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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 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



Sixth edition  - October 2001.

The next four editions of Gardener`s Diary will be in a slightly different format. While the days are short and the dormant garden is preparing itself for the spring, I will be chatting generally about gardening and in February will resume "Jobs for the month" and the "Spotlight" section.

Autumn and winter have never been my favourite times of year, mainly because of the long dark nights, but now, being in the autumn of my own life, I am learning to love these particular seasons and not to wish my precious time away. Whilst we are talking about ageing, I have been mindful of my own increasing limitations in the garden. Gone are the times when I could move mountains -  nowadays it`s more likely to be mole hills.  So, when we moved to our new house in Nottinghamshire two years ago, with a half acre football field for a back garden, it made sense to design a user friendly area, with ease of maintenance and mobility.  We have edged the vast lawn with paving slabs and the grass can now be mown with the tractor very quickly, and has only a few edges to trim. The borders are mainly planted with trees and shrubs for ease of maintenance, and difficult varying levels have been replaced with gentle paved slopes, just in case... The front garden has been designed to give borders planted with mainly  evergreen shrubs, trees and flowers, no lawn, just the tarmac and path areas. So, although I have a large garden and a husband who dislikes gardening, it`s not all hard work...

Batten down the hatches

October is a really busy month in the garden, preparing for the long winter months ahead.  It is time to cut back perennials that have finished flowering, remove summer bedding plants, take out any dead growth of shrubs and prune them lightly to make them look neat over winter. Finally, give the borders a good hoe, to make them look well tended. 

Prepare your lawn for winter now with an autumn feed which will encourage a deeper longer root system, and harden off growth to help the grass withstand the colder weather. You will notice the lawn going a dark green fairly soon after application.

Sweep up piles of leaves before they collect in a slippery heap and someone falls over them and gets hurt..

Once you`ve cleared away the debris, your garden will probably look a bit sad, bleak and colourless, so nip down to the garden centre to buy some pots of winter plants, already planted up and in flower, to dot around the garden. Try window boxes too - plastic or wood, painted with Cuprinol Garden Shades, underplanted with all sorts of beautiful spring bulbs and topped off with trailing ivies, evergreen herbs and heathers. It`s surprising how a bit of bright colour will cheer you in the winter months.

Check that tree ties on young trees are secure and not too tight..

Don`t forget to put out food for the birds, either on a bird table or in feeders, and keep them topped up throughout the winter as they will come to rely on you feeding them,  especially in the really cold weather when supplies are short...

Finally when you`ve put your feet up at night, relaxing with a glass of wine in front of the blazing log fire, you can browse through the seed catalogues that have been delivered, and plan next year`s summer display, with perhaps some extra perennials.  My all time favourite seed company is Thompson and Morgan, who regularly send out beautiful comprehensive catalogues, take seed orders on-line and accept credit card payments.



Some seasonal web sites of interest to gardeners:    


Carry on gardening website wins national award has won the 2001 'Getting the Message Across' top award, for outstanding achievement in the provision of information for disabled people. The annual awards are given by the National Information Forum They are awarded to individuals and organisations who have made significant contributions to ensuring that disabled people get the information they need, when they need it, and in an appropriate form. The judges' unanimous decision on the site was "terrific". They felt that Carry on Gardening was "an accessible database which is very good fun and easy to use". The award will be presented by Trevor Baylis, the wind-up radio man and a former award winner, at Channel 4 in London on 23 October 2001. TV gardener Monty Don fronts the site, and celebrity endorsement has also been received from Rachel de Thame and Gay Search. The Lottery-funded website was launched at the beginning of this year, and to date has attracted nearly 100,000 visitors.


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


Finally, a little indulgence if I may.. 





I am leaving the following paragraph in situ for a little while longer as Foot and Mouth has reared it`s head again, and caution is still the order of the day for the countryside..


So If you are visiting a National Trust garden or any other garden or event, do check that they are not closed due to Foot and Mouth disease. More and more footpaths and other venues have been opened but, for general advice and up-to-date details of restrictions, look up the website for the appropriate local authority who will have information about closures. Alternatively look at the following websites:   and  who will have Foot and Mouth up-dates. 


Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary



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