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Category: Gardeners

People who garden for a living or for pleasure including designers, writers, presenters, plant hunters and historic figures.

Gardening for Those Getting On in Years

Gardening for Those Getting On in Years

Expert gardeners may have spent more than half a century developing their skills but you are never to old to start, 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 mobility restrictions like padded kneelers with good handles.

Waterlilies Viewed through my cataracts?

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 lifts less but will not over tax the muscles and still get most jobs done at a steady pace. Mud wont get claggy and stick the blade so you only lift it once.
  • I have very useful smaller 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 or better still leave them in a permanent spot.

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 above 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 by placing plants where you will get the most reaction from those you still have in full working order.
  • Design and implement your gardening to impress others and they will stop and talk.
  • Cajole a relative or pay someone to do the heavy yards (landscaping, tree lopping, hedge trimming or whatever you struggle with).
  • If all is failing grow indoor plants even resort to cacti
Georg Adalbert Arends Old German Plantsman

Georg Adalbert Arends Old German Plantsman

Georg Arends was a German nurseryman who bred many perennial plants. His business was successful until the second world war and has been regenerated to be one of the oldest in Europe. It still remains within the Arends family.

Among over 300 plants that Georg bred are included ‘Arendsii’ versions of Aconitum, Arabis, Phlox and Hosta sieboldiana. He also specialised in Bergenia breeding ‘Abendglocken’, ‘Morgenrote’ and the white flowered ‘Silberlicht’. (I was told Bergenia were called Elephant plants because an elephant could stamp on them and they would survive. However a more popular name is Elephant Ears after the leaves.)

One of Georg’s favourite Berginia (wiki)

Rhododendron ‘Georg Arends’ was named after him. Dobbies say that it forms ‘A spectacular evergreen shrub that produces masses of large bright red flowers in mid May, up to 7.5cm in diameter, on a round shaped and bushy plant with dark green foliage.’

David Austin sells an old rose called Georg Arends which he claims it is ‘A good shrub with large, rose pink blooms of perfect Hybrid Tea shape; the petals curling back at the edges in a most beautiful manner. Deliciously fragrant. Recurrent flowering’.

A recent article in the Financial Times celebrates 130 years of Georg’s nursery business – I wish I had plants that lived a tenth as long.

Grandchildren and Gardening

Grandchildren and Gardening

Book Cover

Gardeners are keen on offspring in the garden when they come from their own propagation. That may not always be the case with grandchildren except in controlled circumstance.
Grandma saw a youngster eating a slug and rather than be critical asked ‘what does that taste like?’ After a pause the kid replied ‘worms’.

Safety of Children in the Garden

  • You can be too prescriptive about musts and don’ts. Commonsense is crucial and grandparents can help teach that to the kids.
  • Garden tools can be very sharp and need to be used correctly, carefully and kept under your supervision.
  • I am prone to leaving items in the garden to trip over and rakes can jump up and hit the unsuspecting. Now grandkids are visiting I am tidying up before after and during the visits.
  • Learning by experience will cover stinging nettles, irritating sap, prickly roses and some other plants to avoid. A warning or two (hundred that is) will still fall on deaf ears – I still get stung and pricked!
  • Not everything belongs in a child’s mouth but  most plant matter will not cause too much harm. However look out for poisonous seeds, Laburnum, Monkshood and anything you grow that you know to avoid eating.
  • Water is seductive and ponds dangerous. I know you will put up protection near open water and remember water and electric tools don’t mix

Keeping Grandchildren Amused

  • If you get rostered into child minding on a regular basis it is worth setting up regular garden related tasks the kids can get involved with.
  • Get them kitted out with waterproof clothes.
  • Don’t push too hard it may put off the next generation of Throwers and Titchmarshes. We may find routine gardening fun but kids may need a bit extra and activity changes every 20 minutes or so.
  • Gardening has lessons for all of us and the kids have a lot to learn from you and your garden or open air classroom.
  • There are lots of lists of easy to grow plants from large easy to handle seeds like sunflowers, Peas and beans but they take ages (eons in kid time) to show life much less crop. The old standby mustard and cress are more reliable.
  • Plant pots, containers, baskets and boxes are all small areas where kids can have there own ‘patch’ so to speak.


