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




Twenty seventh edition  - July 2003

Strange how our mental vision of a typical British summer day with blue skies, gentle breeze and lazy hours spent on a sunlounger, contrasts with reality, which brings the noise of strimmers and mowers, the smell of neighbourhood bonfires that waft smoke in through open windows, blaring music and those irritating little flies that get close up and personal the hotter you get. And of course the endless, back-breaking weeding and digging..  Roll on winter and some comfort eating by the fire, whilst dreaming of utopian lazy summer days! Never happy are we?

I read in my paper today that internet-based insurance company Esure is writing to garden centre chains urging them to withdraw willow tree saplings from sale in areas prone to subsidence, particularly in areas with clay soils, due to the fact that they need to be planted at least 130 feet from a property to avoid problems, four times further than most trees and being thirsty trees, they can suck soil dry, causing buildings to sink.. It has always amazed me how close to houses some people plant new trees, not realising what damage the roots are doing underground, not only to their own house foundations, but also to their neighbours` property. So when planting new young trees, be very aware of their root habit... When we moved here four years ago our insurers asked us the distance of ours and neighbouring trees from our house...  

Did you know that the average lettuce we buy has been sprayed no less than eight times before getting to us! I haven`t covered fruit and vegetables much here, preferring flowers, but I feel I should be encouraging gardeners to produce their own produce where possible.  I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this?


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 your recent gardening queries


Jobs for the month - July


The vegetable patch

Mulching vegetables with lawn mowings will suppress weeds and keep moisture in the soil. Although it is midsummer and you will already be harvesting many of your crops, there are still many seeds which can be sown at this time of year, including of course salad crops which turn around pretty quickly and which you can be sure are chemical-free.  Spring cabbage can be sown in nursery beds now and transplanted later, but other brassicas will need planting out now.. Brassicas, especially brocolli, need a firm soil, never newly dug or manured soil. Broccoli does best on heavy yet well drained loam which had been manured for a previous crop. Cut courgettes regularly or they will not produce well and ensure they have frequent waterings with liquid manure. Tomatoes in your greenhouse should be watered daily with as much water as they can take.


Hanging baskets, tubs and window boxes 

In hot dry spells, you will need to water sometimes as often as twice a day. Regular deadheading will help keep the plants flowering profusely. (I managed not to weaken and am pleased to say that the time consuming hanging baskets are NOT adorning my house this year and even more pleased to say I don`t miss them!) 



Most parts of the country have had good, heavy rain showers over the past few weeks and lawns will respond well to a `Weed and feed` which can be used until September in case you have missed out applying it.. The application on my lawn in the spring failed to kill off the clover which became very pronounced when it flowered, so I used Verdone Lawn weedkiller diluted in a 5 litre pump action sprayer, which killed the clover almost instantly. I also use Verdone spot weeder for lawns on those elusive weeds in the lawn that always seem to survive. I have spent a great deal of time this year getting a neat edge to the lawn; it looks a treat and was well worth the effort.. 



Any flowering shrubs that have finished blooming can be pruned now and will enjoy an overhead watering with a fine mist, on hot days.



We have squirrels in our garden this year, which has solved the mystery of the many broken and eaten plants. But no matter, they are welcome visitors and lovely to watch. The garden is full of slugs and snails unfortunately, but again, they will have to stay as I cannot put down slug pellets in case they harm the dogs... The broken shells, sharp gravel, or ring of salt around the plants planted in paved areas has really helped keep the hostas slug and snail free..


Ponds and water features


This is fish-spawning time of year so take care to ensure your pond is well oxygenated. If you are removing blanket weed or other debris from your pond, do take care not to remove any baby frogs or fish fry that may be caught up in it. Feed your fish their maximum quota this month. 

If you have a water feature the water can evaporate very quickly if the spray is set too high and doesn`t return to the reservoir it is stored in, or if the weather is very hot. So check the levels frequently. I find visiting small children love to touch water features and changing the water frequently helps keep a fairly germ free environment.. I have a pebble fountain and put some blue food colouring in the water which made it a beautiful fresh turquoise colour..



House plants 


Take care not to let houseplants burn this month,  ensuring good air circulation and plenty of watering, with the occasional misting. Some of my succulents appeared to have a problem with the white mealy bug, while other house plants in the conservatory had the beginnings of red spider mite. I don`t like using chemicals so therefore was pleased to find a spray called "Nature`s Answer" made by The Scotts Company (UK) Limited and containing nothing more innocuous than fatty acids and sulphur, a mineral that occurs in nature. This spray worked a treat and was suitable for all my houseplants, but apparently not for ferns. I was disappointed to find that the very heavy hailstones we had a few weeks ago damaged a couple of my larger houseplants that were spending the summer outside on the patio. The not so tough leaves of the Cordyline and Swiss Cheese plant have been sort of pebbledashed, but will grow out with time! 



A nice easy manintenance job with a hoe this month that will prevent seedlings from germinating and show your neighbours what an industrious person you are!



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

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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