Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary 

                              July 2008

Alan Titchmarsh, The Kitchen GardenerWhatever happened to the old fashioned gardens which were places to relax in, and which might include flower borders, fruit trees, a lawn, a patio area and, if you're lucky, a vegetable patch?  

We seem to fill our gardens with all sorts of fashionable 'must have' accessories these days, so the overall effect is that of lots of mini theme parks. From hot tubs to trampolines, they've become a blot on the landscape..   

And there is absolutely nowhere in these overcrowded playpens to relax..

Our vegetable garden is currently under attack from pigeons, chafer bugs and blackfly.. It is easy to spray against aphids and remove beetles but the pigeons are very resourceful and quickly get used to scarecrows, CDs on string, strips of tin foil etc. We don't mind them having the odd strawberry for a snack but object to the whole crop going their way. So we have built cages to go over the fruit bushes and have netted over the young brassica plants. That'll teach 'em!

The snails and slugs are out in force in the borders too and I have had to resort to slug pellets scattered in the borders. This is not something I like doing being a pet owner, but my dog seems particularly uninterested in the pellets which are very sparsely scattered around.

I am thinking of trying Nemaslug or Defenders Slug control because so far I have only caught snails and I know the slugs live hidden away in the soil.



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 the month - July

July is a lazy month for gardeners if they so wish, with easy jobs to do, such as dead-heading flowers, watering and weeding. All your house plants can stay outside for a few weeks for a breath of fresh air and a misting with tepid water...


Look for aphid damage, red spider mite, mealy bug and any other unwanted visitors, and spray immediately. Don`t forget to make provision for your houseplants if you are going away. There are several types of capillary matting in the garden centres that you can stand the plants on, or even soaked newspaper in a bucket. Failing all else, put your well watered houseplants in the coolest room in the house and draw the curtains or blinds and they will easily cope for a couple of weeks


Lift and dry off any tulip bulbs still in the borders or tubs, and you can order now for Autumn planting from your early bulb catalogues.  Place pots of lilies in dull parts of borders for added colour while waiting for the bedding plants to flower.



New lawns turfed or sown in the spring may now have a dose of weak weedkiller. Keep the cutter blades of your lawn mower set to medium in a dry spell, because if you cut the lawn too short it will soon go brown and look unsightly.


Make sure that plants in the greenhouse have adequate ventilation and are shaded from too much sun. Maintain humidity to avoid red spider mite by damping down with the hosepipe. Shade cucumbers from hot sun. Apart from the usual tomatoes, cucumbers and pepper plant, we are growing a Golden Berry or Cape Gooseberry plant we found in a local nursery, which seems to be a prolific fruiter. We also planted several seeds from a honeydew melon which germinated within three days and are now growing into very big plants. It's fun experimenting..


Continue spraying rose hedges this month against black spot, mildew and aphids. You can still trim other types of hedge if they are growing quickly. Laurel and other large leaved hedges should ideally be cut with secateurs or bigger pruners to avoid ugly cuts in the leaves from electric hedge trimmers or garden shears.


You will still need to watch out for bugs in fruit bushes and trees and eliminate them with an appropriate spray. This is a time of year to begin pruning and training some young fruit trees. You should consult a gardening book for this procedure. Our first year plum, apple and pear trees have had their fruit stripped out to allow for a year of good growth, at the expense of the fruit.


Flowers for cutting

Train sweet peas up their supports. Keep cutting flowers for the house and at the same time dead-head any faded blooms to encourage new flowers. Spray against aphids and stake any flowers that are getting tall. I have lovely dahlias out already (see left)


Herbaceous plants

Feed plants fortnightly now. I use Miracle-Gro with the dispenser that attaches to the hose pipe so everything in the garden gets fed...and watch out for aphids on your plants. Keep the borders weed free and mulched. Stake taller plants against strong winds and even the weight of their own flowers

Ponds and water features

This is fish-spawning time so take care that your pond is not starved of oxygen. If you have tadpoles which by now have developed their legs, try to keep them apart from your fish because they will eat them. Provide a ramp for the tadpoles to leave the pond when the time comes. (I know it's daft, embarrassed but it's great to watch!) If you want to really help the tiny frogs then spray the flower beds or grass where they will be living with a fine mist of water for a few days if the weather is hot...


Our hedgehogs are back from their winter hibernation and doing a good job of eating insects. The Pipistrelle bats that fly around at dusk are busy as usual, and young fledgling birds are running the gauntlet with next doors cat. The only downside to the wildlife in our garden at the moment is the increase in numbers of the huge woodpigeons which make a mess and eat our produce.. The squirrel families have increased their numbers too, but are not nearly as destructive as the pigeons..




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)
back to laterlife interest

Site map and site search



Advertise on