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Gardener's Diary            July

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



Fifteenth edition  - July 2002

Ah, another gentle, `pottering in the garden` sort of month and one of my favourites. After all the hard work it is time to relax for a few weeks and just enjoy the rewards of your labour. Find a peaceful part of your garden with the best view, plonk a seat there and spend some time just relaxing... the gardening jobs will still be there waiting for when you have more energy! This is a month of lazy days and barbecues. It is the time of year when I walk around the garden, savouring the sights, smells and sounds and wishing I could bottle it all to last me through the long winter months. 

I sometimes wish for a warmer climate, but on balance prefer our cooler temperatures and diversity of seasons and landscape.  

I received my new bulbs and shrubs catalogue from Thompson and Morgan this week and at first glance thought the colours on some of the images had `run`. But on closer inspection I discovered that there were indeed pink Lily of the Valley and yes, they do sell pretty pink daffodils, and even daffodils that change from yellow to pink as they age! Some of the flower shapes seem bizarre too, with parrot tulips that remind me of cabbage leaves. I wonder if sometimes horticulturalists interfere too much with nature in an attempt to swell company profits, and what the outcome will be..  Producing GM foods is the other side of the coin that bothers me.  

July Spotlight


This month despite all the wet weather we had in June, I will give some tips on water conservation in the garden, plus that never ending task of weeding, and how the two topics relate to each other..


More news from Thrive, the gardening charity

Thrive has just launched it`s programme of short courses for July to November 2002, and two courses in particular might be of special interest to readers..


Hot off the press, more good news for Thrive :-


RHS and Thrive team up to help less able gardeners


Jobs for the month - July

House plants

This is the month when your houseplants are likely to be attacked by pests such as aphids, red spider mite and mealy bug. One of my larger succulents in the conservatory was found to be covered in white cotton wool like fluff which turned out to be mealy bug infestation. I picked them all off with a cotton wool bud and quarantined the plant. Check all your houseplants thoroughly and treat according to your gardening book recommendations if infestations are found.


It has been said in books that a lawn is only as good as it`s edges, and I agree that however immaculate your lawn is, if the edges are crumbly, ragged and uneven, the effect is lost. So once or twice a year remedy this by cutting any overhanging grass  with either a strimmer, or a long-handled pair of shears, and straighten the edges with either a straight bladed spade, a proprietary lawn edger or a special half-moon turfer (turfing iron) If you have straight borders you will avoid getting wavy edges if you put a marking line down.

Herbaceous borders

Enjoy the colourful borders this month, taking care to cut off flowers as they fade. This serves as a dual purpose in removing unsightly dead blooms and also encouraging more new flowers. Some perennials should be lifted and divided every few years at this time, so check this out in your gardening book. Feed plants if necessary with a preparation such as "Miracle -Gro" which can be applied with a dispenser that attaches to the hose pipe. Mulch borders if possible.   


Don`t neglect routine weeding which may be necessary at this time of year to prevent weed seedlings germinating. Mulch the ground around the crops to prevent water loss using grass cuttings if required, but not if it has recently been treated with a weed killer. Usually after 4 mowings grass will be safe to use as a mulch.

Water gardens  

Fish may still spawn until August, so be careful not to lose any tiny, newly hatched fry if you are disturbing the water in your pond.   Don`t let blanket weed smother your fish and plants, hook it out with a stick, taking care not to catch any frogs or fish in it.. Watch out for any water snails that have been introduced into your pond through new planting, for they may eat the plants. Although most types of snails usually do a good job consuming decaying plant or animal remains, they are not all pond friendly.


I love watching the wildlife in our garden: the blackbirds busy turfing the bark off the borders, looking for food for their young, the other birds with their youngsters, the fox that has his route through our garden every night, the hedgehog in the evening and butterflies during the day. But mostly I love watching my young dog watching all of the other creatures. She seems fascinated by them all and their audacity at intruding in her domain. It is a constant drama unfolding.

Some garden shows to visit this summer:

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

2-7 July 2002

RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park

17-21 July 2002

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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