Easier Gardening as You Age

Expert gardeners can spend 50 years learning, sometimes just about one species or family and then they die!

You are never to old to start gardening, nor are you too old to learn easier and simpler ways to enjoy your gardening.
Bending and kneeling may get a bit harder as you age but there are ways to overcome these restrictions like padded kneelers with good handles.

Tools as You Age

  • You are not going to double dig acres of ground so get a spade to suit. A small stainless steel blade will not over tax the muscles but still get most jobs done at a steady pace.
  • I have very useful forks and a trowel on long handles. They are easy to obtain and save your back. You can also fashion your own dibbers and gadgets
  • A two wheeled barrow is lighter for pushing than a traditional one wheeler.
  • Use large pots and containers to reduce watering and put them on casters for moving around.

Book Cover
The Illustrated Practical Guide to Gardening for Seniors: How to Maintain Your Outside Space with Ease Into Retirement and Beyond by Patty Cassidy from Amazon

Easier Gardening as You Age

  • This new American book shows how easy it is for seniors to carry on gardening, into and way beyond retirement.
  • It looks at different kinds of homes and the gardens they provide, assessing the location, local climate and soil type and evaluating problems such as arthritis and loss of balance.
  • The book also outlines the importance of taking care of your body, summarizing the safety issues, what to wear, warm-up exercises and equipment to make the garden easy to access for unsteady feet or wheelchairs.
  • Included is a directory that profiles the many planting choices available, each with a difficulty rating and a hardiness category.
  • Gardening for Seniors is packed with projects, garden plans and step-by-step sequences.
  • Easier gardening will appeal to active gardeners in their early retirement through to those with more limited abilities, showing how, by adapting garden activities and the tools employed, the joy of gardening will remain undiminished.

Plants and Planting as You Age

  • Avoid fast growing shrubs that need pruning and regular spraying. I prefer small rhododendrons to roses for this reason.
  • Aim at your senses placing plants where you will get the best reaction from those you have in full working order.
  • Design and implement your gardening to impress others and they will stop and talk. Easier gardening can still recognise you are up for a challenge despite your age

Himalayan Gardens in Yorkshire

In Yorkshire we are lucky to have several gardens designed using the theme of a Himalayan Garden. Near Ripon at Grewlthorpe is   ‘The Himalayan Garden’ with all the plants you would expect in such a setting including

Rhododendrons both Hybrid and Species over 50 varieties
Evergreen and Deciduous Azaleas
Eucryphia varieties growing 10′ – 30′ as trees and large shrubs
Magnolias and Camellias
Primulas and Meconopsis
Himalayan garden Grewelthorpe Meconopsis7
Visit between April and June for the best colour display.
Continue Reading →


Funs, Puns, Quips and Snips for gardeners

Gardening is no Laughing matter, the joke is usually on the gardener

Naughty Gardeners Quips
There was a young man from Australia
on his bottom he painted a dahlia
the heat of the ball
caused the petals to fall
and the scent was a bit of a failure

What is long and thin, covered in skin,
red in parts and goes in tarts?

‘I think the answer lies in the soil’ Arthur Fallowfield the man who put the sex in Sussex but left Scunthorpe alone.

Clean Gardeners (I don’t believe it)
What is the difference between bogies and broccoli? Kids wont eat broccoli

The snowman asked can you smell carrots?
Does okra come from Okrahoma
What is a vampire’s favorite fruit? A: A neck-tarine
What is orange and sounds like a parrot? a carrot

The older the better unless you are a banana
Are 2 banana skins a pair of slipper
What is green in the morning, yellow in the afternoon and brown in the evening? another banana

Going to the Flicks
Who framed Roger Raddish,
20,000 leeks under the sea,
Butch celery and the sunflower kid,
The lawn ranger,
Quatermass and the Pip,
The magnificent five-a-day,
Snow White and the 7 Dwarfbeans,
Rocky soil II,


Garden Jargon & Terms

Top Topiary

What is a Tree or Shrub

There are no hard and fast horticultural rules for these perennial plants. Trees are generally larger than shrubs and bushes.

  • A tree is a woody plant that produces a single trunk and an elevated head of branches. Small trees are defined in the UK as 15-30 feet tall whilst large trees are over 60 feet tall.
  • A shrub is a woody plant which branches from the base or near the ground with no obvious trunk hence the term shrubbery.  Large shrubs are over 10′ but less than 15′,  medium 6-10′, small 3-5′ and dwarf and prostrate under 2′.
  • A bush is a shrub with stems of moderate length and is smaller or more compact than a shrub. Common parlance has currants, gooseberries and roses as bushes
  • Cordons, Espalier, Pyramids and Fans are tree or shrub shapes created by training and pruning.Topiary is pruning and shaping to a shape of the gardeners chosing.

Colour bed

What is an Herbaceous Plant Continue Reading →


Monkey Puzzle Tree


This is the end of a branch can you tell what tree it is from? Well not much of a puzzle to monkey around with. With sharp edged and pointed leaves of the Monkey Puzzle Tree would impale and slice the most careful monkey that was trying to climb its branches.

