up with him in the Royal Hospital grounds a couple of weeks


ago to find out what prompted that The forecast was awful today. It


was supposed to be loads of rain, but it hasn't been too bad. We are


still on schedule. I got the inspiration for the garden from one


of my most favourite places in the whole world, and that is Villa


d'Este, near Rome. I've been going there for about 12


years and for me it's one of the most exciting places that I have


ever been to, because you've got the sort of decadence and


flamboyance of a garden, fantastic water features. This whole idea of


Renaissance at its very, very best. It was built at a time when the


creators felt that they had perfected the symmetry, the


proportion. They had mastered nature in the form of a garden. I


borrowed the golden section rule, which is a way of dividing up a


garden into proportions, based on the sum of the whole but these


proportions are pleasing and harmonious and relate to each other,


so you get a great sort of feeling of calm when you walk through the


garden. When Villa d'Este was originally planted, obviously all


the cypresses were in perfect lines, the Cork oaks were perfect. But if


you go back now, everything is relaxed and saging a bit and very


old. It has taken on a new beauty. So by using my fantastic cork oak,


that is my sort of nod to what's going on at Villa d'Este today.


It's relaxed with age and sort of I'm completely not into this whole


symmetry idea. I'm just going to grow my own way. The higher


Renaissance period was all about man's dire to control nature. And


how they portray it at Villa d'Este is letting water into the garden in


its raw wild form and slowly tame it by making it go through a series


of town tains. That's exactly what I'm doing here. -- fountains.


That's exactly what I'm doing here. The water comes down in tiers and


goes through a series of fountains that are taming my water to arrive


at my destination pool well and truly controlled. It is absolutely


perfectly calm. I'm using a black base at -- basalt stone. It is a


mirror to show off my cypresses. On one plane you've this calm and harm


ny and simetsry, and on another plane you have the Italian cypresss


to say we're in charge, thank you very much. I've had this desire to


use Villa d'Este as a source of inspiration for such a long time


now. When I was given the go-ahead to do a garden at Chelsea, I've had


this really delightful year going to visit it again, reading about it,


learning all about it, borrowing all their rules. It has been a


really enjoyable process to finally get it down into a 22-metre garden.


Tom, what's this fascination with the Villa d'Este? Well, you might


think it is all about design and things, but I went there on my


honeymoon and I was madly in love. I still am madly in love, and with


the garden as well. You got that second bit in quickly. You've


brought it here with much keener lines. There is much less rococo


businessiness. I wanted to borrow some of their rules and apply them


in a modern setting. I wanted to strip away the decadence and make a


clean garden. The stepping stones are great. I've never walked on


water before. It is not as deep as you think. That worried you then.


It worried me! I used Italian basalt. I wanted it to be a giant


reflective pool for my huge Italian cypresses. They thought that man


could control nature, and nature is actually controlling man. You have


these Dom innocent cypresses and they are reflecting on the water,


You are in the garden Love this seat at the back with the water


jets. They are absolutely even and over the top they are sideways. The


proportions here are wonderful with with the two edges at the back, the


yew at the top, then the fountains sideways and then the box. A


wonderful line going on here. It was a pleasure to design. We


borrowed the mathematical rules and applied it everywhere, even with


the jointing and the positions of the fountains. You've got this


tremendous harmonious proportion and a feeling of comfort in the


garden. It is a comforting garden to go in. And then you have the


contrast of a cork oak. Everybody has been trying to bring one to


Chelsea. Andy Sturgeon tried and the trial didn't do well. But this


is has made it. It is what we get our wine bottle corks from. I knew


there was a challenge. I phoned Andy from Italy and said I'm


thinking of using a cork oak, what do you think? He said, "Don't do


it." I worked out how we could do it. Don't stress your oak. Make


sure it travelled in absolute comfort all the way. So the oak


tree turns left when it gets on to the plane. If you want to find out


more about the rule of the golden section, Thomas has provided with


us a masterclass on our red ret. -- on our Red Button. If you want to


use an alternative, you could use a juniper skyrocket. They are


difficult to grow unless you give them good drainage. Several ideas


for you there. When we talk about the gardens of the Italian


Renaissance we John injure you have an image of vast landscapes like


Villa d'Este. But can you do this on a much smaller scale? Chris has


found a garden in a shows yes, you can.


The good news for gardeners is no matter what size your garden, the


grandiose Italianate principles can be condensed into the smallest of


spaces. The APCO Garden is proof of that. Look at the geometry. A


series of formal lines. There is no room for whimsical meandering here.


Each play as part as a solid jigsaw creating a bold structure. At the


heart of which is a central axis, a line which slices through the


design, at the end of which is a focal point, something to draw you


into the scheme. In this case a water feature. It is absolutely key.


But water is also used with reflections. An essential part of


the Renaissance principle that these wonderful mirror-like pools


link Heaven and Earth. That's that creates a real air of calm, cool,


Despite its size, this garden mansion to feel much larger than it


actually is. That's largely because there's a repeat of an Italian


principle. That central axe sis dissected on the perpendicular.


