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Gardener's Diary 

                                 February 2007


Seventieth edition -  February 2007    

Winter-Flowering Shrubs


I hope your gardens survived the mid-January gales.. We had to replace some fence panels at home and drastically prune the dozen or so Eucalyptus trees in our garden.. I should've known better than to let them go a season without pruning, because although the winds whistle through the deciduous trees without doing any damage, the evergreens always suffer..

It's also worth remembering that many fence panels only have a shelf life of about 7/8 years and their strength will be sorely tested in strong winds like those we had last month

Some new releases from Thompson and Morgan, seed specialists:-

Jobs for the month - February


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..


Move and separate overcrowded clumps of snowdrops now, while they are still in flower.. Where the soil is not too wet and soggy you can plant corms of Anemone Coronaria; beautiful flowers and very easy to grow in the UK. Towards the end of the month plant some Ranunculus tubers for extra interest and colour..

At the garden centre you will find imported lilies on sale this month, which make good pot plants. Choose nice plump specimens..


Choose a nice sunny day to clean out the greenhouse and give it a good wash down , inside and out, with a strong solution of Jeyes Fluid.. This will kill off any residual bugs from last season and those that overwintered in your greenhouse, probably laying their eggs there too..

If you can maintain a temperature of 50f (10c) in your greenhouse, you can start off some summer bedding plants.. I don't start them so early these days because I find they tend to catch up if they're sown about April or even May.. Seedlings can also get potbound if sown too early.


A worthwhile job this month is taking cuttings of carnations/pinks and Delphiniums and keeping them in the greenhouse until they've rooted. 

Delpinium cuttings

Using a sharp knife, cut off the new shoots you'll see growing from your plants in the garden, making sure you take some strands of root. Place cuttings around the edge of a flower pot in a well drained mixture of compost..  Water sparingly and keep in greenhouse until rooted.


Carnation/Pink cuttings

Using young shoots about 4" long, trim them with a sharp knife just below a joint and remove the leaves from the bottom inch of the stem.. Place the cuttings 1" deep in clean sand or vermiculite and keep them in a maintained temperature of about 50f (10c) until rooted


The combination of indoor warmth and lengthening daylight begins to awaken houseplants into new growth in February.. Don't place them too close to the windows because with night-time temperatures dropping so low, frost can still damage plants.. Another worry is that central heating might be too dry for the new houseplant growth. Extra humidity is easily provided by placing a couple of dishes of clean water about the area. This is also beneficial to human skin and furniture! 

Trees and shrubs

This is a good month for planting ornamental trees and deciduous shrubs provided that weather and soil conditions are favourable..  Provide strong stakes for young trees..

To repair storm damage to trees and shrubs and remove dead growth, always use a sharp saw or secateurs, and do the work on a dry, warmish day, so the wounds can dry out and heal over slightly..

Some Clematis types can be pruned this month, mainly early summer and later flowering hybrids..  I don't prune the ornamental Dogwoods until the new buds are showing around March time.. After all these provide colourful bark for the winter months.. I can recommend one Dogwood in particular  Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire, see right:



There's only one requirement for your pond this month with the weather alternating between Spring and winter, and that is to keep a hole in any ice that forms, so that any noxious gases caused by rotting vegetation can escape.. A heavy ball floating on the surface will often do the trick.

Keep feeding the wild birds with food that is rich in carbohydrates, making sure they have water too, especially when the weather is freezing. 

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:-


RHS Flower Shows 2007


Tickets for RHS members

Privilege rate tickets are available for RHS members to all RHS shows, but tickets must be booked in advance. Click on the individual show links below for further information.
RHS members are not charged a booking fee for tickets purchased except for advanced tickets to the Malvern shows. To find out how to become an RHS member click here


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. 


Some of your emails are not getting through to me; please read below:

**  Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming

Please tell me which country you live in as knowing the climate can help me solve your problem. Your current email address is necessary as my replies are occasionally returned to me as undeliverable.. PLEASE TITLE YOUR EMAIL 'GARDEN QUERY' OTHERWISE IT IS LIKELY TO BE PUT IN THE SPAM FOLDER BY MY ISP **



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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