Gardening magazine. Carole and George are in the garden, tasting the new super-sweet tomatoes and thin-skinned cucumbers in the tender veg polytunnel.
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Hello and welcome to Beechgrove. Bright, sunny day,
and I think there's a bit of a theme going on here, Carole.
-Will you explain yourself?
Well, one of the trial beds here, or observation beds,
it's all about cut flowers. We've got 12 different varieties.
And I think every year,
we like to try something that we haven't tried before in the garden.
Or things that we know that are particularly good.
-Or new varieties, obviously.
-So there is a bit of a colour theme.
-I think this is really cheery.
This is a cracker. And that, that one there is just an absolute stotter.
-The marigold. An African marigold. Keylime.
Which I think is rather interesting.
I also think the sunflower, and that's a very popular cut flower
nowadays, and it lasts a long time. That one's called Sunbright.
-Just take a bit of picking, some of them, don't they?
Well, that's quite a nice height, isn't it? It's pretty good.
This, I think, is gorgeous for any flower arrangement.
Ammi. We have grown that before. It's very soft.
-Do you like it?
-I do. Do you?
Well, it adds a certain something.
-This airiness to the decoration, it's quite good.
What's the star of this one? Oh, I think it's this.
-What's that? Pennisetum?
Panicum Frosted Explosion. Because I think that's a very apt name.
To me, it's like a firework, but it is, it's beautiful.
It's kind of surreal, it's there, but it's not.
That's right. Ethereal is the word we're looking for.
-And it's every arrangement.
So, in other words, you can put that in any kind of mix.
I like the cornflower.
You see in the plot, the height, the length of the stems.
Absolutely brilliant for cutting when it's like that, because you can
cut really long lengths, or quite short ones, so it's really good.
-Do you like the red one?
-Yes, I do.
I like this gaillardia here in the middle.
Quite a strong colour, of course. But no, it's very nice.
-And that one's Firewheels.
-I think that's...
Yeah, I'm not so sure about that one at the end.
This is, I would describe as, the morning after.
Meanwhile, on the rest of the programme...
Today, I'm in the most northerly part of the British Isles to
visit a lady who's got the world in her garden.
And where would you find a jungle in the middle of a city?
Join me later to find out.
During the course of a season, we talk a lot about mulching.
Not only does it conserve moisture, but it keeps weeds down.
But how much does mulching cost
if you don't make your own mulching material?
Well, we've got a little observation here.
The plant we've used is incidental -
it happens to be the Beauty Bush, Kolkwitzia.
One in each plot, which is a metre square. Now this material here is Strulch.
It's about two inches thick and it cost a fiver just to do one square metre.
But you would see that it's pretty clean,
it's holding together rather well.
This is a commercial composted bark, the same again.
There's an odd weed here and there. £4.50 for just one square metre.
But that's quite a thick mulch.
It's more superfine, brings the price down -
in this case, to £3. Again, doing a good job.
And the one that's failed
in a sense that there's more weeds is our own composted bark.
And obviously we need to work more on it to get killing weeds,
because we've got a number of weeds coming through in this.
But none of them have let us down dramatically.
A little bit of hand weeding doesn't go wrong.
Then we reduced the depth of the mulch for this set,
exactly the same again. Here we have Strulch.
One or two little weeds coming through here.
But in the main, it's doing quite nicely,
and as you can see, £2.50, just a square metre.
But if it lasts for two or three years,
and requires very little topping up, so what?
You might want to afford that.
But if there was no mulching done at all,
that's the kind of growth of weeds we would have had.
Along this whole border.
But you make up your own mind.
Can you afford it? Fair enough.
Mm, George, what a crop we've got of squashes.
Isn't that astonishing?
I mean, look at the size of them and look at the size of the plant.
I know. And it makes you wonder how it manages to hold on to that
because they're quite a weight. And that variety is Pink Banana.
And this one is?
This is Sunshine. And...
You know, it says you can eat it raw.
-Almost carroty, isn't it?
