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Gardener's Diary           October

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




Thirtieth edition  - October 2003

This is the last of Jobs for the month until February, but from now until then, I want to hear from other gardening enthusiasts. Tell us about your garden and any projects you have planned or perhaps already achieved:  your summer in the garden, or just your thoughts on gardening as you get older. Do you perhaps live in a warmer climate than the UK and have tropical birds and flowers we can hear about?

I shall have a "Guest of the month" slot for a few months, so write to me and I will get back to you..

I would also appreciate your feed-back about the answers I have given you and if your gardening problem was solved.. 

At last we have had some much needed rain after a long dry, hot spell. Hopefully you haven`t lost any treasured plants in your garden. This garden was newly planted four years ago when we moved here, so I took the advice given by the experts and planted as many drought tolerant plants as I could. This together with lots of mulching and home made compost has ensured a fairly weatherproof garden. 

October is a busy month, with not only the garden to tidy and make secure for the winter, but seeds to collect from favourite flowers and cuttings to take from tender perennial shrubs that may succumb to the frost. Take time to visit the Sunday markets and car boot sales, and you might come away with an unusual plant, or just something of good value for the garden... 

I`ve just bought some of those daft spiked sandals from that slip over your shoes.. You walk all over the dry patches in your lawn and the spikes aerate it.. Well they were cheap enough and it is hard work with the garden fork. I just hope the neighbours don`t see me doing my funny walk!

Have you started receiving seed catalogues through the post yet? The Thompson and Morgan 2004 collection looks better than ever with some stunning new and exclusive plants.. Have a look at their website and order your copy now I find that flower seeds are received well as Christmas presents for a fellow gardening enthusiast.. 

Some of your recent gardening queries


Jobs for the month - October  (Last `jobs`section until February)

The vegetable patch

A tidying up month for vegetable gardeners. Finish lifting and storing all root crops. If you have any salad crops left in the ground, protect them with fleece or cloches. Have you thought about growing some windowsill herbs for use in the winter months? They are freely available in supermarkets now and bring a little of the outdoors in to your kitchen.. It is so nice too, to cook with fresh herbs.



Continue mowing the lawn, with the cutting blade raised, when conditions allow. It could take some lawns a while to recover from the recent drought and regain their lush green appearance. If we have some rain it would be a good time for an autumn `weed and feed` this month. Sort out any bumps and hollows in your lawn.

Shrubs and flower borders

Continue removing flowers that are passed their best, at the same time saving any seed that you want. Some people like to leave the dead foliage in borders as a haven for insects and a micro-climate to protect against the frost, but I like to tidy up borders in the Autumn. I have so many evergreens and bright coloured barks that an unkempt border would spoil the effect for me. If you want to divide any perennials, this is a good time.


As for September...It is time to clean up those bird feeders that will do such a good job over the coming months and fill them with peanuts. If you are making heaps of leaves and twiggy stuff ready for a bonfire, do have a check that a hedgehog is not sheltering there before you strike a light. This very often does happen unfortunately...


Ponds and water features

If your fish appear not to be hungry, stop feeding them now, until Spring. Continue removing any dead or dying foliage from the water plants, rather than letting it die down naturally and polluting the water..




House plants 


Make sure your houseplants are all healthy and living in the correct aspect of the house for their best health during the winter months. Not many plants will want to live in a dark, cold draughty corner. Don`t overwater as this will rot many plants. 





Continue as for previous months preventing all those minute weeds from taking over with a light hoeing....   


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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