using lobster pots for climbers

Sarah talks us through what's growing in the trial bed at Perch Hill, in August 2013. Including how she grows squash over lobster pots, and explains some of her favourite new varieties she's trialling.

This is the trial bed; we just trial all the new things in this bed and so it's completely temporary. Some things I hate, some things I love. What I thought I'd try this year is I've got our really chunky metal frames, which we call the lobster pots, and I've got two big ones there and one little one in the middle - and I'll show you in a minute because they're actually totally hidden. But I love the way it gives us this completely flat, with no shrubs, no permanent planting apart from on the walls, bed. This undulation almost like hills and I just think that works so well.

This is actually the most wonderful plant called the fig-leaf gourd - and look there's Cole going past up there, he's the gardener, I don't know if you've met him - anyway, fig-leaf gourd and I'll show you the fruits also in just a minute. So what we've got down here at this end is a few new trial dahlias and these three in particular I absolutely love. This was sent to me by a friend in Holland called Dicky and it's called 'Purple Flame' and without doubt that is my favourite dahlia this year. It's just incredible, that beautiful sort of ebony-black stem, lovely dark leaf and then these wonderful magenta flowers, magenta-purple, with a sort of black petal reverse - just fantastic. So that will certainly be in the catalogue in 2015, but of course when we're trialling things, we're two years ahead.

And another beauty here called 'Dark Butterfly', which again is this slight bicolour, which some of them I think are a bit gaudy, but that one's beautiful. And this one is gaudy! But I also completely love it and it's called - I can't even remember what it's called - 'Alauna Clair-Obscure'. But look at that, it's just like a sea anemone or a sea urchin but with the purple and white, absolutely beautiful.

So this is the fig-leaf gourd and what we've also got on here is the courgette 'Tromboncino' and you can see exactly why that's called 'Tromboncino' because it looks just like a trombone. And so that's the leaves of 'Tromboncino' and this is the leaves of the fig-leaf gourd - and let me try and find you a fig-leaf gourd to show you. And that underneath, the frame, is the lobster pot and it just works so well, it's completely covered in it now, but I need to find you a gourd to show you. Here we are. It's just like a watermelon. And the amazing thing about the fig-leaf gourd is it lasts three years. It's not edible, it's ornamental but how beautiful is that?

And then there's this new plant that we're trialling also, this is called a coreopsis and it's almost like a mini cosmos and again I think these are going to be fantastic for pots. This is a variety called 'Ruby' and it has been a real success so I'm very pleased with that.

And then at the back of the bed I've got another thing on trial which is called Polygonatum orientale and that's an annual - amazingly - look at the height of that, it's an annual from seed and I love it. Can you see along the back it's got the 'Tromboncino' courgette growing through it and almost using it as a climbing frame; that is the sort of thing I love where nature is just romping away. But that is such an ornamental combination for a wall isn't it? You don't need wires, it'll just do it itself. So I love this bed, it's always trial and experiment. Sometimes things are a disaster, sometimes things are a huge success but it doesn't matter, it's an experiment.

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