Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary          Septemeber

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..




Twenty Ninth edition  - September 2003

Have you noticed that many trees have dropped their leaves already, making it feel autumnal? This is due to the hot dry summer we have had, which has starved some trees of water..  When trees are stressed they shed their leaves, shut down their systems, pretend it`s autumn and sit it out till spring. But don`t worry, your trees have not died, they will be fine and come next spring, covered in buds..

Lawns too are looking very brown and dead, but they will recover so don`t feel you must water them. It is a shame that we in the UK so look forward to enjoying our gardens in our brief summers, only to find we often have a parched desert for a garden! A benefit of the hot weather is the lack of snails and aphids in my garden. I`m sure the snails are still there, lurking behind the cool leaves, waiting for the rain to fall and I will bide my time and catch them when they show themselves...

My lawn which is fairly big at 350 sq.metres, has taken a battering from my young labradors bombing around on it. I have scarified it annually, regularly given it a spring and autumn weed and feed, but there are a great many brown dry patches, making it look unsightly. I know this has been made worse by the dry hot weather, but I decided to get some professional advice and help, so I contacted .. They are a nationwide company who provide a lawn treatment service. They told me my lawn is compacted in places, which stops water penetrating and accounts for the brown patches. It needs spiking, hollow-tine aeration and their four annual weed and feed treatments. I was pleasantly surprised at the cost of all this and will give regular updates on it`s progress.. 


Some of your recent gardening queries


Jobs for the month - September


The vegetable patch

Although summer seems to linger on one must remember that early frosts are in the offing, so any produce ready to be harvested should be gathered. Maincrop carrots should be dug up about the middle of the month and any crops not quite ready could be protected from frosts with cloches or straw. September is a busy planting month for vegetable seeds, so look at the cultivating instructions for your favourites.  It`s official, I read recently that allotments are once more gaining in popularity.. I believe the vegetable plot will be given more TV coverage in the near future


Hanging baskets, tubs and window boxes 

Continue as for July and August... In hot dry spells, you will need to water sometimes as often as twice a day. A plant food, such as `Miracle gro` mixed with water will ensure your flowers get an extra lease of life.. Regular deadheading will help keep the plants flowering profusely. Plants that have `gone over` can be removed and any that have got straggly can be pruned.

September update on my decision not to have hanging baskets. I have been watching my opposite neighbour Bill watering his hanging baskets daily and would like to thank him for the pleasure his hanging baskets have given me this summer, in the absence of my own efforts! 



Most lawns if left to their own devices will have suffered in the recent drought, mine included, as I said last month. It is apparently compacted in places, so any water just sits on the surface before evaporating. I have been advised to `spike` it which will loosen it up and allow water and air to get in This can be achieved by digging the garden fork in and wiggling it about to make holes. I am looking for a proper`spiker`. The parts I have done and then watered are looking considerably improved. Regular mowings are still required, but raise the cutter now a notch or two. is a useful website if your lawn needs some TLC..

Shrubs and flower borders

Recycling garden waste is becoming more important and you can contribute by making your own compost to put on your borders. Not only does it enrich the soil, making shrubs stronger, but the mulch helps keep any moisture in, which benefits the plants in times of drought, as we have had recently. . Keep your borders looking cared for and colourful by continual dead-heading of flowers and ensuring the lawn edges are neat.This is the month to collect seeds from flowers that you want to grow again next year. This year in my garden, the Sunflowers, Marigolds, Tagetes, Verbena Bonariensis, Cleomes and Ricinus communis Carmencita have all done particularly well and I shall be harvesting their seed. The petunias I have been collecting seed from for many years have reverted to a straggly wild form, with only a few having a good colour and habit, so next year I shall buy some new stock. I collect dry, mature seed straight into a plastic dish, before sieving it into paper envelopes, clearly labelled and storing it in an office cupboard, which is dry, cool and dark.. (A tip with some larger seed such as sunflowers and Ricinus is to open one of the seeds to make sure they are not just a hollow shell..) 



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

Give your pond fish less food now. You will find they won`t want to eat as much as previous months. Start 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 in tip top condition for the winter. If you think re-potting for a houseplant is needed, it can still be done now rather than risk overwintering one that is pot bound. On a warm day put houseplants outside for a fine spray with your hosepipe to clean the foliage. Not woolly leaved plants though!  







Continue as for previous months preventing all those minute weeds from taking over with a light hoeing....  A nice easy maintenance job with a hoe this month that will prevent seedlings from germinating and show your neighbours what an industrious person you are!


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  


Some of the final RHS flower shows for 2003  (Dates taken from their website) 

Malvern Autumn Garden & Country Show

 - 27 - 28 Sept 2003

RHS London Flower Shows

 - Monthly

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




Back to laterlife today

Site map and site search


Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti