Chelsea Flower Show: Carol Klein explains prairie planting
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Gardening expert and Gardeners’ World co-host Carol Klein appeared on BBC One’s coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this evening. Carol, who also has several gardening shows on Channel 5, could be seen walking around the “Wild West” of this year’s show – the prairies. The gardening pro explained: “We’ve all heard of the prairies, these vast grasslands that used to stretch from the side to side of the USA.
“Grass is such a widespread plant. It covers about two fifths of the world’s surface.
“The term prairie actually means grassland, but what do we mean by prairie planting?
“Prairie planting is the combination of grasses with flowering perennials.
“It is a style based on the prairies of the American Midwest, and at Chelsea this year it is everywhere.”
Carol showed viewers some “wonderful plant combinations” at the Daisy Roots stand in the Great Pavilion.
She said: “You’ve got grasses like this lovely panicum here and through it you can see Rudbeckia triloba ‘prairie glow’. Absolutely gorgeous.
“The whole idea of the plants that mix and mingle.
“But if you step over here and look through the same grass, you get a completely different view.
“There’s this lovely aster little carlow and that big lemon sunflower in the back.”
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However, despite its name, you don’t have to choose American grasses for prairie planting.
Carol said as long as your plants get on together, that’s the main thing.
She continued: “How wonderful that Chelsea is actually in the autumn this time because that allows the grasses to really shine.
“They are at their very best right now. Look at this panicum, it’s called panicum virgatum ‘rotstrahlbusch’.
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“It means sort of ‘red bush’. Look at those dark red tinges on all the fronds, mixing and mingling so beautifully with all these North American daisies.”
Apart from looking wonderfully naturalistic and colourful, prairie planting is also “brilliant” for pollinators.
“Lots of us are familiar with this plant – verbena bonariensis,” Carol added.
“It’s at its very best at this time of year and you see it with butterflies aplenty.”
What do prairie plants need to help them thrive?
Surprisingly, despite looking complex, prairie plants don’t need a lot to look good.
Carol explained: “They don’t need much really. Their requirements are minimal.
“What you mustn’t do is overfeed them or give them soil that’s far too rich.
“You want them to grow as they would grow in their natural habitat. Jostling and having fun in the autumn sun.”
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