Lockdown Gardening Newsletters

By | June 18, 2020

During this time of various levels of social distancing,  Gardening Group has been sending out excellent newsletters to the regular members of the group via email.

November 2020

Hello everyone. We hope you are keeping well, it’s disappointing that we are still not able to plan future meetings of the group but rest assured that as soon as it becomes possible we are ready and willing to restart the garden group and we hope you will wish to continue to enjoy the group. 

Now that the nights are drawing in and the weather is getting colder and wetter there is still plenty to do in the garden. I expect many of you are keeping busy with cutting back and tidying up. Pam has been very busy planting lots of seeds in the greenhouse, Helen has been taking cuttings of pelargoniums and salvias. Now is a good time to sow sweet peas, winter salad leaves and broad beans. It will soon be time to lift dahlias (after the first frost) although as long as it isn’t arctic conditions I have found they will survive being left in, particularly, with a good layer of mulch. 


Pruning and Tidying

  • Prune your roses. Cut off most of the year’s growth and take out large woody stems. 
  • Cut peonies back to promote healthy growth next spring.
  • Cut back and tidy borders and make a note of any changes, additions or divisions you wish to make next spring whilst the thought is fresh in your mind, as it’s hard to remember back to how it looked once spring comes around.
  • Divide perennials that flower before midsummer’s day, such as oriental poppies, peonies and lupins, as well as spring-flowering hellebores, pulmonarias and Solomon’s seal. Dig up, divide and replant straight away. Perennials that flower after midsummer are best divided in the spring – that’s a good general rule.

Salad and herbs

  • Sow boxes of salad leaves and hardy herbs  for putting right outside your kitchen door.
  • Pot up leafy herbs to bring inside on a windowsill and use in winter.

Answers to the quiz from the June Newsletter

  1. Busy Lizzie
  2. Transplant seedlings and small plants
  3. Venus Flytrap
  4. Tomato
  5. Mushroom
  6. Pistil
  7. Orange
  8. Staple food for Reindeers
  9. Roses
  10. Shamrock

Next quiz

  1.  Which part of the tree can be used to make cork
  2. What is the largest and tallest tree in the world
  3. What general term is used to describe those trees whose leaves fall in the winter
  4. Which tissue beneath the bark of trees forms wood
  5. Where in the flowering plant does the male gamete come from
  6. Which cereal must be grown in water
  7. What grain is used to make semolina
  8. Which part of the flower becomes the fruit
  9. Which part of a flowering plant is often used to make oil
  10. What is the name of the technique of clipping trees and hedges


  • What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter:  PUMPKIN PI
  • ‘Plant and your spouse plants with you – weed and you weed alone’
  • When weeding the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant . If it comes out of the ground easily it is a valuable plant.
  • The flower that smells the sweetest is shy and lowly –William Wordsworth

June 2020

Hello Everyone.  I do hope that you are all staying safe and well and enjoying your garden or outdoor spaces. Thank you to everyone who has emailed with comments or photos, good to hear from you. I hope you all enjoyed the quiz in the last email, here are the answers to that one and a new quiz for this month.


Copper beach(beech)
Par snips
Weeping willow
Sweet William and Stinking Willy (oh dear)
Giant Hogweed

This month’s quiz:

1. What is the popular name for the flowering houseplant Impatiens Walleriana?
2. What would a gardener do with a dibber or dibble?
3. Charles Darwin described this carnivorous plant ? the most wonderful plant in the world?. What is the name of this plant?
4. The love apple is the original name for what?
5. The Death Cap is the most poisonous variety of what?
6. What is the name given to the female reproductive organ of a flower?
7. A Kumquat is a small Japanese variety of what sort of fruit?
8. Why is reindeer Moss so called?
9. Harry Wheatcroft was a renowned breeder of what?
10. What is the name of the 3 leafed clover associated with St Patrick?s day?

Answers to be revealed next month.

A Few Jobs to do now:

Hostas are looking great now, benefitting from the winter & spring rain, keep them looking good by being vigilent in your slug prevention & control.

Thin fruitlets on tree fruit, whilst the June Drop is the fruit tree’s natural method of shedding excess fruit, you often need to thin the crop further. Cooking Apples- 1 fruit every 6ins, desert apples to one or two fruits, pears to two fruits every4ins & plums to one fruit every 2ins.  This improves fruit size & quality & as sun & air can penetrate there is even ripening.

