Parker Memo

Binge -watching TV is new for me, and I’ve decided I like it very much. I have been sitting in my comfy armchair for months watching the BBC program, Gardeners World with host Monty Don. All gazillion episodes. I came away with many new design ideas and an appreciation for a way of gardening that is far from the formal or Edwardian norm. I won’t be digging up my Victorian garden any time soon, but I will be trying some of these ideas in other areas of my garden.

The first thing you notice as you begin watching Gardeners World is the type of plants used and their enormous height. Grasses are nine feet tall, daisies are six feet tall, and Monty Don, the absolutely charming host of the program, is also very tall and dwarfed by his perennial plantings. Deciduous trees of every type are three times the height of ours, and the fruit trees are cordoned and actually have fruit on them. Swiss chard is nearly waist-high. Watering is not a chore in England. Monty does water his containers once a week. His gardening year begins in February as the winters are mild, getting down to thirty two degrees is rare. Monty gets around 37 inches of rain a year and most of the time it is just wonderful gentle rain. This may be frustrating for some to watch, but just watching it made me feel hydrated.

The next thing you notice, is that many of the gardens in England have evolved. Instead of broad swathes of lawn edged by tidy clumps of perennials in front of brick walls, they now feature gravel paths lined with giant, drought-tolerant grasses, annuals and perennials. In the best of them, plant repetition is still an important design feature but the look and feel is meant to be loose, wild, and full of movement. The focus is on creating spaces that encourage insects and wildlife. Only organic methods will do. Instead of blocking out neighbor, meadow and forest, they welcome the surrounding landscape and use plantings that will blend with England’s background quilt of rolling green fields. I found it to be very beautiful and also doable in our area as well. My pollinator garden is ready and waiting.

The Monty Don garden, featured in the program, is named Longmeadow, a two-acre marvel. It is a series of garden rooms that he has named. They are: The Jewel Garden, The Paradise Garden, the Vegetable Garden, the Cottage Garden, the Herb Garden, the Wildlife Pond, and the Orchard Garden. Each week he is featured in one or more of his rooms showing viewers how to make horticulture part of their lives. There is some good information here, but still, our challenges are so very different and that needs to be kept in mind. On the informative side, his potting shed is outstanding and he has much information on how to propagate plants. How he makes cuttings is valuable knowledge.

At the end of each program he has a section devoted to chores to do over the weekend. I would like to do that for you on a monthly basis too. The chores for March include: cutting back perennials, mulching, getting gardening areas composted and ready to plant. Pruning shrubs(not roses) and fruit trees, better early than late. Applying dormant oil spray(read the directions)and moving evergreens. You can plant chive, onion and parsley seed to be put out in May. Plant early vegetables only if you plan on protecting them from freeze.

I admit I’m a total Anglophile and this bit of binge is not for everyone, but if you want to immerse yourself in the gardens and methods of England, this is the binge watch for you.


Monika and the Boys