That's which encourages the eye to penetrate deep into both of those


boundaries, creating that wonderful sense of space, so often we see the


detail of small gardens right in the heart. It is that that reduces


the size. Here it's the opposite, and it works perfectly.


The elevation of these confers equally adds to that sense of space.


And a wonderful horticultural game being played here. Instead of the


Italian cypress, which are fickle beasts in the British climate, this


thuja is pruned to look identical. But it is also then used in a more


informal way, true to the Renaissance style, here as a screen


mirroring the walls on either side. I think the most successful thing


about this garden is the sense of elevation. In the Renaissance


period they said everything you see is mine. It was a very empowering


process. This raised steps and then quiet seating area certainly


achieves that wonderful principle. This garden demonstrates perfectly


that no matter in which century the design prison approximatelys


evolved, they are still every bit as relevant in a contemporary


design. -- design principles.


It is more than the romance of the Renaissance wowing visitors to


Chelsea Flower Show. In the Great Pavilion, memories of the


Mediterranean abound, with a wonderful array of drought-tolerant


planting schemes, as Rachel De Thame has been discovering.


With the weather finally taking a turn for the better it is wonderful


to see so many Mediterranean-style plants in the Great Pavilion. And


many of us also face hosepipe ban this is summer, so these just could


be the plants to go for. So what is it about these plants,


what characteristics do they have that makes them drought tolerant?


Various things. Silvery-flu leaves to re flect the life. Thick, waxy


leaves to hold the moisture in. What should we be doing at home?


Can everybody grow them or might you need to adapt your soil to help


these plants grow in a heavy soil? You can grow them all over the


place. If you are in a wetter area, you have to make sure the drainage


is good, so if you get the heavy rain it doesn't stay on the plant,


and drains away. Can you pick out a couple of favourites? The olive.


Silvery blue leaves, fruit in a good season. Bay trees. They are


not normally associated with the Mediterranean. They cope well with


The great thing about Mediterranean plants is that they come in all


shapes and sizes ranging from large olive trees right down to smaller


plants, many of which we take for granted as culinary heshes. But


they're beautiful plants. They merit space in the garden. We have


merit space in the garden. We have oregano here. This is compact, neat


growing. You just harvest the leaves from the top. If you want


something different, this is the gold tipped version. You have that


brightness just on the edge of the leaves. I'm a particular fan of


thyme. We have a variety here, again just bog standard, common


thyme. But it's lovely and so aromatic. We have the silver posey


there, which has that brighter vairgaigs. One of the our


favourites is lavender, not only for its fragrance, but the sheer


beauty of its flowers and foliage. This is French lavender with tufts


on top of each flower and slender leaves. Some plants that you would


group together with Mediterranean plants actually hail from other


countries, like this agarve from America. They're brilliant. They


give you a strong architect ral shape. If you have small children


and you like these, I would wait a few years, because these sharp


spines with just at eye level. Perhaps better to go for


sempervibum. Those thick leaves are almost like a water storage unit.


That makes them so perfectly adapted to drought. I think whether


you favour an olive or agarve with these Mediterranean-style plants


there is something for everyone. At Chelsea we've celebrated the


plants and gardens of the Mediterranean. Now it's time to


visit within of its islands, Corsica. It's famed for its Maquis,


an area scented scrub land that stretchs from the sea into the


mountains. Designer Peter Dowle has captured its essence in the


L'Occitane Garden this year by taking us from the sea down here


with the rocks and the thrists, right up through that scrub land,


loads of curry plant here, smelling beautifully. Peter, congratulations


on your gold. Corsica is unique in its fragrance and aroma. It's


wonderful. It's what they term the Maquis. It's the immortel which


runs from sea level up to 400 metres. Lovely blend of aromatic


plants. Which is why L' Occitane have chosen it. They do. The use it


in one of their skin creams. It's the best country in the word. By


bringing a spotlight onto Corsica it's an opportunity to show Chelsea


the Corsican landscape in a unique way. It's been really fun. We've


got six or seven plants that have never been seen at Chelsea, that


have been prop gaited in course ka. We've had them grown on in Spain.


Which are they. We have the which is richly scented. We have


special type of santolina. The hellobores of course. I went to


Corsica and at the side of the road there they were. I thought good


Lord, yes, of course you're on Corsica. That lovely story we were


reflecting yesterday that polian -- Napoleon born on Corsica, he said


he could smell it before he saw it. You get the sweet smell. It's


wonderful. Many congratulations on the gold. It's wonderful. The


embossed with the Diamond Jubilee is so special. It is. And the gold


card with that on it, special year, special garden. Thanks very much.


One plant which is redolent of all parts of the Mediterranean is the


bougainvillea. Sometimes tricky to grow in this country and not hardy.


