Beechgrove 2021 Episode 1 01 April 2021

Beechgrove 2021 Episode 1 01 April 2021

Beechgrove 2021 returns for its first episode and Carole Baxter, Brian Cunningham and the new presenter and Head Gardener Mairi Rattray welcomes us back to Beechgrove filmed from the Beechgrove Gardens.

Carole says its great to be back at Beechgrove Gardens but they are practising all the social distancing and Covid guidelines, so no welcome back hugs. 

Carol and Brian are introducing each presenter and segment this week.

Mairi Rattray

New for 2021
After the 2020 series was filmed in the presenters gardens, Beechgrove returns back to Beechgrove Gardens.

New presenter and Head Gardener Mairi Rattray makes her presenting debut.

New Presenter Calum Clunie is at his allotment for his first piece as a presenter.

Kirsty Wilson has a new allotment and is out of her flat!

Calum Clunie

Calum is on his allotment in Leven that first featured in Beechgrove last year and he is taking over from Brian as the new bloke.

He has been growing and showing his produce from the age of 14 years old and will be keeping us updated on his produce throughout the growing season from seed to show.

Calum Clunie

Flashback to Christmas Eve 2020 and Calum is updating us on his carrots that have not been pulled due to there being no shows this year.

Its a beauty he pulls out along with some others plus some sprouts. that is his Christmas dinner veg sorted!

Mairi Rattray
Mairi is a new face in front of the camera but has been the Head Gardener at Beechgrove and Carol and Brian compliment her on how well the garden is looking considering it was left to overgrow during lockdown.

Mairi says the bad weather at the beginning of January meant things were at a standstill in the garden and at one point the garden was cut off by the snow.


She says the Hellebores are looking fantastic and have the appropriate name of Ice Breaker.

We are going back to October 2020 when Mairi returned to the garden after both she and the whole staff and garden had been furloughed and locked down for 7 months.

It has the feel of the 'Secret Garden' as she pushes through the bushes to enter and the first part is the Trial area, George's small bed and the Spring bed all of which is high with weeds and poppies.


Next is Greenhouse city and The Robinson where Jim McColl grew his pride and joy Tomatoes and it has some impressive thistles instead, poor Jim would be upset.

The new no mow grass areas are very long and full of wild flowers and weeds and the long border has mushrooms!

Moss has taken over the paths and driveway and a Tree fern is flourishing having been neglected.

The poly tunnel is a mass of weeds even covering a barrow.

poly tunnel

Mairi first job is to prioritise the long list of jobs to be done now they can return to Beechgrove and along with Claire Howard and Elien Groot her gardening team they can get it back into shape for 2021.

November 2020 and they start on the entrance to the garden and a Cotoneaster Hedge which had not been trimmed for a long while and was soon trimmed back into shape.

Cotoneaster Hedge

The Poly tunnel got a good weed and once the bulk of the weed were removed looked so much better unlike the main vegetable plots.

There was a lot of annual weeds to dig out and some tatties!

The beds are all cleared and they retained some plants like Drumstick Primula, spring bulbs and Pulmonaria.


Christmas 2020 and the snow and Ice came and stayed for 8 weeks making the ground unworkable.

The work to get the garden back into shape will take all of 2021 and we will follow it and Mairi progress throughout.

Carole Baxter

Carole is doing some work on the seaside garden cutting back the Herbaceous plants. 

Some people say cut back in the Autumn, some say cut back in the Spring.

At home Carol does both depending on the plant and Brian over the garden fence says he does his after Christmas to get him outside doing stuff.

Carole Baxter

Some are best left over the winter as a haven for insects and to feed the birds as well as look good.

She is cutting back a Stachys Lanata right to the ground and throughout the year Carol and her over the fence neighbour Brian will bring us updates from their patches.

Brian Cunningham

Brian is doing hardly any work in the Alpine Garden in fact he is having a brew! 

The Alpine Garden because it is covered in gravel needed the least tidying up.

The Saxifraga is just flowering and the Juniper Blue Star is looking good and giving structure to the garden.


Alpine gardens can give you colour and also be good for a low maintenance garden.

George Anderson

George and his wife Jill are in his garden and allotment in sunny Joppa.

He is sitting surrounded by bumblebees but he going to take us back to the Winter when him and Jill could work in the garden right up to the end of  December 2020.

Early December and George is tackling some plants that have got too big for where they are like his Cercidiphyllum Tree or Japanese Katsura Tree, which has scented foliage.

