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Gardener's Diary           November

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 the secateurs come out of retirement...  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



Seventh edition  - November 2001.

Last month I wrote about tidying the garden in preparation for the long winter months, and I have been asked if there are any benefits to leaving it until the Spring, as advocated by the gardening experts. Well there are benefits, for even though it has died back and has blackened foliage, vegetation will create a micro-climate and stop the worst of the frosts from penetrating. Wild life too will be afforded a degree of protection from the cold. I suppose it is the natural way of doing things, but personally, having a tidy mind, my eyes are offended by lots of dead vegetation overwintering in my garden, even if it does look nice with a sprinkling of frost. It makes the garden look neglected and I prefer to see neat borders. That doesn`t mean to say I chop everything that needs pruning to the ground in the Autumn. I am selective, leaving dogwoods and hardy fuschias in particular until the Spring to be pruned. Frost tender plants such as the giant Gunnera can be covered with it`s own dead leaves for protection. So, Autumn or Spring, it`s a question of choice... 

I have been checking out the tree ties and supports on trees that we planted two years ago when we moved here, and was upset to find that, as I had neglected to do this job earlier in the year, there has been some damage to the tree trunks by the supports rubbing against the bark. In some cases quite a lot of the bark has been gouged out. I hope they will be OK. My neglect is partly due to the fact that I can only find fairly small tree ties in the garden centres and DIY shops, and need to improvise for our bigger trees which still need support due to our exposed position. My husband has donated some of his leather belts and has glued 4"x 4" pieces of cork tiles together, and cut big slits in them to thread the belts through, to act as a buffer between the tree and support. It works brilliantly...

"Now it`s time to ditch the decking", says Alan Titchmarsh of BBC`s Ground Force programme, in an October edition of the Daily Mail. He feels that decking is now very 1990s, has gone too far and is unfashionable. What`s more he apologises for promoting it so much..  Thankfully I didn`t bother with it as I don`t like decking - or anything trendy for that matter- but I feel sorry for those people that went to great expense to follow his advice. It was interesting to read that Mr Titchmarsh`s next project is a back- to- basics BBC2 show titled "How To Be A Gardener" which I feel I will enjoy more than all these modern gardening programmes with arty types who make me think they have run out of ideas.....   

I have given the lawn it`s Autumn feed and it has never looked so good, but the first three lots of mowings cannot be used on the compost heap so I have taken them to the tip.  

There are still many jobs that need to be done before beginning a spell of "armchair gardening." It is a good "maintenance" time, for checking out and repairing garden furniture and perhaps giving it a lick of paint, and doing any construction jobs that you may have been thinking about such as new paths, raised flower beds or even a pond. Tidy up the greenhouse and shed, for if you are anything like me you have been using them as a dumping ground for all those empty flower pots. Get the gardening tools cleaned and oiled where necessary. You will feel so good after you`ve done all this... Gardening at this time of year has a special "feel good" factor about it, as we expend a last spurt of energy before several months of lazing around the house getting very little exercise, and over eating... So put those wellies on and get gardening...

I have recently received my Thompson & Morgan seed catalogue and see that this year they have a lovely idea for an unusual Christmas gift - a willow-weave basket of snowdrops which have been specially prepared to make an appearance in the middle of winter. They even enclose a card with your own personal message and deliver them boxed, by first class post in good time for Christmas. Priced at just 9.99 you will need to order from their catalogue by the 7th December to ensure delivery before Christmas, so don`t delay in sending for it...

More good ideas for lasting Christmas presents for your garden-loving relatives or friends:

  • A years subscription to a gardening magazine 

  • A gardening book from 

  • Secateurs or other garden hand tools 

  • Gardening gloves

  • Gift voucher for a garden centre

  • Terracotta pots

  • Decorative house name or number: 

  • Japanese wind chimes

  • Garden ornaments


Some seasonal web sites of interest to gardeners:    


My all time favourite seed company is:-  


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.



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


Foot and Mouth Disease precautions


Caution is still the order of the day for the countryside, especially as some people enjoy walking more in the winter months..


For general advice and up-to-date details of countryside restrictions, look up the website for the appropriate local authority who will have information about closures. Alternatively look at the following websites:   and  who will have Foot and Mouth up-dates. 



Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary




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