Gardening Editor Ruth Hayes is self-isolating - but very thankful to have the garden to escape to in these strangest of times

So, we’re a week into lockdown – how is it going for you? I’m not finding it too bad because I work from home three days a week usually (the other two days are spent in the AG office in Farnborough) so I’m used to the four wall of the spare room that doubles as an ‘office’.

We also have a decent-sized garden which is an absolute blessing because we can get out and take our minds off the current situation by having a potter around the borders and in the greenhouse.

There is something massively therapeutic about getting out, getting dirty and getting things to grow. And yes, I am talking about gardening!

Take weeding for instance. If you only do it every so often the weeds build up and clearing the soil becomes an abominable chore that ends up with frayed tempers and bad backs.

weed, weeding, borders, roots

Make sure you get every bit of the root out when removing perennial weeds (dandelion etc) as they will rejenerate from the smallest scrap left behind

But run a sharpened hoe through the soil every few days and voila – no weeds with the minimum of effort.


Pruning is another favourite of mine and this morning I tackled our winter jasmine, which flowered fantastically over the colder months but now needs a haircut to keep it in shape and encourage it to produce more of its glorious yellow pops of colour next winter.

It’s an easy job – simply remove weak, dead and damaged stems and cut the flowered ones back to a pair of healthy buds. Afterwards, fork some Vitax Q4 or blood, fish and bone into the soil around the roots, water it in and mulch generously.

Pruning, stem, secateurs, winter, jasmine, buds, growth

Prune your winter jasmine stems back to a pair of healthy buds

The best thing of all about pruning is it works! We have a young pear tree bought for a fiver from a budget supermarket a few years back. It has grown well and produces plenty of leaves but hardy any blossom and no pears.


Until this year. Last winter I cut it back hard, then fed and mulched it and this spring it has repaid my work with abundant blossom with the possibility of a fruitful autumn ahead.

Pear, blossom, flowers, spring, fragrant, prune, pruning, feeding, fertiliser

After a hard prune in winter, our ‘Conference’ pear is blossoming beautifully

I just hope these past few frosty nights and chill winds don’t do for the flowers – fingers crossed!

We are here for you

Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello – we will get back to you as soon as we can.


Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’ our posts and say hello – the Instagram feed is in it’s really early days so the quicker we can get that going with your help and support, the better!

You can find us at:




And while you’re there, give someone you know or love a call. They might be feeling low and lonely and hearing from you will make their day.

Have a great weekend, happy gardening!





If there’s something you would like me to talk about, just email us at. And don’t forget to let us know what you are doing and how you are coping; send us your thoughts and pictures and we will put them online and in the magazine. You can purchase individual copies of Amateur Gardening magazine without having to leave your home simply go to or of course you can take out a subscription and never miss an issue! Subscribe here.

Stay safe everyone out there and come back to the blog for more advice over the coming days and weeks.