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Gardener's Diary            December

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, remembering to tell me which country you are from.. 


 Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary..




Thirty second edition  - December 2003

As yet another year draws to a close, some of us older ones might find this a time for gentle reflection, `gardenwise` that is.. Is your garden getting too much for you to manage, or are some of the chores getting beyond your capabilities? Perhaps your garden is just too demanding and now is the time to think about making it more manageable. I wrote a special feature about just this in the June 2002 edition of my column, which may be worth another read if you are looking for answers to what can be a growing problem. Gardens that become too much for their owners to manage, quickly become an out of control jungle, so keep on top of things by making yours easier to look after.

Gardening can bring tremendous rewards. For example on this cold, damp and dark November (almost December) day, I am looking out into a garden that is a riot of colour. This is no accident, but was all carefully planned to allow for my need of winter cheer in the garden, in these often gloomy and short days.. The plant colour and bright red berries also attract wildlife to the garden and I will be entertained by squirrels, hedgehogs and of course the noisy chattering birds that visit. This morning 26th November, I took the photos you see here, dotted around this page.

We had a very long and dry summer this year and some of you may be thinking of installing a sprinkler system in your garden. There is some information here about installation and design of one such system,  "Switch on the rain". 

  • There is still time during December to plant any tulip bulbs that you haven`t got in the ground yet. Dig them in deeply enough and they can stay in the ground year after year, rather than take them out as the experts recommend.

  • If you are planning on planting any bare-root trees, late Autumn or early is the best time, while the soil is still fairly warm. Don`t forget to stake them as protection against strong winds.

  • Forget about going to the gym, get some exercise by raking all the leaves off your lawn. Leave the ones that have dropped in the borders as they will rot down naturally and help the soil nutrition.

  • If you don`t have a compost heap, put the damp leaves in bin liners tied at the top. Make several holes in the bags and leave them in a shed or garage. By next year they will have rotted down to beautiful leaf mould to put on your borders.

  • It is all to easy to hibernate in the winter months, but a brisk gardening session, when you are well wrapped up against the elements, will do you the power of good. I try to have at least half an hour most days.  Try it..

  • If we have bad weather, keep your paths and access routes free of snow and ice. Get rock salt from your DIY store to put on the paths to melt the ice.

  • Keep the food and water topped up for the birds

  • Cheer your home up with some potted hyacinths, paper white narcissi and of course the beautiful seasonal poinsettas.

  • Don`t forget to ask Santa for some new gardening hand tools, or a gardening book, or a new plant, or.......................


Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all.

See you in the new year.


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




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