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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 08:10 UK time, Saturday, 12 March 2011

butterfly on an echinacea flower

In the news...

A call to arms this week from the RSPB, which believes if we all did our bit for biodiversity things wouldn't be in such a sorry state. Their 'Stepping up for Nature' campaign asks everyone to help birds, bugs and beasties somehow, whether it's setting up a school wildlife garden or letting nettles grow in a spare corner for butterflies.

Despite last year's International Year of Biodiversity the news seems unremittingly bad sometimes: this week it's adders, lizards and slow worms gradually disappearing from our countryside.

Gardeners are in the front line in the fight against species loss. Slow worms hide in our compost bins, our hedgerows shelter hedgehogs, and our flowers are rich nectar sources for bumblebees and butterflies. So if you garden with wildlife in mind, pat yourself on the back - and squeeze in an extra log pile for the toads.

Also this week: never mind pumpkins, how about giant lemons? Students at Wiltshire College hope the massive fruits on their 38-year-old lemon tree could bag them the world record currently held by Israel with a 5.27kg (11lb 10oz) monster. And yes, it is possible even in rainy old England; a 4.8kg fruit from the Wiltshire tree held the record for 14 years until 2003.

Elsewhere on the web...

Monty Don

Monty Don

At last! After months of speculation and anticipation we got our first peek behind the gates of Monty Don's Herefordshire garden in the first of the new series of Gardeners' World last night. Oodles of snowdrops, rose-pruning and apple trees, plus the return of Rachel de Thame: expect blogs to be buzzing today as the nation's gardeners deliver their verdict.

The hunt for Britain's national vegetable is on: BBC2's Great British Food Revival put the case for cauliflowers this week, and next week Masterchef host Gregg Wallace argues in favour of the humble spud. Personally, I'd go for peas: but parsnips, Brussels sprouts and kale have a pretty good case, too. What do you think?

This week's good listen: the work of botanical artist Barbara Everard celebrated on BBC Radio 4's Womans Hour (15m 50s in), ahead of an exhibition at the RHS London Orchid Show next weekend.

And this week's good read: garden design legend John Brookes on the age-old schism between designers and gardeners. About time they stopped arguing and got on with making good gardens, he says: hear, hear.

Out and about...

Vegetables and fruit have been sneaking into the big flower shows for a few years now: last year they even headlined at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. But now they've really arrived, with a show all to themselves.

The Edible Garden Show starts on Friday and runs through the weekend at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, and anyone who's anyone in the grow-your-own world will be there. Gardeners' Question Time panellist Pippa Greenwood will be on hand for advice; look out too for Grow Your Own Drugs star James Wong, and designer Diarmuid Gavin. Also speaking at the show is Master Gardener Philip Turvil of Garden Organic who wrote a post on this blog earlier this week.

Elsewhere the gardeners of Powis Castle in Welshpool are inviting you to walk their world-famous borders with them to find out how it's done; the Garden Museum in London kicks off their Meadows season on Thursday with a talk by the aptly-named Charles Flower on bringing back wildflowers; and in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is holding a Festival of Gardening next weekend where you can learn how to create the perfect wildlife pond.


  • Comment number 1.

    I can’t help but believe that the cause for good biodiversity, and the provision of habitats, in the nation’s gardens is hampered by the Brown Bin! (At least, they’re brown, here.) I observe my tidy-minded neighbours putting all their prunings and rakings, etc. into their bins and leaving them out for the council to take away. One neighbour even has two! (Habitat piles are untidy!) This may make for a sound composting scheme, but I think it often leaves gardens almost devoid of material that would otherwise benefit wildlife.
    Nettles, especially of the stinging variety, are just not welcome; I wish it were otherwise.

  • Comment number 2.

    I enjoyed the first edition of new season of Gardener's World. Nice to see Monty Don back, and of course my favourite presenter Carol Klein!
    However, I hope we have not lost Alys Fowler from our screen, as she had become an important part of the show since emerging from the background.It looks as if we can say goodbye to the Dig-In programme, too, which is disappointing

  • Comment number 3.

    Are we likely to see the gardens at Berryfields again? The new Gardener's World format seems more an Alan Titchmarsh style than a Geoff Hamilton!

  • Comment number 4.

    We were delighted to see Monty Don back at Gardeners' World last night and thoroughly enjoyed the programme. It was full of information, presented in way which was ideal for established gardeners yet also has the potential to tackle some of the gardening problems of individual viewers. This format has obviously been very carefully thought out and is set in a real garden too. I'll be looking forward to the programme every Friday evening now, which is just what I need after a busy week - and helps inspire me for the weekend's gardening. All good wishes to Monty Don. Thank you.

  • Comment number 5.


    Proper Gardeners World is back, I had to stop watching the last series as it was more like childrens television. I would like to see about
    20/25mins in Montys garden and just one other slot not two.

    It was good to be treated as adults and not preached at once about green issues. Just keep to the gardening.Montys is a proper garden with proper garden sheds and the like its real.Thank you.and please no more gimicks.

  • Comment number 6.

    Very dissappointed to see Monty back. His wooly new age thinking ruins it for me and I am a hippy at heart so think about that! Don't suspect he will be at it for long though so I will just stop watching for a while.

  • Comment number 7.

    I really don't like the new format for the program. I have so enjoyed watching Gardener's World for the past two years. A great part of that appeal was the shift towards making gardening seem more accessible to all and highlighting practical gardening tips and advice for those of us who don't have an acre of space and endless capital to spare. Toby Buckland and Alys Fowler were both cheerful and down-to-earth style gardeners, presenting a program that would encourage new growers, while still appreciating the beautiful and diverse gardens available for viewing around the country.

    I loved watching Greenacre develop and following all of the test gardens and vegetable trials. What is happening to Greenacre now? Where are Toby and Alys? And why, in a country so saturated with gardening history, do we only have room for *one* garden program on the BBC and only *one* type of presenter?

  • Comment number 8.

    I enjoyed seeing Monty Don return as a gardening presenter as I like to listen to his take on gardens and life. Equally I am disappointed that Toby Buckland and Alys Fowler don't seem to be around now - they were certainly a breath of fresh air. I enjoy watching them all - and I'm not leaving out Carol, Joe or Rachel as they too are excellent and together all of them address a gardening need for someone.

    As someone else has commented, why only one programme, why only one set of presenters? Considering the (renewed) interest in gardening nationwide and the number of gardeners and would-be gardeners there are in the country, I think it's a disservice to be given one half hour per week.

  • Comment number 9.

    I love seeing Monty Don back, he is fantastic, he has all the integrity and passion that Geoff Hamilton used to have and is very practical & wise. I did love Alys and to a lesser extent Toby, and also Carol is super. But I find Rachel de Thame very bland and artificial, she is very disrespectful to the environment too as she wears man made clothes which do not rot back into the soil when needing to be recycled.
    I think what helped Monty & Carol to become so beloved is their integrity and consideration for the environment, which in this case is also their subject and I love to see particularly gardening presenters wearing natural fabrics.

  • Comment number 10.

    I am fairly new to gardening and really enjoyed getting new ideas for projects and different styles from Toby, Joe and Alys. I was gutted to hear Toby, Alys and Berryfields had been ditched and still hope to see them back in the future.

    While I also like Monty Don, I feel this new series is a little, oddly enough, outdated. For me Joe's talents are wasted, I could go and clean a pond, let the poor man do some design.

    I agree with a couple of other posters, surely there is room on our screens for 2 half hour gardening programmes. At the very least the new series could try to sit comfortably between the old and new.


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