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Gardener's Diary            May

Gardener`s Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin.

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..”

I have enjoyed many leisure activities over the years, but only gardening has endured, with this column adding a new dimension to it, which 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, remembering to tell me which country you are from.. 

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



Thirty seventh edition - May 2004

We saw typical April showers last month, which was good for gardeners everywhere. Not so good were those heavy frosts which caught some early new growth, leaving it blackened. If you have frost damaged plants, just cut the damaged parts out and soon you won`t see the difference.

There seems to be some confusion over which garden chemicals were banned last year: Have a look at this link for a list of banned substances. Any old chemicals should be disposed of with great care too. You will find the necessary information on that website too. I took all old chemicals from our shed to our local household waste department for them to dispose of.. Don't forget too that you can be fined heavily if any of the banned chemicals are found on your premises!

If you are going to  The Spring Gardening Show Malvern  you can order tickets from the number below:-

Enquiries & Ticket Hotline 01684 584924

Jobs for the month - May


Do not let the warmer days of May lull you into forgetting the tasks that must now be tackled. This is the time of year when plans for beds and borders should be put into action. Take cuttings, sow biennial seeds and don`t forget any pruning tasks.




Try giving bulbs a liquid feed or a sprinkle of Growmore for an even better display next year, and leave daffodil leaves to die down naturally which will take about six weeks. When tulips are finished flowering you can lift them and heel them in elsewhere for the bulbs to ripen. I never bother to do this and leave them in situ. There are a few less each year which are easily added to... Last autumn I planted lots of miniature tulips and daffodils, dotted around in groups, which are in flower just now and looking great





Keep new lawns damp and treat existing lawns with weed and feed, not forgetting to apply it according to instructions.  A going over with an electric scarifier first rips out all the moss and rubbish. My lawn has been cared for by for the last 9 months or so, due to the battering it had from my two labradors charging around on it all day, and I must say it is now looking splendid!





Protect tender plants from late frosts, with newspaper or horticultural fleece, and start hardening off summer bedding plants by taking them out of the greenhouse and putting them in cold frames. Don`t plant them out till the end of May. Maintain the greenhouse humidity and avoid red spider mite by damping it down with the hosepipe, and shade the plants from too much sun. Plant up your baskets and tubs using Phostrogen "Basketmate", a mixture of slow release plant food granules and water storing crystals, which can be bought from your supermarket, DIY store or garden centre.


Paths, fences and walls


Check fence support posts and make sure that supports for climbing plants are strong enough. Why not give your fence a spring coat of paint with one of the new colours?  Are the walls safe?  Put weedkiller on paths taking care to read instructions regarding pets. If the winter has left your paths slippery with moss remove it by power washing or specialist path cleaner.




Fast growing formal hedges should have their first light clipping at the end of this month.  Don`t let newly planted conifers or other hedging plants dry out, and mulch if possible. Remember to be a considerate neighbour by not letting your boundary conifer hedging get too high.




Strawberries in flower must be protected from late frosts. Watch out for the birds on fruit bushes and cover with netting if necessary.






Flowers for cutting


Sow biennials and perennials for next years flower arrangements, and start training those sweet peas up their supports. How about growing some of the smaller variety of wallflowers, which together with miniature daffodils and tulips look so delicate. For a couple of years now I have been buying packets of `throw and grow` annual seeds that save me a lot of time fiddling about with labour intensive bedding plants. And they are so pretty...



Herbaceous plants


Stake plants and feed them weekly. I use Miracle-Gro with the dispenser that attaches to the hose pipe so everything in the garden gets fed... Keep the borders weed free and mulched and watch out for aphids on your plants. They seem to be less fussy what they land on with each year that passes. 




Ponds and water features


Clear the debris and moss from water features and change the water if necessary, taking care not to disturb any wildlife that has made a home there. Check the electrical system is safe. Make preparations for new aquatic plants in the pond,  taking care not to disturb any fish that may be getting ready to spawn. Remove any unwanted frog or toad spawn.  





The third largest flower show in the UK, Tatton is an annual feast for keen
gardeners as well as those who simply enjoy the spectacle of stunning garden
designs and plant displays.

Around 50 gardens will showcase the very best design talent working in spaces large and small.  More than 90 of the UK`s leading nurseries and growers will provide further inspiration with exhibits in the floral marquees. Visitors will have a chance to buy the very latest plants, flowers, gardening accessories and ornaments from the nation¹s top growers and specialist suppliers around the showground.

The Spring Gardening Show Malvern

: :  

7 - 9 May 2004

Chelsea Flower Show

: :  

25 - 28 May 2004

BBC Gardeners' World Live

: :  

16 - 20 June 2004

RHS International Lily Show & Conference

: :  

30 June - 3 July 2004

Charity Gala Preview of the
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

: :

5 July 2004

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

: :  

6 - 11 July 2004

RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park

: :  

21 - 25 July 2004

Malvern Autumn Garden & Country Show

: :  

25 - 26 September 2004

Wisley Shows

: :  

April, June and August

RHS London Flower Shows

: :  



Some of your recent gardening queries

Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming (Please tell me which country you live in - knowing the climate helps me solve your problem)

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  


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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