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Gardener's Diary            February

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 second edition  - February 2003

The days have started to lengthen and there are plenty of signs of Spring if you look hard enough. I love this time of year, for although it is still officially winter, Spring is just around the corner and we have the whole year to look forward to. We are in fact on the `up and up`...

The Autumn was so wet that I didn`t get a chance to give the lawn a final cut, or sweep up many of the leaves from the borders. I meticulously kept the paths and drive free of slippery leaves though, not wanting to risk anyone falling and hurting themselves. January gave us a few beautiful, mild and sunny days, which I spent tidying up the borders and taking the opportunity to prune some of the larger shrubs that could be done this time of year. The exercise was good, uplifting in fact... 

I have received a video from Thompson and Morgan which was a version of their catalogue, but I didn`t bother watching it,  preferring instead to browse through their usual printed copy at my leisure. It was a good idea though and I am sure many people would enjoy looking at it...

Jobs for the month resumes this month:


Jobs for the month - February


My lawn is a disaster due to the combined effects of a very wet winter and two young labradors using it as a playground. I shall watch with interest to see how it copes. For the moment there is nothing much to be done to a lawn in this condition, other than to pierce the surface at intervals with a fork to assist drainage and apply a dressing of lawn sand. When the weather dries and warms a little, a lawn scarifier can be used to pull out the moss and dead grass. Finally apply a weed and feed. 

Herbaceous and shrub borders

It is satisfying this time of year, to be able to get out and tidy up the borders. Pull out any persistent weeds that remain from last year, prune and tidy up any straggly or frost-blackened shrubs and rake over the compost to give it a fresher look. If there are any perennials starting to come up, such as Delphiniums or Phlox, you could put supports in place now, so they can start to grow through them. I use the metal ones that can be raised higher as the plants grow.

Trees and shrubs

In favourable conditions you can plant ornamental trees and shrubs that have been container grown. As a general rule most shrubs and trees can be pruned now, but not Spring flowering varieties, which are pruned immediately after flowering. When pruning any tree or shrub, be sure to use the correct tool for the job, leaving no jagged wounds that will allow disease to penetrate the cut. If you are unsure what to do, refer to your gardening book for when and how to prune different types of trees etc.  

Paths, walls and fencing

The extremely wet winter has made paths and walls very green and slippery with algae, rendering them very slippery and dangerous. A pressure washer used together with a stiff broom will remove most of this, or there are chemicals for this purpose available from DIY stores. Towards the end of February is usually the time to apply a weedkiller such as Pathclear on paths, driveways and any awkward areas of hard surfacing that may be prone to weeds. I didn`t do this job last year and regretted it each time I saw a stubborn weed appearing on the drive or patio. Weeds seem to wait until I`m relaxing in the garden before making an appearance!


The birds are really noisy now, especially the sparrows who seem to awaken long before the sun is up. They will all need to have a constant supply of fresh water and if you have been feeding the birds in your garden over winter, don`t stop now...It has been such a damp winter that it may be worth examining the peanuts and other food that has been left out for the birds, to ensure it has not gone mouldy. If it has, give the containers a thorough wash before re-filling them..



This is the time of year that I sow seeds of perennials, which gives them a good start and allows them to grow into healthy strong plants by the autumn. Many of them will even flower in their first year.


Some favourite RHS flower shows (Dates taken from their website) 

RHS Plant Roadshow at Bournemouth  -   11 - 13 April 2003
The Spring Gardening Show Malvern  - 9 - 11 May 2003
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show  -   8 - 13 July 2003
Charity Gala Preview of the
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
 - 7 July 2003
RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park  - 23 - 27 July 2003
Malvern Autumn Garden & Country Show  - 27 - 28 Sept 2003
RHS London Flower Shows  - Monthly
Wisley Shows  -
April, June and August

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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