Gardening magazine. Jim and Carole enjoy a red cabbage success story, while Chris plants a range of hostas. George visits a garden at Kierfiold House on Orkney.
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-Where's the sun gone, Jim?
-I mean, there's a touch of autumn about the air today.
Hello there. Welcome to Beechgrove -
and we're off to look at some autumn and winter cabbage.
It's very appropriate, is it not?
It certainly is, Jim. And what an array...
Now, there are ten different varieties,
-but I don't think you can tell too much.
I mean, I'm just like Joe Bloggs, as I say, I say,
"Well, red cabbage is red cabbage, is red cabbage."
-But all the different seedsmen have their own strains...
-They do. I mean, if anything, for example,
the Ruby Bull has a slight sort of blue tinge to it,
but, you know, we're going to have to wait and see, aren't we?
It's what it tastes like in the yield and whether it hearts up
and all the rest of it, but it does... There is a sequence...
-The ones at the top all need to be ready first.
Red, Red Rookie is meant to be ready first.
-Now, these were also in about the middle of March...
..planted out early May.
-And of course, we do have to protect them.
We've got some pretty voracious birdies about.
-Don't they look good? They do look good at the moment.
-Yes, they do.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the programme,
Mr B is back, and he's going to be telling us all about hostas.
And whilst we were on Orkney for our first roadshow,
well, we left George there.
I'm still in windy Orkney, where shelter is so important.
But if you want to see what's over this wall,
you'll have to join me later.
Well, here we are, back again on the decking
and it's all about growing plants and containers -
and it's time to harvest our tatties.
Mari, these are second earlies, 15 weeks.
Three varieties, but we had two different types of containers.
How did you find the two bags?
Well, I found the dark green one there, the cheaper of the two...
-Just a pound.
-Yeah. It was really flimsy,
difficult to fill, the compost went all over the decking.
So I much preferred the sturdier of the two bags there.
Yeah, this bag's been really good, cos we used that last year...
I reckon we'll be able to use that for several years.
But the whole idea is we're going to cut back the shaws,
harvest them, weigh them and we can come back with the results.
-So, shall we get cracking?
-Yeah, let's see what's there.
Oh, look, already. Nice-looking potato, though.
I can't imagine us using this bag again.
Not as flimsy as I first thought, now that I handle it with the...
It's well stuck. Ooh, these look really nice, don't they?
Well, here are the results of cropping our tatties.
The ones here are the flimsy bag, Mari with four tubers, so
slightly more than the ones there, which only had three tubers in.
Which one do you particularly like?
I think the centre one, Elfe,
looks a bit more appetising than the other two.
Certainly! These are pretty white, aren't they?
The only thing is, I think it's all about tasting the tatties.
-And the ones either end are salad potatoes.
Jazzy is actually meant to be a little bit like a Jersey Royal.
-So, we'll have to wait and see.
Weight-wise, Elfe has won, from that particular point of view.
But we'll have a taste test at the end of the programme.
Now then, I have a timely reminder for you.
We're constant reminded, ourselves, by people passing
us in the street who say, "You were rough with these camellias
"when you knocked them out their pots."
We took some of the root ball away
and we put in some fresh soil
and we brought them out here for their holidays,
and they're looking fine.
One or two needed a little bit of pruning just to balance
them up, but on the whole, they're doing OK.
But did you notice this one
and the one behind are tending to lean forward, looking for the light?
So, be reminded that you can give them a bit of a twist round,
turn them so that they've got to go the other way.
The other thing that I would remind you of at this moment, as you
pack your bags for Dubrovnik, or wherever, the holiday season,
plants in pots need water.
Plants at the bottom of a wall are often growing in dry soil
and it's at this time, from August onwards, that the plants
actually produce and initiate the buds for next year.
You can't influence what happened yesterday,
but you can influence what's going to happen next spring.
You need to give these plants plenty of water at this time
and a bit of feed. Sulphate of potash is the answer to that,
and they will be absolutely super next spring, I can assure you.
On a warm, sunny day like this, the water garden is just wonderfully
appealing and there's one group of plants that is inextricably
linked to not only waterside planting but also bog gardens, too.
And it is of course this, the hosta.
This one is Sum and Substance.
It is the most bold, brassy and beguilingly exotic
plant, that is happy, actually, in the sun or in the shade.
And that is one of the remarkable things about hostas,
is that there is one for just about every location in the garden.
Of course, it goes without saying that all hostas will revel not
only in damp soils, but dappled, or even full shade,
but if you are looking for something a little bit more unusual
and in a more difficult situation, then what about full sun?
