Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary                April

Gardener`s Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin.


An introduction from Rosemary...    


I have been gardening now for about thirty years, long enough for my husband to know that it`s wise to bury his head in a newspaper when I get the secateurs out... 

I don`t have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice, but I also think the modern trends work well. Plants in my garden have to be resilient as they get moved around frequently, and my husband has been heard  to mutter  “I don`t remember that tree being there this morning..”

Hobbies have come and gone over the years but only gardening has endured, and now this column adds a new dimension to the hobby, 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..




Thirty sixth edition - April 2004

April is one of the busiest months in the gardening year, with seeds to sow and the garden to freshen up after the winter gloom. With the passing years I am less inclined to spend my time growing labour intensive bedding plants from seed, and choose instead to buy plug plants for most items, helped along with packets of `sow direct` summer annuals.. This way I still have a wonderful display, with less of the hard work and more time for relaxing in our garden..

I am however, going to plant up some hanging baskets and tubs this year. I really missed them last year and it wasn`t quite the same without them somehow..

In an idle moment I often find myself drawn to the Defra website, just to see what`s happening around our countryside. For those interested in country matters and the environment it is a most informative and interesting place to surf: see what you think..

I am brewing up for a session in some of our local garden centres and unusually for me, have made a note of what I am going to buy.. Usually I take the car with the biggest boot space and come home with it crammed full of plants with barely enough room for me to sit. Our garden is rather full now though...

I know garden centres are in the business of selling plants and making a profit, but the prices vary considerably from place to place, usually depending on how glamorous their premises are. I get rather cynical when I see plants in full flower for sale at exorbitant prices, because if you go back a couple of weeks later you can pick up the same specimen minus it`s flowers but still perfectly healthy, in the `casualty corner` at a knock down price..

Most of my plants, trees and shrubs have been bought this way..


Jobs for the month - April 2004

  • Dead-head daffodils as soon as the flowers fade, so they don't waste their energy producing seeds. Help build up the bulbs for next year by watering in a liquid general fertiliser. And don`t fold the leaves over and tie up, leave them to naturally die down, so the bulb can produce better flowers next year.

  • Check any shrubs and small trees that might have been loosened in recent gales. Firm the soil around them by pressing gently with your heel and stake them if necessary. (We had a lot of damage in late March, to a gate, fence panels, young trees and shrubs, but the winds were exceptional at 60mph)

  • Prune forsythias hard back after flowering.

  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs such as buddleia, lavatera, hardy fuchsias and hydrangeas. Don`t forget to prune the dogwoods well back before they start properly into growth, to ensure good winter colour for next winter.

  • Sow hardy annuals such as calendula, nasturtium and cornflowers. This year I have bought several packets of mixed hardy annual seeds that are `sow direct`...

  • Bedding plants which have been raised early under glass, should now be hardened off and given fresh air by moving them outside on mild days. If you are growing them indoors, take care they don`t get too leggy: make sure they get as much natural light as possible. If they are growing in an unheated greenhouse and a frost is forecast, cover the seed trays with horticultural fleece or newspaper. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are big enough to handle.

  • April is a good time to remove thatch which can smother your lawn and encourage disease. Remove thatch with a brisk raking, or with an electric scarifier. 

  • An application of a spring type of lawn weed and feed should green up the lawn and kill any weeds and moss that remain. 

  • If you have a pond or water feature and intend cleaning it out, please take care that any frogs which may be spawning, are not upset by the upheaval.

  • If you have a female dog who`s urine burns brown patches on your lawn, spend a little time encouraging her to use another part of the garden away from the lawn. My dog will now only `go` on a gravel area set aside for him, which is excellent as I know that we, or any visitors are not going to tread in anything nasty!

Happy gardening..




The third largest flower show in the UK, Tatton is an annual feast for keen
gardeners as well as those who simply enjoy the spectacle of stunning garden
designs and plant displays.

Around 50 gardens will showcase the very best design talent working in spaces large and small.  More than 90 of the UK`s leading nurseries and growers will provide further inspiration with exhibits in the floral marquees. Visitors will have a chance to buy the very latest plants, flowers, gardening accessories and ornaments from the nation¹s top growers and specialist suppliers around the showground.

RHS Plant Roadshow at Torquay

: :  

16 - 17 April 2004

The Spring Gardening Show Malvern

: :  

7 - 9 May 2004

Chelsea Flower Show

: :  

25 - 28 May 2004

BBC Gardeners' World Live

: :  

16 - 20 June 2004

RHS International Lily Show & Conference

: :  

30 June - 3 July 2004

Charity Gala Preview of the
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

: :

5 July 2004

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

: :  

6 - 11 July 2004

RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park

: :  

21 - 25 July 2004

Malvern Autumn Garden & Country Show

: :  

25 - 26 September 2004

Wisley Shows

: :  

April, June and August

RHS London Flower Shows

: :  



Some of your recent gardening queries 

Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming (Please tell me which country you live in)


Laterlife is pleased to support the project below:-

Designed to stimulate the senses and provide a haven of peace, a place to chill-out and unwind from the stress of modern living. A garden designed specifically to be "Positive About Disabled People" and raise funds for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

Take a virtual trip around the garden, through different countries, its monthly photo galleries & artwork, explore and discover the plants, birds and wildlife, water features and wind-chimes, as we endeavour to describe the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch of the various areas. 

We hope you enjoy your visit to the Sensory Garden Project  


And 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 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...



Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming

Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary




Some websites of interest to gardeners:- 


Alan Titchmarsh MBE, TV gardener, writer, broadcaster and thoroughly nice person. Just a few choice words to describe the peoples` favourite TV gardener. See his website....



Thompson and Morgan: 


A growing resource for gardeners worldwide. The site includes the international online seed catalogues, the young plants catalogue (UK only), the wholesale seeds catalogue, together with the award winning Germination Times and a host of other useful information.


Gardening 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. 





Good 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

RHS Garden Finder is £12.99 from Dorling Kindersley



Back to laterlife today

Site map and site search


Advertise on