Whilst we have had some welcome rain in the last few days, plants in pots, newly planted  & fruit & veg requires consistent & regular watering. Remember, don’t waste water by splashing it onto the leaves, it can cause scorch or mildew, water around the roots. If water is running off very dry soil, create a moat to keep the water in place.

  • Thin out hardy annuals. Be brutal – most of them (cornflowers, nigellas and English Marigolds included) benefit from spacing 30cm (1ft) apart.  Use pea sticks to support taller varieties.
  • Next spring’s biennials, such as wallflowers and honesty, need time to establish. Both can be sown now, direct into a seedbed, spaced a couple of inches apart. Thin in three or four weeks to 30cm (1ft), and transplant to their flowering position in early autumn. If you are short of space these will be perfectly happy in pots in a sheltered spot until the autumn when they can then be planted in their final positions.
  • Deadheading flowers as they go over this month can result in a second flowering.
  • Huge-flowered oriental poppies have finished flowering. Cut everything back to ground level, leaving no foliage standing. Feed mulch and give them a good dousing of water and the new foliage will grow back soon
  • Cut back delphiniums, right to the ground, leaves as well as old flower spikes. If you do this now, almost all plants will give you a second flush.
  • Deadhead roses as often as you can now they’re flowering at full tilt. Snip off their browning heads to a bud or leaf below to help promote the formation of axillary buds, then more flowers will follow. Rambling and climbing roses will be growing rapidly so tie them in regularly as close to the horizontal as possible.
  • At this time of year, stems of mint will produce roots within a week if cut and placed in water. They can then be planted up, ideally in pots to contain their spread.

May 2020

Hello Everyone – I do hope that you are all staying safe and well and enjoying your garden or outdoor spaces. Garden centres are now opening so we can get on with planting up lovely colourful summer baskets and containers. For anyone isolating many are still offering local delivery and online ordering. 

Here are a few contact details: 

Ring o bells Lathom  ringobellsnursery.com 01767 660617

Pimbo Upholland pimbogardencentre.co.uk 01695 622601

Newgate New Longton newgatedirect.co.uk 01772 612336

Hartleys  Aughton hartleysnurseries.co.uk  

Robins Bridge Aughton robinsbridgenursery.co.uk 01695 424037

Warbreck Ormskirk warbreck.co.uk 01695 722960

I hope you all enjoyed the last month’s quiz.  Here are the answers – and a new quiz for this month.

The quiz answers:

  1. Hydrangea
  2. Lavender
  3. Lawn
  4. Hyacinth
  5. Bizzie Lizzie
  6. Sweet William
  7. Forget-me-not
  8. Holly Hock
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Barbie Q
  11. Green house
  12. Hornbeam
  13. Crab apple
  14. Carrot
  15. Cabbage
  16. Dandelion
  17. Swowdrop
  18. Laurel
  19. Forsythia

New Quiz: 

  1. A part of the body
  2. Ribes Niger fruit is
  3. Lonely ladies
  4. Reynards hand warmer
  5. Small change by the sea shore
  6. Fathers like using the shears
  7. A friend of Bill and Ben
  8. If you borrow you…………
  9. What is the common name for salix babylonica?
  10. Which flower’s name comes from the Ancient Greek word for star?
  11. What common name was dianthus barbatus given to honour the Duke of Cumberland’s victory at the Battle of Culloden? And, in contrast, what name do the Scots sometimes call the weed noxious ragwort also in memory of the infamous Duke? (Two answers required)
  12. Which plant, widespread in Britain, if touched causes a serious chemical reaction which makes skin hypersensitive to ultraviolet light?

Answers to be revealed next month.

A Few Jobs to do now:

On dry, sunny days, remove weeds as they germinate with a hoe, you can leave the weed seedlings to shrivel in the sun.

It’s not too late to sow seeds- In the vegetable plot you can sow spring onions, beetroot & lettuce in the gaps between other veg. Herbs like Basil & Coriander, Chives & Flat leaved Parsley can be sown in pots. For the flower borders, it’s a great time to sow quick growing annuals like Cosmos, Nasturtiums, Nigella, Calendula & Cornflowers.

