15 things (of many more) I Have Learned So Far from Gardeners’ World w/Monty Don

May 22, 2021

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The rain fell in buckets for about 10 minutes Friday afternoon/evening. I drank it up (not literally, but many deep breaths were inhaled and exhaled with a smile on my face, eyes closed and head tilted to the sky in gratitude).

Now, as I type, the rain has abated, the sun has broken through, the birds are busily gathering at the cafe and the garden plants around Le Papillon appear brighter, perhaps happier, dare I say?

As this post will be going live on the blog on Saturday, each Saturday morning for nearly nine months, you will find me watching Gardeners’ World hosted currently by Monty Don (watch on BritBox if you don’t live in Britain). Earlier this spring I shared a post detailing reasons I adore this show and think TSLL readers may enjoy it as well whether they are a gardener or not. Today, however, as I have a feeling many of you are watching GW this weekend as well, I wanted to share with you 15 gardening lessons I have learned (far from all of the lessons I have learned) by watching the show for only just the past 14 months.

1.A little bit every week, and every day if possible

The gift of a garden is that it is a hobby, a passion and one that is at our fingertips every day of the year. Even in the winter months, we can be planning, shopping for seeds, and assessing, letting our minds dream. I will admit that when school picked up full swing, I have missed being able to tinker away in the garden for 30 minutes to an hour every day as spring began, which made me appreciate my time in my garden all the more; however, when the weekend arrives, I can easily spend an entire day, at the very least a half a day outside in the garden – and it is one of the best things I do when it comes to savoring the everyday. Not only do I relax, but I am present, fully. I see progress nearly immediately, I am able to chat with my neighbors a bit if I am out front in my front garden or boulevard, and the boys get to be outside as well. Absolute joy is felt, and it is less about the end result and more about the journey of nurturing something which teaches patience, appreciation and a reminder not to be disappointed when something doesn’t work, but rather appreciate the learning lesson and apply it moving forward.

As I shared in this post last year, our gardens can teach us so much about how to live an incredibly contented life.

2. Growing from seed makes the garden more personalized, fuller each season and is far less expensive

Last year, I shared this post – 12 Simple Steps for Success when Sowing Your Own Seeds

This year, I sowed not only herbs, but lettuce, pumpkins, courgettes, cosmos, nasturtiums, tomatoes and a handful of other plants as I am determined to boost my grown-at-home food and discover how to use the boulevards I have (which are significant in size and south facing) to their fullest potential .

3. Add some Viburnum to the garden for seasonal color beginning in spring and changing from white blossoms in May to brilliant red/rust leaves in the fall.

I ordered and planted a Viburnum (there are many varietals) last spring in front of my porch, and it has done well. Last fall, its leaves turned a beautiful rusty-red which added some color to a garden in which the blooms of the roses and annuals were nearly done. As it grows in size, I look forward to it providing more structure and offering even more of its background color and foliage.

4. Snowdrops – add them and separate them each year

As I shared in May’s A Cuppa Moments, my snowdrops came up AFTER my daffodils, but they did still come up and there were gorgeous in all of their delicate white and green beauty.

5. Gardening without a dog or a cat just isn’t as much fun

Norman and Oscar are in their elder years which makes them the calmer, wiser men than in their swiftly moving younger years. They will sit next to me, greet the neighbors as I work in front of my house or lay down next to me when I am working at my potting table. One spot Norman especially enjoys is our garden porch (where he is seen in this photo), as I can lounge on my chair (not pictured), and he can bask in the sunshine whilst taking in the fresh air and watching the birds and the neighbors go about their day.

6. Take cuttings from your favorite plants

I have not done a lot of this yet, but I am excited to try on a few of my salvia later this year as the deer won’t eat it and the color is magnificent in late spring. Seen below is one of my more mature salvia just beginning to come into full bloom. Now that I know how from Carol Klein’s many teachings (and Monty’s too), I feel confident I can do it.

7. Don’t use peat!

I appreciate Monty’s approach to the garden – organic, working with nature instead of fighting it, as well as conserving when it comes to avoiding the use of peat in compost. It can be tempting to use unnatural sprays and weed killers, but ultimately we are killing the very things we need for our garden to grow – the soil and the bugs and insects within the soil. We simply need to learn how it works best and feed the soil what it wants, take the time to be outside in it and let Mother Nature work her magic.

8. Rhubarb is wonderful steamed with yogurt – Monty inspired this recipe last spring

9. Alliums, the star of the late spring garden and capable of spreading their seed and increasing your allium display each year.

10. Create and plan and name different areas of your overall garden

Even on my small property which is minuscule compared to Monty’s Longmeadow, I have a kitchen garden, a sunshine garden, a rockery, a vegetable garden, the boulevard, a rose garden and a mini woodland garden. Now all of these distinct boundaries need not be known to onlookers, but it helps me in my planning and when I describe a space to those that know my garden or think about it my minds eye.

