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Gardener's Diary 

                             March 2010


BuddlejaIt occurred to me that some of you may be new to gardening, or might have downsized to a smaller house with a brand new garden and not have a clue how to begin getting it into shape; so I put together a few guidelines to get you started - click on this link..

Have you got a pink lawn? No I'm not kidding you, this winter has seen outbreaks of fusarium, which thrives in the wet grass beneath the snow causing a condition known as 'snow mould' or 'pink patch'. You can read all about it here ..

My update this month from Thompson & Morgan particularly pleased me because I love Buddlejas. They have developed their first Buddleja that has been specifically bred to be a dwarf variety. Ideal for growing in patio pots and containers, Buddleja ‘Buzz’™ is quite unlike traditional buddleja plants, that have a reputation for growing too tall and becoming unruly. See photo above left..

Let's hope that the weather improves this month, a couple of days in the garden is just what we need.





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


With the days now lengthening and generally slightly less chill in the air, early spring is the foremost time in the gardener`s calendar when we can`t wait to get planting and sowing. It is, however, a time for caution, as winter seldom comes to an abrupt, convenient end as spring approaches.

A very common cause of disappointment for novice gardeners is sowing too early, particularly outdoors. Some gardeners use glass cloches and mini polytunnels to get an early start, but often seeds and plants put out several weeks later will overtake early crops because they have not suffered a check in their growth. If you can, try to make early sowings in trays and pots for planting out a few weeks later, when conditions are more favourable.

VeggiesSome vegetables are not worth sowing early because they mature quickly and later sowings will be ready for harvest at the same time as the weaker, riskier early sowings. By mid spring many varieties of vegetables can be sown directly into a prepared seed bed, such as lettuce, radishes, spring onions, peas, carrots, beetroot and summer brassicas, but even then be prepared to protect vulnerable young seedlings from sharp late frosts.


March is a relatively quiet month in the fruit season. Complete any pruning of gooseberries and currant bushes. Finish planting bare rooted plants and plant out strawberry runners into prepared beds when the ground is not frozen. Established rhubarb roots can now be covered over with a large pot or dustbin to force new stems, which should be ready for the table in six weeks time. Check fruit tree stakes for stability after the winter gales, sprinkle a general fertiliser around the base of trees and mulch to maintain moisture levels. Protect fruit buds from birds by netting over if possible.

Garden furniture 

summerhouseGive wooden furniture a coat of paint to freshen it up. I tend to get carried away and will paint almost anything in sight! (see the summerhouse on the left.) I find that heavy terracotta pots are difficult to lift, so I buy the cheap plastic lightweight tubs and paint them with the same paint. My favourite tubs cost about £1.99 and are filled with Japanese grass, which comes up year after year. (Also in picture on the left and notice the painted trellis too!)


If the weather is warm enough and dry enough, now would be a good time to start raking out the dead stuff, either with a lawn rake or an electric scarifier. If you have suffered with lawn subsidence and have a few bumps or hollows, now is the time to repair them, before the seasons growth starts. Cut out the square of lawn surrounding the part to be repaired, then either level off a mound or fill in the hollow with soil, finally replacing the turf and watering it in.

Herbaceous and shrub 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 earth to give it a fresher look, taking care not to disturb any emerging bulbs. 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. Take care not to disturb any seedlings that may have self-sown from last year. Any that are in the way may be potted up, or moved.

Trees and shrubs

Most trees and shrubs will start into growth this month, giving an overall fresher look to the garden. Watch out for an early invasion of aphids in a warm spell. They will very quickly inhabit tender new shoots of shrubs, but be very careful not to kill off any ladybirds if you are using a spray to eliminate them.


bullfinchesThe 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...It has been such a cold winter that it may be worth examining 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 pair of Bullfinches have been regular visitors to our garden in recent weeks..

Plug plants

Garden centres and supermarkets have been selling trays of plug plants since the first week in February. I think four months is too long to house these tiny fragile plants whilst `growing them on` and prefer to wait until late April or even May before getting mine. If you do buy them early, make sure they are potted up into bigger pots straight away, so the roots don`t get entwined and pot-bound. Keep them in as light a situation as you can, making sure, too that they have warmth, so they don`t dampen off.


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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 DEFRA 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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