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Gardener's Diary

February 2012

An introduction from Rosemary Martin...


Previously in The Gardener's Diary...

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011



The Gardener's Diary


RosemaryI have been gardening now as a hobby for about forty 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..




PansiesJanuary was kind to us in the UK with very mild conditions compared to last year and apart from a few frosts and gusty winds we have had an easy time of it so far... The days have started to lengthen too and there are plenty of signs of Spring if you look hard enough. I love this time of year, for although it is still officially winter, Spring is just around the corner and we have the whole year to look forward to. We are on the `up and up`.


  * Don't expect too much from Busy Lizzies this year because:-

"Impatiens downy mildew, a disease caused by the fungus-like organism Plasmopara obducens is causing great problems. In 2011 control failed, probably due to resistance to the commercial fungicides used. Infected plants were inadvertently sold widely. This led to the the most widespread outbreak of the disease so far, with many gardens, nurseries and local authority displays affected. " From the RHS website.

My local garden centres are not selling Busy Lizzies this year and say that seed will also be affected..




Jobs for the month - February


My lawn has benefitted over winter from it's autumn repair consisting of of aerating, top dressing and an application of extra lawn seed, and is looking great despite the attentions of two young puppies tearing around on it! There is nothing much to be done to the lawns yet, apart from keeping them free of debris such as leaves and twigs. Try not to walk on grass if there is a heavy frost.

Herbaceous and shrub borders

helleboresIt is satisfying this time of year, to be able to get out and tidy up the borders. Pull out any persistent weeds that remain from last year, prune and tidy up any straggly or frost-blackened shrubs and rake over the compost to give it a fresher look. If there are any perennials starting to come up, such as Delphiniums or Phlox, you could put supports in place now, so they can start to grow through them. I use the metal ones that can be raised higher as the plants grow.

Trees and shrubs

In favourable conditions you can plant ornamental trees and shrubs that have been container grown. As a general rule most shrubs and trees can be pruned now, but not Spring flowering varieties, which are pruned immediately after flowering. When pruning any tree or shrub, be sure to use the correct tool for the job, leaving no jagged wounds that will allow disease to penetrate the cut. If you are unsure what to do, refer to your gardening book for when and how to prune different types of trees etc.
I moved some largish shrubs to new positions during late January, and will make sure they don't dry out until well established; I've also staked them in case strong winds topple them; it is a great time of year for moving bigger shrubs.

Paths, walls and fencing

The winter can make paths and walls very green and slippery with algae, rendering them very slippery and dangerous. A pressure washer used together with a stiff broom will remove most of this, or there are chemicals for this purpose available from DIY stores. Towards the end of February is usually the time to apply a weedkiller such as Pathclear on paths, driveways and any awkward areas of hard surfacing that may be prone to weeds. 


butterfly on a pansy in JanuaryThe birds are really noisy now, especially the sparrows who seem to awaken long before the sun is up. They will all need to have a constant supply of fresh water and if you have been feeding the birds in your garden over winter, don`t stop now...Examine the peanuts and other food that has been left out for the birds, to ensure it has not gone mouldy. If it has, give the containers a thorough wash before re-filling them..




This is the time of year that I sow seeds of perennials, which gives them a good start and allows them to grow into healthy strong plants by the autumn. Many of them will even flower in their first year.



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