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Gardener's Diary            March

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 third edition  - March 2003

The days are really lengthening now, gardens have taken on a fresh, Spring-like appearance and are full of promise of things to come. Birds and other wildlife are feverishly building nests and choosing mates, whilst gardeners are venturing outside to start getting the garden into shape for the summer. A busy time of year...

Despite the continuing snow, frost and rain in my part of the country, there have been plenty of opportunities to get out in the garden and start tidying borders and pruning shrubs. On a couple of rainy days, I have cleaned and tidied the greenhouse and shed..  

It is also a time of year to evaluate certain shrubs that perhaps could do with moving, either because they have become too big for their space, or because they would do better in a different aspect. Choose a time when the earth is not frozen, make sure you get plenty of rootball when digging up the shrubs, re-plant them with plenty of compost incorporated and keep them watered until established. If a shrub that is to be moved is large, prune it down to a manageable size, which will make handling easier and give the shrub less stress to cope with.. 

Our garden is four years old now and many plants have grown enormous, due I am sure, to the copious amounts of compost I have incorporated into the ground. We have dug in four lorry loads of mushroom compost apart from my own mixings. The drawback is that now I need to have a serious pruning and moving session. Oh that I were a little younger and stronger.. 


Jobs for the month - March


Garden furniture

garden-march03.gif (17773 bytes)Give wooden furniture a coat of paint to freshen it up. I love the job so much that I tend to get carried away and will paint almost anything in sight! (see the summerhouse on the left.) I find that heavy terracotta pots are too heavy for me to lift, so I buy the cheap plastic ones and paint them with the same paint. My favourite tubs cost 1.99 and are filled with Japanese grass, which comes up year after year. (See picture on the left and notice the painted trellis too!) 



If the weather is warm enough and dry enough, now would be a good time to start raking out the dead stuff, either with a lawn rake or an electric scarifier. If you have suffered with lawn subsidence and have a few bumps or hollows, now is the time to repair them, before the seasons growth starts. Cut out the square of lawn surrounding the part to be repaired, then either level off a mound or fill in the hollow with soil, finally replacing the turf and watering it in.  


Herbaceous and shrub 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. Take care not to disturb any seedlings that may have self-sown from last year. Any that are in the way may be potted up, or moved.


Trees and shrubs

Most trees and shrubs will start into growth this month, giving an overall fresher look to the garden. Watch out for an early invasion of aphids in a warm spell. They will very quickly inhabit tender new shoots of shrubs, but be very careful not to kill off any ladybirds if you are using a spray to eliminate them.




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..


Plug plants 

Garden centres and supermarkets have been selling trays of plug plants since the first week in February. I think four months is too long to house these tiny fragile plants whilst `growing them on` and prefer to wait until late April or May before getting mine. If you do buy them early, make sure they are potted up into bigger pots straight away, so the roots don`t get entwined and pot-bound. Keep them in as light a situation as you can, making sure, too that they have warmth, so they don`t dampen off.  


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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