It looks carrot, sort of, coloured, doesn't it?
-I think that would be quite nice in a salad,
but would you maybe cook it?
I would maybe grate it into salad or cook it in a risotto, little cubes.
Mm. But not bad.
Now, we've already tasted our three varieties of cucumber.
And, thankfully, we agree - not like Jim and myself - when we taste things.
-So we both like Delistar.
-We loved this Delistar,
which is a great surprise to me
because these are conventional-looking cucumbers,
this one has got this look about it
where you would think that's over-mature.
You think it's going to be bitter. That is as sweet as a nut.
-It's really nice. Very thin skinned,
and I think what's nice about that then is it isn't tough to eat.
You eat the whole skin, you eat everything.
-Oh, that's just...
..the skin is very tough.
-Take the skin off.
-And it is ribbed, as well.
And Swing I thought was a little bit bitter.
Yes, I'd go along with that.
So these two, it's a very simple test, isn't it?
But I like that best.
Yeah, I would grow that one again, and, actually, that's the best
productive-wise, as well.
Three plants and we've had 37 already.
Well, it's still going, whereas the other ones are struggling
-but this one is still going, so more to crop.
-So this is two cherry tomatoes. One of them is Sungold...
..which always seems to win with flavour.
The other one is Golden Cherry.
And they do say that maybe it supersedes.
So we don't know which is which.
-Which one we like best is really what we're after.
-Shall we try with this first?
Cos they look very similar, don't they?
-I like that.
-That is delicious.
I mean, when they're just picked off the plant, they're warm...
Wow. This is going to be difficult, I think.
-Try another one.
-Go for it. Right.
Very sweet, that was.
I don't know if there's much in it. I think that's slightly sweeter.
Slightly sweeter, more tender.
This one, however, when that bursts in your mouth, it's just...
-I like that.
-Do you? I'm going to say I like this.
Oh, here we go.
-Shall we have a look?
-Right, what are you?
I've got the Golden Cherry.
I've got Sungold. I'm old-fashioned.
-But both are lovely.
They're very nice, I have to say. Yeah, beautiful.
In last year's Beechgrove series I did a little bit
of investigating into how we grow a gardener these days.
And there was one important sector that I left out,
and that is the municipal and scientific sector,
where there are some fine careers to be had.
So I've come to visit some apprentices who are employed
at the Glasgow Botanic Garden,
this year celebrating its bicentenary.
As well as celebrating the Botanics' bicentenary,
this year also marks the 70th anniversary of Glasgow's
first official horticultural apprentice scheme.
Today, the current crop of five apprentices are taking part
in a workshop on orchid propagation.
The manager and long-time head gardener of Glasgow Botanic Garden
is Ewen Donaldson.
Well, here we are, Ewen.
And I know for a fact that you were an apprentice here at one time.
We won't go too far back.
No, I was an apprentice here a number of years ago.
Have you seen it change, the methods and so on, over the years?
I think in a lot of ways it's changed.
The work they get at college and so on.
But what they do in the Botanic Gardens here has maybe not
changed as much because it is horticultural work that they're
doing here and they're working with experienced staff.
Well, I guess the students, like most apprenticeships,
will have a spell in each department.
We try to do that as much as we can.
Some of them occasionally will work outdoors, but on the whole
they work under glass and they'll work within the different sections.
So some of them will have an opportunity to work in display
in the main glasshouse range or the Kibble Palace,
and others will work behind the scenes doing propagation,
cutting, seed sowing and things like that.
So, even at an early stage, when they're not long with you,
some of them will have developed a particular liking for or
an aptitude for, and you can cater for that?
Oh, yes, they will, and some of them learn very quickly.
It's not unusual for us
to have an apprentice who could quite easily look after
the Kibble Palace - which is a very important glasshouse - on their own.
It's the very nature of the place, because this is more than
just a beautiful garden for the public because it's a very
significant scientific place, so they perhaps get a different view
and that will lead them on to maybe a different field of horticulture.
Well, that's right, yes.