Well, there is a group of hostas, in fact, this group,
the sieboldiana group, that are fabulous at sitting in really
quite baking sunshine and quite dry soils,
although they will thank you if you keep them a little bit damp too.
These are all derivatives of Halcyon.
El Nino, for instance, is a really
rather quaint blue with an ice white edge.
Or, you could go for the pure Halcyon itself -
a very subtle and rather sophisticated-looking foliage.
My favourite is this one.
This is Blue Mouse Ear which is such a diminutive specimen.
Perfect for pot culture even in a windowsill, or, dare I say it,
hanging basket or trough.
It's perfectly at home just in a crack or crevice in a wall to.
Hostas being loosely related to lilies will carry not just a
similar-shaped flower, but also that
wonderful, sweet fragrance of lilies.
Many of them now are being bred specifically for that fragrance.
So, in addition to growing just about anywhere, there is
also a huge variety.
In fact, if this doesn't fill the pantry full of hostas,
then you might want to contemplate the fact there's about 4,000
different cultivars, shapes, sizes, colours and everything in between.
Whatever type of hosta you choose, and, in truth,
wherever you locate it in the garden,
the key to success with these plants is all to do with
the type of roots they have
because they're very succulent rooted specimens, which
means that they like to be good and moist during the summer months,
and free draining during the winter.
Now, of course, some garden soils oblige, but most don't,
so, the thing to do is to dig in lots of organic matter.
So, about, if you can manage it, 50% organic matter,
50% garden soil, and that organic matter can come from garden
compost or well rotted farmyard manure or leaf litter.
Plant the specimens just a little deeper than
they are in the pot because these are herbaceous plants
and they will produce the most robust crown
if they are slightly deeper.
Leave them too proud and they all become a little bit too loose
and dry out very quickly.
Of course, it's all very well extolling the virtues of hostas
and the beauty that they bring to the garden, when the reality,
for most of us, is this - a great handsome clump of hostas
completely annihilated by molluscs.
Slugs and snails having a wonderful time here.
And, in fact, if you have a rummage around in here,
you'll probably find one or two of the culprits.
Sometimes, it's not immediately obvious where the...
Oh, there's one. There it is. Look at that. Prise him off.
Look at that. Now, the anatomy of a slug and snail,
well, it's quite curious.
You can see that there's four protuberances at the front.
There are two eyes,
and then two antennae which are essentially smelling the atmosphere.
Underneath, there is then a mouth.
That has a single tooth and is doing
all of the munching on your hostas, and, what they do, is they use that
single tooth in their mouth to graze away
on the underside of the hosta leaf.
They take all the fresh tissue and, of course,
without an underside and without a central part of the leaf,
all the spongy mesophyll has been grazed away,
the top part then just falls out and the plant
looks as though it has been shot blasted.
Gardeners traditionally of course would turn to
something like a jam jar, fill it full of your favourite beer,
and then plunge that in the garden
and then the molluscs will come along, they go for a swim
and they drown while slightly drunk but happy, presumably.
Limited effect to be honest.
Then, you find you have things like the slug pellets,
traditional pellets, and this is as ferric phosphate.
Now, although it is sold as an organic and environmentally
and nature friendly, there is
some suspicion that even these are causing a major problem
amongst anything which eats the molluscs after
they have been poisoned by the ferric sulphate.
Granny used to suggest these.
Crushed eggshells. Now, the idea is that you scatter
these around the surface of your pot or on the surface
of the soil around your plant and the sharp nature of them
is irritant to any mollusc covering the surface
and they go somewhere else and that's true to a certain extent,
but, remember, snails stay on the surface
so eggshells may be efficient, but, slugs - predominantly under
the surface, so eggshells certainly wouldn't work as well for them.
You could go for coffee grinds and there is some evidence, although,
it is really quite slight,
and you do need an awful lot of coffee grinds.
You do need to create a complete blanket on the surface
and, again, it only works for snails and not slugs.
Personally, I go for sheep's wool.
This is ground and composted, pelleted sheep's wool.
It's an irritant to the mollusc as it travels across the surface.
You put it around the plant, you water the plant heavily,
it creates a sort of cowpat-like structure
which smells awfully of sheep,
but it does keep your hostas free of slugs and snails.
Or, if you want something that's really smelly...how about this?
A cocktail for molluscs.
There is a couple of bulbs of garlic which have been crushed
and then boiled in a couple of pints of water for about five
minutes or so, and then you take your simmered garlic, and you tip
it into a jug with about two pints of liquid - there's all the debris
coming out of it - look, there's all the garlic that's been taken away.
That's the concentrate.
You can dilute that by about 100%, so you can double the quantity,
put it into your favourite sprayer
and spray it over your hostas.
the foliage, underside as well,
and what happens is that all of this garlic will
dry as a veneer on the surface of anything that it touches
and that becomes a dissuading mechanism for any of the molluscs.
They just simply don't like the taste of garlic apparently.
Of course, if all else fails then you can always retreat to the safe
position of growing hostas which
the breeders tell us are slug proof.
Now, there is one rather unimaginatively entitled
Slug Proof, but, for me, this is the one that you absolutely
have to grow if you want clean hostas
free of slug and snail damage.
This one is called Devon Green.
It's a young specimen, the leaves will double in size.
It remains this wonderful verdant green and has lavender blue flowers.
And, certainly in my garden, this one stands
head and shoulders above anything else.
Well, if our postbag is anything to go by,
some of you are having a bit of a problem with your tomato
crops under glass this year and it's not disease,
it's not the feeding, it's not virus, or anything like that,
or chemicals, it's due to the environment that we've created,
that we have had created in the greenhouses this year.
The two key points are temperature and humidity.
The temperatures go shooting through the roof
because modern glasshouses don't have enough ventilation.
If you go away to your work in the morning and it goes really hot,
even although you have left the ventilation on,
it gets up over 80, it's going
to affect the quality of the growth and the quality of the fruit.
So, there's not a lot you can do in that regard, but the second
one was equally important, and that is humidity.
When it gets dry under these conditions,
the fruit just doesn't set, so you may have flowers
but they just drop off without setting
because the humidity is necessary, not only to help reduce
the temperature, but also
to actually create the pollen absolutely
ripening and bursting and doing the business to give you a crop.
At home, I have conquered the business about humidity
but I still get too high a temperature and so the growth is
fine and I have got a set, but not as good as the set here, you see.
See, we're halfway in between
in this greenhouse which has reasonable ventilation.
So, how do we compare? Well, we've got Shirley at the end there.
It's a variety I use to compare others
because it's very easy to grow, it's a good cropper
and it's coming away nicely, if a bit slow, because of the conditions.
As we come through these other varieties,
you get a whole range of very strange colouring
because not only does that condition affect the growth,
because it's affecting nutrition.
You can get the nutrition as normal
but you're still going to get this sort of effect on the foliage.
Crops are coming away nicely, Rosella is doing rather nicely -
the one I hope everybody will walk past
because I think it's the best of the lot.
And, we've a new one this year
and one of the team looked at this one...
This is Indigo Blue Berries.
Look at that. ..the first thing she said
when she saw it was, "These are evil looking."
Well, I haven't tried to taste them yet.
I'm a wee bit scared,
but they could be quite interesting on the plate.
The bearded iris, or, if you're a bit old-fashioned,
Germanic iris, are wonderful early summer flowering specimens
with their very thick belt-like foliage.
But, once they've finished flowering,
if their clump's about three to five years old,
it's well worth just gently lifting them out of the bed here in the
gravel bed, and the time to do that is as soon as they have finished
their flowering flush.
You can see here the faded flower stems, and what we can also see
once it's out of the ground is the way that these plants grow.
They are rhizomatous.
The rhizome is basically just a stem
that lies on the surface of the soil,
roots protruding beneath. You can see some thick, fleshy roots and
the leaves coming out on top. And with a plant like this, what happens
over time is that the rhizome just simply runs out of energy,
so it dies away, and every year it produces a new piece of rhizome.
So, the reason that we lift them
and divide them is to reinvigorate the plant, spur it into a bit
more growth, and then it produces new, fresh rhizome and flowers.
And there it is on the end, look.
You can harvest that by cutting about two inches or so.
You can either take your secateurs
or knife, slide it in, and cut through the rhizome.
So, there, if you tease out as much root as you can,
you can see the roots beneath, a good healthy collection, two inches
or so of rhizome and then some good, healthy leaves coming off of that.
And that's the perfect plant to propagate.
Any shorter than about two inches
and you will find it doesn't have enough energy to get itself motoring
for next season and it won't flower, so better to have more than less.
Once you have got your cutting and propagation material,
a bit of compost - this is multipurpose compost -
mixed with grit,
that's 75% multipurpose, 25% grit,
the grit is there to give it good drainage. I'm trying to
replicate the conditions that the bearded iris love.
And then just...
..twist the roots round in the pot a little.
It doesn't matter if they are all at the same level in the compost.
And what's curious is that you bury the plant a little deeper
than it was when it was growing in the garden.
There's two reasons for doing that.
