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Gardener's Diary            January

Rosemary MartinGardener's Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin. 

An introduction from Rosemary...     


I have been gardening now as a hobby for about thirty years, but have no formal training..  I don't have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice, but I also think the modern trends work well. 

This column adds a new dimension to my interest in all aspects of horticulture 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..



Forty fifth edition - January 2005

A very happy new year to you all..

December was so mild here in the Midlands that it could almost have been mistaken for February or March and many flowers are showing their faces much too early.. It is always good at this time of year to be able to get outside to do some garden maintenance for an hour or two, and there are so many chores that can easily be done, such as those listed below:-



Amazon book - perfect lawns


If your lawn needs cutting and it is dry enough then get your lawnmower out and give it a light trim, with the blade set on the highest cut. Several of my neighbours were cutting their lawns two weeks before Christmas and I would have done the same but our machine was being serviced! 


Paths and walkways

Clear algae and moss off paths and walkways to avoid accidents.. This can be done either with chemicals bought from your DIY shop, a wire brush, or a power hose, which is good fun! I tend to use a wire brush for awkward spots and a power washer for the larger areas..


Sweep up leaves, especially off lawns, which if left will encourage moss and disease. Collect the leaves and put them into black bin liners which have holes pierced in them. Close the tops and stick them in a hidden corner. They`ll turn into lovely leaf mould. If you lack space and inclination you could always dig leaves straight into the borders where they fall, which is the best way of getting the benefit of the leaves.

Greenhouse and shed

Tidy and clean your greenhouse or shed. Don`t forget to check for any hidden chemicals that may have been banned last year and dispose of as recommended. These warmer winters are great for people, but pests such as aphids now survive instead of being killed off by frosts. I still disinfect my greenhouse annually with a mixture of Jeyes Fluid and water, which I spray on with my pump action garden sprayer, to get in all the crevices.  Your flower pots can also be washed in a disinfectant mixture to make sure no pests linger..


Give roses a light prune to avoid them being rocked by the wind and tidy them up. You can take out half the heightof your roses and all the straggly weak stems. Finish pruning them in March... There are many shrubs and trees that can be pruned at this time of year while they are dormant.. Check in your gardening book or online whether the particular tree you wish to prune is a suitable candidate for this time of year.


Amazon book - Wildlife Friendly Plants: Make Your Garden a Haven for Beneficial Insects, Amphibians and Birds A crucial month for the wildlife that you feed.. Whether you feed birds, badgers, squirrels or hedgehogs, don`t stop because it is too cold to go outside. They will die because they have come to depend on you for their survival.. If you have fish in your pond and the water freezes due to low temperatures, ensure that a hole is left in the ice for the fish to get enough oxygen to survive..This is especially important with a shallow pond.. Never break the ice with a tool such as a hammer because the noise will shock the fish and kill them. Float a football on the water and that will bob about and provide a space that will not freeze over. 

Garden Furniture

This is an excellent time of year to paint or varnish your garden seats, benches or tubs.. Have a look in your local DIY store to see the wonderful range of paints and varnishes that are available.. And such vibrant colours!

If the weather is inclement, what better than a trip out to your favourite garden centre to see what`s new for 2005 and a coffee or lunch in their restaurant!

Happy gardening.    


I often hear the concerns and doubts of some older people who are thinking of building a garden pond now they have more time on their hands, so I have decided to do a mini series which will hopefully be quite useful for those hoping to plan a pond for next year.... 

The subject is a huge one, enough to fill a book, and I will obviously only scratch the surface. But hopefully it will help you decide whether to go ahead and have a garden pond, or settle for something less adventurous.

Garden Ponds - Part one

Q:  Pond safety - will a pond be dangerous
for young children who visit?

Q:  Is there enough room in my garden for a pond?

Q:  Is there a suitable aspect in my garden for a pond? 

Garden Ponds - Part 2

Q:  Is pond maintenance time consuming?

Q:  What sort of garden pond should I have?

Q:  What pond accessories will I need?

Garden Ponds - Part 3

Q:  How much will a garden pond cost?

Q:  What fish/wildlife should I stock the pond with?

Q:  Would a water feature be safer and easier to maintain?



I sometimes get asked to recommend a website, and this is one of them.  A young but thriving business that I can thoroughly recommend..

Some great ideas for presents perhaps..



Some of your recent gardening queries

Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming Please tell me which country you live in as knowing the climate can help me solve your problem. A current email address is necessary as my replies to you are sometimes returned to me as undeliverable.. Whilst I have answered all your queries, due to computer problems there will be no January readers queries published... Instead I have put some information about yukkas on the usual page.


Thompson & Morgan 

You may obtain their free New 2005 Seed Catalogue by telephoning 01473 695224 and their website address is where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line. 

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 WalesThe 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:-

  Thompson and Morgan logo 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.


Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening 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






Amazon book - A year at Kew

 Amazon book - Gardens Through Time: 200 Years of the English Garden

Amazon book - RHS Plants for Places: 1000 Tried and Tested Plants for Every Soil, Site and Usage (RHS)

Amazon book - RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening: RHS Bi-centennial Edition (Royal Horticultural Society)


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