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Gardener's Diary October 2006

Sixty sixth edition -  October 2006    


Some of your emails are not getting through to me; please read below:

**  Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming

Please tell me which country you live in as knowing the climate can help me solve your problem. Your current email address is necessary as my replies are occasionally returned to me as undeliverable.. PLEASE TITLE YOUR EMAIL 'GARDEN QUERY' OTHERWISE IT IS LIKELY TO BE PUT IN THE SPAM FOLDER BY MY ISP **




I quite like this time of year when I can start to tidy up the garden for the winter months. Inevitably there are neglected areas of any garden where weeds have taken over, or some bush has just outgrown its allotted space and needs pruning; this is a good time of year to sort it out.

It is time to remove the summer bedding plants from your hanging baskets and tubs. But don't leave them empty, plant them up with winter pansies or violas, miniature bulbs such as tulips and daffs, wallflowers, flowering heathers and trailing variegated ivies.. They'll look so cheerful over the winter months.. You could also try some small cordylines amongst the flowers in the tubs which will give some heightand add extra colour..

If you have any old cyclamen and Amaryllis tubers from last season lying around the garden, (you remember, those that you didn't have the heart to throw away!) clean them up and repot them ready to bring in for the winter. Hopefully they'll flower again..




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..

House plants


A good time of year to consider which plants to accommodate indoors for winter colour.. African violets, cyclamen and the currently popular orchids can give colour throughout the winter.. I have a collection of about twenty orchids, (see photo above) several of which are in flower at any time during the year.. I am surprised how easy they are to cultivate, how undemanding they are and their long flowering period..


Just give your lawn the very lightest of trims from now on, weather permitting... October is a good month for repairing bumps and hollows in the lawn.. Autumn weed and feed can be applied until November, but if you are using a spreader for the job it is best done on a day when the lawn is dry which avoids clogging up the spreader with soggy granules. There's more chance of a dry lawn in October...

Herbaceous borders

You can either prune down all your finished perennials, divide them and move them, or you can leave this job until the spring.. Some people like to see a tidy garden over the winter months, whilst others feel they are providing shelter for insects by leaving the debris for them.. It doesn't really matter which option you choose. I choose to prune everything down and have a tidy garden, but at the same time our trees and shrubs provide shelter for our critters!


The main work this month is preparing the soil for next year's crops. Think about rotational cropping.. Finish lifting and storing all root vegetables. Protect cauliflower heads from frost.. (My outside tomatoes have been brought into the conservatory where the abundance of fruit continues to ripen..)


Stop feeding fish now and ensure that falling leaves don't pollute your pond. Continue to cut down dead water plants.


Many animals which use the garden, such as bats, snakes, frogs and hedgehogs go into hibernation from October until about April.. However if there is a warm spell you might come across a hedgehog wandering through your garden... If you are clearing leaves and making a bonfire heap do bear in mind there might be a hedgehog taking reguge in there..



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:




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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