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Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary 

                                    December 2008

Rose HipsGardening 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.

Gardening can help individuals accomplish many things. It can help rebuild a person’s strength after an accident or illness, and can provide a purposeful activity for someone coping with a difficult period in their life. 

Through my love of gardening I have become familiar with Thrive which is a small national charity that uses gardening to change lives.
They champion the benefits of gardening, carry out research and offer training and practical solutions so that anyone with a disability can take part in, benefit from and enjoy gardening.

I have also written some tips for 'downsizing' your garden, here


At this time of year Garden centres are usually made over to christmas gifts, decorations and activities rather than plants, but what nicer places can there be for christmas shopping?

Are you troubled by grey squirrels pinching food put out or the birds? The RSPB recommend dusting a small amount of the food with Chilli powder which is harmless to the birds; see here


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 December


  • Don`t forget to keep the bird food topped up over the holiday period.  If you are going away ask a neighbour to do this for you.
  • If your pond freezes over make sure you keep a hole in the ice for the fish to get oxygen, which is another job for the neighbour..
  • There is still time during December to plant any tulip bulbs that you haven`t got in the ground yet.  Dig them in deeply enough and they can stay in the ground year after year, rather than take them out as the experts recommend.
  • If you are planning on planting any bare-root trees, late autumn or early winter  is the best time, while the soil is still fairly warm.  Don`t forget to stake them  for  protection against strong winds.
  • Forget about going to the gym, get some exercise by raking all the leaves off your lawn. Leave the ones that have dropped in the borders as they will rot down naturally and help the soil nutrition. (I usually hoe them in)
  • It is all to easy to hibernate in the winter months, but a brisk gardening session, when you are well wrapped up against the elements, will do you the power of good.  Try it... 
  • If we have bad weather, keep your paths and access routes free of snow and  ice.  Get rock salt from your DIY store to put on the paths to melt the ice.
  • frogKnock thick snow off evergreen trees to avoid the weight of it breaking branches
  • Cheer your home up with  some potted hyacinths,  cyclamen, azalea, paper white narcissi and of course the beautiful seasonal  poinsetta.
  • Don`t forget to ask Santa for some new gardening hand tools, or a gardening book, or a new plant, or.......................

Happy Christmas to you all....




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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