Episode 30

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Gardeners' World, 2012 Episode 30 of 31

Duration: 30 minutes

Now we are truly in the throes of autumn, Monty Don turns his attention to collecting fallen leaves. Monty regards these as a free harvest with which to make leafmould; he also shows what to plant now under the shade of trees for colour next year.

We meet a gardener in Essex who fills her beds and borders with over 9,000 tulips which are all carefully colour co-ordinated and we find out her favourite combinations.

Colour is also on Rachel de Thame's agenda when she travels to Suffolk to look at some of the best small trees and shrubs for autumn colour in the gardens at East Bergholt Place, drawing inspiration from owner and plantsman Rupert Eley.

Carol Klein is at the Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Rosemoor in Devon where they grow a collection of one of our most iconic winter plants, holly, and she recommends the best varieties to grow for berries in our own gardens.

Last on

Sat 3 Nov 2012 18:45 BBC Two Northern Ireland, Wales only

See all previous episodes from Gardeners' World



    The Place for Plants
    East Bergholt Place
    CO7 6UP

    Rupert Eley is a passionate plantsman and serves on several of the Royal Horticultural Society plant committees. Below, Rupert writes about his top ten choices of trees and shrubs for best autumn colour.

    Acer palmatum 'Chitose-yama' AGM
    There are so many wonderful Japanese maples but this is one of my favourites. A graceful, deciduous shrub eventually forming a dense mound with drooping branches that shade and keep the roots cool in hot summers. Has attractive, deeply divided, greenish-bronze leaves that every year without fail, in our garden, turn a rich purple-red and then scarlet in the autumn. Height 2m/Spread 3m. Requires sun or partial shade, shelter from cold winds and late frosts and moist but well-drained, loamy soil.

    Cornus 'Porlock' AGM
    Another brilliant all year round plant and an uncomplicated flowering dogwood! A spreading, semi-evergreen tree that produces a breathtaking display, in the spring, of button-like flowerheads of purple and green flowers surrounded by four spectacular white bracts that slowly turn to pinkish-red. Heavy crops of amazing, long-stalked, warty, strawberry-like fruits then hang from the branches in the autumn. Height 10m/Spread 5m. Prefers sun or semi-shade and fertile, well-drained, neutral to acid soil.

    Euonymus alatus AGM
    Probably one of the best shrubs for autumn colour. A slow-growing, compact, many-branched, deciduous shrub, ideal for a small garden with its corky, winged branchlets and amazing, very reliable and long-lasting, brilliant red leaf colour in the autumn. Height 1.5m/Spread 3m. Prefers sun or semi-shade and any well-drained soil.

    Euonymus alatus 'Timber Creek'
    An excellent selection of Euonymus alatus, forming a well-shaped, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub. Produces, in addition to the wonderful red autumn leaf colour a mass of eye-catching, orange-red, lobed fruits that open to reveal bright, orange-coated seeds that look out of the bush like thousands of tiny eyes!. Has corky, winged branchlets that become less prominent as the plant matures. The young shoots on older plants are an attractive mahogany-red. Height/Spread 2.5m. Prefers sun or semi-shade and any well-drained soil.

    Euonymus hamiltonianus subsp. hians
    A real wow in the autumn when completely smothered in very showy, almost spherical, 4-lobed, rose-pink fruits containing dark red and orange seeds. A deciduous shrub with corky stems on mature plants and with green leaves that turn lovely shades of pink or red in the autumn. Height/Spread 6m approx. Requires sun or semi-shade and any well-drained soil.

    Euonymus oxyphyllus
    A lovely, slow-growing, upright, deciduous shrub or small tree with its unusual and distinct, drooping, marble-like, dark red fruits, borne in abundance and on closer examination segmented rather like a chocolate orange. The ‘marbles’ burst open to reveal hanging orange-red seeds. Also produces excellent autumn leaf colour in shades of red and purple-red. Height/Spread 2.5m. Requires sun or semi-shade and any well-drained soil.

    Euonymus planipes AGM
    A very good-natured, handsome, upright-growing, deciduous shrub that produces a profusion of stunning, large red fruits in the autumn that open to reveal bright orange seeds. Has oval, mid-green leaves that turn a brilliant red in the autumn. Height/Spread 3m. Requires sun or semi-shade and any, well-drained soil.

    Malus transitoria AGM
    A beautiful, elegant, deciduous tree, both in the spring and autumn, with its graceful wide-spreading branches and lobed leaves. A profusion of creamy-white flowers completely engulf the tree in the spring and these are followed in the autumn by masses of rounded, pea-like, pale yellow crab apples that are borne on long stalks. Height 8m/Spread 10m. Requires full sun and any but waterlogged soil.

    Rhus potaninii
    Having just returned from the garden I just had to add this to my list for autumn colour as it glowed at me from over 100m away. Whilst I am aware that not everybody likes Rhus, due to their suckering habit, this species is fairly well behaved! A rounded, deciduous tree with attractive, pinnate leaves that turn a rich bright red in the autumn and seem to last on the tree for a long time. Height 10m/Spread 8m. Prefers full sun and any moderately fertile, well-drained soil.

