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Gardener's Diary 

                            March 2008

cobweb covered with frostFebruary in the UK gave us some warm and sunny days with very heavy frosts at night. Mother nature likes to lull us into thinking Spring has arrived, then plunges us back into deepest winter once again! The recent hoar frosts were stunning though, see the cobweb on the left.

Don't worry unduly about things in the garden, plants are very resilient and will soon pick up. If you have suffered with severe weather of any type, wait a while to see if anything really has died before removing it. Often just cutting out the dead and broken branches will restore a shrub to its former glory. The one useful thing you can do is knock any late snow off shrubs that are bending under the weight of it.. A soft yard brush is good for this job

Securing water for the future

Climate change means that we will all have to value water more as we find a fairer way of paying for it, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, said as he launched the Government’s water strategy for England, Future Water.


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 - March


March - April are good months for sowing or laying new lawns. Existing lawns should be swept and raked before mowing. I have already given my lawn two light cuts this year, more to collect debris than shorten the grass, and this month I shall remove the moss with an electric scarifier, weather permitting, which is an extremely satisfying job... 


Continue to sow successional crops such as salads and carrots. You don't need a vegetable garden or allotment to enjoy home grown vegetables as they can be grown in amongst the flowers. In fact it helps to keep the aphids and carrot fly away if you plant vegetables amongst flowers such as marigolds, and I think it looks really nice to see vegetables and salad stuff dotted around the borders. Later on you could put a small wigwam of runner beans in, or grow them in a tub. I grew some broad beans in a tub last year and they were very successful.

Paths and walkways

Keep paths and walkways clear of debris and slippery algae. If it is still icy, put down some salt to melt it, which will save you and your visitors sliding all over the place, or worse, having a fall..



Shrub borders and roses

Turn over the borders with a fork to freshen them up and let air in - as the earth will have become compacted over winter - taking out any weeds at the same time. Cut out any dead or twiggy wood from rose bushes and shrubs. 


Prune early summer and later flowering Clematis hybrids. Prune Wisterias and ornamental vines. Tidy up shrubs or trees that have suffered damage in the windy weather. If you are in doubt about when to prune certain shrubs and clematis, consult a gardening book for the varieties you have. Dogwoods should be pruned hard back this month to get the benefit of the new colourful growth next winter.

I have a shredder and spend time shredding the prunings from trees and shrubs; not only is this very therapeutic, but it goes towards making wonderful compost, and is good recycling practice..



The birds are very busy this month pairing off and mating. If you are thinking of placing new nesting boxes, make sure they face North so the sun doesn't shine in them. Clean out any old nesting boxes that open with a hand brush but not disinfectant or water.. The beautiful little robin on the right was following me recently while on a walk. The two foxes that travel through our garden each night are a nuisance because they did up the weed suppressing membrane on a patio area.. 

Paths, walls and fencing

Check over your boundary walls and fences for any wind or subsidence damage.. A lick of paint on the fence on a sunny day is a satisfying job and does wonders for freshening up the faded panels.

Summer bedding plants

Start sowing seeds for your summer bedding plant displays. Ensure they have the correct conditions stated on the packet - some require a light covering of compost and no daylight, whilst others may require no covering but plenty of daylight.. You will find too that some seeds such as sweet peas and anemone corms need soaking in water for 24 hours before planting... Don't over water seeds and try to keep the heat constant because fluctuating temperatures will kill them off.

This year I'm replenishing my Delphiniums and various other perennials with some new stock.

Sometimes I buy pots of ready germinated young bedding seedlings from the garden centre, then prick them out at home..


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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