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Gardener's Diary 

                               April 2008


Spring tulipsApril is one of the busiest months in the gardening year, with seeds to sow and the garden to freshen up after the winter gloom.

I am less inclined to spend my time growing labour intensive bedding plants from seed, and often choose instead to buy plug plants for most items, supplemented with packets of 'sow direct' hardy annuals.. I bought two packs of 24 plug plants (petunias) and discovered that most cells had two plants in, giving me a total of 90 plants for a fiver - not bad! This way I still have a great display, with less of the hard work and more time for relaxing in the garden..

In idle moments I often find myself drawn to the BBC Gardening website, to see what`s happening around our countryside. For those interested in country matters and the environment it is a most informative and interesting place to surf; go to and type in whatever it is you're interested in into the Search bar.

I know garden centres are in the business of selling plants and making a profit, but the prices vary considerably from place to place, usually depending on how glamorous their premises are. I get rather cynical when I see plants in full flower for sale at exorbitant prices, because if you go back a couple of weeks later you can pick up the same specimen minus it`s flowers but still perfectly healthy, in the    casualty corner at a knock down price.. Many of my plants, trees and shrubs have been bought this way..


An introduction from Rosemary Martin...

I have been gardening now as a hobby for about thirty years, but have no formal training..  I don't have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice, but I also think the modern trends work well. 

This column adds a new dimension to my interest in all aspects of horticulture and will hopefully help others find pleasure in this healthy and therapeutic pastime  ...  

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife, remembering to tell me which country you are from..  

Click here for previous editions of Gardener's Diary..


Jobs for the month

  • Dead-head daffodils as soon as the flowers fade, so they don't waste their energy producing seeds. Help build up the bulbs for next year by watering in a liquid general fertiliser. And don`t fold the leaves over and tie up, leave them to naturally die down, so the bulb can produce better flowers next year.

  • Check any shrubs and small trees that might have been loosened in recent gales. Firm the soil around them by pressing gently with your heel and stake them if necessary. 
  • Prune forsythias hard back after flowering.

  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs such as buddleia, lavatera, hardy fuchsias and hydrangeas. Don`t forget to prune the dogwoods well back before they start properly into growth, to ensure good winter colour for next winter.

  • Sow hardy annuals such as calendula, nasturtium and cornflowers.  (I have sown lots of giant sunflower seeds in single cells in the greenhouse. The birds enjoy feeding on the seedheads through the winter months.)

  • Bedding plants which have been raised early under glass, should now be hardened off and given fresh air by moving them outside on mild days. If you are growing them indoors, take care they don`t get too leggy: make sure they get as much natural light as possible. If they are growing in an unheated greenhouse and a frost is forecast, cover the seed trays with horticultural fleece or newspaper. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are big enough to handle.

  • April is a good time to remove thatch which can smother your lawn and encourage disease. Remove thatch with a brisk raking, or with an electric scarifier. 

  • An application of a spring type of lawn weed and feed should green up the lawn and kill any weeds and moss that remain. 

  • If you have a pond or water feature and intend cleaning it out, please take care that any frogs which may be spawning are not upset by the upheaval.

  • If you have a female dog whose urine burns brown patches on your lawn, spend a little time encouraging her to use another part of the garden away from the lawn. My dogs will only `go` on a gravel area set aside for them, which is excellent as I know that we, or any visitors are not going to tread in anything nasty!





Happy gardening till next month....



Amazon book - Gardens of the National Trust. When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership..

Volunteering with the National Trust

Volunteers are active in all parts of the National Trust, from the new central office in Swindon to the summits of Snowdonia and Divis Mountain near Belfast.

View their latest opportunities, or find out more about the kind of roles and different places you can volunteer:

Still with the National Trust, some of the most visited National Trust properties are now holding regular farmers' and food markets.  Click here for details  and dates.



The Yellow Book: NGS Gardens Open for CharityRHS gardens

Their four flagship gardens not only provide year-round interest and offer a wide range of courses, talks and demonstrations, they also demonstrate the best gardening practices, new techniques and exciting new plants to try in your garden.

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-

Do you take advantage of the BBC Gardening website for information? I find it a valuable source of information, for up to date legislation, countryside matters and useful information such as plant pests and diseases, which saves me ploughing through all my gardening books, with the knowledge that their information is bang up to date...


Thompson & Morgan LogoThompson & Morgan 


Visit where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line.  Have a look to see what is new and any special seasonal offers


Some places to visit... 



Visit the Eden Project




The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival.


Kew Gardens two locations:-

Tel: 020 8332 5655 (24 hr)
Fax: 020 8332 5197

Royal Botanic Gardens

Tel: 01444 894066 (24 hr)
Fax: 01444 894069

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Nr Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6TN


The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland comprise:

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland's Premier Garden

Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Argyll's Magnificent Mountainside Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Wonderful Woodland Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Scotland's Most Exotic Garden

The National Botanic Garden of WalesThe National Botanic Garden of Wales

The star attraction here is the 91 metre long domed glasshouse, that houses landscapes normally found in the Mediterranean. This would be a super place to visit on a chilly day...



Some websites of interest to gardeners:-


Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people. 



Useful reading:-

"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced ?5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is ?6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website

Amazon book - A year at Kew  Amazon book - Gardens Through Time: 200 Years of the English Garden Amazon book - RHS Plants for Places: 1000 Tried and Tested Plants for Every Soil, Site and Usage (RHS) Amazon book - RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening: RHS Bi-centennial Edition (Royal Horticultural Society)
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