Great British Gardens: Carol Klein shares ‘Chelsea chop’ technique to improve flowering

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Renowned horticulturist Carol Klein has embarked on another season by season tour of some of the UK’s most impressive gardens. Over the course of a year, Carol visited the likes of Arundel Castle, Bressingham Gardens, Aberglasney and Beth Chatto Gardens, among others. Each episode of the new Channel 5 show will explore one inspiring garden.

Along the way Carol meets the people who care for the gardens and learns secrets behind some of these treasured outdoor spaces.

Tonight, the series will begin at Arundel Castle Gardens on the banks of the River Arun, in West Sussex.

The gardens include 36 acres of ducal grandeur and floral delights for Carol to explore.

The gardens include huge, tropical borders, intricate knot gardens, copious topiary, impressive architecture and theatrical water features.

The attraction has more than 180,000 visitors a year from across the globe.

In light of her new show, Carol spoke exclusively to about the new show while sharing a unique gardening tip.

“They are all breath-taking,” Carol said of the gardens on the series.

“One of the things I’ve loved about the series so much is that every garden is different. There’s nothing formulaic.

“Each one of them has their own special thing in every season.

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“With Arundel, for instance, there’s this incredible tulip maze.

“If you see the maze, it’s tulips planted in circles, in a great spiral.”

Carol said the maze looked “stunning” from above, which viewers will be able to see in the first episode of the series.

Carol said she learned “loads” of secrets from the gardeners she met along the way too.

At Arundel Castle and Gardens, Carol met head gardener Martin Duncan.

Martin used the “Chelsea chop” technique, which improves the flowering performance of perennials, on catmint.

The “Chelsea chop” is usually carried out in late May around the time of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and can delay flowering by four to six weeks.

Carol said: “There are ways you can prolong flowering with your perennial plants.

“One of the ways is to cut some of them down to around a third – cut a third of them off.

“It delays their flowering and makes them flower more prolifically, if anything.

“Martin was doing this in late June – around my birthday.

“He was cutting back loads of wonderful clumps of catmint which was spilling over the paths.

“I actually gave him a hand – I hope I did it okay!”

Carol said her and Martin cut the catmint plant “right back” using garden shears.

By cutting them back using the “Chelsea chop” technique Carol said they would flower until autumn.

Great British Gardens with Carol Klein airs on June 14 at 9pm on Channel 5.

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