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Your Cottage Garden questions answered

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Carol Klein Carol Klein | 09:30 UK time, Friday, 14 January 2011

Thank you all for responding to the programme. It means a huge amount to all the team involved with making the series to know that you care enough to tell us what you think. Knowing how much you all care about the content of your gardening programmes, we wanted to create something really special for you and to make the programme as real as possible.

Everyone involved has done their very best to make it as good as it could be. It's easy for me, it's a real treat because I'm in my own garden doing what I do - it's all the people who have painstakingly crafted the programme who are the stars of the show (plus the plants of course and not forgetting the dogs and cats).

In common with all your gardens, the plot at Glebe Cottage is recovering from the snow and the extreme cold that went before it. Now we have torrential rain, inches in just a few days and water is gushing through the soil in places it's never done it before. This hillside is full of springs and such events make you realise what a powerful force nature is.

Clearing up is the order of the day and planning for the year ahead goes on apace. How exciting.

Thankyou for all your questions and for your comments. We're glad that most of you are enjoying the programmes and hope you find the rest of the series equally exhilarating. We hope it makes you smile and encourages you to get out into your own gardens - as if you needed any encouragement. Please continue to let us know what you think. Happy gardening!

Carol's dogs, Fleur and Fifi

Our gorgeous Lakeland Terriers, Fleur, the mother and Fifi her puppy

Mappers, joy55, Debbie and many others wanted to know about our dogs...
We have two dogs, Fleur, the mother who's black and tan and Fifi her pup. Fleur had been abandoned so we can never be sure of her history but we're fairly confident she's a Lakeland Terrier. We realised she had lots of problems including a dodgy heart. The vet said she'd probably live a decent life but was unlikely to make it into old age. On the same day we went to consult him about the wisdom of her having a litter she made her own mind up and we found her with a neighbour's Lakeland Terrier at the end of the field. He's called Ted and is now known as Father Ted! Sadly only one of her 4 pups survived - Fifi. She is a joy but as mad as a hatter!

Miss-polly asked:
Do you open your garden under the yellow book National Gardens Scheme?

Yes, we will be opening the garden as part of the National Gardens Scheme for one day in 2011. You can find the details on the NGS website.

The garden and nursery are also open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays after Easter until October. Opening times are 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 17:00

Do you have any help in the garden?
As well as the garden, we run a nursery so a few people help part-time mainly with the nursery. Barbara, Sheila (who's been helping for more than 20 years!) and Helen, come for a day or two most weeks. Graham does occasional days and a lovely girl called Naomi has just started giving me a hand in the garden. I do as much as I can myself because I just love it!

Dinagreen asked:
I have been clearing up my veg patch recently and when digging come across clusters of what look a bit like blow fly maggots? I have been feeding them to my chickens! but occurred to me they could be good for the garden? Can you tell me what they might be?

Without seeing them I have no idea what they might be. Keep on feeding them to the chickens. The micro-organisms that help the soil are invisible without the help of a powerful microscope - it's usually only the worms that are big enough to see so alternatively don't feed them to the chickens - your soil needs them!

ladynovicegardener asked:
What's your favourite garden to visit?

The Garden House at Buckland Monachorum


I absolutely love The Garden House at Buckland Monachorum. It stands on the edge of Dartmoor and has a wealth of exciting plants in addition to glorious views. It was Lionel Fortescue's garden. Later, for many years it was in Keith Wiley's capable hands. (He now runs a very exciting garden and nursery Wildside just down the road which he and his wife Ros built from scratch.) Matt Bishop, another brilliant plantperson is now in charge at The Garden House.

I also love my friend Veronica Cross's garden in Herefordshire! It's full of excitements and rarities as is our friend John Massey's garden at Ashwood Nurseries. John opens the garden for charity several times a year. It is superb. Toby filmed a feature there with him on hardy cyclamen back in the autumn.

There's also a host of gardens up and down the country that I discovered when making the Open Gardens series. One I especially love is just outside Kendal, Meadow House, Burneside and though Anne-Marie Burrill with whom we filmed, passed away, her husband Paul continues the good work. They garden organically and his veg and fruit are beyond compare including the most delicious peaches and grapes you ever tasted. No mean feat in Kendal even though he grows them in a tunnel.