There's the Botanic Garden here with large plant collections,
but there's a lot of good horticulture goes on, as well.
It's a good place to learn, and there are people
who are specialised, and it's good to work with.
And what's for the future?
Any developments for the future?
Well, in the Botanic Gardens we're going to have a HNC
in horticulture offered through the Scottish Rural College,
so that's going to be something for people to go onto.
That's moving on splendidly.
Well, all the things that they're doing here, I'm about to find out
just how well it's working.
-Thanks just now.
First, to the Palm House.
Well, that's quite an important job to be doing for an apprentice.
-So you're giving this a real whacking, aren't you?
Is there a particular time of year you do it?
Normally just when it's about to go through the roof.
And do you move around each department?
Yeah, a few times we've been in the different glasshouses
-and stuff, yeah.
-And what do you prefer?
In here, definitely, yeah.
-Nothing to do with the nice warm temperature, is it?
It's the plants that you really like.
Would you go on to do the same kind of thing?
-As long as I get a job, yeah.
But you're not likely to turn over to growing strawberries or onions, are you?
-No, not at all, no.
-It's this kind of stuff you enjoy?
-Well, keep up the good work. I'll let you get on.
Right, thank you.
Now we're off to see how the delicate specimens
in the Filmy Fern House are being looked after by an apprentice.
-Hello there, Harry.
Describe to me what you're... Well, I can see what you're doing.
What is the purpose of it?
Well, I'm feeding the ferns with some iron nutrients.
-And that helps keep them healthy.
Do all of the plants get it or is it just the more mature ones?
Just the mature ones, and some smaller ones, as well.
But the maturer ones and any ones that's big enough to have it,
because you don't want to kill them.
But you're working according to instructions, which is
-what the course is all about.
So far you're quite enjoying it?
-What's your favourite plant?
-Mine is Dieffenbachia exotica.
Because I just find it quite interesting how the crystals
in the plant can harm you if you ingest them.
I think it's a fun fact.
We've actually seen that plant.
It was next door to where John was doing his pruning,
and it's a belter of a specimen.
I like the colours, as well.
The colours are really good, as well. Something different.
I admire your choice.
What will you do when your course ends?
Hopefully get a full-time job within horticulture.
-All the best to you.
-You better get on with that job, it's druthy.
A recent former apprentice is 23-year-old Fionnula.
She's progressed to a full-time job here at the Botanic Garden,
and one of her roles is mentoring the new apprentices
who come in each year.
This plant here we're looking at is a mint.
So you get lots of different types of mint,
not just your regular mint that you'd buy.
So this is apple mint.
So it has quite a delicate scent to it.
So if you give it a wee rub, and then you can smell it,
let me know what you think.
-It smells quite sweet.
-It is, yeah.
-It's quite strong, as well.
So it's got a hairy leaf, and usually hairs on the leaf
help to stop the leaf losing water,
and it also prevents pests from eating them, as well,
because caterpillars come along
and they feel the kind of hairiness
and they don't actually like that.
And the really strong oils in the leaf,
they also taste really horrible to insects, as well.
So it's a good way of kind of preventing pests eating them.
Ah-ha. There you are. I was told
that I would find Fionnula collecting spores.
Yes, you're very correct.
And of course that serves as a reminder to us,
that whilst the Botanic Gardens is a beautiful place to be,
-it's actually a scientific institute.
-Very much so.
-These are the spores there on the back of the leaves that you're collecting, aren't they?
Tell me what happens to these spores now.
So what will happen is they are left overnight to dehis.
Which means all the spores will pop out
and they will drop to the bottom of the bag.
And then they will be put through a sieve and the finest dust
will be collected and it will be put into a little jar like this,
and it will be collected and it will be put in the seed fridge.
So they're kept very cool, and that helps to keep them viable.
-Then you can use them as exchange with other similar institutes?
So what we'll do is in the winter we will offer a seed catalogue out
and other gardens can request seeds from us
and we can request seats from them.
