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Planning Retirement Online

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 the secateurs come out of retirement...  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


Eighth edition  - December 2001.

Have you done all your garden chores yet, or have you like me, left a few jobs for a nice winter`s day? The greenhouse will get tidied and cleaned on a day when I feel the need to be outside, and there are still some bulbs that will get dug in before the end of December. Of course there is always tidying up to do, and I am still busy collecting the fallen leaves to put on the compost heap rather than leave them on the ground to make a soggy mess that is both unsightly and dangerous. 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. This is the most colourful Autumn there has been for quite a few years, and some trees still have leaves clinging tentatively to their branches, in wonderful shades of yellow, red and orange. They say it is due to the very warm October we had. Thankfully I have never outgrown the childish habit of shuffling my feet in crisp fallen leaves that have been blown into heaps by the cold autumn winds, and am teaching the new puppy my old tricks. Ahh, the simple pleasures are best..

Don`t forget to keep the bird food topped up over the holiday period. If you are going away ask a neighbour to do this for you. If your pond freezes over make sure you keep a hole in the ice for the fish to get oxygen, which is another job for the neighbour..

My garden really comes into it`s own at this time of year with lots of flowering and evergreen shrubs, late chysanthemums, bright red barks and the hellebores foetidus and corsicus that are about to burst into flower.... The brilliant white bark of the Silver Birch Jacqmondii is always a talking point and my family are convinced that I paint it... During summertime there is colour everywhere in the garden but during the winter months the rare sight of a flower is a joy to behold to many people. I always try to buy Azaeleas, Cyclamens, winter flowering Hyacinths and a pot of Narcissi, just to keep in the kitchen to cheer me up in the deepest winter. They can be planted in the garden after flowering, to enjoy in future years. It is important for me to see colour and flowers in the winter garden, but more about that in January`s edition... 

Christmas is almost upon us once again and those creative gardeners among you could make your own stunning original decorations, which are both satisfying and fun to do...  First get hold of some florists`oasis, green plastic coated garden wire, gold and silver decorative Christmas spray in aerosols, some glitter, spray on snow and some vases or other waterproof containers. Then collect small pieces of holly, ivy, delicate and interesting looking twigs, dried chinese lanterns, a variety of evergreen shrubs and cones. Set aside some of these on a newspaper and spray them with the different colours and the snow. This is best done outside. Practice with different colours and textures. Before they dry sprinkle a little of the glitter sparingly onto a few of them. When they have completely dried you can go ahead and be really creative, making wreaths for the front door, table decorations and arrangements in vases. Oasis can be cut to different shapes and then hidden by the greenery. Use the wire to keep the stems in position. Finally, add ribbons and other Christmas baubles for a professional touch. Add candles for the table decorations and add water to the finished items to keep the greenery fresh, providing you haven`t put Christmas electric lights in them. 

I enjoy making these decorations, and I sometimes give them away as gifts together with sweets and truffles I had have made...

Last minute stocking fillers suitable for gardening enthusiasts

  • Bulbs ready planted in decorative containers, from the supermarket.

  • Gardening Calender or diary

  • An azalea or cyclamen from the supermarket

  • House plant watering can

  • Decorative plant labels

  • A packet of their favourite seeds

  • Bird feeder

  • Bag of Spring flowering bulbs

  • Heated propagator

  • Garden thermometer

  • Bonsai tree kit



Some web sites of interest to gardeners:    


For ideas:-


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.



For inspiration:-


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.



For vision:- 


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


r  indulgence:- 


Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary



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