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Gardener's Diary 

                            January 2008


January 2008  

Squirrel in tree

A very Happy New Year to everyone..

There is talk of a bad winter to come because the squirrels began gathering nuts in September and the birds ate up all the berries early, and I can't help feeling that these primitive methods of forecasting are more accurate than expensive hi-tech weather forecasting, which is invariably wrong..

So I shall continue to listen to what my aching bones and the animals' behaviour tells me before setting foot in the great outdoors, always with the added precaution of a shovel and wellies in the car, and a mobile phone too, of course..

Are you starting a garden from scratch? Here's some advice


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 fine winter days

  • Cut Perennials right back now, to make room for new shoots in the spring.

  • Keep ponds covered with netting to prevent fallen leaves blowing in and ensure pumps and any outside taps are turned off.

  • Keep winter-flowering houseplants in good light and in a cool position to extend their flowering time. Move plants from cold windowsills at night and bring them into the centre of the room.

  • If the ground is not frozen, move any shrubs or perennials that are growing in the wrong place or have outgrown their space. First prune them short and cut any dead wood out, then prepare the soil in the new space, mixing in fresh compost.  Lift plants with as much rootball as possible.  Firm the soil around the transplanted shrub, and insert a stake for support until it is established. Water well.

  • Dig or hoe your flower borders if the soil is not frozen. Not only is it great exercise on a mild January day, it freshens up the borders and digs in all those fallen, rotting leaves that look so unsightly, but do the soil so much good..

  • Finish raking or sweeping up the remaining fallen leaves and either compost them or put them in a plastic bag to rot down for leafmould. Clear gutters and down pipes of leaves.

Jobs for bad winter days

  • Brush any substantial snow from evergreen shrubs and conifers, because the weight of it can break their branches. A yard brush is a good tool for this job.

  • Put salt down on icy paths to prevent yourself and others slipping.

  • Tidy the shed and greenhouse and get rid of some of those plastic flowerpots in the recycling bin, or ask your garden centre if they would like them.

  • Give the garden furniture a freshen up with paint, varnish or teak oil.

  • And the best job of all; pour through those seed catalogues that have been dropping through your letterbox and *place some orders.

* When you are ordering from your flower seed catalogues, do check out germination times and conditions. I once bought some seeds that took two years to germinate!  I'm afraid they went straight in the bin..


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:-

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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