Wenvoe Wildlife Group

Wenvoe Wildlife Group


If you are interested in wildlife in and around Wenvoe keep an eye on our Facebook page ‘Wenvoe Wildlife’. We can no longer post to our original page ‘Wenvoe Wildlife Group’ but you can still look at the site where there are many years of posts. All new posts are on the new page. We continue to support the school wildlife patch and plan to install more planters and a small, guarded pond in the coming months. Anyone who would like to help with this project, please contact the Wildlife group – sometimes just 10 minutes of your time every now and again can make a difference.

We have mentioned in the past that we have just one Mistletoe growing in the village as far as we know and there are only two live plants on record in the county. If you have a mature apple tree and would like to try out germinating some berries, contact the Wildlife group as we shall have a limited number of berries you can use this Autumn. We are also planning to do our own simplified version of the Big Garden Birdwatch which takes place at the end of January which will enable us to find what birds are doing well or not so well in Wenvoe. Watch this space for more information


Tips To Make More Of Your Garden


Tips to make more of your garden

By folk visiting the Wenvoe village show.

  1. Reuse your grow bags by taking the top off and growing late salad crops.
  2. After harvesting cabbage cut a cross in the remaining stump and, as if by magic, you will get another crop.
  3. If you want gardening gifts for Christmas, make sure you write a list, or you’ll get underpants.
  4. Never plant bulbs too shallow; the deeper the better.
  5. Old compost makes for a good mulch.
  6. Don’t bother taking a cuppa into the garden, it will without doubt be cold before you drink it.
  7. Get a mushroom kit; you can’t fail and you’ll have something to enter in the show next year.
  8. If your neighbour has a leaf blower, be prepared to do a lot of raking.
  9. Just had a tetanus jab at A&E; make sure you keep this jab up to date and a First Aid kit handy.
  10. £3 for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake and someone to talk to! When’s the next show?!


Thanks to Bernard’s chivvying, a lot of allotment folk entered the show and put their reputation on the line. Veg gardeners will be picking the last of their spring sown produce now and filling the compost bins with the waste. Any bare ground will have broad beans, onion sets and garlic planted and other bare patches will be covered to stop soil erosion and prevent weeds finding a good home. Another idea to think about is planting one of the many green manures you can buy. You just let them grow and then dig them in, sounds easy but it is a bit of work.

Trying to garden by reading the gardening magazines is so blooming difficult as there is a couple of weeks difference between the south and north of the country.

We had a friend who moved from Somerset to Aberdeen and could never grow a runner bean. As soon as it came into flower the first frosts got it. Down South we are tempted to plant early but it rarely works. A little more patience would save us a lot of wasted time and money. Like a fool I was tempted by the rows of delightful plants that had not sensed a breath of wind or cold until I got them home. Plants you buy now for the Autumn will need some protection from the elements before you plant out. They recommend at least 2 weeks of care before planting in their final position.

With cost a major factor in gardening, it is beneficial to try and store plants over winter. This is not easy as last winter proved, when pelargoniums perished in green houses even with bubble wrap insulation. You need to make sure there are no draughts. A friend recommended that begonia tubers should be thoroughly dried and then put in kiln dried sand to over Winter. This has worked for me over the past few years.

If you still have daffodil bulbs to plant, don’t delay as the sooner they go in the better.

Take care and happy gardening

Looking For Medlars

Looking For Medlars

There was a post recently on Facebook, not local, where someone mentioned they had been looking for Medlars for 6 years. They should have come to Wenvoe where we have 6 trees all covered with fruit in 4 of our Community Orchards! Once very popular in Britain, they are now unfamiliar to most but are staging a bit of a revival.

Medlars are related to apples and are very easy to grow. All of those planted by the Wildlife Group have taken and are growing well with fruit appearing after a couple of years. They are self-pollinating with large white flowers in late Spring. The fruit are small and hard and ideally should be left until the first frosts have ‘bletted’ or softened them. They can be used to make a fragrant amber jelly, as an accompaniment to cheese or cold meats or in a sweet dessert. Look online for different recipes.

Common names for the Medlar are a bit too vulgar to be quoted here but the French call it ‘cul de chien’. It appears often in literature with the suggestion it is ‘beautiful, bawdy and rotten’. Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dekker all referred to it but one of the earliest mentions is by Theophrastus, a Greek naturalist and philosopher in 300BC.

As the RHS say – Steeped in history, easy to grow, and with stunning foliage, medlars are superb trees to grow, offering you a supply of vitamin-rich fruit to see you through the winter months.


Tips from Residents of the Old Rectory et al.