-That's what makes the world go round.
But the fact of the matter is that you were so keen,
that here you are, back on the staff. So, you've been hooked.
For me, it's a fantastic career.
I couldn't imagine myself doing anything different now.
I fell in love with the Botanic Gardens growing up.
I did my work experience here at 13.
So the dream was to get a job in here and so, yeah,
I would love to continue on as a botanical gardener.
It's a bonus to be happy in your job, isn't it?
Definitely. It makes a difference, going to work and being happy.
Thanks for that.
Well, I can just hear some of you sitting there saying,
"If only every student that was produced was like Fionnula".
But listen, there are a lot more that I've met here today,
and in these other places, who are promising young horticulturalists.
And thankfully there are some good careers for them.
So it's time that we had a few more joining our wonderful profession.
We are into our second year of what is our dig, no-dig observation.
This is the no-dig side, where we put the compost on the top
and this side is the conventional plot, where we
put the compost on and we dig it in.
So that's the traditional digging side.
This, no dig at all.
Last year when we looked at it we had quite a substantial
difference on some of the crops.
And I was surprised, because that was just in one year.
Well, I have to tell you,
now, in our second year, there are still substantial differences.
If you think about the crops that you sometimes get from digging,
look at the crop we've got of the potatoes.
The early potatoes that we have are absolutely
outstanding on the no-dig side.
The dig, less.
The cauliflower, well...
The cauliflower heads were bigger, the roots were
better on the no-dig side than they were on the conventional dig side.
So there's a great difference there, and I'm almost becoming convinced.
Now, if we take the carrots, for example, look,
there's the dig and the no-dig.
And I have to say that the no-dig seems to get it for me.
So, really, if I'm looking for it,
I would suggest that I'm swinging towards the no-dig
because I'm getting old and my back's getting a bit sore!
Meanwhile, down the path, Jim and Carol are hedging their bets.
-Oh, yes, here we go.
-This little project is coming on quite nicely.
We're trying to find a hedging subject that would take
the place of boxwood, which is in trouble at the moment.
Yes, with box blight.
So, Brian was planting a whole range of different varieties.
-And then look at the poor little Berberis here.
The rabbits obviously like it.
But interesting. It disappears against the dark earth, doesn't it?
-It's got to kick up a bit.
-Yes. And hopefully that will recover.
Even though it's a prickly plant, the rabbits like it.
That's rather nice. Baggesen's Gold.
-I think that could do with a little bit of pruning.
Well, we'll come back to that later on to see how well they've
established, but there's been such a response to this.
-There has. The viewers have responded.
And said, look - they've made some suggestions
and so we've gone for another three.
-This time we've also thought about cost.
But first and foremost, this is a privet,
-but with a difference, isn't it?
-It is. A lovely golden form.
-I just wonder how hardy that will be.
This is Lonicera "Tidy Tips".
It is. Really compact.
And we've got quite a lot of hope for that.
Yeah, I think that would be quite a good box alternative.
And then this is the real cheap and cheerful one, isn't it?
Well, the fact of the matter is this is tried and tested
because we have a bigger hedge of it about 4ft high down there.
It's Cotoneaster simonsii, which does so well.
So I see you got the secateurs,
so are you going to do a bit of pruning already?
I will take the easy job, if you don't mind.
OK, you do that. I'll start planting this one.
Because this has all been nicely prepared.
-It's a case of whacking them in, isn't it?
-Good on you.
Today I'm in Shetland. Almost as far north as I can get in Scotland.
60 degrees north.
And I'm almost on an equivalent latitude to southern Greenland,
Alaska, St Petersburg and Helsinki.
There's not many trees here. This is certainly a gardening challenge.
Who says nothing grows on Shetland? Take a look at this.
This is a community garden at Weisdale Kirk.
It was created in, what, 2005, by the Beechgrove team
and the local community.
And it's wonderful to see it being maintained the way it is
and to be in such splendid condition.
A little bit of care, it's amazing what you can do. Even up here.