Summerchild asked:
What gardening challenge are you still looking to conquer?

I'm not much of a conqueror, more of a participant, but one plant I'd love to grow well but have never yet succeeded with is Primula petiolaris. It needs damp conditions but perfect drainage - how do you do that???.

Generally I'm just looking forward to learning more about growing plants and being introduced to new ones.

A number of you asked whether I rely entirely on dividing and taking cuttings or whether I buy plants too?
I think it would be quite a dull garden if I relied only on propagating the same things! In the early days when we first came to the garden I grew masses from seed as we couldn't afford to do anything else. And I still get the same thrill growing both plants I know and new and unfamiliar species from seed.

Propagating your own plants means you get to know your plants intimately. I always encourage people to keep an eye out for new plants, particularly from nurseries in their local area. If the plants have been nurtured just down the road, you can be fairly sure they'll be happy in your patch as the conditions will probably be similar and you'll almost certainly get good advice - ay Trillium? By the way I brought your grass to Tatton two years running but didn't see you. Hope all is well.

Welshcol asked:
As part of your new series Life in a Cottage Garden will you be giving some time to the important part of vegetable growing to a traditional cottage garden?

Veg does come up now and again (including onions and garlic and some harvesting in later episodes) but since we covered veg in so much detail in the Grown Your Own Veg series, it was decided to give as much time as possible to other aspects of our garden.

Here's a clip from the second episode, all about veg!

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Have you given your daughters a chance to give their input to the re-design of "their" plots?
Alice and Annie are very interested in the garden and they are consulted but they're not hands on these days! Most of the time they trust me! Glad you are enjoying the show welshcol!

David K asked:
Do you consider a well manicured lawn an asset or unnecessary hindrance in the garden?

I know of lots of beautiful lawns but I have never had a lawn. They support little wildlife which is something that's very important to me. By the way thank you David for all your encouraging comments over the last few years.

hypercharleyfarley asked:
If you were to have a garden in another part of the world, where would you like that to be and why?

I would hate to leave my garden but if I really had to I would choose another temperate region such as New Zealand or Japan. I just love the change of seasons too much to garden in a tropical climate.

The Cycling Gardener asked:
If you could invite 3 people, alive or dead, to dinner, who would they be?

I have two separate lists! A list of gardeners:
Christopher Lloyd
William Robinson
Margery Fish

and a list of non-gardeners:
Marlon Brando
Pablo Picasso
Caravaggio (with whom I'd drink lots of red wine!)

What's the most important gardening advice, now having years of experience, that you would give yourself when you started gardening?
What a great question! If it's a brand new plot, create a nursery bed where you can plant out anything new and plant out cuttings and seedlings which can grow on until you're ready to use them. Meanwhile you can concentrate on learning about your garden and ameliorating the soil. Whether it's dry and poor or cleggy and heavy, compost is the answer.

If it's a well established plot, I would advise spending a whole year watching it and getting to know it, including taking notes and photographs.

In either case finding out about your garden enables you to choose plants that will enjoy the conditions there.

Life in a Cottage Garden continues on BBC Two on Friday 14th January at 20:00


  • Comment number 1.

  • Comment number 2.

    Many thanks for taking the trouble to answer our queries, Carol.

    Special thanks especially from me, for acknowledging my support for you over years....I didn't even know you were aware!

  • Comment number 3.

    Thank you so much for answering all the questions - & I know what you mean about Lakeland Terriers! my sister has one, who is Hypercharleyfarley's Best Friend - (HCF is the older of my two whippets)

  • Comment number 4.

