Those of you who watch Gardeners’ World will no doubt have noticed the rather smart double tine rake that Monty uses from time-to-time to work the soil. When it made its first appearance Monty mentioned (I paraphrase a little here) that if you could get hold of one it was well worth doing so as it was a damn fine piece of kit.
I did look at it admiringly and probably gave a manly grunt in appreciation of such a fine tool, but that was that. Until recently that is when I was asked by my sister what I would like for Christmas (so very organised she is) and my first thought was for that fine rake. Easy-peasy thinks I, job done, I’ll just look it up online and see where one can get hold of it.
And that is where the trouble began; it took me an age to find it, trying all sorts of descriptive phrases in google search, scouring web forums and then eventually I came across a link for the Broad Galvanized Steel Hand Harrow (nice name) and low and behold there it was before me, gleaming and glinting and beckoning … until I saw the price, a whopping £81.40 (and that is without the handle!!).
Now I love a new tool as much as the next man, especially when it looks like it would make a real difference, but that is stretching it, even though it comes with the Monty Don seal of approval. So perhaps the Hand Harrow is not a suitable stocking filler (at any rate, it would require quite a big stocking)? I may have to take the plunge and fork out (nice tool related pun methinks) on one myself, though I daren’t tell the wife how much it costs … bugger, she’s probably read this!
I get very excited by compost, by the whole process of change from one form to another. Until last week I had two fairly large compost bays but then I watched the hour long Gardener’s World on Friday; consequently I now have a third bay and spent a good couple of hours turning and transferring the material in one of the existing bays into the new bay.
Monty has three bays at Long Meadow and a very systematic method for the production of compost. He has a detailed understanding of what goes on during the composting process (unsurprising given that he is president of the Soil Association) and how to ensure that you don’t get slimey, smelly, rat infested compost (I did discover voles in the second bay but thought best to let them be for now). It was interesting, for example, to discover that one should be adding plenty of carbon to the mix, such as cardboard and hay, and not just green stuff. His insistence on making sure everything was well shredded struck chord as I discovered a lot of canes and woody material in the compost that hadn’t even begun to break down. I chopped them all up into small pieces so hopefully they’ll now compost without difficulty.
The composted material nearest to the camera is almost ready for use but not quite; it isn’t yet that lovely crumbly texture and doesn’t have that woodland floor smell, as Monty put it. Still, I am looking forward to using it and now that there is a third bay, there will be even more of the lovely stuff.
At one point today I was sat down, in short sleeves, my face to the sun, listening to the bees buzzing hither and thither, and thinking to myself ‘it could be summer’. But my day was not entirely spent sitting and soaking up the sun; I was up and about early and tackling the garden on various fronts: rotavating the new raised bed; planting delphiniums, oriental poppies, alcea, salvia, veronica, scabious, roses, clematis (to climb up the rose) … a seemingly endless round of planting which resulted in one section of our circular bed looking pretty good (I’ll try and get some pictures up tomorrow – won’t be as sunny so hope it still looks good – as I just didn’t have time today); sowing leeks and more cosmos (necessary as the mice nibbled the first lot just as they were emerging); weeding; dividing and moving plants … a truly productive day after which I feel satsifyingly tired and ready for a good, long sleep!
The need to divide and move plants sprang to mind as a consequence of Monty doing so at Long Meadow during last nights episode of Gardeners’ World. I am still frustrated by the seemingly short amount of the programme that is actually given over to Monty doing things in his garden. For me they are trying to squeeze too much into the allotted time. But this is the last I shall mention of it.
Monty was at the top of a ladder, pruning saw in one had and a wrinkled apple in the other. He was gazing at the apple with an excitement and pleasure that was palpable, one of those moments when television reaches out beyond the limits of its medium. The apple (Jupiter variety) was taken last year from the very tree he was pruning; in his hand he held not simply an apple but something symbolic, a measure of the enjoyment of growing and relishing one’s own fruit.
It is this sense of gentle and embracing wonder, pleasure and enthusiasm that Monty is able to bring to the screen (Carol Klein does exactly the same thing and couldn’t seem to keep still for being so enraptured by the garden at Angelsey Abbey) that make his return to Gardeners’ World so welcome.
There is something very soothing about Monty Don and as he walked us around his garden, and explained the various parts, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction. My only criticism: the length of the first episode. Surely the BBC could have made this a one hour introduction so that we were able to see a little more of Long Meadow, to listen to Monty’s warming tone, and to hear of his plans for the garden for the coming year? Perhaps squeezing in Rachel de Thame and Joe Swift was over-egging the pudding, and we don’t want to end up with a chunk of GW effectively given over to short editions of Ground Force!
That said, however, I am pleased to say that once again Friday night at 8.30pm is Gardeners’ World time.
I’m looking forward to the return of Gardener’s World in March, especially with Monty Don back in the driving seat and presenting from his own garden. Some people complain that he is too much of a veg man, but if you’ve read anything he has written you’d know that this isn’t the case.
I’ve also been enjoying Carol Klein’s Life in a Cottage Garden on the BBC; her enthusiasm is infectious and her knowledge, especially of propagation, is boundless. When it’s not yet possible to get into the garden and do much beyong clearing, pruning and sowing the odd seeds, it is enchanting to watch the progress of the seasons through Carol’s garden and revel in it along with her.
I’ve picked up plenty of tips from the programme and have succumbed so far as to buy the accompanying book, a wonderful read and similar to Monty’s Ivington Diaries (an equally enjoyable and thought provoking read).
I hope the BBC realise and value the gem that they have in Carol Klein and give her the scope and freedom to express herself and share her knowledge in future programmes.