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Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary 

                                    November 2008

berriesThe weather has closed in now and the days are short, which is a good opportunity for a spot of armchair gardening to choose next years seeds from those gardening catalogues that keep arriving.  

But it is possible to garden more or less throughout the winter now that our climate is milder, so I tend to leave some jobs for those nice days when it's a pleasure just to be outside. One such job this year is to lift and divide some of the late flowering Asters and chrysanthemums. Then there are the eternal leaves to collect and put into bin liners for making leaf mould, and of course the lawn to aerate... The list of jobs really is endless and I do find winter gardening more enjoyable than in the summer.

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..

There's doom and gloom all round, and talk of a lean winter for many, so I am stocking up with some essentials such as rock salt to keep the paths free of ice, batteries for the torches, and candles for indoors in case the power goes off.

We have an emergency calor gas stove to cook on, extra tinned and dried food in the cupboards and the freezers are well stocked with essentials.

We have also got our trusty generator, which will run our heating and a couple of lights.

It might be prudent to take some precautions in case of severe weather. We were caught out once and spent a whole week with no power, water, heat, or cooking facilities - it was sheer misery!   


  • It is not too late to plant wallflowers, Sweet William, polyanthus and pansies
  • Sweep up leaves as they fall. Once left to gather in piles, they will form a slippery mass which will be so dangerous for unsuspecting older bones. We don`t bounce like we did when we were younger and can easily break an ankle, or worse a hip


  • If you have a graphics programme on your computer, and a printer, consider making Christmas cards from favourite photos, and start setting aside dried flowers, grasses and twigs ready for making your own Christmas decorations. They will spray beautifully and keep for ages if previously dried. (Much nicer than bought decorations)  

  • Put the garden furniture away securely in your shed. Check the padlock too, because burglars like to do their christmas shopping about now, and garden sheds are considered fair game

  • fungiFinally, do some troubleshooting with a quick check on the trees, boundary walls and fences, roof tiles etc., just to ensure they will all endure any possible strong winds. Don`t forget to turn the water supply to your hosepipe off...
  • There are some lovely things to buy as usual in the latest Thompson & Morgan catalogue and I am busy choosing some seeds for next year: not too many as I have taken to buying the pots of germinated seedlings which are all ready for pricking out and seems a lot less work than growing seed from scratch!



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 - Gardens Through Time: 200 Years of the English Garden   Amazon book - RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening: RHS Bi-centennial Edition (Royal Horticultural Society)
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