    Thank you Carol. I've enjoyed reading your answers. I don't think I'd be able to swallow a thing if I dined with Marlon Brando as he looked in his heyday - far too distracting. I'm looking forward to seeing the next instalment of your series this evening and itching to get out into my own garden tomorrow - dodging the showers no doubt.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Carol, wonderful replies, everyone here will be chuffed! So sorry to have missed you at Tatton Show after your trouble - I was there and saw you a few times, but you've always been mobbed! Thanks for the mention :-) Sue

  • Comment number 6.

    hello carol, could you please tell me the tipe of grit you use when puting seeds or bulbs in compost, and were i can buy it meny thanks barry.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is one of the best gardening programmes I have seen for ages. I also liked Alys Fowler's programme last year but I love this one. The progression throughout the year is really encouraging when I look out on my own garden just now, all squashed and blasted. As I garden in the country where the hedges and the landscape are as important as whatever is happening nearer the house, it is great to see a garden sitting in its landscape too.

  • Comment number 8.

    What a wonderful new program ! my only complaint is,It isn't long enough ! I could listen and watch Carol for hour's This is real gardening.

  • Comment number 9.

    Just caught up with episode two. When it ended I realised I was smiling, and I haven't had that from a gardening programme for quite a while.
    Yours, with a cheerful grin

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Carol, I have just watched your second programme and agree with everyone else that it is the best gardening programme I have seen for a long time. This week you showed some beautiful tulips - one of my favourite spring bulbs and I wondered whether you keep your bulbs from year to year, propagate them in any way (which you do so well with everything else) or do you buy fresh ones. Can't wait for the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Carol, I agree with the others that this is the best gardening programme I've seen for a long while. Your passion for your garden and your wealth of knowledge really shines through. I very much hope that you'll do some more programmes like this. My friend and I were fortunate enough to meet when you were trying to buy a banana plant in Hampton Court last year and we had a lovely chat with you. You were so down to earth and friendly. It made our day I can tell you! Good luck with all your future projects. Sioned.

  • Comment number 13.

    Really enjoying your programme (and beautiful garden) Carol.

    This week's programme showed your wonderful display of tulips. Do you buy new tulips bulbs each year?


  • Comment number 14.

    Apologies - just noticed that Mary (above) has asked the same question!
    But it does mean that we appreciated your tulip display!

  • Comment number 15.

    congratulations on such a good program carol, really enjoyed watching it and look forward to it each week,loved the tuilips and my question is the same as the above, do you buy tuilips every year or treat them like annuals the display of them was lovely,I tend to treat as annuals but would like to keep them if possible keep up the good work, you always make me feel like going out and getting started on garden just as geoff hamilton did many years ago.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hello Carol, really enjoying your new series, it cheers us up in these dark winter days. When you were sowing primrose seeds there was a vibrant purple scabious looking plant next to you in your garden - can you tell me whether it is a scabious and what variety it is? Also, when should I sow my echinacea and rudbeckia seeds for them to flower this year? Thanks very much.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Carol, I feel I must thank you for cheering me up in dreary January! I just love your programmes and they so inspire me to get out there.

  • Comment number 18.

    Loved the programme, very refreshing and cannot wait to get started in my garden again this year, my question is about tree planting.
    Last July we had to remove a very large overgrown and too close to the house silver birch, I would now like to replace it with a more suitable garden tree, the hole that we dug was filled with the bark chippings, is it ok to plant now? and what sort of medium is best to use? Also what time of year is best to plant a new tree. thanks.

  • Comment number 19.

    I just wanted to say that we have really enjoyed Carol's new programme on Gardening. I have already picked up more tips than in all of the Gardeners World progammes in recent years.If the BBC was not so scared of female wrinkles in the over 40s they would have the good sense to make Carol the presenter of Gardener's World!

  • Comment number 20.

    This is the most enjoyable gardening programme my husband and I have watched for some time. Couldn't agree with Greeneddy more that I found myself smiling watching the programme. Even though the weather is not the best at the moment I am now itching to get out in the garden to start clearing and preparing the garden for the year ahead.
    Thank you Carol - very inspiring!!
    Also agree with Elizabeth's comment Carol is such an obvious choice to lead Gardener's World....

  • Comment number 21.

    Love your new programme. Can you tell me where you get your seed trays and modules from as they look really sturdy.

  • Comment number 22.

    Carol.... At last a gardening programme with great heart, a love of plants, soul, and a presenter who acts as a reminder of all that is good/ joyful in gardening. And the memories of grandparents tinkering in the garden, aunts fussing about roses, and uncles worrying about potato blight. I cannot describe how much I love this programme on so many levels. Well done Carol and the team.

