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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



Sixteenth edition  - August 2002

The summer months are rolling along so quickly, we have barely had time to get into the swing of it before we need to start winding down for the Autumn. The weather hasn`t been brilliant but the damp conditions seem to suit most gardens in the UK, making them green and lush..

We had a disaster in our garden in the form of a canine visitor who was with us whilst waiting for his owners to re-claim him. They didn`t as it turned out and he moved on to a dog shelter to await re-homing. I suspect he had been abandoned.. He should have been called Digger, for that is what he did, at every opportunity, with no half measures. My lawn which had been lovingly tended was transformed overnight into a moonscape, and the flower borders, which were at their most colourful became instant landfill sites. It took me three days to repair the damage, and I will have to wait until next year to see the plants I missed this time around. The lawn is now back to it`s former glory having had several turf patches transplanted into it. 

Lesson learnt.. 

While I was doing repairs to the garden, I noticed a young Eucalytpus tree that was fighting for space with a large tree from next door and really needed moving eight feet further along the border. Although fifteen feet high already, I was quite confident it would survive. We watered it for a whole day before the move and made sure we dug out most of the root system, finally re-planting it a little deeper than before. With plenty of water since, it has barely wilted.. I`m sure it will be fine. I`m not sure about my neighbours though, who seem to doubt their own eyes!  See my introduction about trees moving....  


August  Spotlight


This month I will give some tips on taking cuttings, which will provide the basis for future pleasure, and save the gardener lots of money. 


Jobs for the month - August

House plants

Keep house plants well watered and misted with a spray, which will help keep aphids and red spider mite at bay. If you are going on holiday ask someone to look after your plants, but if that is not possible, move them to a shady part of your home, making sure they have ample water. There are self-watering systems available from all good garden centres. 



Lawns will still need frequent mowings during August. If you are going away on holiday, leave off the grass collection box for a couple of weeks prior to your trip, and the cuttings will help keep the lawn moist.


Herbaceous borders

Continue dead-heading, weeding and hoeing, to keep the borders looking neat. You can sow many biennials straight into the ground this month, such as Cornflowers, Foxgloves and Sweet Williams, and they will get away to an early start next year. I collect seeds from the various plants I want, jumble them all up and throw them into the borders. The result is great and I can always thin out those I don`t want. 


Shallots and autumn-sown onions should be ready for lifting in dry weather. Lift them on a dry day (if you can find one) and then tie them and hang them in a cool, dry place. There is still time to sow a last batch of lettuce which will be nice for the autumn. Keep picking runner beans.


More maintenance this month to keep the pond free of algae and aphids. I always enjoyed blasting aphids from foliage with the hose pipe and then watching the fish eat them. Don`t leave the fish to their own devices if you are going away - get a neighbour to feed them and keep an eye on them. If we have a dry spell, the water level in ponds can quickly drop and it is essential to top it up slowly, not introducing too much tap water too quickly. The temperature must not fluctuate either. 



Animals of all kinds are already beginning to prepare for the long winter ahead, so start to be vigilant about feeding the birds, making sure they always have enough on the bird table. I have already noticed an increase in the wasp population this year, and apart from being a little early, they seem smaller than usual. Certainly not the Euro wasp we have been told to watch out for.


Some garden shows to visit this summer:

Wisley Shows

20 - 22 August

RHS London Flower Shows


South East Garden show 

Sun/Mon 25th & 26th August

Sussex Garden show

Sat/Sun 7th & 8th September

Malvern Autumn Garden & Country Show

28-29 Sept 2002

Click here for flower shows in all other areas of the UK:


And some web sites 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. 


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.


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



Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary




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