11. Add compost to your garden each spring and fall if possible

From giving nutrients to the soil, as well as helping with water retention and reducing weeds, adding compost to my garden (since I have lived in my home for just over 18 months, I have added compost three different times) has been the number one game-changer for my plants success as I am witnessing the positive change finally this year, as well as having to pull fewer weeds.

Spreading the compost around the yard is a good day’s work (and a hot bath at the end of that day is the best reward), but it is only twice a year, and it provides a year-round bounty of beauty and bountiful harvest.

12. Sorrel likes the shade more than the sun, even though it is often grown with herbs (most of which love the sun)

My sorrel made it through the winter, and is stronger than ever. while mine is currently on the south side of my house, I placed one plan (last year) in a shadier corner and it is quite happy, so we will see if I move the other one. However, so far, it is doing okay. Sorrel along with chervil are the two herbs I have to grow from seed as I cannot find them nurseries, but they are worth it.

13. Kiftsgate rambling rose – a wonderful rose to cover with small white blooms large expansive of area

Currently, my two Kiftsgate roses are petite, but I am determined to nurture them into their splendor and have them provide the foliage over my westside frence providing a backdrop to my garden porch and my three aspens which are planted in a rock terrace.

14. When to trim my cherry trees – late summer (thank you Carol Klein!)

15. Successional planting

This particular skill is at the top of my list to master, but it is complex and takes time as everything revolves around the climate zone we each live in. I am being patient with myself, observing what blooms when, and gradually adding a handful or more of the same plant to my boulevard to hopefully in 5-10 years time have color in the garden from late March to late October or early November. And with the addition of a few more coniferous shrubs and trees, maybe year-round.

As I shared at the top of this post, I could go on and on and on with this list of garden tips and lessons learned having watched Gardeners’ World. It is fun to reflect and remember, so I thoroughly enjoyed writing this post. One other tool I use, and I have read in the comments from past posts that many of you do as well, I keep a garden journal to keep track of the plants I plant and when, ideas I learn from the show, and anything else pertaining to the garden. It is my own little garden encyclopedia.

Thank you for stopping by to read today’s post, and please do share one or two gardening tips or lessons you have learned from the show. I’d love to learn from you as I have only watched a couple of seasons of GW. Wishing you a wonderful day and weekend in the garden, and enjoy watching this week’s Gardners’ World. 🙂

~a red shrub rose – the blossoms will be sharing their gems soon!~
~columbine~

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31 thoughts on “15 things (of many more) I Have Learned So Far from Gardeners’ World w/Monty Don

  1. I planted my first alliums last fall in my sunny garden. They are beautiful. Unfortunately, I spaced them slightly too far apart for my desired impact. I am so hopeful they fill in nicely for greater impact.

  2. Sadly, I do not have Britbox available here but I am a long time gardener, I grew up tending two large vegetable gardens as well as floral areas and fruit trees. I must admit that as a child I was not thrilled with the early morning rise to tend the plants. Summer vacations were very busy. There were some morning to night days with a picnic lunch on my cart as we trekked to the large plot through and beyond the orchards. One interesting lesson I learned from a Grandmother about a treatment she used to ensure healthy stalks in her plants that she insisted improved their disease resistance. She would pulverize her egg shells in a blender set aside just for that purpose. She added water to the blender and poured this concoction two times per year on to her garden beds. I did it for a while as well, I had healthy plants! Not sure if that was the reason but it might be worth a little test again this year! Like a cup of tea, gardening calms the soul.

  3. This & That is what I look forward to on Fridays and on Saturday mornings, it’s Gardeners World. I enjoy the rituals of reading and watching on set days. GW’s segment on peat last week was eye opening.

  4. Hi Shannon. I love to follow your journey in gardening as I am on a similar journey. One huge difference is that I live in the Arctic part of Norway. The last bit of snow melted from my garden yesterday. One of my favourite moments is when the snowdrops and crocus appears from under the snow one day, and blooms the next. The spring arrives late, but it explodes when it finally does arrive.

    My mother and I sow summer flowers each year as she has a small greenhouse. We sow in abundance! So in the short summer months the garden is full of both yearly flowers but also plants that come every year.