  • Comment number 23.

    Love Cottage Garden series you are so inspiring. Was looking for your blog to ask about your beautiful terriers but just as I thought they are lakelands. We have Meg a lakeland x patterdale our first ever terrier she now 10, fantastic little dog but a real little hunter and totally unrealiable, but thats the risk you take owning a terrier!

  • Comment number 24.

    Was so thrilled to see the top bar hive arriving in your garden! Great that you and your husband are going down the natural beekeeping route - so much better for the bees not just farming them for their honey. Hope they are doing well.

  • Comment number 25.

    Love your new programme about your Cottage Garden. You mentioned propagating snowdrops by cutting bulb into two or three pieces and placing in a bag of vermiculite. Is the vermiculite damped down or just used dry? Would be grateful if you could let me know as I want to try this method this year.

  • Comment number 26.

    Wonderful program I watched it again on BBCiPlayer. The compost you use for seeds and cuttings looks wonderful. You say it is a sterile compost and not your homegrown one. What do you use? It looks as though you mix it with other things? Your plants grow looking so healthy so it is clearly a scrummy mixture.

  • Comment number 27.

    Excellent programme, Carol, am thoroughly enjoying the series. I have learned so much already and admire your knowledge and tenacity and stamina!! More of the same please when this series is finished!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Carol
    What energy and enthusiasm you have for gardening. Your presenting is always a pleasure to watch. Your garden is an inspiration to me and many gardeners out there! We will try and visit your nursery this summer.

  • Comment number 29.

    Dear Carol Klein - I really love your programme. Thank you.

    (A Devon Boy, trapped in a central London flat)

  • Comment number 30.

    Dear Carol Klein,

    I just wanted to say how very much I have enjoyed watching your country cottage garden programme. It is so beautiful and uplifting it made me cry in parts. How wonderfull to see all your hardwork come to fruition in the spring and summer. It is inspiring me to get out there and clear my own garden. As I have been gardening for other people for a number of years my own garden has become neglected but its time to change all that and concetrate on my own plot.
    Keep the gardening programes coming, they and you have a lot to teach us all.

  • Comment number 31.

    Life in a Cottage Garden is the best gardening programme that the BBC has produced for a very long time. There is no puerile banter just a great deal of information about plants from someone who loves them and shares her expertise and enthusiasm for them. I hope that those responsible for the gardening programmes take note and produce many more programmes along similar lines. Well done Carol.

  • Comment number 32.

    Dear Carol Klein, Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden and your enthusiasm and knowledge. We look forward to more programmes and wish you luck with the bee's don't forget to talk to them and hope the owls find there new home.

  • Comment number 33.

    Dear Carol,

    Thank you so much for providing us out there with such a wonderful programme. You have been a source of inspiration to me, and a way to survive through the last weeks of winter on the highlands of Belgium and to wait for spring. Unfortunately, I missed a couple of episodes, and I can't use the Iplayer to see them since I am not located in the UK. Do you know if there is any plan to rerun the series on BBC TV, or if there are plans to make the series into a BBC DVD product?

    Can't wait for the new season of Gardener's World and new glimpses of Glebe Cottage. Looking forward to the last episode of your series too, of course!

    Thank you,

    Eric Schweicher,

  • Comment number 34.

    Dear Carol,

    I watched your programme yesterday. I like your garden and was surprised to see the Aster that attracts butterfly's and has the little stars in winter. (like the aster twilight and divaricatus, which don't attrackt many butterfly's). My question; what is the name of this aster?
    Second I saw a Rudbeckia that attracted butterfly's to. I've never seen a butterfly on Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'. Is your garden so special for butterfly's or is this some other variety of Rudbeckia?

    Greetings from Holland,

  • Comment number 35.

    I have loved your programme. You have such a lovely garden and are full of great information. I hope you make more programmes about your garden or some related subject. Many many thanks,

  • Comment number 36.

    Please tell me the writer of the music from Carols program can I purchse this?

  • Comment number 37.