One of the folks involved in the creation of this garden lives
over that hill and she has created a garden that is just pure magic,
and that's where I'm going now.
30 years ago, Rosa Stepanova hitchhiked from Bavaria to the
Highlands of Scotland.
She was offered a lift to Shetland and she's been there ever since.
Lea Gardens at Tresta Have been created by Rosa
and her husband, James McKenzie,
as a haven for plants of all kinds, sheltered from the Shetland winds.
Gosh, Rosa, everywhere I look there's something new.
This is like a botanic garden. How many plants have you got here?
-We've got just over 1,600 now.
-That's 1,600 different plants?
Yes, yes, I counted them.
There's stuff in pots, here. What's this about?
Yes, well, these are my ladies in waiting.
There's pots everywhere in this garden as you've noticed, probably.
-They're called ladies in waiting because they have to wait...
..until I find the perfect spot where to plant them and
if they get too scorched, I put them somewhere with a bit more shelter...
If they get rather lush, I think they could maybe do with
a bit more wind and salt, so eventually, they go in the ground.
-So where do all your plants come from?
-The four corners of the earth!
-All over the world. Would you like a tour of the world?
-I would, yes.
-Shall we go, then?
-Go on, then.
Look what's growing over the shed roof.
-The Scottish flame flower.
It's early this year.
It's the first time it actually stayed evergreen,
this has been here all winter. Right. We've had such a mild winter.
Normally, it dies down, so that's strange.
But that is just fabulous.
And then more - what? - more ladies in waiting?
Yes, always ladies in waiting! Oh, and this one...
The last time I saw that was in...
When I was travelling in South America two years ago and I saw it
growing in the forest there, just in little light bits in South America.
-That is a cracker.
-Well, it shouldn't be here,
this should actually be in South America.
-You think it has to move there today?
-Yes, I think so,
-we could take it up there, if you want.
So, George - here we are,
in South America.
-What's that over there? That's what, Francoa?
-Yes, Francoa sonchifolia.
I love it and it is of course South American,
but there is also special history attached to that.
I first came across that in Graham Stuart Thomas's book
on perennials and he described it as
"for the warmer counties only", so of course I gave it a wide berth.
And many other plants, as well,
because I had entered a sort of horticultural wilderness -
every expert, everybody I asked for advice kept going on about
"You're up there, so the plants you can grow have to be hardy,
"ultra-hardy, the hardiest of the hardy",
which is of course utter nonsense.
Because hardy means a plant's ability
to withstand low temperatures,
which we don't get up here. Shetland...
Is one of the warmer counties!
Yes, it is!
I know it sounds crazy, 60 degrees north, but it is.
You can grow all this stuff.
Yes, if we just look at what's here - behind us
is Crinodendron hookerianum.
-With a flower out.
-And then round this corner...
I had caught sight of a little gem,
something called Philesia magellanica.
It's my pet and my darling!
-I love it.
-It's a lovely little plant.
-Under the fire bushes, there.
And then right in the corner, there's something else.
That's another really interesting plant, actually.
This plant, believe it or not,
has saved countless lives.
People used to go on long sea voyages in the days of sail,
they could only take dried food and whatever with them,
so they died of something called scurvy, or fell very ill,
and this plant, Drimys winteri,
known as Winter's bark, is the highest,
or one of the highest vitamin C contents of any plant
in the world and they used to take it on these voyages and survive.
I wouldn't be surprised if there were even some Shetland seafarers
-who had their lives saved by this and now it's in Shetland.
And it tastes good, too!
So, Rosa, where are you taking me now?
-I thought maybe a trip to Latvia, via the Alps.
-How about that?
-Miniature Alps, here.
Well, I can see the Alps on the end of this building,
but where is Latvia?
Well, you may well ask.
Latvia's just here.
-But it's actually Latvia via Japan.
See, this wonderful Rugosa hybrid was spread by a botanic
garden in Latvia and they gave this to me as a gift.
That is exquisite, because it looks as though it's got a double
row of petals and the centre, the yellowish centre, is just superb.