The first is to make sure that the rhizome is
spurred into action to keep growing,
and the second reason is very simply
that you need to stop the plant blowing around in the wind.
So, a good idea to put a stake in just alongside the rhizome there
and then a piece of twine or wire just long enough to go
around the leaves and the cane, just give it a bit of a tie off and that
will stop it moving around.
The problem with these plants is, that the more they move,
the less the roots are able to develop,
so a good, rigid structure is essential.
And then, of course, a bit of water on the top.
And then you want to put this into a location which is very
similar to the location in which the iris thrives -
full sun and sheltered from the wind.
And if you have been generous enough with your rhizome,
you will find that this will root very quickly, within a few weeks,
and then will flower again early next summer.
We have these wonderful views of Orkney farmland but, you know
the price you have to pay for that is that the wind
whistles across here and hits anything that you try to grow.
So, what do you do? You provide shelter. And, normally,
you would build a stone enclosure at the front of your house
and then you would put some trees up the side of it to break the wind.
Because the wind normally just whistles over the top
and causes eddies, breaks anything inside.
So, here, that's what they've done.
This is the garden of Kierfiold House and it is owned by Fiona
and Euan Smith, and I am off to see Euan.
Gosh, Euan, this is just fantastic. What an array of plants!
They're packed in and there is hardly a weed to be seen.
Which in itself has its advantages.
It does. So, Euan, what's the history of the site and garden?
Well, the house was built between 1850 and 1852 and we believe
that the garden, the walled garden, was built at the same time.
We are guessing that the garden was serving all functions.
So, it would be a kitchen garden, decorative,
and probably also fruit was grown here as well, so, I think
it was performing all the functions that a big house needed at the time.
And all these big houses had these gardens, didn't they?
A lot of the houses up here, yes, the estate houses,
because I think things like apples and suchlike would have been
very difficult to get in Orkney any other way.
We have been here 12 years now and before us,
the previous owner, John Munro, had spent a lot of time
working on the garden.
So, a lot of the geranium collection particularly was initiated by him,
but they are also of great interest to my wife, Fiona,
and there's also a local breeder of some import and we are trying
to get some more of his breeds into the garden as time goes by.
That's quite interesting because there is an old
friend of Beechgrove here, and somebody who you know, who is
also interested in geraniums, so I'm just going off to meet her.
-Brilliant. I hope you enjoy yourself.
Last week, we met Caroline Critchlow in her own beautiful garden.
This year she organised the first Orkney Garden Festival,
and the garden here at Kierfiold was one of the main attractions.
Well, Caroline, when we met at the roadshow, you said that you
were interested in establishing a collection of geraniums.
Look! Well, no better place to come than this garden,
it's absolutely stuffed with them.
Apparently there are 150 geraniums in this garden, and when
I started planning my garden, this garden was an inspiration for me.
You have got this wonderful Candyfloss,
you've got a magenta one over there, we've got blue ones,
we've got everything, all levels, all different levels as well.
What I love about them is that they will grow through other plants.
So, you might have an astrantia, you might have an inula,
and that geranium will just go through,
and the important thing here is that they will stand wind.
That's so important, isn't it? Especially in Orkney.
My favourite one is the pratense Striatum which is up there,
and it has got the white with the purple stripe going through
and it just doesn't know whether it wants to be blue or white.
-A wee bit uncertain isn't it, yeah?
Now, the ones you're interested in, Caroline,
-are, what, the Orkney hybrids, weren't they?
-Yes, that's right.
My friend Alan Bremner, who is a local farmer, and he breeds
geraniums as a hobby, has bred these 60 Orkney geraniums, 60!
-And we have got one here and that's the Orkney Cherry.
Now, the thing about Orkney Cherry is
it tells you from its name that it grows well in Orkney.
It doesn't like frost so it's not fully hardy,
and it likes good drainage and it likes sun, but not too much sun.
Is not difficult then, is it?
But that would be a tricky plant for me to grow
because I couldn't give it the conditions that it needs.
Yeah, it has been a tricky plant for me to grow
because I have had four goes, but I don't give up.
Keep going. And there's also that lovely little pink thing
going down over the wall.
That one is called Westray, and you can see that just by the side
of it, there's a light pink one
-called dalmaticum and that's its mother.
And the father is macrorrhizum,
and that's the one with the lovely fragrant leaf.
That's right, it's a common ground cover, macrorrhizum,
and you can see there's wonderful ground cover that that has as well.
There's a white one over there.
That's another one that I'm determined to
have in my collection, determined, and it is called St Ola.
It likes a sunny position.
It can be a bit tricky, and that one is fully hardy
so I might stand a better chance with that one, George.
