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Episode 5

Gardeners' World, 2014 Episode 5 of 31

Monty Don gives his ornamental grasses an overhaul. He has got tips on how to lift and divide ones that have grown too large, plus advice on which ones should be cut back now for the best display in the autumn. He also wants to bulk up his grass borders and gets the ball rolling by sowing some seed now.

Rachel de Thame visits the stunning Trebah Garden in Cornwall to revel in their glorious collection of hydrangeas.

And Carol Klein returns to Gloucestershire to see how the new gardeners are progressing. She helps them take a huge step forward in creating their garden by laying a lawn. She also helps them prepare their heavy clay soil for planting.

29 minutes

Last on

Thu 17 Apr 2014 09:45

Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses are easy to grow and look after, but if you want to lift and divide them, it’s important to know which type of grass you have. Those that originate from cooler climates come into growth in late winter or early spring and so are best divided in late March or April. Examples include Deschampsia, Festuca and Stipa. Grasses that come from warmer climes, on the other hand, are very slow to wake up and so must not be moved or divided until May or June. Miscanthus, Panicum and Pennisetum all fall into this category. If you’re not sure what type of grass you have, simply wait until the new leaves start to appear before you do anything.

To increase your chances of success, it’s worth dividing the clump into good sized chunks. A sharp spade or an old knife often comes in handy. Remove anything that looks dead before replanting the remainder, and keep well watered over the coming year.

More on dividing ornamental grasses (

Hydrangea garden featured

Trebah Garden
Mawnan Smith
nr Falmouth
TR11 5JZ
Tel. 01326 252200

Trebah Garden is open every day, so if you fancy a visit, click on the link below. The hydrangeas Rachel went to see will be looking their best from mid-July. 

Trebah Garden (



Hydrangeas grow best in sun or part shade, in moist, but well-drained soil.  Shelter from cold, drying winds can be beneficial too. The colour of the flowers is often affected by the pH of your soil. If you garden on acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 or less, for example, a blue-flowered variety will almost certainly remain blue. But if your soil has a high pH, a blue-flowered variety will turn pink. Simple soil testing kits are available from garden centres if you don’t know which type of soil you have.

If you have your heart set on a blue hydrangea and garden on neutral or alkaline soil, you could always grow it in a large pot. For best results, use an ericaceous compost and keep well watered using only rainwater.

Understanding soil pH (

Jobs for the weekend: Thin invasive perennials

Some herbaceous perennials can become thugs in the garden. Examples include Acanthus and Lysimachia. But if you take action now, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to keep them under control. Using a fork, dig out up to half of the plant and either throw the rest away or give it to a friend. Aim to do this every couple of years. 

Garden thugs (

Jobs for the weekend: Hard prune elders

Elders are beautiful shrubs and to make the most of their stunning foliage, it’s often worth pruning them hard in spring. This is called coppicing or pollarding and simply involves cutting back all of last year’s growth down to a trunk or stump.

More on coppicing (

Jobs for the weekend: Take fuchsia cuttings

Fuchsias are very easy to propagate so if you want to increase your stock, now’s the time to take cuttings. Using a sharp knife, cut off a non-flowering shoot, remove the lower leaves and cut beneath a node. Insert each one around the edge of a small pot filled with compost and water. Place somewhere warm and light, and ensure that the cuttings never dry out.

More on softwood cuttings (


Role Contributor
PresenterMonty Don
PresenterCarol Klein
PresenterRachel de Thame
Series ProducerChristina Nutter
Series EditorLiz Rumbold

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