Episode 8 RHS Chelsea Flower Show


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Episode 8

The magic of the Mediterranean is this edition's subject. Designer Tom Hoblyn shows Alan Titchmarsh his Italian renaissance garden, and there's a trip into the Great Pavilion.


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Yesterday we celebrated a medley of medals at the Royal Horticultural

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

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

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

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his Renaissance garden. Rachel De Thame in search of the

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

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

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years. And in praise of pelargoniums, Christine Walkden

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

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will flower all summer. Good evening from the grounds of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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digitalis illumination pink. Perennial foxgloves are useful in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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distinct Mediterranean feel, with a plethora of plants more reminiscent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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creators felt that they had perfected the symmetry, the

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

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

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

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proportions are pleasing and harmonious and relate to each other,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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borrowed the mathematical rules and applied it everywhere, even with

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

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tremendous harmonious proportion and a feeling of comfort in the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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found a garden in a shows yes, you can.

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

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grandiose Italianate principles can be condensed into the smallest of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the Renaissance principle that these wonderful mirror-like pools

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

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

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

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principle. That central axe sis dissected on the perpendicular.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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process. This raised steps and then quiet seating area certainly

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achieves that wonderful principle. This garden demonstrates perfectly

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that no matter in which century the design prison approximatelys

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

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design. -- design principles.

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

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

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Mediterranean abound, with a wonderful array of drought-tolerant

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planting schemes, as Rachel De Thame has been discovering.

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

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

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

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

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what characteristics do they have that makes them drought tolerant?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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not normally associated with the Mediterranean. They cope well with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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group together with Mediterranean plants actually hail from other

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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mountains. Designer Peter Dowle has captured its essence in the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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sunny window sill because they get scorched, but bougainvillea thrive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:21:24.:21:24.

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

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We can't talk about popular Mediterranean plants without

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

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

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

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

:21:50.:21:56.

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

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

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

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

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

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geraniums, making fantastic plants for general use, cascading over

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

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

:22:45.:22:50.

pelargoniums, considered as big, beautiful conservatory plants,

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

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the patio. The scented pelargoniums grown for

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their aromatic leaves rather than their flowers, things like lady

:23:13.:23:20.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:24:04.:24:10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:24:50.:24:54.

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

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

:24:57.:25:00.

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

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

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

:25:11.:25:17.

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

:25:17.:25:22.

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

:25:23.:25:27.

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

:25:27.:25:34.

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

:25:35.:25:39.

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

:25:39.:25:44.

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

:25:44.:25:51.

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

:25:51.:25:57.

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

:25:57.:26:01.

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

:26:01.:26:09.

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

:26:09.:26:13.

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

:26:13.:26:20.

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

:26:20.:26:25.

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

:26:25.:26:32.

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

:26:32.:26:37.

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

:26:37.:26:40.

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

:26:40.:26:45.

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

:26:45.:26:49.

tribute to that lovely sunny part of the world.

:26:49.:26:59.
:26:59.:27:17.

that I know # Where lovers enjoy peace of mind

:27:17.:27:24.

# Let us leave the confusion and all this illusion behind

:27:24.:27:31.

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

:27:31.:27:41.
:27:41.:27:48.

# Volare, oohh # Y cantare, ooohhhh

:27:48.:27:54.

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

:27:54.:27:58.

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

:27:58.:28:05.

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

:28:05.:28:10.

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

:28:10.:28:15.

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

:28:15.:28:23.

Madeleine. The geranium is Bill Wallis.

:28:23.:28:27.

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

:28:27.:28:32.

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

:28:32.:28:35.

The magic of the Mediterranean is the subject of this edition of Chelsea Flower Show coverage. Designer Tom Hoblyn shows Alan Titchmarsh around his Italian renaissance garden, and we take a trip into the Great Pavilion for a spot of flower gazing with the accent on the plants that thrive in Southern Italy and the surrounding islands.