    Sorbus 'Joseph Rock'
    A first-class, deciduous tree, ideal for a small garden, that will stop you in your tracks when in full colour in the autumn with its deep red leaves and large, hanging clusters of pastel yellow berries. An unusual but eye-catching contrast and planted front line in our car park. White flowers in the spring also provide interest. Height 9m/Spread 5m. Requires full sun and well-drained but not too dry soil.

    More on East Bergholt Place

    Visiting an arboretum or botanic garden at this time of year is a great way to experience autumn in all its glory. It is also an ideal way of gleaning planting ideas for your own garden. There are many fabulous places to visit around the country; here are some suggestions:

  • Worcestershire

    Arley Arboretum
  • Gloucestershire

    Batsford Arboretum
  • North Wales

    Bodnant Gardens
  • Cambridgeshire

    Cambridge University Botanic Garden
  • Scottish Borders

    Dawyck Botanic Garden
  • Vale of Glamorgan

    Dyffryn Gardens
  • Hampshire

    Exbury Gardens
  • Devon

    RHS Garden Rosemoor
  • London

    The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Gloucestershire

  • Surrey

    Winkworth Arboretum


    Few gardeners, other than those gardening in the milder south, risk leaving their dahlias in the ground overwinter. Dahlias originate from Mexico and our harsh frosts can easily destroy their underground tubers. The foliage on Monty’s tree dahlias have already been blackened by first frosts showing that now is the time to lift and store dahlia tubers. The secret to successfully storing tubers is to not let them dry out completely. Packed into pots or crates and covered with moist compost, vermiculite or sand and placed in a frost free garden shed or cool greenhouse should see them through the winter. In the spring they can be prompted back into growth with water and a little warmth.

    More on dahlia care

    Carol’s visit to RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon was to see their fantastic collection of hollies; they hold the National Collection.
    There are four RHS gardens around the country, Wisley in Surrey, Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall in Essex, and Rosemoor in Devon and a visit to any of these gardens will always be inspiring and rewarding. For more information about these gardens click on the link below:

    RHS Gardens

    Ulting Wick
    Crouchmans Farm Road
    CM9 6QX

    If Philippa’s display of tulips inspires action, then now is the perfect time to order and plant your tulip bulbs. If you would like to see Philippa’s tulips for yourself, her next NGS open day will be in April. Click on the link below for details:

    NGS Ulting Wick


    Dry shade is often regarded as a gardening problem area. Whether caused by fences, trees, or buildings the resulting conditions are often the same as those found in woodlands. Monty’s copse has all the early flowering woodland plants like wood anemones, primroses, and bluebells, but once the tree canopy opens and the trees suck the soil dry little else will grow. Monty has decided to change how he tends this area and plans to subtly change the native woodland to that of a gardened woodland and begins by adding plants adapted to dry shade. Monty plants wood spurge, Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’, and the roast beef iris, Iris foetidissima.

    Dry shade need not be regarded as a problem. Here are some plants that will thrive in dry shade.

    Barrenwort. Epimedium x rubrum
    Bugle. Ajuga reptans
    Brunnera. Brunnera macrophylla
    Common polypody fern. Polypodium vulgare
    Deadnettle. Lamium maculatum
    Hart's tongue fern. Asplenium scolopendrium
    Lady’s mantle. Alchemilla mollis
    Lily of the valley. Convallaria majalis
    Lily-turf. Liriope muscari
    Periwinkle.Vinca major
    Scaly male fern. Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata the King'
    Soft shield fern. Polystichum setiferum
    Solomon's seal. Polygonatum
    Sweet woodruff. Galium odoratum

    Plants for dry shade

    Dieback in the borders is well underway, but what to tidy up and what to leave is always a bit of a dilemma. Stems of many herbaceous plants will carry on looking good well into next spring. Seed heads will provide food for birds and wildlife so leaving them is best. But when the fleshy foliage of plants like Sedums and Hostas collapses it is always best to clear them away from the crowns of plants as they can cause rot. Remove the foliage but leave the structural stems.

    More on cutting back perennials

    The damp weather of autumn allows algae, liverworts and moss to proliferate. The result - slippery garden paths which are a hazard to you, your family, and anyone else entering your garden. Often a brush-down with a stiff yard-brush will suffice but sometimes it is necessary to treat these hard surfaces with something more effective. There are many proprietary products to choose from, organic or otherwise; whichever you choose, always mix according to the label and apply following the instructions. Cleaning pathways and paved areas may feel like a bit of a chore but better to be safe than sorry.

    More on cleaning paths

    Now that rhubarb stems are beginning to die back now is a good time to apply a mulch. Rhubarb is a gross feeder - the application of a thick layer of either compost or well-rotted manure will feed the soil in preparation for early growth in the spring. It is important to keep the mulch away from the crown tips as this will prevent rot or scorch, should the muck applied be too rich.

    More on growing rhubarb


    If you’ve been having an autumn tidy up, cutting back, raking debris, and stockpiling prunings and clippings with the intent of having a bonfire, then please do spare a thought for hedgehogs. They are now making nests in preparation for hibernation and may have chosen your bonfire as their ideal winter retreat. Do have a good inspect and put your mind at rest before lighting the blue touch-paper – enjoy your evening!

    More on hedgehogs


Monty Don
Carol Klein
Rachel de Thame
Series Producer
Liz Rumbold


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