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Gardeners World - 8th April 2010 - Review

Welcome to our new article series, where we are going to try to “Distill the Essence” of BBC’s, popular, gardeners world programme, for those who missed it live.


This week Monty tackled a number of challenges this week, amongst them:

  • How to fix a problem patch of lawn

  • Pruning Fig Trees

The Walled Garden was the first piece of the garden Monty and his wife tackled when they moved to Longmeadow and is where the family spend much of their outdoor time. The Walled Garden is, he explained, at its best from May through to September.

The Walled Garden is very much a relaxing place of soft mauves, blues, pinks and yellows. Sowing some soft blue cornflower seeds, he explained how hardy annuals can be used to fill in gaps and provide more colour in a garden of this type. Of course, sowing seeds in an already established flower border is not as easy as it sounds due to the seedlings growing amongst and possibly being mistaken for weeds, so no random sowing here! Monty showed how to sow them in a pattern- in this case a cross, so the new seedlings are easy to spot and don’t end up on the compost heap with unwanted weeds.

Another handy way to ‘mark the spot’ is to use some prunings from the garden, in this case some limes prunings that Monty had pruned earlier in a ‘here’s one I pruned earlier’ style.

Problem patches of lawn

A tree had been removed the previous year from the centre of his lawn, leaving behind a definite divot. Instead of trying to match the new grass to the old, he decides to create a feature with a square of different grass in the centre as a lawn repair.

How to remove existing turf

First, mark your area that you want to remove. Then, using a sharp spade or a turf cutter, divide this area into smaller sections that will be easy to manage – rectangles the size of the spade head are ideal. Once done, slide the head of the spade underneath and lift out the sections one by one. These pieces of lawn turf can be used for patching in little seen areas of the garden or stacked grass side to grass side to create compost or loam.

Prepare the soil

Fill in the offending area with a turf topsoil mixture of sieved soil, compost, and sharp sand. ‘Sharp sand?’ I hear you ask. Sharp sand contributes to good drainage which is essential to stop your lawn becoming waterlogged, particularly if you are in an area with a high water table.
This can be firmed by treading it in gently and levelled off using a lawn lute or even just a plank with a person at each end if it’s a small enough area.

Lawn Seed vs Lawn Turf

There are pros and cons for both lawn seed and lawn turf. Seed is recommended for a larger area simply for ease but in a smaller area and for patching you can’t go wrong with lawn turf which gives an instant uniform result – although you can’t walk on it until it’s established.

How to lay lawn turf

Laying lawn turf is pretty easy as long as you stick to a few basic rules, which are:

  • Always keep your turf rolls damp whilst storing them

  • When laying, always butt right up to the edge of the existing lawn – some shrinkage is unavoidable and otherwise you will end up with a gap

  • Unroll and lay in courses

  • If you find there’s a small section needed at an edge, always place these small sections in the middle of the course – not at the edge

  • Don’t walk on it for at least 2 weeks

  • Keep it well watered

Lawn Care Tips

To avoid having to do some emergency lawn repairs in the future there is something you can do! Lawn care is simple to do but it must be done to ensure a lush uniform look. Lawn top dressing for example is a mixture of compost and sports grade sand. This can be applied evenly over the top of your lawn but here you have to make sure that it doesn’t ‘sit’ on top of the grass so only a very thin layer of top dressing is needed. Lawn dressing is a simple way to even out small divots and poorlier looking patches without having to replace or patch.

Pruning Fig Trees

To produce fruit, a Fig tree needs to be pruned so that it is made up of short ‘knobbly’ growth as Monty so eloquently puts it. His figs are trained against a wall and the idea is that the fig tree doesn’t grow any larger than the wall itself. Root growth also needs to be restricted, which is easily achieved by planting against a wall. Last but not least, plenty of sunshine!


Carol visited the Gibberd Garden in Essex, brain child of Sir Frederick Gibberd, an architect who also designed the Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool and the design and development of the new town of Harlow.

Gibberd Gardens are a mixture of architecture and dramatic design. A feature of this design is many secluded garden rooms which lead from one to another in a kind of Alice in Wonderland-esque mixture of reality and fantastical sculptures.

Sir Gibberd says that gardens ‘begin as a garden design as its core then extends into landscape design out into its surroundings’. He has even extended parts of his house and created large windows to frame some of his favourite views of the garden.

Gibberd gardens have opened its gates once more to the public, more details can be found at The Gibberd Garden .

Other similarly architectural gardens can be found at Little Sparta gardens in Lanarkshire, the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St Ives and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield.


Joe manfully flies to the rescue of a Cordyline in Walsall, suffering from Slime Flux. This Cabbage Palm had been attacked by this bacteria, resulting in a orangey yellow slime running down the trunk, plus a horrid smell.

This soil borne infection has been the bugbear of many a Cordyline lover this year. Although not due directly to the bad weather of the last two winters, the cold weather had caused the trunks to shrink and crack, thus allowing the bacteria in.

Joe explained how it was necessary to cut down the tree to the healthy trunk but assured the anxious owner of the tree that it would have epicormic growth the following year and be back to its former beauty. He didn’t say exactly when, though...

Until next week.......

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