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Gardener's Diary 

                                   March 2009

snowdropsA cold winter like the one we suffered this year should do the garden a power of good, hopefully killing off most of the aphids whose numbers seem to have increased in recent years. 

The many heavy frosts will have proved beneficial to those of you with clay soil, helping to break down the clay particles and making the soil more workable in spring.

We're coming into a busy time of year, clearing up after the winter and starting to work the garden for the coming seasons..  Towards the end of February we had some wonderfully warm and sunny days and it was a joy to be working outside, getting the gardens into shape and seeing signs of spring!



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..


Houseplant care

Potbound houseplants can be transplanted into slightly larger pots.  Clean your houseplants' leaves with either a damp cloth or leafshine to freshen them up. Check for pests and other problems and treat accordingly.


Garden tools

Mowers and other garden machinery will benefit from servicing in readiness for the season ahead. Secateurs can also be sharpened and oiled.


helleboresClean the greenhouse

Wash frames and glass inside and out with a solution of warm soapy water with dash of Jeyes Fluid to kill off pests and clean the glass, allowing maximum light in.


Tidy ponds

Clear away any previous season's plant debris from the pond, using a net to scoop out any leaves that have fallen into the water. Take care not to disturb any frogs that may have started mating..



When digging or hoeing the borders to freshen them up, add some extra compost or mulch. We always have have compost heaps on the go and each spring it gets used on the flower beds to replenish the soil.



busy lizzie

Sow tender plants


Start sowing seeds now for summer bedding plants and tender vegetable crops. It's wise to give seeds some extra heat to encourage speedy germination, so you might consider investing in an electric propagator, or put the seed trays in freezer bags and put them on a sunny windowsill.



Pruning clematis

Summer-flowering clematis varieties that blossom on the current season's growth need to have last year's growth pruned out now. Cut any tangled old stems down to a pair of new shoots near ground level as soon as possible.

Divide snowdrops

Lift and divide any congested snowdrops after flowering but while still in leaf. Carefully tease the clumps apart and replant the bulbs at the same depth they were before. I divided a clump last year and now have several swathes of them in the garden now - it is a brilliant way to increase stock!


Hedges and trees tend to get neglected once they've matured but get into the habit of an annual dose of general-purpose fertiliser along their bases, followed by a generous mulch of rotted compost and see how they benefit from it.





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.



RHS 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 special seasonal offers


Some places to 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

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