Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 8: In Adam Frost’s garden, he gives his tips on lawn repair, grows some unusual vegetables and plants a seasonal container.
Advolly Richmond brings us up to date in her history of lawns by exploring the trend for ever more sophisticated machinery in the quest for the perfect sward for sport and recreation. Frances Tophill travels to Devon, where she meets an enthusiast who grows a variety of vegetables which, once planted, return year after year.
In Essex, we visit a back garden bursting with over 100 different types of clematis, and in Worcestershire, we are given a tour of a national collection of spring-flowering elder. And we share more gardens sent in by our viewers.
Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 8
Taking care of aeoniums
In the warmer months of the year the stone garden in Lady Anne’s Garden is home to a wonderful display of tender succulents in pots. Visitors often ask questions regarding the very structural and unusual Aeonium arboreum ‘Atropurpureum’, one of the most frequent being; “how can I get my single-stemmed aeonium to branch out like yours?”
I tell them that we just prune it… I remove the top growth of the dominant stem (leader) in order to stimulate growth of lateral buds. It’s just like pinching out your summer bedding plants to make them bushier.
During the growing season when the aeonium is about 15-20cm (6-8in) tall, you will need to remove some of the leaves and the growth bud at the very centre of the rosette to stimulate the plant to branch out. Gently peel up to 10 leaves away until you are left with a circular, bare patch about 1cm (½in) diameter in the centre. The original bare patch will form a scab. You will begin to notice little buds forming around the scab and as time goes on they will develop in to small rosettes. As they develop and become larger they will form new branches.
Frost damage – Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 8
Frost can affect many plants, and is particularly damaging to tender new growth and blossom in the spring. The risks of frost damage can be reduced by taking some simple steps to protect the plants in your garden.
Ground frost occurs when the temperature of the ground falls below freezing point (0ºC/32ºF) and air frost occurs when the temperature of the air falls below freezing point. Plant cells can be damaged or even destroyed by frost. Repeated freezing and thawing, or very rapid thawing can be particularly damaging to plants.
Once the temperature has fallen below freezing, a strong wind can make a frost more damaging. Cold winds remove moisture from evergreen foliage more quickly than it can be replenished by the roots; this can cause leaf browning particularly at the tips and margins. Tender plants survive the winter better when they are planted in a sheltered sunny position. This is because new wood is ripened by the sun accumulating more carbohydrates during the growing season, making it more frost resistant.
Newly planted, young plants can be more susceptible to frost damage than fully established specimens. Cold air naturally flows downwards on sloping ground, collecting at the lowest point or against a barrier, this is known as a ‘frost pocket’.
How to grow asparagus – Gardeners’ World 2021 episode 8
One of the most sought-after vegetables, asparagus is easy to grow on well-drained soil or in raised beds, as long as it is kept well fed and weed-free. Do not replant an old asparagus bed with new asparagus plants. Choose fresh ground to avoid build-up of diseases. An open, sunny site is best, but asparagus will tolerate dappled shade. Asparagus grows on most soil types provided they are well drained. On heavy soils consider creating raised beds.
A pH of 6.5-7.5 is ideal, so more acidic soils may need liming. Clear the ground of perennial weeds and incorporate at least one bucketful of organic matter such as garden compost or well-rotted farmyard manure every square metre (yard).
Keep the asparagus bed weed free. Weed by hand rather than with a hoe, as the shallow roots of the asparagus plants are easily damaged. Mulch the bed in late winter to discourage weeds and to retain moisture. Consider covering the bed from autumn to winter with an opaque weed mat to prevent annual weeds germinating. In early spring, apply 100g per sq m (3oz per sq yd) of general fertilizer such as Growmore, or fish, blood and bone. If growth is weak, repeat this application once harvesting has finished.
Allow the foliage of your asparagus plants to yellow in autumn before cutting it down to soil level for the winter. Asparagus plants are either male or female. Male plants produce more and better spears, so many modern cultivars are all-male. If any female plants do appear, they will be noticeable because they produce orange-red berries. If you are growing an all-male cultivar, you will need to remove any female plants as well as any seedlings that form.