Tips for the older gar­dener

Let's Talk - - CONTENT -

Gar­den­ers are a hardy and de­ter­mined bunch. How­ever, de­spite the fact that we may be rea­son­ably sprightly now, the in­evitabil­ity of ag­ing is a nat­u­ral part of life. There’s no need to panic though, as with a bit of care­ful plan­ning, many peo­ple man­age to adapt and keep on gar­den­ing well into older age. It’s cer­tainly worth start­ing to plan as early as you can for a ful­fill­ing, gar­den­ing fu­ture.

Get­ting some­one else to do the heavy jobs is one of the ob­vi­ous an­swers, but not ev­ery­one can af­ford to do that. And find­ing a good pro­fes­sional gar­dener who knows the dif­fer­ence be­tween a weed and a wis­te­ria can be a mine­field. Try ask­ing around and see if any­one you know has found some­one good to help them. As a rule of thumb, in this part of the country you should be pay­ing from around £10 an hour for the ba­sics, to be­tween £15 and £20 an hour for a qual­i­fied, hor­ti­cul­tur­ally trained gar­dener.

Grow­ing in con­tain­ers set at a man­age­able height is the usual rec­om­men­da­tion for those who may have to con­tend with a re­duc­tion in mo­bil­ity, or life in a smaller res­i­dence. Most plants are rea­son­ably adapt­able, as long as you re­mem­ber to wa­ter them reg­u­larly. Clean, used plas­tic milk bot­tles make handy wa­ter­ing cans, and if you still want to use the real thing, plas­tic wa­ter­ing cans are lighter than metal ones.

Reg­u­lar feed­ing will also help con­tainer­ised plants, and it’s a good idea to re­move the top few inches of old com­post ev­ery spring, re­plac­ing it with fresh ma­te­rial. Soil-based com­posts weigh more, but are the best for con­tain­ers, so for plants which are go­ing to spend many years with their roots con­fined, choose a John Innes No 3. For ev­ery­day use, John Innes No 2 will be suf­fi­cient, and can

be mixed with a more gen­eral mul­ti­pur­pose for econ­omy.

Hy­drangeas should do well in pots, as will herbs such as rose­mary, sage, thyme and chives. Even if you are un­able to use herbs for cook­ing, they are easy to grow, and you can let them flower to at­tract bees. Scented plants will add an ex­tra di­men­sion to a con­tainer gar­den too, and laven­der is one of the eas­i­est for a sunny spot, as long as the com­post is free drain­ing. The mag­nif­i­cently per­fumed pur­ple he­liotrope can be added to a sea­sonal dis­play of an­nual bed­ding plants, while in deeper con­tain­ers, you could grow sweet peas on a tri­pod of canes.

We’re al­ways be­ing told that raised beds are a good idea for the less mo­bile gar­dener. They’ll cer­tainly bring things up to a man­age­able work­ing height, and if con­structed from sturdy wooden sleep­ers, will give you some­where to sit and work from too. They aren’t cheap to make, as un­treated sleep­ers (which won’t re­lease tox­ins into the soil) can cost any­thing from £26-£45 each, de­pend­ing on whether you choose pine or oak. As they weigh a ton, bear in mind the cost of de­liv­ery too. You’ll al­most cer­tainly have to buy in some ad­di­tional top­soil and com­post, so all in all, if you’re plan­ning to go down this route, it might be worth start­ing to plan and bud­get now.

On the sub­ject of how many sleep­ers to use, for one bed ap­prox­i­mately 60cms high you’ll need a min­i­mum of six, us­ing half pieces for the ends, so that you can reach the mid­dle of the bed with­out hav­ing to stretch. They should be fixed se­curely to­gether with bolts or metal pins.

There are many tools avail­able to help the de­ter­mined gar­dener. Wolf Garten make a range of light­weight im­ple­ments, and many gar­den cen­tres carry alu­minium han­dled tools too. An ex­cel­lent se­lec­tion of Bri­tish-made tools with arm sup­port cuffs and easy-grip han­dles are avail­able from Peta (01376 573476,

Thrive, the na­tional char­ity which helps peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity to start or con­tinue gar­den­ing has an easy to use web­site(www. carry on gar­den­ing. where you can find ad­vice and sources of rec­om­mended tools for al­most ev­ery gar­den task.

One of the most use­ful pieces of equip­ment for the ma­tur­ingyet-mo­bile gar­dener is a kneeler with han­dles. I’ve been us­ing one of these for years. It dou­bles as a seat, so when I’ve had enough of kneel­ing, I can turn it up­side down and en­joy a well-earned rest.

Pic­ture: Posh Plants

Hy­drangeas should do well in pots.

We are all get­ting older, even us hardy gar­den­ers. But there is no need to panic as Charlotte Philcox ex­plains.

Laven­der will at­tract but­ter­flies and is one of the eas­i­est scented plants to grow

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.