    I find it a bit difficult to follow shows like Gardeners World and to read gardening magazines because our spring arrives so late, the summer is so short, and the climate is so harsh here. I can never have a garden like they show. But I do love my own and spending time in it and watch it evolves with my caring.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
    Cheers, Marte

    1. Marte, sounds like you have found a wonderful gardening rhythm that works splendidly, and to have a greenhouse! How perfect for living where you do! Wishing you a happy start to your spring gardening season. 😌

  5. I always watch Gardener’s World on Sunday morning whilst the rest of the house sleeps. I was inspired recently by the piece on clematis as I had never considered planting them to scramble over shrubs. So that’s my next experiment! I also enjoyed some suggestions from Monty about planting alongside roses. I ordered a rozanne geranium and a nepeta so I’m excited to see how that works. I have just ordered some more roses too from David Austin as I’m working on my front garden border this year. The arrival of a puppy in January has meant my back garden has become full of holes and plants being dug up. I am having a think about what I can plant that’s dog friendly. But I’m loving it.

    1. Nicola, I too was inspired by his lesson regarding what to plant around roses! I had happened to order the Rozanne geraniums this winter and they just arrived a few days after that actual program. I have added them, and while small now, are doing well near my David Austin buttercup shrub roses and a few new nepeta. Hopefully in a few years time, it will be as he described! And don’t worry about your puppy, as they grow up and out of that stage. Savor this time of their lives, as while trying at times, they are exploring, curious, seeking oodles of exercise and simply want to love and connect with their new home. I still remember this days with my boys. Seems so long ago. With a few creative, kind ways to motivate them into the right decision, lots of exercise and routine, things improved. Thinking of you.

  6. What a lovely post 😁I had Monty Don’s newest book open when I decided to get into your post, lovely. I live in the UK and am spending today at the fantastic RHS Wisley garden today – worth a visit Shannon when you’re next in the UK. Could you tell us more about the beautiful flowers in the photo at the top of the post? X

    1. I think they might be begonias , ErzsiP ?
      They come in lots of colours , single and double varieties , and are very easy to grow .
      Enjoy Wisley !
      I’m in UK too , but in the North West .
      Have a lovely weeken, I hope the rain holds off for your garden visit.
      Anne

    2. Have a wonderful time! What a lovely way to spend time this weekend. Anne, is correct, these are Champagne begonias, a flower I usually put in pots on my porch as they are primarily in the shade. I love to pair them with Creeping Jenny which falls over the edge (the creeper), add a hosta I will plant out in the woodland garden in the fall to build my hosta family (which serves as the height in the pot and it’s hard to see but along with the begonia, I have a small dwarf hosta that will also be planted out in the fall – filler, thriller and creeper – the guide I follow for my pots each year ☺️

  7. I am just getting started in building a garden. We have had a small veggie patch for several years, but I am determined to grow flowers. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I look forward to learning from you and others who are a bit further along on your gardening adventures.

    1. Nova, the key is sincere curiosity and a love of Mother Nature. You will have success the more you give things a try and with all of the many resources, I have no doubt you will be more expert sooner than you can imagine. 😌💛 Thank you for stopping by, I am on the same journey with you.

  8. Gardner’s world is a fabulous programme and Monty Don makes it so effortless. I don’t watch it now I am in France but there are many garden programmes here. In particular enjoy one on the radio enjoy It takes years to discover the secrets of gardening but the journey is so enjoyable. As I said in an earlier post. I just cannot get the lupins to establish themselves but I am trying one last time this year Getting dirt on your hands is the best way to connect with nature and be in the present. So therapeutic. My cat loves to follow me around in my potager. Great idea to propagate your salvia from softwood cuttings 4″ to 8″with 2 to 3 leaf nodes. I love that you have named different sections of the garden. I have similar named areas such as the top orchard bottom orchard, rose garden, lavender path etc. Most plants can be multiplied from cuttings especially roses. I take good sturdy stems in the autumn and place in a compost rich ,area at an angle of 45 degrees .By Spring they should have rooted et voila you’ll have new rosebush. Save your leaves in the autumn and place in a plastic bag. Pierce some holes in the bag and leave in a dry place for several months and later you’ll have a nice mulch for the garden. Also if you have nettles you could use this to make a delicious soup and a nitrogen rich feed for your plants. Just soak the leaves in water for a few days until it starts to break down strain and use the liquid to feed your plants. Successive sowing will guarantee a plentiful supply through the season, e.g radishes and lettuces. Radish tops also make a great soup or used in a salad mix. I sow every two weeks. Do consider companion planting e.g radishes and parsley grow well near to sorrel . Tomatoes near to celery, carrots and onions. These are just a few .There are lots more. Do you grow potatoes? they are very easy to grow .They do not need much looking after and can be grown in containers if you don’t have space. Off to my garden now. Happy gardening et bon weekend.

    1. Hi Kameela !
      Happy gardening🙂🌸🌿
      Love the sound of your companion planting.
      Do you plant by the moon ?
      Have a lovely weekend
      Anne

    2. Hi Anne funny you should ask .I am just exploring lunar gardening. Hope you are having fun with balcony gardening .Have a great weekend. We have a bank holiday here on Monday . Kameela xx

  9. What an inspiring post! I love reading all the comments. I am heading to my local gardening store and will have all your ideas with me. Gardening is so comforting, isn’t it?