What is this? I've never seen a thing like that flowering before.
-What is it?
-This is called Notholirion campanulatum.
Now, I've heard the name before, but I've never, ever,
seen that in flower.
Well, there you are. It comes from Western China, I believe, Sichuan.
And it's monocarpic.
This actually dies after flowering, but it leaves little baby bulbs.
Was one of the first things I ever
raised from seed from the Scottish Rock Garden Club seed exchange.
So it's been here for 30, 35 years now.
-That's just fabulous.
-It's lovely, isn't it?
What a garden. I think you've got everything here.
I've seen stuff from the sub-Antarctic islands here.
Yes, we do have two of the famous mega herbs -
the fat yellow one is Bulbinella rossii.
And the one next to it, it looks like a vegetable crocodile,
it's Anisotome latifolia.
And then we come up here and we've got these candelabra primulas
and the Ligularia round the pond.
I mean, it's just fabulous, but you know, it leaves me with a dilemma.
-Because the more I find out,
the more I realise just how much there is left to discover.
This is a sentiment so close my heart. I feel the same.
And I sometimes feel that one lifetime just isn't enough.
A seasonal job for me to do is to start bending over the tops of the
onions, which starts the ripening process,
so that you get really good onions.
And that starts the process. The next one,
in another week's time or so, is to ease them out and break the roots.
And George Anderson just told me a few minutes ago that
if you do that and you've got a problem with white rot,
easing them up will stop it from spreading and affecting the bulbs.
So there you go. Seasonal job. Done.
Well, I thought I'd bring you in to the eight-by-six greenhouse,
just again to have a look at the pineapple flowers
because they are in full bloom now.
Quite a tremendous flowering spike, so many flower heads here,
and the insects seem to really enjoy them,
cos they give off a little sort of musky scent.
I'm frequently of the opinion that it doesn't really matter what
a plant is called.
If you like it, you grow it in your garden.
The trouble arises when you try to replace it.
Then you have to know the correct name.
When we were in Orkney, we spoke about the daisy bush.
It was an absolutely astonishing
thing called Olearia semidentata.
Nobody was able to find it in Plant Finder. The reason?
It should be called Olearia "Henry Travers."
That's the one to look for.
Then you'll find it.
So from Orkney to Shetland, and a little hint from Rosa Stepanova.
If you look behind me, you see sawdust.
And Shetland has a massive rabbit problem.
Somebody introduced them for sport, and they're all over the island.
In a garden this size, there's no way one can rabbit-protect,
so we use wood-based used cat litter.
Smells of predator,
just like lion dung is said to keep deer at bay, and it works a treat.
-Yes, of course.
-Right, help yourselves.
Where's it come from, George?
Well, this is from the gardening in small spaces area,
which has been going all year, and also from the dig/no dig,
so you have to work out whether it's dig or no dig.
-I had a broad bean. That was nice.
-Was it good?
-This is an interesting colour.
-Yeah, that's right. That's borage.
-Now, have you tasted it?
-Because it's like cucumber.
More cucumbers. And this is colourful round here, as well.
-It is. This is good, isn't it?
But if you'd like any more information about this week's
programme, it's all in the fact sheet,
and the easiest way to access that is online.
-That's about it, isn't it?
-Where are we next week?
Next week, we're off on our travels.
26 miles south of here into the Howe of the Mearns. Join us there.
-Until then, bye-bye.
In the Beechgrove Garden, Carole and George have a tough job of taste testing the new super-sweet tomatoes and thin-skinned cucumbers in the tender veg polytunnel. Jim visits Glasgow Botanic Gardens - now in their 200th year of existence - to see how the new young gardeners of Glasgow are being trained through a unique apprenticeship scheme.
George is in his horticultural element as he visits Rosa Steppanova in Lea Garden at Tresta on Shetland. This extraordinary garden is 12 hours and 200 miles by sea from Beechgrove, and yet it is an astounding display of plants from all around the world.