Japanese Katsura Tree

George is going to reduce it considerably to just a foot from the ground and he starts chopping off branches with his loppers.

With the extra light they will then be able to underplant around the tree.

Now he has his pruning saw and is going to cut the bigger branches to the desired height and because this is being done in mid Winter there will be no rising sap.

George Anderson

George is then hoping come the Spring it will start shooting from the stump.

Now the tree has nearly gone he can not turn back, hope Jill knows he is doing this!

He counts the rings on the stump and the tree been there 18 years and the final job is to cut it all up for the brown bin!

Oh dear George is now after his Filo Pastry tree although that too has been there 18 years it is getting too big!

Filo Pastry tree

He in the neighbours garden that it is overhanging into and the proper name for the tree is Polylepis Australis and comes from the Andean Mountains.

Due to the cold it has layers of bark like Filo Pastry but the overhanging branches have to come down.

Filo Pastry tree

George is up on his steps taking down the small branches first and he will then saw off the branches.

It has had quite a brutal chop but by Autumn 2021 it will have recovered but will George have! Hide the loppers someone!

Carol & Brian's Vegetable Plot Challenge

Carol & Brian's Vegetable Plot Challenge

Brian has a competition for Carol in the main vegetable plots!

He has suggested Carole grow some modern varieties and he grows so 'old timers' of vegetables for them to compare!

Heritage seeds

Brian vegetables have been handed down through the generations and are 'open pollinated' so the seed can be collected.

Carol modern day seeds are F1 hybrids which means you cannot save the seeds as they wont be true to the original plant but as a positive they have been bred to be more resistance to diseases.

F1 hybrids

The ultimate test at the end will be in the 'taste test' and Brian thinks his Heritage seeds will be more tasty!

The soil has been prepared and covered because of the weeds last year when the ground was left to overgrow and this will hopefully get the weed seeds to germinate so they can be gotten rid of.

It needs to be 6 -7 Celsius before you can start planting outside but if you have a greenhouse or windowsill you can start some seeds off indoors.


In the greenhouses they have Brassicas, Sweet Peas and of course the Tatties have started to chit. 

They will return to the Vegetable plot challenge in about 3 weeks and the Tatties will be planted.

Remember this is in Scotland and planting times vary by region.

Kirsty Wilson

Kirsty is going to share her new allotment with us as she starts growing outdoors rather than in her flat and wants it to be pretty as well as productive.

Kirsty has the keys to her new allotment and the first job on her allotment is to build her first greenhouse.

Luke and Johnny are Garden Landscapers and are helping Kirsty with the greenhouse although she has to social distance from them in their work bubble.

Kirsty Luke and Johnny

Kirsty has cleared the site over the Winter months but needs the greenhouse to get her growing started.

First job is to prepare the site of the greenhouse and as the plot is sloped they need to make it so the greenhouse is on a level.

Kirsty will reuse the soil they have dug out elsewhere on the allotment, they add a sub base level and then add grit sand on top.

They then lay four 3 x 2 slabs as the foundation then the building of the wooden greenhouse starts.

She bought the greenhouse on line but there are so many choices available in size and material, ready made or DIY, with one to suit everyone.

Kirsty Wilson

Kirsty is not the best project manager or instruction reader, 'is that a roof panel Kirsty' 'is it?' 

Her next job is to hold the side panels whilst they fix them all together before adding the roof panels and the Styrene glass panels.


Kirsty next tackles some greenhouse staging she has bought for her seedlings and this also needs assembling.


Luke and Johnny are all finished and give Kirsty a greenhouse mat to wipe her muddy feet on and she sets up her newly built staging in the cosy greenhouse.

Handy Hints of the week
George is showing us his Lasagne Bulb Pots he planted in Autumn.


He has a planter his wife Jill did and one he did and there is a difference in the pots!

Jill has many more Daffodils because George has planted his too deep

Mairi likes to give her gardening hands a good clean with a mix of granulated sugar and fresh lemon juice in a bowl. 

This exfoliates the skin and gets off any stubborn dirt 

Brian to brighten up the garden, suggests creating a Spring Bedding plant display and soon (in Scotland) Garden Centres will be open again to buy them.

Calum when growing Tatties for a show you only want 2 chits on each potatoes so you use a coin to remove all the others.


With the Tattie containing now just 2 chits it can be planted in a few weeks and will produce bigger but less Tatties.

The programme ends with Mairi showing Brian and Carol a favourite spring combination of Pink Chionodoxa and dainty Tete a Tete Daffodils.

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