    The last in the cottage garden series has finished tonight and we will miss it. It has been great and we thank you Carol for a delightful few weeks. We felt priviledged to glimpse into your beautiful garden. I have only just found this site and am enjoying the comments and the tips.

  • Comment number 38.

    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm. Great series as well, please do more like this. You do inspire lots of people in so many ways.

  • Comment number 39.

    Carol, the series has just been magical and a treat for a Friday evening. You've inspired me to take a keen interest in propogation and what I can do for my bare garden in the coming years.

    Thank you thank you!

    I hope you will be able to do more telly like this!

  • Comment number 40.

    Thank you for another excellent episode, Carol.

    I've been around gardening for more years than I care to remember and thought I had it pretty well sussed. However, you have taught me something new in each & every episode of this wonderful series.

    Last night the notebook came out when you described your tulip compost mix.....wonderful stuff! :)

  • Comment number 41.

    For the past 6 weeks I have looked forward to getting home from work in the knowledge that at 20:30 the ‘story-teller’ would let me slip into another world. I would be inspired and encouraged to help my garden and its inhabitants regenerate and burst into a new life. The excitement of wanting to breathe life into frost bitten debris and the idea of nurturing tiny shoots to mature into wonderful blooms is testament to you the master! Thank you, you are a joy to watch and listen to!

  • Comment number 42.

    Hello Carol - thank you for a wonderful series of programmes! I've really enjoyed them all - and thanks for sharing your garden.

    Did you manage to get an owl to take up residence in the box? I think I mentioned before that we've a mad Lakeland terrier (AKA The Bionic Teddy) in the family and I had quite a shock when I saw the close-up of your cat on the screen as he's the absolute image of my beloved Smokey who sadly died last summer. Brought tears to my eyes at that point!

    Thanks again. Ma.

  • Comment number 43.

    Carol Life in a cottage garden it was lovely to watch on telly and your book was a delight to read and see those splendid photographs I am sure I will be dipping into the book every month from now on. Do hope you make many more programmes.

  • Comment number 44.

    Carol I was glad you saved your apple tree, I had to cut mine down last year and miss it terribly, I have miniture fruit trees but they do not give the pleasure of a big old apple tree. Love your garden and the programme all very hard work but must be so enjoyable and to know that other people have enjoyment from all yours and Neils hard work must be really satisfying. Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 45.

    The programmes were really inspiring and your enthusiasm is infectious!However I felt bad after you said recently that ivy is really good for wildlife as I had thought it choked trees. I've been removing it from the trees in the bank around our garden as they were covered in it. Any comments please?

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Carol, what can I say, what a wonderful inspiring heart-warming series. I watched every episode over and over again on BBC iplayer. I have gardened since I was a young child and so it is a way of life to me, which is why I just love your down to earth approach to gardening. Cannot wait until your next series now. Thanks so much.

  • Comment number 47.

    Carol, I am a big fan....recently watched your cottage garden series here in netherlands and loved it, hoping to buy the book when i visit britain in the summer. you are an inspiration to me and i absolutely know how you feel about gardening. i am totally alive when i am in my garden and at my allotment........any more shows in the future??

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Carol

    Have watched (and watched again) your lovely programmes about Glebe Cottage. Sorry If other people have asked this same question but please could you let us know where you got your bees from? We are more than happy to keep bees without the need to take their honey just for the privilege of pollination and a happy life for them. Have been looking at various websites but can't seem to find anyone who would make/provide the kind of hive that you so lovingly installed and we are not a huge distance from you.

    Thanks a million and hope to see you and your fantastic garden on an NGS day this year.


  • Comment number 49.

    Hi Carol

    I just wanted to tell you that your Cottage Garden Series is brilliant and I'm sad that I missed the first episodes and the grow your own veg series as I wasn't even aware of it. I'm fairly new to gardening but since your series I've gone mad growing everything from seed this year and saving seed for next. I think I've done quite well.

    You're so inspirational that even my Boyfriend (who doesn't have an interest in the garden) comes into the room to watch when you're on gardeners world.

    I hope you have a programme in the new year and I look forward to G.World starting again. Best programme of the week. I love to see your dogs and cats too.

    Take care and all the best.



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