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Gardener's Diary 

                              April 2009


Red Lily BeetleIf, like me, you have been plagued in your garden with the Red Lily Beetle, you can help the RHS with their research on these pests by clicking here  and telling them of your location and experiences with the beetles. 


I won't be growing lilies in my garden in future due to the beetles decimating them and the amount of time needed searching out the beetles and killing them..  A run of mild winters and warm summers has allowed them to colonise gardens and wreak havoc on lilies throughout the UK. I have just one established lily that seems immune to their advances however, and it will be interesting to see if it survives..

At last spring has arrived and what a delight it is, after an especially hard winter, to see signs of life in the gardens and countryside.. Well worth waiting for.

But then again,with the everpresent drone of lawn mowers and strimmers, together with the smell of bonfires and barbecues, the added problems of hayfever and insect bites, we forget how it really is.spider

* Take care not to have any gardening accidents!






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..


House plants

irisIncrease watering and feed plants more frequently. You can still re-pot plants that have become root bound. Choose a warm, sunny day to stand  larger specimens outside and give them a wash with the hose pipe on `fine spray`and allow them to dry before bringing them back inside. This is a job that can also be done in the summer on a rainy day. 


The harsh winter we had, which followed a very wet summer last year, may have resulted in a heavy growth of moss in your lawn. This needs to be removed either with an electric scarifier or a lawn rake.  Follow this with a treatment of Weed and Feed.

Shrub borders and roses

Plant out dahlia tubers and sow hardy annuals where they are to flower. . The flower borders will appreciate a mulching this month, which will help conserve moisture and stop weeds from growing. If you are using grass cuttings as a mulch, take care not to use the first three mowings after applying lawn feed, as per the manufacturer's instructions. 

Paths, walls and fencing

bergeniaThere is still time to do any necessary repairs to walls, fencing and paths before plant growth really gets going. Use a weedkiller such as Pathclear to kill grass and weeds on concrete areas for a whole season. Examine the supports for climbing plants and replace if necessary. Pressure clean  paths or other ground  areas that have become slippery with moss and algae. (Read instructions carefully on weedkiller packets if you have pets)


Increase the amount of water given to plants but keep some gentle heat on in the greenhouse during the nights as frosts will still quickly kill your new seedlings. You can also cover them with horticultural fleece..
Plant up hanging baskets this month but make sure they're kept frost free and watered, then by the end of May they can go outside looking nicely established..


Growing your own vegetables is becoming more popular as the recession bites deeper. Even if you have a tiny garden you will be able to grow salads and tomatoes for the summer months. And container gardening for vegetables is highly popular this year. The soil should be warmer and dryer now, so you can continue to sow your favourite crops.  Keep an eye on the birds pinching your produce though and be prepared to cover everything up with netting if they become a nuisance.  



This is the month when the fruit grower finds there is plenty of spraying to do to ensure a healthy crop and prevent pests and disease. Keep a close watch on developing fruits and treat accordingly. Take care still with late frosts and cover small trees and bushes with horticultural fleece. Refer to the appropriate section of your gardening book for fruit pest and disease control.  

Trees and shrubs

Trees and shrubs will appreciate a good mulching this month, which not only conserves water, but stops weeds growing and adds goodness to the soil. Look for any signs of disease or pests and spray accordingly. If there has been any late wind damage, tidy the branches so there are no ragged edges which will let the damp and disease penetrate. If you need to remove any branches of trees, there is a preparation you can buy that seals the newly sawn wood. 

Water gardens  

If you are `spring cleaning` your pond, be sure to put your fish in a large container where they can swim around quite happily until being returned to their pond, making sure that cats cannot get to them. Use the old water from your pond to fill this container. Once you have cleaned out and re-filled the pond, allow the water to stand for a day or two to avoid any temperature changes before returning the fish. If you are re-lining a concrete pond take care to use the correct sealant afterwards, and give it ample time to dry.  Be ruthless and thin out aquatic plants. They will soon re-grow and fill the pond.


In April the birds are still breeding and so are most of the mammals that use our gardens. Parent birds are so busy feeding their young this month that they need concentrated body-building foods themselves such as the suet fat balls that we see in the shops especially for the birds.

Sunflower seed hearts are a favourite for the birds in our garden and even the visiting squirrel favours them above the peanuts he usually eats..




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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.



RHS 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 special seasonal offers


Some places to 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

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