Facts about Monkey Puzzle Trees

  • It grows slowly when young and picks up speed when older. It can reach 120 feet tall and become quite wide so isn’t a long term proposition for a small garden.
  • It can’t be pruned successfully as its sculptural shape is the key reason for growing the tree. Continue Reading →

Drought or Flood in your Garden

What sort of summer are you expecting. The probability is that there will be no extremes but the danger of flood or drought is always around for gardeners.

Dry garden

All the weathermen seem to be forecasting further drought conditions for the summer of 2012. Gardeners should therefore be prepared for flood!

Drought Preparations

  • There is a flood of advice from government and the government in exile ie. newspapers and media. eg. plant trees for shade and wait 100 years for them to grow.
  • Val Bourne at the Daily Telegraph suggests ‘puddling in’ when planting out your brassicas and leeks and this strikes me as a good use of water. It just means filling the planting hole with water just before you pop your plant in.
  • Another Val tip is to stand watering cans of tap water around the garden until the sun’s warmth has evaporated the chlorine away.
  • Carrots and parsnips naturally grow in drier sandy soil and grow longer in seeking out water. Try several varieties if you like these vegetables.


Flood Preparations

  • Be prepared to catch what water you may need in butts, barrels and ponds.
  • If your ground is liable to waterlogging either restrict the plants you grow or improve the drainage.
  • Minor drainage improvements can be achieved with added grit, sand and gravel
  • Major drainage improvements may include a deep soak-away or a perforated drainage system.

The Low-water No-water Garden: Gardening for Drought and Heat the Mediterranean Way – A Practical Guide with 500 Stunning Colour Photographs by Pattie Barron available from amazon

Managing the Wet Garden:
Plants That Flourish in Problem Places by John Simmons available from Amazon
Dry garden by foliosus CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Flood by itspaulkelly CC BY-NC 2.0


Growing Echeveria a Succulent Succulent

Echeveria Glauca has fleshy curving lobes in a geometric arrangement. As you may expect the lobes or leaves are blue-grey in colour. The delicate  flowers in summer are white and extend from the base of the plant. They grow 3″ tall and need free draining soil in full sun or partial shade. The rosettes spread by the addition of new rosettes forming a circular mound. Plant 6 ” apart.

Echeveria Elegans has pink arching stems that produce dainty, yellow-tipped, red flowers. The dense rosettes of blueish white, fleshy leaves are often red tinged. They grow 2″ tall but spread more rapidly than Glauca so need to be planted 16″ apart.

Echeveria are often used in carpet bedding and floral clocks
Echeveria are generally rosette forming succulents.

Most Echeveria can be easily propagated from leaf cuttings or offsets To propagate a leaf cutting, place the individual leaf in a succulent or cacti mix and cover the dish until the new plant sprouts.

Yorkshire Echiveria

What would you call a shop in a courtyard that sells plants and pots? In Otley Yorkshire you would call it Courtyard Planters. Years ago you may have called it the stable yard for the Half Moon Inn.

Most of the planters have very few eco-miles on the clock as the Terracotta pots are from Barnsley Yorkshire, the earthenware salt glazed pots are made in Northumberland. Unfortunately the Oak Barrels come from an other country – Scotland to be precise where they used to mature whiskey.

At the weekend I bought a couple of plants including a Dianthus Neon Star that shone out to me in the shade of the courtyard. The other plant was an Echeveria elegans with lots of extra rosettes of succulent foliage. I thought I would take the offsets and grow them as cuttings but forgot they were quite tender. Still, if I am successful I will find somewhere to over winter them.
If not Chiltern Seeds generally stock mixed Echeveria seeds that ‘mostly have fleshy leaves forming rosettes of a wide assortment of attractive, geometric designs in a range of colours from green through grey to almost white, often with markings in contrasting shades.’

Courtyard planters do not sell mail order that is not the type of gardeners they are but if you visit Otley look them up. If you are near Otley they offer free delivery.



Books you can’t buy from Amazon

These gardening books are just crying out to be written so we suggest some titles and authors.

Do not smoke your grass by Mary Wana

Turn your MP into Compost by Pete Substitute

Money saving tips add up by Alice Summ

Trollius, Yaks and other plant transportation by Dick van Bike


Daisies can be Yellow

Book Cover

Daisies are a large group of flowering plants under the family name Compositae. Included in the daisy family are well known groups such as Rudbeckia, Osteospernum, Helianthus, Coreopsis, Helenium even the cornflower and Globe Thistle.The Compositaes (Asteracea) are recognisable through their compound blooms consisting of many tiny flowers. A daisy has a yellow “core” of 200 disc florets, surrounded by 50 marginal, white ray florets with a conspicuous limb (these are the petals also called ligules). A single daisy “flower” contains about 250 separate flowers! Each central floret, a flower in its own right, has a style, anthers, corolla, pappus and ovary. The Daisy is one of the “core families” on which research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew concentrates.

Perennial Yellow Daisies

The RHS produced a bulletin on this subject and an interesting pdf can be down loaded. Continue Reading →


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