Sow half hardy annual climbers like Morning Glory, Mina Lobata, Black Eyed Suzy.

You can start to take cuttings from Fuchsias, Lavatera & Hydrangeas. Use stem cuttings about 4ins long.

Keep an eye out for Aphids on plants such as Roses, Lupins & fruit trees & combat.

If you haven’t done it already, lightly prune Rosemary (just the top couple of ins)

If your tomatoes are putting up the first truss of flowers – start to feed (High Potash Feed)

April 2020

Hello Everyone. I do hope that you are all staying safe and well and enjoying your garden or outdoor spaces. As we are no longer able to meet I thought of keeping touch – and hopefully have a bit of fun. We all need this in the current situation.

Fun quiz:

1. Conceal the guide.
2. blue dilly,dilly.
3. Material for sundress.
4. Mrs.Bucket.
5. Overworked girl.
6. Sugary Prince.
7. Remember Me.
8. German wine for Ivy’s partner.
9. The shepherds friend and the bakers ingredient.
10. Line up for the dolly.
12. Colourful accommodation.
13. Instrument has roof support.
14. Crustation combines with Adams downfall.
15. Weight of gold.
16. A taxi for an era.
17. A Foppish feline.
18. Cold fall.
19. Stan.
20. This is more than a saga.

Answers to be revealed next month.

Fun quotes

A farmer purchased an old, run-down, abandoned farm with plans to turn it into a thriving enterprise. The fields were grown over with weeds, the farmhouse was falling apart, and the fences were broken down. During his first day of work, the town preacher stops by to bless the man’s work, saying, “May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams!” A few months later, the preacher stops by again to call on the farmer. Lo and behold, it’s a completely different place. The farm house is completely rebuilt and in excellent condition, there is plenty of cattle and other livestock happily munching on feed in well-fenced pens, and the fields are filled with crops planted in neat rows. “Amazing!” the preacher says. “Look what God and you have accomplished together!” “Yes, reverend,” says the farmer, “but remember what the farm was like when God was working it alone!”

God made rainy days, so gardeners could get the housework done.

A toddler who was found chewing on a slug. After the initial surge of disgust the parent said, “Well, what does it taste like?” “Worms,” was the reply.

A Few Jobs to do now

  • Start to direct sow hardy annuals, eg marigolds, poppies, dill, cerinthe, nigella, etc.
  • Harden off seedlings that have been started off indoors on warm still days. Place them outside during the day, but take them in again late afternoon, and do this for about a week or so. This way they will get used to the cooler conditions before being planted outside. Start planting out half-hardies, eg.cosmos, in sheltered spots at end of the month.
  • Pot cuttings of tender perennials, eg. perlagoniums taken late last summer or autumn. They’ll be well rooted now and will benefit from some fresh compost and more space for root formation before planting in their summer position.
  • Plant out sweet peas– two plants to each upright. Dig a good, deep hole and fill the base with farmyard manure. Tie them in to the base of the arch or frame and water them in well.
  • Create new plants from last year’s pelargoniums – take cuttings now and they’ll be ready to be replanted in a couple of months and be in full flower in four
  • Keep on top of the tiny annual weeds emerging with a hoe. Only hoe on dry days – this way any weeds that you hoe will die off and wilt quickly. Run the blade back and forth over the soil to break it up and cut down any of the newly sprouting weeds. You can save so much back-breaking work later on if you do this every other day for a few minutes.
  • Perennials such as bindweed will start to appear big-time now. Dig them out, tracing the roots as far as you can, or train the tip up a bamboo cane and then treat with a suitable weedkiller.
  • Cut back the last of the perennials and lightly fork over the soil carefully without damaging emerging shoot
  • Lavender plants need cutting back now to prevent them from looking sparse. Give the plant a short back and sides with secateurs to snip off old flower stems and shoot tips. Don’t prune hard into old wood, as this will prevent new growth. While you are pruning, shape the plants into domes and remove any leggy or unwanted stems. Give the plants a weekly liquid feed during the summer, to encourage growth
  • Last chance to cut back shrubs, especially those grown for colourful winter stems (eg dogwood or willow). Cut back to buds about knee height, then feed and mulch.

Last Updated on January 17, 2021