Charlie Dimmock’s back with expert gardening tips

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Charlie DimmockThe Ground Force star, Charlie Dimmock, returns to QVC with her new QVC Garden Shows. Here Charlie offers you her tips on veg, ponds and water features… 

What are your tips for growing veg?
If you want to start growing your own veg, then you don't need a whole vegetable patch. There are so many containers out there, or you can add fruit and veg amongst your flower beds, which can look quite pretty.

For instance, you can grow runner beans amongst your roses, no problem, they're all going to die in the winter anyway. And you only need two or three runner bean plants to get a good crop. Tomatoes in a container look lovely with sweet basil or parsley underplanting. It's quite straightforward.

So for someone starting off I'd say go for the salad vegetables and keep it simple by going for four or five varieties. Try…

  • a type of lettuce
  • a couple of tomato plants
  • some runner beans
  • radishes
  • coriander or rocket

Got any tips for choosing a water feature?
I'd recommend thinking about the sound you'll get from your water feature, because while water can sound very relaxing, it can be a bit overpowering in a small conservatory or enclosed space.

Even a birdbath counts as a water feature, and every form of wildlife needs water. You'll have butterflies drinking from it, and bees and birds bathing and drinking in it. Some people think that ponds are parts of the garden that are low maintenance – that's not true.

How should you maintain your pond?
The plants will keep a pond balanced, clean and looking nice. But because they're herbaceous plants, you need to split them through and revamp them every 5 – 7 years, which is quite hard work. That's why you may be better off with a water feature that has moving water, but which isn't a pond. A water feature is easier to maintain because it's just water and you can drain it down and refill it.

A pond for me is a whole micro-environment which you can stand and watch for ages – suddenly you realise you've been stood there for three-quarters of an hour and you haven't done anything! Ponds are very relaxing and interesting, but they're not low maintenance.

What plants do you recommend for ponds?
It depends on whether you're going to keep fish in there, but for your average ornamental pond, you must have two types of plant: oxygenating weed, and water lilies or something similar that lays on the surface to cut out the sunlight.

These are your key workers to help keep your pond clear and balanced. The other marginal plants around the edge are much more aesthetic and don't do any hard work.

What's your own garden like?
It's quite cottage-like – my front garden is totally chaotic and everybody turns up and goes 'Oh, what a mess!" but I've left it like that for the wildlife.

You don't want to be too tidy in your garden, have one or two areas where you just let things happen – then you'll have more wildlife and less pests. In my back garden I've got a pond with a little waterfall. It's very cottagey so I've got lots of poppies, corn cockles and roses, lilies, clematis and a few bedding plants. And then I've got a nice big vegetable patch!

For more gardening advice see Richard Jackson's blog

9 Comments

  1. wendy mellors March 6, 2010 at 11:19 am -  Reply

    Charlie may i just say how much i loved you being on QVC Saturday.can not wait for sunday,QVC please have her back very very soon.

  2. Lynn Connolly-Brown March 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm -  Reply

    Dear Charlie my Mum bought me 9 Lilly Trees last yr for my garden they were really beautiful. This yr I have no sign of life in them they just look like dead wood. Is this the way they should look for this time of yr or have I done something wrong that I should have done and havent maybe? Please help!!!

  3. Joan Bygrave March 7, 2010 at 9:21 am -  Reply

    I just had to write to say hooray hooray Charlie Dimmock is back, I so love her spots and wish she was on much more often. She makes gardening all the more interesting. Great to see you Charlie. Visit QVC more often please!

  4. jeanne fields March 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm -  Reply

    Cannot agree more with the comments on Charlie, I am a very keen gardener and it was lovely to see Charlie. Her knowledge is good and reliable. Perhaps if we could have more we might get away from QVC gardening tiny little plants that need so much attention and go for the good old fashioned proven herbaceous. Then lets mix it up with ferns, and then add the more exotics like tree ferns palms etc of good size ‘big’. Get with QVC dont let us down Quality,Value,Convenience. Dont leave it to other channels — they are on you heels and they are good.

  5. Lotus March 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi Charlie, nice to see you still chirpy and now on QVC!
    A friend has the most immaculate pond, but they both spend all the hours keeping the water clear with UV filters and cleaning out the other filters. When I asked them why there weren’t any plants for the fish (about 4 koi that bred into a pondful)the answer was that as soon as anything was planted, it was eaten immediately. So there is nothing in the pond apart from the koi thus it’s a bit stark. Any ideas that would make pond owning more of a joy for them… and the fish? Thanks!

  6. rita April 3, 2010 at 10:47 am -  Reply

    Hi Charlie glad to see you back on qvc,like youre down to earth advice and after reading about maintance of ponds cant agree more,there not easy things to look after as most people think or thought me included,need lots of work to keep nice.good advice from you.

  7. Colleen Coast. April 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Charlie, I love the programme. I originally had 1 Yucca, grown outside, but it has multiplied vigorously into 4 over the past 7 years. How do I separate them and maybe give one to someone else. The are approx 6′ high and still growing.
    Please help.
    Thanks, Colleen

  8. Sarah Whyte May 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm -  Reply

    Hi Charlie,
    We have created a wonderful pond and bog garden at a primary school in Portchester, Fareham and would love you to come and open it this June (2010). This is a community project which has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
    If you would like some more information I’d love to tell you all about it and how the children have been involved with digging, planting and growing.
    Many thanks
    Sarah Whyte

  9. Brenda Smith October 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm -  Reply

    Hi Charlie
    We have a small pond with a couple of fish in. The problem is evaporation. It seems to need topping up every day or two. Is there something we can do to stop this? If not, it means we have a problem when we go on holiday for a week or two.
    Brenda Smith

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