Andy Sturgeon has all the tips. Now these glamorous plants are


actually from Brazil. They make superb house plants. They're not


hardy. You can't keep them outside in the winter, though you can pot


them out for a holiday in the summerment -- summer. They're easy


to keep going. Unlike a lot of indoor plants, they don't like a


sunny window sill because they get scorched, but bougainvillea thrive


on that. And when the central heating comes on, they love that


extra warmth. In terms of waterering, it's simple, about once


a week, give them a good soak. Then let them dry out a bit between


watering. If you're lazy and forgetful like me, it's ideal. For


feeding, well you need to start off in about February, give them a good


nitrogen feed. Then move on to potash. That will really make them


colour up. What looks like a flower is actually a bract, it's a MoD


fight leaf. The flowers are tiny and inside here. For prooning, --


pruning, as these flowers and bracts start to fade, snip them off.


Keep it compact and have it flowering almost all year. Very


simple. If you want to pot them outside, can you keep them in


hanging baskets like this. Hang them up outside, bring them in when


the weather gets cold and they'll reward you very well. If you


haven't got much space, why not try a bonsai. Can you buy a plant like


this just as a very small plant, quite simply, then put it into a


little pot, keep it trimmed like this and you end up with the


perfect bond eye. It makes me really want to go on holiday.


We can't talk about popular Mediterranean plants without


looking at the ones that grace our patio pots, I'm talking about


pelargoniums. They always put in an appearance at Chelsea. Christine


Walkden has been to see what's on offer this year.


Pelargoniums, almost parts of the British psyche. We see them


festooned over the Mediterranean. But they're from South Africa, yet


most people only grow one or two. There are hundreds of them!


Pelargoniums, what are they? The true pelargonium is a tender


perennial that will be wiped out by the first frost. We have several


groups, the regals, scented, the very beautiful, Ivy-leafed


geraniums, making fantastic plants for general use, cascading over


walls, beautiful. They're easy to grow plants that will flower all


summer. Tornado, one of the regal pelargoniums, the royalty of


pelargoniums, considered as big, beautiful conservatory plants,


excellent as a house plant. Of course, beautiful in a container on


the patio. The scented pelargoniums grown for


their aromatic leaves rather than their flowers, things like lady


Muslimth, we've got lemon scented ones, but plant them where you


brush by them to release at Roma. Otherwise they sit there looking


pretty, but don't whiff. The Ivy-leaved per algone yums, so-


called because the leaves look like Ivy. Cascading over hanging baskets,


but like all pelargoniums keep them dead headed and fed with high


potash. That way you'll keep them in flower for ages.


For those of you who don't want the contemporary and the traditional,


go for the razzmatazz of the pelargonium, the stelata group,


modern, vigorous and very spiky. For those that wnt subtle ti and


calm and the plants that -- that want subtle ti and calm, and the


ones that set my heart on fire, are the true species pelargoniums.


Here you are, you've got double the heart rate now. Your pelargoniums


are mixed with fuchsias two, great garden stall warts. Don't they look


so good together. Easy to grow plants, favourites by the general


public and why not, because that festival of colour is absolutely


magical. They both flower their socks off right the way through the


year. You couldn't wish for an easier plant. I love the ones where


you get two for the price of one, like Vancouver with the scarlet


flowers and the leaves which are finely cut and have the crimson


pattern in the middle. And blend so well with the foliage, with the


colour and leaf that you can play against, yes. Where do you think


people go wrong with them? I think overwatering. People forget these


plants, we see them in the Med, but it's hotter. Africa, they're


African hotties. Keep them on the dry side. If in doubt, let them dry


out, then soak them. Yes, feed them, dead head them, don't overwater


them. Earliest memories of them? earliest memory is as a show


secretary at 13. You were an early developer! The horticultural


society used to give every child a pelargonium. We had to bring them


back in June and we had these vast show. I was the secretary. They


used to put all the classes, the five to sevens, we all had it. Paul


Crample was the one we had. The big scarlet one. Absolutely, that


standard plant. When I went to work in parks at 15, we used to take


15,000 cuttings of them every year. Names like Paul Cample, Caroline


Schmit. I remember the names now. I used to have a black groove down


the middle of my thumb from taking the cuttings. Every year it was


between July and September. And a hole in the pauk where the trowel


and been bedding them our out for weeks. We still love them. And why


not. Christine is doing tours on the red button, Christine will tour


you all over Chelsea. We are now going to the Mediterranean, even


though it's getting warmer here. We're going to give our floral


tribute to that lovely sunny part of the world.


that I know # Where lovers enjoy peace of mind


# Let us leave the confusion and all this illusion behind


# Just like birds of a feather, a rainbow together we'll find


# Volare, oohh # Y cantare, ooohhhh


# No wonder my happy heart sings # Your love has given me wings #


You've been paying very close attention to your screens all week


and writing in with questions. I have one from Jill who is a self-


confessed salvia enthusiast. She wants to know who wha is the salvia


on Tom Hoblyn's garden? It's Madeleine.


Madeleine. The geranium is Bill Wallis.


Time to say goodbye to the magical Mediterranean here on BBC One.


Chelsea's about to go wild in a one-our programme on BBC Two.


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