It's got that lovely white flower.
So, for me, these plants which have these Orcadian names are
the Orkney geraniums, but, any time I try to grow them,
I would need to be careful to look at the conditions on them.
Well, Caroline, I don't think I have ever been
so excited at looking at one plant collection
and this collection of geraniums is just absolutely astonishing.
The variation which you have got here!
So, what's going to happen to these specially-bred Orkney geraniums?
Well, together with my friend Fiona, who gardens here with Euan,
who you met earlier, we are
going to get these 60 Bremner geraniums
back onto Orkney and we're going to
build the collection up.
Because, we're both very worried that we'll lose those
geraniums because there are so many things on the market now, but,
to us, they're special and we want to preserve them and treasure them.
We're looking forward to researching that
and getting them from here, there and everywhere,
but we want them back here where they started and where they belong.
-It's a part of this island's heritage, after all.
And the best way to keep something is actually to give it away,
-to share it, to pass it around.
And then we can get collections.
That's right. And if two of us are working on it,
there's more chance of this project succeeding.
Here's power to your elbow.
Thank you very much, I'm going to need it.
I'm on the weather theme again
because the weather conditions have led to our potato crop
getting blight, but not all the varieties are affected.
You can see the affected plants there, the blackened leaves.
The leaves are falling off and that's Maris Bard, known to be
affected by blight. Look at this one.
This is called Athlete, clean as a whistle, absolutely fine!
Then we go on to another variety, this is Kestrel,
beginning to be affected, but if you
haven't done anything about it, now it's too late, they're affected.
So, what do we do with these?
Well, we take all the affected material off the top
of the drills and dispose of it. Hap the tatties up and they'll be
all right in the ground, but they're not going to grow very much more,
but there's no real panic in getting the potatoes out of the ground.
What I am more interested in, of course,
is the varieties that are showing resistance.
Athlete, Carolus here - we grew this last year
but didn't get a chance to taste it. And, after all,
that's what it's about - do we like them or do we not?
We'll try them again this year and see if we can get a nice boiling
of them. And these are the Sarpo varieties.
These two here, this is Kifli and this is Sarpo Mira.
Absolutely clean as a whistle,
so if you're liable to have a blight in your area at any time,
when you are choosing your varieties, give a thought to
the fact that you can get varieties that are resistant.
This is my fertiliser trial
and it's all to do with that beautiful begonia, Illumination.
Now, I have six different types of fertilisers, plus the control,
and the control doesn't have any fertiliser at all and I think
you can see with this one that, yes, it's starting to peter out, OK.
I've still got the flowers, but look at the foliage.
It's starting to go a little bit yellow.
However, when you look at these six,
I don't think there's a lot of difference at the moment.
If anything, this one, which is
one of the controlled-release fertilisers, the foliage is
perhaps a little bit greener and the same with the one at the end here.
And that was the fertiliser that said you would have 400%
more blooms or possibly... Well, definitely not at the moment
but we need to come back in a few weeks' time and take another look.
Jim, before we start tasting the tatties,
I know, what about the sweet peas and the smell? They look glorious.
-Aren't they good? Let's start with Jazzy,
which is meant to be like a Jersey Royal.
OK, can you remember when you last had a Jersey Royal?
-Oh, that's nice.
Oh, I don't think so. I like that. OK...
-That's what makes people different.
-Gemson also meant to be a salad potato.
And it was quite a white one.
I had my eye on that bit, but never mind.
Definitely more substance to that.
No, I think that one has got more flavour.
We'll be here for a while.
Yes, now let's try Elfe, this was the one that was
best cropper, and both Mari and myself liked the colour of it.
So, we should have done a blind tasting so we didn't know.
-I would go for Elfe.
-I would go for Jazzy.
-It's a pity we didn't have a bit of butter, mind you.
-Oh, I know.
-Definitely. Butter and salt.
-This is true.
Anyway, if you would like any more information on this week's
programme, it's all in the fact sheet,
and the easiest way to access that is online. Next week, Jim...
We have a week off next week for some people
running around the track. I'll be shouting for Laura Muir,
but until the following week... BOTH: Goodbye.
Right, I'm going to stick with Jazzy.
In the Beechgrove garden, Jim and Carole enjoy a red cabbage success story. Chris plants a range of hostas in the Beechgrove cottage garden. Since hostas are usually tasty morsels for slugs and snails, Chris also tries out a range of preventative measures. George visits Fiona and Euan Smith's garden at Kierfiold House on Orkney. The garden is a lesson on how creating shelter allows for planting in exposed conditions and is home to a large collection of hardy geraniums.