Monty Don explains how to plant poppies after downy mildew causes his to ‘die away’

Gardeners’ World: Monty Don gives advice on oriental poppies

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BBC Gardeners’ World had to be rescheduled last week due to the death of HRH Prince Philip. The show aired at 8pm on April 10 and saw Monty Don return with a plethora of gardening tricks and tips. On the show, Monty shared a heartbreaking discovery with viewers after his oriental poppies died.

He said: “For many years oriental poppies with their wonderful great voluptuous flowers were one of the features of the late May and early June borders here in the jewel garden.

“But over the last few years they’ve diminished really badly and last year they didn’t appear at all.

“They just simply died away and I thought that was something to do with here at long meadow and was our problem.

“But actually it turns out that lots of people have had problems with their oriental poppies – gardeners and growers alike.

“So if it’s happened to you, don’t take it personally.”

Monty said the reason the poppies have died is due to “downy mildew” which is a fungus that can be made worse by Britain’s cool, wet summers.

The gardening pro said he is going to attempt to plant some more in the jewel garden.

Monty began by planting the “most famous oriental poppy” called Beauty of Livermere.

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He continued: “From mid-May through to early June it is the most resplendent thing in the whole of the garden.

“But this time I’m going to start by giving them a really good position to fight the mildew.

“So with the box hedges out I’ve now got space on the edge of the border exposed to the wind and the light – that will be perfect.

“Now as well as positioning them where they’re exposed to plenty of ventilation I’m also going to add some grit into the hole.

“Poppies will grow in almost any kind of soil, sand, chalk as long as it’s well-drained.”

Monty suggested lightly working the sand or chalk into the soil so the roots won’t sit in water.

“This is a small plant now but it will grow a fairly decent size you’ll get a clump which will be about two foot across,” he added.

Monty then decided to plant another of the same plant in a different part of the garden.

He continued: “The jewel garden is essentially symmetrical so I’m going to put another Beauty of Livermere on this corner so that we do get that symmetry and balance.

“Firm that in well just because it likes really good drainage is not a good reason to under water it.

“I’m going to water these in well until they get more established and their roots can get out into the soil.

“These should bulk up over the next year or two until we get really substantial plants that is if the downey mildew doesn’t strike again.”

Gardeners’ World will air on Friday at 9pm on BBC Two

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