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Gardener's Diary 

                              October 2008


RobinIt's October already and the damp and miserable summer leaves us ill-prepared for the long winter months ahead. But gardeners are optimistic folk and we can cheer ourselves up by starting to plan the garden for next year.. 

Or by going blackberrying

Thoughts might be turned to growing some of your own produce as we have done this year. (and lived very well off it I might add) With the rising price of food and pending retirement we have turned the bottom of our large garden into an allotment which has added a whole new dimension to our gardening efforts.. I haven't bought any fruit and veg from the market for about three months, and this is just our first year, which has been very much trial and error .. The difference between shop bought and home grown produce is very noticable. Home grown tastes so much nicer, it stays fresher for longer and is chemical free..

A newspaper article from September tells us that due to a dramatic decline in honey bee numbers through bad weather, insecticides and parasitic mites, UK honey supply is expected to run dry within three months and stocks of fruit and vegetables pollinated by bees will be devastated.. Read more about it here

Battling withslugs and snails? Get a hedgehog!


The Accidental Gardener's Almanac



Autumn colours please the senses

October weather starts to grate

Gusting winds blow down your fences

It makes you want to emigrate


Reproduced with kind permission of






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 - October



RoseSeptember - November is the time to give your lawn to an application of Autumn Weed and Feed. Wait for a dry day (that could be a problem!) when there is not too much wind. Even if your lawn is looking green and lush due to so much rain, the Autumn weed and feed boosts root growth over winter.


Have you thought about growing some windowsill herbs for use in the winter months? They are freely available in supermarkets now and bring a little of the outdoors in to your kitchen.. It is so nice to cook with fresh herbs.



BerriesStop feeding houseplants now until about March- April. Cut back on watering this month and place plants where they will be out of draughts for the winter months. It is always worth double checking that you are giving your houseplants the conditions they require..



Now is the time to plant up specially prepared hyacinths for Christmas colour. Amaryllis can be planted indoors now and hopefully they too will be in flower for Christmas.

Handy tip: Put labels in the soil near any bulbs you have planted, which will save you overplanting with other plants in error!



If, like me, you find it difficult to throw away pelargoniums, (geraniums) dig them up and store them in containers to overwinter in the greenhouse. Keep them as dry as possible and take cuttings in the spring. I know August is the proper time to take Pelargonium cuttings but I find they generally rot off over winter, whereas the cuttings taken in spring are strong and healthy with 100% success rate.

Continue growing lettuce in the greenhouse for autumn use.


Birds on feederIt is time to clean up bird feeders that will do such a good job over the coming months and fill them with peanuts or seed. There are strong stainless steel types in the shops now that Squirrels can't get into.  

If you are making heaps of leaves and twiggy stuff ready for a bonfire, do have a check that a hedgehog is not sheltering there before you strike a light. This very often does happen unfortunately...

Talking of hedgehogs, if you have been plagued by slugs and snails this year have you thought about Getting a hedgehog?


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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