Tips from Residents of the Old Rectory et al.

Old Rectory

1. Plant garlic now, it’s supposed to increase the flavour by sowing in the Autumn.

2. Keep the lawns clear of leaves, tedious but necessary.

3. Be sure to open greenhouse door on nice days to increase air flow.

4. Ripen any green tomatoes by putting on a sunny windowsill.

5. Take extra care outside this time of year, as surfaces will be slippery.

Lawn care tips from Ray Darlington

  1. Aerate the lawn either by machine or just by forking over.
  2. Sweep up worm casts as they make perfect areas for weeds to settle.
  3. Raise the cutting height on mower if the grass still needs mowing.
  4. Tidy up the edging, it will make the garden look neater.
  5. If you’re considering adding a flower bed to the lawn, now is the time to start. Just turn the turf over so no grass is showing, and it will die off leaving a good base for Spring planting.

November can be an unforgiving month, which can seem worse with the garden devoid of bright colours except for some berries which will soon be eaten by the birds. Keeping things tidy in the garden can make things easier on the eye. There is always something to be done outside, whether it’s moving shrubs, cutting back or thinning out clumps of grasses. It can be be quite hard to get motivated but once outside the mood changes. A little effort now will make a big difference when Spring comes round.

It’s not often garden centres have bargains but at this time of year seed packets are on offer, just be sure you remember where you put them for safe keeping. The large garden centre in St Mellons has a dedicated area for cheap plants and there are some good offers, if you have room to look after them. Bare root shrubs are available from now until March online and there are big savings to be had compared to pot grown specimens.

Apologies if I’ve mentioned this before, we seem to be under the cosh from the box tree caterpillar. This pest has only been in the UK since 2007; it was first found in the southeast of England it has since spread across the UK. They are difficult to get rid of and can survive the winter months. This caterpillar will ruin box hedging and bushes if you don’t catch it early and treat throughout the year. Dyffryn Gardens has taken loads out and will not be replacing as it is so destructive. This pest is not going away so unless you are prepared to fight against it, don’t purchase.

Lighting a bonfire? Please check for hibernating hedgehogs, I’ve been told by some of the older residents that they’re nice roasted, but only in foil with seasoning.

Take care and happy gardening


Some Depressing Reading

Some Depressing Reading

The recent national State of Nature report makes some depressing reading as the following stats indicate

  • Across the UK species studied have declined on average by 19% since 1970
  • Farmland bird species in the UK have, on average, seen their numbers fall by more than a half since 1970
  • Invertebrate species are found in 13% fewer places now than in 1970. There have been strong declines in some insect groups with important roles, such as pollinators like bees and hoverflies
  • More than half of the plants in Great Britain have been lost from areas where they used to thrive
  • Only one in seven (14%) of the UK’s important habitats for wildlife were found to be in good condition

A quick look around Wenvoe will confirm that the same is happening to us. Several fields around the village have been turned over to housing and more are threatened with development. On an individual basis lawns are being replaced with artificial turf and front gardens are being slabbed or bricked over. Trees are being cut down and not replaced and ponds filled in.

But commentators suggest we can do something to help. We can put up nest boxes for birds, bee hotels and bat boxes. We can feed the birds and plant some wildflowers and pollinator-friendly shrubs and trees. Put in a pond – one we know of cost 70p and took up just 20 by 20 cms of garden space. Open compost heaps, log and stone piles, even piles of leaves can help everything from hedgehogs to slow worms. We may never hear the cuckoo again in the village – it was a regular visitor here just 30 years ago – but we might be able to help stop the decline of some of our valuable wildlife.


Clearing The Path To The Playing Fields


Clearing The Path To The Playing Fields

A lovely October morning spurred on most of the team while clearing the path to the playing fields. New member Mark got stuck in along with Ian, Alan and Ieuan. Gareth on the other hand was coming to terms with being eighty in a few weeks and couldn’t settle to anything. He spent his time asking the team what they might buy him for his birthday. When the clerk of works checked on their progress later, she was impressed and couldn’t believe that 41/2 men had accomplished so much in such a short time.

The village elders have asked if the team could turn out on the 6th November to tidy up around the memorial before Remembrance Sunday. As we have some war babies in the team I’m sure that won’t be a problem

The School Nature Club

Wenvoe Wildlife Group

The School Nature Club continues to flourish. This month they learned to identify Horse Chestnut which gives us Conkers and distinguish them from Sweet Chestnut which we love to roast. They assembled two more planters and will be filling them with Bee-friendly shrubs such as Escallonia, Mahonia, Caryopteris and Salvia in the Spring as well as sowing seed of Limnanthes, the Poached Egg plant. Vegetation cutting is expected any time on the Upper Orchid Field, Community Orchard and Cae Ysbyty but is weather-dependent. Ian Moody and other volunteers turn up once a month to help with manual maintenance on the Upper Orchid Field – why not wander up and join them? Third Monday in the month or check this newsletter for date and time. Do you have a mature apple tree and want to try getting Mistletoe to grow on it? If so, contact the Willdlife Group.




