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Gardener's Diary 

                              December 2009


reindeerDecember is a month for giving presents, whether you like to celebrate Christmas or not. The range of gifts is huge for your garden loving relatives and friends. And larger garden centres really put on a splendid display at this time of year, where it is possible to buy all your Christmas presents and cards under one roof.

Gardening books are always welcome presents as are new tools and gardening gadgets, or bird feeders and nest boxes if they’re bird lovers.. Spring bulbs or seed packets make great stocking fillers.

Potted plants also make ideal gifts or decorations for the home. In addition to the traditional poinsettia, most garden centers sell azaleas, cyclamens, Christmas roses, and other colorful plants "programmed" to bloom this month. My personal favourite gift is Amaryllis which are sold together with the ceramic pot and compost, all ready to go.

A final choice for a Christmas gift might be a gift voucher which the recipient will adore spending. (Trust me on this smiley )





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..

Christmas trees

christmas treeChristmas trees are on sale now but take care to choose a type of tree that won’t drop its needles. If you don’t plan to put the tree up straight away keep it in a bucket of water in your greenhouse or garage – anywhere cool. Always trim an inch or so off the trunk before you set the tree in its stand, and don’t forget to have a stand that has a water reservoir as the tree still needs to drink.

Forced indoor bulbs

If you potted up bulbs in early autumn for winter forcing, check them periodically to make sure the compost is moist. When signs of growth appear, bring the pots out and place in a cool place with indirect light, such as under greenhouse staging. After about 10 days, move them into brighter light and watch them start to grow. Turn them occasionally so they grow upright without leaning towards the light..

Christmas decorations

It needn’t be expensive buying Christmas decorations, after all we in the UK are still in a recession. Go for a walk in the nearest woodland or forest and collect pine cones from the forest floor. Take them home and put them in a slightly warm oven for about ten minutes to open up. Spray them silver or gold, along with some small twiggy branches from trees in your garden. Arrange the twigs in vases and tie a bow with some bright red Christmassy ribbons and arrange the pine cones in dishes to dot around the house.

Candles, greenery such as holly and ivy from the garden together with pine cones, all arranged in oasis, makes a wonderful centrepiece for the Christmas table.

Enlist your grandchildren to help; Grandchildren love making things for Christmas..




Don't forget :-


  • Turn outside taps off while there is a danger of frost.
  • Insulate your greenhouse with bubblewrap.
  • Keep rock salt handy for icy paths and drives.
  • Protect tender perennials from frost with twiggy branches and hessian, garden fleece or straw.
  • Feed the birds and ensure there is always fresh water for them
  • If you have terracotta pots raise them off the ground to protect against frost.
  • A ball in your pond will keep a hole open if it ices over.




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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 DEFRA 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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