Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary             August

Gardener`s Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin, who is semi retired.  She says anyone can enjoy gardening whether they have a large or small garden, can`t tell a dandelion from a daisy, or are aged 9 or 90… Here you will be able to see what jobs you should be doing in the garden month by month, get ideas for spectacular seasonal planting schemes, read previews on new plants and products, find out where to buy them, and get up-to-date news of forthcoming events and places to visit. 


For those of you that have never dabbled in the "black art" of gardening you will first need to get some basic knowledge from a good gardening book. You will find some within this article as examples...


But first 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 in retirement 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.  Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary..




Twenty Eighth edition  - August 2003

August, and time to turn our thoughts to the coming autumn. Already the days are starting to shorten and the gardens are looking a little jaded. I have recently sown wallflowers, which are biennials, for a colourful spring display next year. I think  together with tulips they make an excellent display. This month I shall start my preparations for autumn by marking plants with tags that I intend to collect seeds from.

Some gentle gardening a few days ago turned into a disaster for me. Whilst weeding an overgrown area at the bottom of the garden, a wasp found it`s way inside my tracky bottoms and stung me whilst I was balanced on a rockery. Running up to the house yelling and waving my arms and legs, I fell over the dog who thought this was a new and wonderful game and by the time I had discarded the clothing I had several stings from the yellow peril. A few moments later I decided to replace the disturbed rockery stones and dropped one onto a finger, crushing it... So in the space of a few moments I suffered several stings, a twisted ankle from tripping over the dog and a badly crushed finger, which is currently all shades of blue with a black nail..  Gardening then is not such a healthy and therapeutic pastime...

On conservation matters, I read in my paper about the decline in wild flowers around our countryside and admit to noticing this myself.  Also some useful information about the notifiable weed, Ragwort and some pesticides that have recently been banned.

Sadly I haven`t seen one ladybird  this year in my garden, which is usually full of them. Friends have also noticed their absence. Is it I wonder due to the fact that I am killing the aphids and depriving the ladybirds of food?

Having followed the advice that Alan Titchmarsh has recently given, and gone for `natures way,` I have stopped using bug guns and sprays, hoping to restore the balance by letting the ladybirds and other `good guys` take over from the chemicals and eat the aphids.  Aphids become immune to the stuff we spray on them anyway, in much the same way as us humans become immune to antibiotics.  


Some of your recent gardening queries


Jobs for the month - August


The vegetable patch

Herbs still in flower should be gathered in dry weather for drying and storing.Tie them in bunches and hang them upside down in your garage or shed. Shallots and autumn grown onions might be ready for lifting and more seeds of these varieties can be sown for next year. In the dry weather ensure your runner beans have plenty of water and start picking any early produce. There is still time to sow a last batch of lettuce. I like the Lollo Rosso variety, which are dotted around the flower borders. Take care to water and continue feeding tomatoes. 


Hanging baskets, tubs and window boxes 

Continue as for July... In hot dry spells, you will need to water sometimes as often as twice a day. A plant food, such as Miracle gro mixed with water will ensure your flowers get an extra lease of life.. Regular deadheading will help keep the plants flowering profusely. (I managed not to weaken and am pleased to say that the time consuming hanging baskets are NOT adorning my house this year and even more pleased to say I don`t miss them!) 

August update on my decision not to have hanging baskets. I have ALMOST been tempted to buy some late bargains and am now seriously missing not having them.. Having said that, I am not missing caring for them.



Lawn care this month is straight forward: a weekly cut or even more if there is a lot of rain making the grass grow quickly, not forgetting attention to the edges. If your lawn is looking rough and patchy as mine is, due to poor soil conditions, you may consider applying a top dressing of humus matter in the autumn and/or spring 


Shrubs and flower borders

Keep your borders looking cared for and colourful by continual dead-heading of flowers and ensuring the lawn edges are neat. I have been using Miracle Gro on the flower beds, using the special feeder attached to my hosepipe. This plant food feeds plants through roots and leaves.



The squirrels will be gathering nuts already in preparation for the barren winter months ahead and some birds will be thinking of their long winter journey to a warmer country, so extra food on the bird table will be welcome for all of these friends that have given so much pleasure through the year..



Ponds and water features


This is a month to enjoy the pleasures of a pond, without any urgent jobs needing attention. Continue feeding the fish their full quota, taking care to get a neighbour to continue this task if you are going on holiday. Give them precise instructions on quantities to feed the fish as too much food if not eaten will rot, polluting the water. 





House plants 


Continue feeding your houseplants this month according to instructions, making sure they are in tip top condition for the winter. If you think re-potting for a houseplant is needed, it can still be done now rather than risk overwintering one that is pot bound. On a warm day put houseplants outside for a fine spray with your hosepipe to clean the foliage. Not woolly leaved plants though!  




Continue as for July....A nice easy maintenance job with a hoe this month that will prevent seedlings from germinating and show your neighbours what an industrious person you are!


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  


Some favourite RHS flower shows (Dates taken from their website) 

Malvern Autumn Garden & Country Show  - 27 - 28 Sept 2003
RHS London Flower Shows  - Monthly
Wisley Shows  -
April, June and August

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