Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 22: Monty welcomes a special guest, the Duchess of Cornwall, to Longmeadow, where she shares her love of gardening. Also in this programme, Monty carries out some seasonal maintenance on the mound, demonstrates how to plant a fragrant lavender hedge and catches up on the progress of his aubergines and chillies in the greenhouse.
Nick Bailey visits Knoll Gardens in Hampshire and gives his tips on the tall perennials which give a burst of colour in borders towards the end of the season, when other flowers have started to fade. JJ Chalmers heads to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and discovers the vital role it plays in the local community. And we get plenty of inspiration and tips from our viewers’ own gardens.
Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 22
Tomatoes produce abundant delicious fruits in a range of colours, shapes and sizes. They are easily grown in gardens, greenhouses or containers, and are appreciated by children and adults alike.
Tomatoes are very easy to grow from seed. Alternatively, you can buy tomato plants from late spring from garden centres; these are a good option where you can’t maintain the right conditions for germination and growing on. Grafting your own or buying grafted plants is another way to raise tomatoes. Sow seed in late March to early April for outdoor crops, and in mid-February for growing in an unheated glasshouse. Seed can be expensive, but usually only a few plants are needed, and germination is usually good.
Ideally, grow on in a glasshouse (or failing this, a well-lit windowsill), spacing plants so that their leaves never touch to avoid legginess. About a month after pricking out, the plants will be ready for planting into their final positions – this is indicated by the first flowers showing their yellow colour. The stress of being grown in the confines of a pot promotes flowers earlier than in less stressful positions, such as growing in the ground.
Peppers and chillies
Sweet peppers and chillies can be grown in pots on a sunny, warm patio in a similar way to tomatoes, but will produce a better crop when grown in a greenhouse or conservatory. Chillies and peppers are green when young, maturing to a variety of colours and flavour varying from mild to extremely hot.
Peppers and chillies need a warm, sunny sheltered position and, therefore, are only suitable for outdoor cultivation in milder parts of the country, and benefit greatly from cloche or even fleece protection. They can be grown in frames, unheated polythene tunnels or greenhouses and are also suitable for growing in containers or grow bags filled with multipurpose compost.
They require well-drained and fertile, moisture-retentive soil, which is slightly acid. To achieve this, incorporate moderate amounts of well-rotted manure (5.4kg per sq m/10lb per sq yd) into the soil, but avoid using fresh manure or large quantities, as this may lead to lush, leafy growth at the expense of fruit.
How to make a wildflower meadow – Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 22
Wildflower meadows are an alternative to lawns and borders, and can provide a display for many months. Choose from annual meadows that provide a one-off show or perennial meadows that persist from year to year. Wildflower seed merchants supply mixtures of wildflowers and grasses suitable for various soil types and situations. Choose one that suits your local conditions. Where possible, obtain seed of British origin. It is advisable not to take plants from the countryside and repeated seed collection would be likely to have a destructive effect on many species over time. In some cases, it also can be illegal.
Sow during March and April or in September, depending on soil conditions. On lighter soils, autumn-sown seeds generally germinate and establish quickly, although some will not come up until the following spring. This delay makes it advisable to wait until March or April on heavy soils, as waterlogging may cause the seed and seedlings to rot during winter.
Please note that garden ‘wildflower’ seed mixes and/or plants (which may contain non-natives or be of unknown provenance) should not be sown in the wider countryside or close to environmentally sensitive areas. They should also never be sown without a landowner’s permission.
Ornamental grasses – Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 22
The variations in colour and texture of ornamental grasses provide structure, movement and interest in planting schemes, even in the dead of winter. Usually partnered with late summer perennials, grasses provide a long season of interest.
Ornamental grasses are adaptable, reliable plants, easily cultivated in sun or shade with some thriving in both. Although ideally well-drained soils suit these plants, some will grow happily in moist or wet soils.
Blackcurrants are easy to grow producing sharp but delicious fruit with distinct flavour that are rich in vitamin C. The flowers are insignificant but attractive to pollinating insects and the foliage is pleasantly aromatic. Ideally choose a sunny position sheltered from cold winds and late frosts that can damage the flowers in spring, though modern cultivars show better cold resistance. Blackcurrants can be grown in light shade.
Blackcurrants will tolerate a wide range of soils, but being heavy feeders they prefer moisture-retentive fertile soils that are reasonably well-drained. They can cope with slightly impaired drainage.
Blackcurrants crop best on strong young growth made the previous season, so they are usually grown as a stooled multi-stemmed bush. This involves annual hard pruning of older growth to encourage strong young shoots growing from ground level.
Standard-trained blackcurrants are useful if space is limited. Standards or half-standards are “top worked” bushes – grafted on rootstocks (usually Ribes aureum) with 60cm-1m (2-3¼ft) clear ‘leg’.