Perennial Begging

Perennial Begging

The Gardeners’ Charity is registered with the charity commission as no.1155156 – GARDENERS’ ROYAL BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. Most gardeners know it as ‘Perennial’. As befits a charity that has been helping horticultural workers for over 175 years it has built up some sizable reserves £43m plus 19 premises and two gardens at the last count. Rather a lot of investments to fund annual payments of only £3.6m or circa 80% of annual income from donations, trading and legacies. (Figures for 2016 are awaited.)

Flush with cash reserves and a conservative spending policy, poor gardeners and horticultural workers should be able to feel some comfort. In a recent mailing I was solicited to donate £25, £50 or £100 in addition to supporting the (expensive) product catalogue. This request wont germinate and bear fruit with me until they are more down to earth and do more for the horticultural workers and families.

The objects of the charity are
1.1.1 the relief and assistance by such means as the trustees shall determine to be appropriate in each case of gardeners or persons who are or who have been in like employment or occupation of those closely involved in gardening or related activities or those training to be gardeners or persons of like occupation and their spouses or widows/widowers or unmarried partners and/or immediate dependants in necessitous circumstances or in circumstances of poverty, illness, disability (whether mental or physical) or old age; and /or
1.1.2 the advancement for the public benefit of education and training in or relating to horticulture or gardening; and/or
1.1.3 the provision, maintenance or assistance in the provision and maintenance of gardens and open space for training, rehabilitation and other charitable purposes for public benefit and in particular the preservation and maintenance of gardens of historic and/or aesthetic importance to be enjoyed by and made available to the public at large;This can include debt advice and financial support to people employed in or retired from the horticultural industry who find themselves in difficulties arising from financial difficulties, ill health, disability, or old age.

The charity employed 38 staff and over 200 volunteers at December 2015.

Gardeners Quotes

Gardeners Quotes

I may be a bore at parties and barbeques  but I do know how to get rid of slugs. ed.

public flower bed

Gardeners can appear to be a taciturn bunch but they have a dry sense of humus.
‘A tough looking man came and took our garden gate when he thought nobody was looking. Well I thought it best not to say anything as he might take a fence.’

Gardeners Quotes

‘It should be the gardeners aim to provide ideal conditions for his plants so that they can flourish to the limit of their capacity.’

‘A gardener needs to be an intelligent being rather than just a robot.’ Derek Clifford

‘It is important that the grower acquaints them-self with each species’ natural habitat to enable a good pot grown specimen to be produced.’ Jan Taylor Geraniums and Pelargoniums.

‘Years ago, nearly every garden had a patch of Lily of the Valley that flowered year after year.’ Adam the Gardener

‘Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.’ Lou Erickson

‘In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.’ Sam Llewelyn

‘What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.’ Charles Dudley Warner

‘A garden is a thing of beauty and a job for ever.’

‘There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.’ Mirabel Osler

‘Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get’ – Mark Twain

‘Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.’

‘Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.’

‘Canny guerrilla gardeners help their plants along and sell their crop giving them the opportunity to invest in new plants and material’. Richard Reynolds On Guerrilla Gardening

‘Keep Calm and Carry on Gardening’

Gardeners Tips Links

Capability Brown Landscape Gardener

Capability Brown Landscape Gardener

Lancelot Brown 1716 – 1783

Lancelot Brown is the most famous gardener who popularised English landscape design. Lancelot Brown’s nickname ‘Capability’ came from his saying about an estate he was commissioned to work on ‘It has great capabilities’ .

During his life he was Sheriff of Huntingdon, gardener to King George III, architect and innovator of ‘Landskip’ gardening. At the age of 24 he went to Lord Cobhams garden at Stowe where he learnt from William Kent who had studies Italian and Grecian gardens and John Vanbrugh. In 1764 Lancelot Brown was appointed Master Gardener at Hampton Court.

Lancelot Brown described himself as a ‘place-maker’ not a ‘landscape gardener’. He didn’t want a series of tableaux within a garden, he wanted a piece of countryside. Formality and straight lines had to go and to avoid fences he created the Ha-ha a sunken version. Flowers were cosigned to walled gardens and trees imported to suit his design.