  10. I love that you can watch Gardeners World and Carol’s programme in the States, Shannon, and that you are enjoying it so much.
    I usually watch it live on a Friday evening here I; the UK, but yesterday evening had two long phone calls fro: different family members, and so didn’t manage to see it ………I will catch up later through the BBC i player ap.
    I have some Nigella ( love in a mist ) seeds to sow today , my neighbour very kindly gave them to me last year , and some general tidying up and dead heading , maybe rearranging some of my pots and planters now that some of the earlier tulips and narcissi have finished flowering .have a lovely weekend with the boys
    Best Wishes
    Anne

    1. Anne, Sounds like a lovely time is going to be had in the garden this weekend. 😌 I so enjoy hearing what gardeners do in their own garden at different times of the year. Thank you for visiting and bonne journée! ☺️

  11. Hi Shannon,

    Like you I have learned a lot from Monty and also from my relatives. My dad taught me so much!

    Monty’s tip that has been most helpful for me is using horticultural grit, especially with lavender. When I saw his documentary on French gardens and he showed where lavender grows in the south of France, and how dry the soil is, a lightbulb went off! I realize I’ve been severely overwatering it and no wonder it never did very well for me. So this year, I am trying minimal watering in a terra-cotta pot and hoping for much better results!

  12. Good morning, Shannon

    Just finishing my coffee before venturing outside to my garden. I have not watched Garden World, but have gotten two of Monty Don’s books from the library. I think I will add them to my library as they are as wonderful as you describe.

    It is so dry here and has been all Spring. My husband is not a gardener, but he is excellent at watering each “newer” tree, shrub, and freshly planted bed. We do both love the results!

  13. Beautiful thoughts to start a Saturday! And your begonias are so pretty ~ joy to greet you when you step outside each day. Have a lovely weekend…

  14. I love the pets in the garden tip. When I’m weeding my garden, my toy poodle will join me by napping under her favorite shade trade nearby.

  15. Hi Shannon, thank-you for the lovely post. I too love to garden. I eagerly await the succession of blooms as the season unfolds. There is no greater joy than growing your own fruits and vegetables and adorning your home with beautiful blooms. I’ve named my home and property Les Jardins.

    1. Jamie, I love that you’ve named your sanctuary as well! Thank you for sharing. 🙂 A deeper appreciation of the seasons has been strengthened in me since I have fully dove in to gardening. Wishing you a lovely spring and into early summer season. Thank you for stopping by!

  16. I really like the idea of making and naming sections of the garden. Even if they’re small spaces, this is a great way to think through plantings. I would love to hear more about what you plant in each of your ‘rooms’ as inspiration.

  17. I love GW and have only myself been watching it for a short time – 1 year or so – having discovered how much I enjoy being in the garden after moving into a new home that has a substantially sized back garden and also a large front garden.
    I have learnt many of the same things – I particularly found Arit’s piece about peat farming for compost last week interesting as I knew it was bad for the climate to buy compost with peat but wasn’t quite sure exactly why. Now I know! And I’m quite keen to visit that reserve park with the peat bogs as it was so beautiful.
    I’ve also learnt to take my time – Rome wasn’t built in a day. And that a lot of gardening is trial and error and learning what works where in the micro climates of my garden. I really appreciate when Monty and co are honest and discuss a plant or idea that hasn’t worked.

    It made me smile to know that we – and so many other GW fans here – have the same routine to sit down on a Saturday (or weekend) morning, with a cuppa I’m sure, and watch the show with my garden notebook at the ready to take notes about plants I’m interested in and things I need to do and learn to do!

    Happy gardening x

    1. Wasn’t Arit’s segment incredibly informational! I too appreciated it. The peat bogs were gorgeous! Wow! Regarding time, yes, gardening, as my mother’s 40-yr-old garden demonstrates takes time to look as we have dreamed in our mind’s eye, and planning and patience are key tools in the journey.
      I will think of you and so many others when I savor this weekly ritual of watching the show. It is such a highlight in my weekend and week!
      Take care Sarah and happy gardening! It is pouring buckets right now which is extremely rare for Bend, so Norman and I are going to go walking in it. Wahoo!!!

      1. My mother’s garden is exactly the same. She has a stunning Camellia tree that flowered absolutely beautifully this year and it was started 24 years ago from basically a stick(cutting) that she put in the ground to root. I hope to have something so beautiful in 20 years!
        I also meant to say that steamed rhubarb in orange juice recipe you shared with green yogurt is one of my favourites. So happy it’s rhubarb season!
        Sounds like a great walk to start the day!

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