Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 30: In the final episode of the series, Monty is preparing for spring colour and sowing broad beans. Adam Frost meets the head gardener at Broughton Grange in Oxfordshire to find out how he manages the garden to ensure that it connects with the wider landscape.
Toby Buckland visits Sue Kent’s garden near Swansea to help out with autumnal maintenance, we head to Norwich and the National Collection of Muscari, and in Nottinghamshire a couple share their bright ideas for a shady woodland garden. Also, there are lots of suggestions from our viewers’ own gardens.
Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 30
Broad beans are easy to grow and low maintenance, providing crops from May onwards. Picked fresh, young beans taste sensational – sweet, tender and succulent. If you’re short on space, there are even dwarf varieties that can be grown in containers.
Broad beans are straightforward to grow from seed, usually sown in late winter (indoors or outdoors with protection) or spring (outdoors), although in mild regions they can also be sown in late autumn.
There are many varieties to choose from, cropping at different times, growing to various sizes, and with different flower colours or pod sizes. In particular, look for those with an RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM), which shows they performed well in trials, so should grow and crop reliably – see our list of AGM fruit and veg.
Broad beans can be sown in pots under cover from February onwards, for planting out in spring. This method is especially useful where soils are wet or rich in clay (which can lead to seeds rotting in the ground), or if mice are a problem in your garden, as they tend to eat direct-sown seeds.
Sow the large seeds individually into small pots or modular trays filled with seed compost, inserting them 5cm (2in) deep. Water well and keep in good light.
How to grow hellebores
When choosing a hellebore, most gardeners first think about the flower colour they’d like and then how much care they want to lavish on the plant (many require very little looking after thankfully!). There are many different types of hellebores offering a range of flower colours from white, green and yellow to pink and purples. All colours can come with degree of decorative spotting inside the flower.
Leafmould – Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 30
Leafmould is formed from decaying leaves and produces an invaluable soil conditioner. The best quality leafmould is produced from the leaves of oak, beech or hornbeam. All leaves and conifer needles will eventually break down into leafmould. Some leaves, such as oak, beech or hornbeam, break down with little assistance and produce an excellent quality product.
Thick leaves like sycamore, walnut, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut need to be shredded before adding to the leafmould pile, as they are much slower to break down. Alternatively, they can be added to the compost heap after shredding. Evergreens such as holly, Aucuba and cherry laurel, are better shredded and added to the compost heap, where they will break down faster than if added to the leafmould pile.
Conifer needles will eventually break down, but may take two to three years to decay. Conifer hedge clippings are better added to the compost heap than used for making leafmould. Pine needles are worth gathering and placing in a separate leafmould pile as they produce acidic leafmould, which is ideal for mulching ericaceous plants, such as rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, Pieris and blueberries.
Hardwood cuttings provide an easy and reliable method of propagating a range of deciduous climbers, trees and shrubs, and as bonus, they are taken from mid-autumn until late winter when more time is usually available to the gardener. Some evergreen plants, hollies for example, can also be taken at the same time of year as other hardwood cuttings.
Hardwood cutting are taken in the dormant season (mid-autumn until late winter) after leaf fall, avoiding periods of severe frost. The ideal time is just after leaf fall or just before bud-burst in spring. Although this type of cutting may be slow to develop roots and shoots, it is usually successful. The cuttings can generally be forgotten about until the following year, as the cut surface undergoes a period of callusing over the winter from which roots will develop in the spring.
Hardwood cuttings are often grown on outdoors in the ground in a prepared trench. However, if you are only taking a small number, you can grow them on in containers too. Some, dogwoods for example, benefit from protection with cloches or coldframe.
Coldframes and mini-greenhouses – Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 30
Coldframes and mini-greenhouses are useful accessories to a greenhouse, and can also be a partial alternative to a greenhouse. Frames are merely boxes that lie flat on the ground with a glazed, sloping lid and mini-greenhouses are glazed boxes that stand vertically with openings on one side.
There are sound reasons to use coldframes and mini-greenhouses, particularly where greenhouses are not an option, perhaps because of the cost or lack of space. Coldframes and mini-greenhouses can be easily moved to a spot suitable for growing a particular plant or crop (e.g. brighter for vegetables or shadier for cuttings).
Glasshouses and polythene tunnels still provide the best growing environment as they are walk-in and the conditions inside are easier to manage. This is because the larger volume of air acts as a buffer, reducing fluctuations in temperature and humidity – so are less severe than inside coldframes and mini-greenhouses.