Some of his designs were elaborate and involved changing hills and lakes and some thought them lavish. After his death the strong vision he had carried through in his work fell out of favour and only in the last century was he fully rehabilitated.

Capability Brown is believed to be responsible for over 170 gardens surrounding the finest country houses and estates in Britain. He never worked in Ireland saying ‘he hadn’t finished England yet. His work still endures at Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Harewood House, Milton Abbey and below is a further edited list of his work. Get out and visit some of these 18th century landscapes:-

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Russell Lupin and Lupin Origins

Russell Lupin and Lupin Origins

Rustle up some space for Lupins a grand perennial favourite.

Photo cc by Magnio

Originally Lupins (Lupinus polyphyllus) were introduced into Britain from North America in 1826. They had the blue flowered spikes we occasionally saw on railway embankments with some whiter flowers. Fast forward to 1937 and the RHS awarded its highest honour to a ‘ jobbing gardener’ George Russell for developing a strain of Lupins that caused a sensation.

Photo CC  by Thor Thorson 1

Russell developed his Lupins by rigorous selection of seedlings, aiming and achieving a central stalk or spike totally obscured by colourful flowers. Many of us would cut back Lupins after flowering to prevent the setting of seed and weakening the plant, but to George Russell that was the opposite of his intent.

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Top Ten Plant Hunters

Top Ten Plant Hunters

Another top ten list this time of top ten plant hunters.
Book Cover

Carl Linnaeus is known as the father of taxonomy

Sir Joseph Banks possibly the father of Kew accompanied Captain Cook on HMS Endeavour’s voyage to the South Pacific (1768-1771), was involved with the HMS Bounty and breadfruit and many early plant hunts. He was appointed as a of Kew Gardens by George III in 1773. A Joseph Banks Tribute Garden has been established in Lincolnshire which is now part of the National Gardens scheme. Many plants are now named Banksii as a tribute to his collecting, introducing and organising the Plant Hunting of the 18th century.

William Lobb and his brother Thomas Lobb were prolific plant hunters in the Georgian and Victorian era when new plant introductions were in great demand. South America was the terratory where they collected many trees and species for Veitch the nursery.

George Forrest, 1873 – 1932 was a Scot who collected Rhododendron forrestii, R. sinogrande, R. repens, R. griersonianum, R. intricatum and R. giganteum, as well as more than 50 species of primula. Also introduced were numerous buddleias, anemones, asters, deutzias, conifers, berberis, alliums and cotoneasters and plants that now bear his name including Pleione forrestii, Pieris forrestii, Iris forrestii, Acer forrestii.

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Who is Growing in Your Garden?

Who is Growing in Your Garden?

Flower varieties are often named after famous personages – Queen Elisabeth is probably one of the best known. Her is just a selection of others.

Terry Wogan,  King Edward VII, Charlies Angels, Alan Titchmarsh and Charles Unwin all have had Sweet Peas named after them and that is a lot easier to say than Lathyrus Odoratus. So surprise your neighbours with a patch of Terry Wogans or 3 Charlies Angels.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Esther Read’  now referred to like many Shasta Daisies just as Esther Read was first grown from a stolen railway embankment as a single daisy crossed with the bigger Chrysanthemum maximum by Horace Read. The Read family were plantsmen for over 200 years but it was in 1931 that this plant of it’s time was exhibited. Now the name is eponymous although the original cultivar is seldom available you may have an Esther Read derivative in your garden.

John Baggensen was brought up in his family nurseries in Cardiff and Pembury Kent before introducing a widely used honeysuckle Lonicera nitada ‘Baggensen’s Gold’.

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Slower Gardening 2013

Slower Gardening 2013

Old Cottonwood Tree

Five years ago I recommended taking gardening at a steady pace, I could have called it slower gardening. Shortly I will give some tips on slower gardening but as a reminder some oak, conifers and other trees come into their own when they are 1000 years old.
how old are yew?

Who Are Slower Gardeners

A slower gardener has infinite patience and may be of any age and from any sex.

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