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Gardeners World - 15th April 2010 - Review

Monty

This week, Monty Don has a variety of things to show us at Long Meadow, including:

  • Fritillaries

  • Planting Artichokes in the Ornamental Vegetable Garden

  • Planting Euphorbia


Fritallaries:Planting Fritillaries Meleagris, or ‘Snakes Head Fritillary that he bought in flower online Monty explains the economics of buying Fritillaries. His Fritillaries in flower cost around £20 for 50 in flower plants as opposed to bulbs which can cost as much as £25 for 100-half as much and this way you get instant results!

Fritillaries will naturalise quite easily – that is, set their own seed and are good for ground cover and interest for years to come. If, like me, you have a partner or spouse who at the first signs of the grass beginning to grow grabs the nearest machine capable of hacking it down, a word of caution. For bulb flowers you need long grass. Why? Because if you mow over and remove their leaves before they’ve had a chance to set seed, not only will they not spread but the bulbs will disappear to nothing.

Next, we go to his ornamental vegetable garden where he explains that in his garden at least, all vegetables that they grow are not only good to eat but also have to have a certain attractive aesthetic quality. Bring on ‘Artichoke Violetta di Chioggia’.

Artichokes grow best in well rich drained soil. If your soil is a bit on the poor side, an addition of garden compost before planting is a good idea. He also explains how after planting, he likes to add garden mulch too, not only helping to keep moisture in but also adding some nutritional value to the soil.

For other areas in the garden as well as this, there are of course other wood by products that you can add to help retain moisture, especially if you live in a warmer, drier or indeed windier parts. Garden bark chippings are readily available, and bark chippings are also great for areas where children play.

Monty’s ornamental vegetable garden is edged by established small, neat box hedging but an almost instant result can be obtained by using garden sleepers which are easy to fashion into manageable sized veg patches and borders. Beware, though, try not to use old railway sleepers as they are very often impregnated with diesel, creosote and oil which your veg won’t like and it will also inevitably end up all over your clothes.

Next to the walled garden where last week Monty repaired a square of grass in the middle of the lawn and laid down some garden turf. This turf has taken well and is beginning to grow – only one more week before it can be mown and walked across!

Euphorbias are the plant of choice today in the walled garden. Euphorbias Monty explained enjoy free draining rich soil – I have however found that they will grow almost anywhere but don’t go stocking up with this in mind on my say so!

Euphorbia’s sap can be very irritating to the skin so a good tip, particularly if you have sensitive skin is always to wear gloves whilst handling it. Another good tip today was that when you take Euphorbia cuttings, dip them in charcoal after they’ve been cut – this stops the ‘bleeding’ of the sap and gives the plant a better chance of surviving and rooting.

Carol

Carol is at the Garden House in Devon, marvelling at all the different varieties of daffodils grown there, both of modern varieties and also heritage varieties. A little known fact about daffodils is that they are closely related to the Amaryllis.

The modern varieties of daffodils flowering at the Garden House are now coming to an end but the old heritage varieties are now coming into their own. Whilst modern varieties tend to be uniform, bright bold and frankly garish, there is something more delicate and beautifully haphazard about the older varieties.

Carol is guided by Matt Bishop who is somewhat of a daffodil expert and she actually helps to create a new daffodil variety by applying the anthers containing the pollen of one variety to the stigma of another. After 6 – 8 weeks a new seed capsule will form and start top turn yellow. Seeds can then be collected and sown immediately. Unfortunately she won’t be able to see the fruits of her efforts for another 4 – 5 years when the new plant will flower!

Other gardens where you can see wonderful springtime displays of flowering bulb plants are the Coton Manor Gardens in Northampton, the Guy L. Wilson Garden in Londonderry and Abbey House Gardens in Wiltshire.

Rachel

Last but not least, Rachel visits a garden in Surrey where a new owner is having problems with sorting out her shrubs.

A Choisya had in the past been planted right at the edge of a flower border where it both blocked the view and interfered with the light of the shrubs behind it and also encroached upon the grass of the lawn. This was soon despatched with and removed, and the difference it has made to the border was amazing and a previously cluttered untidy patch now had a semblance of order and light to it. However, there was more work to do.

Another Choisya at the back of the border was also in danger of growing out of control so it was decided that it would be chopped back gradually over the course of 3 years, allowing new growth to sprout from the bottom and gradually replace the old.

After the space was cleared, a clump of Hemerocallis was found lurking unseen in a corner of the garden so it was broken into clumps and planted in groups in the new area created by the removal of the Choisya. As any designer, whether interior, floral or clothing will tell you that odd numbers are best. These clumps were put into groups of odd numbers which will create far more visual appeal than one or two of the same plant dotted about just anywhere.

Other pot plants that the house owner had bought also received the same treatment, showing that it is possible to both be economical and create a greater effect than you would otherwise have done.

Look out for Gardener’s World’s hour-long special programme next Friday

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