A Busy Wenvoe Womble

On an overcast morning the team set about clearing the entrance to Pound Lane. Having an older workforce means we get a local history lesson from a time when everything was in black & white. Hospital, doctors and clinic appointments leave us short staffed on times so the silver foxes recruitment agency promised to send along their youngest member Alex Cooper but he is bedridden on account of getting a blister trying to remove an unfranked stamp from an envelope he’d found. The team completed the work and big John asked if the men could finish early because of the effort they’d put in.

We were due to cut the long grass on the footpath to the sports field next month but the last time we did that Gareth Sing-Song got lost and was only found when the last bit was cut. So we will regroup at the entrance to Clos Llanfair 11th September at 9.30.

We wish Jonathan a speedy recovery, we’re missing you.



Wenvoe Wildlife Group

The weather has not been kind to our conservation work but thanks to some of our observant residents we continue to record species which have not previously been registered in the Parish. An example is the Mint Moth which is probably not uncommon but easily overlooked. This small day-flying moth tends to inhabit patches of mint so one to look out for. We have now recorded 40 wildlife species in the School wildlife patch but expect the numbers to increase steadily, particularly if we get some better weather. The grass, Timothy, shown in the photo is doing very well – this is the foodplant of the caterpillar of the Essex Skipper (recorded in Cardiff and Barry) and the Marbled White butterflies.



The Grange Avenue gardeners share some of their thoughts

Joyce Hoy

  1. Go to specialist nurseries where the owners are usually on hand to give advice about which plants will do well in your plot.
  2. Unusual plants will give you a different experience and create extra interest.
  3. A dense shrub next to the bird feeders will give protection against predators while the birds are waiting to feed.
  4. Putting bright tape on your hand tools will make them easier to find when left in borders.
  5. Take cuttings and collect seed, it is so satisfying to see the results.

Pat Davies

  1. Next Spring I will be heading to the supermarkets early to build up my bedding plants collection, the plants are usually healthy and reasonably priced.
  2. Growing bedding plants from seed hasn’t given me my greatest success but will help fill in the gaps when the shops run out.
  3. If you’re stuck on what would be the best way to get the most from your garden, just ask a gardener. They can’t wait to to tell you what you should be doing. You don’t have to take their advice though.
  4. For early Spring colour plant tête-à-tête. They have short, strong stems and don’t get bashed by strong winds.
  5. Each to their own but for me the garden needs to be full of colour for as long as possible, it’s a tonic.

September brings the bulb planting season upon us. The most important thing to remember when planting is to put them deep enough, especially tulips. They need to be at a depth of 3 times the height of the bulb. Daffodils and crocus will need to be put in this month. Tulips will perform better when planted in November. If you are placing bulbs in borders consider planting them up in plastic pots first and then digging them into the ground. This way you can remove them when flowering is over and put them aside for the foliage to die down, which will give you room for the summer bedding.

Speaking to a lot of gardeners this year, the consensus is that the cold start to Spring held the plants back and this was not helped by the fact that we are struggling to find good seed and cuttings compost. Since the use of peat has stopped the alternatives have not been good. There are numerous reasons for this. Firstly, when these companies produce compost it has to be heated to certain temperatures to decompose properly and to kill off pathogens that cause pest and diseases. If the temperatures are not reached this will increase the amount of damping off of seedlings and cuttings. This will also allow weed seeds to germinate amongst your plants which happened a lot this year. The R H S say that if this happens you must take it back to your supplier. If you buy seed compost it should be very fine and not have bits of debris visible, which has been the case with a lot of brands this year. Seed compost has to pass through a fine screen mesh which takes time. The composts are expensive and companies should produce a usable product. Buying sterilised soil to start your plants off especially in early spring will help but you will then need to feed them as they start to come on because the soil will have no nutrients.

Start off some sweet peas in a cold frame this month to give yourself some earlier flowers next year, once they’ve sprouted they will be quite happy outside in a sheltered spot. Take cuttings of your favourite shrubs, even if just a few take root it doesn’t cost anything to try.

Farmers and market gardeners have struggled to get good yields this year mainly because of the absence of rain in June. The Wenvoe allotment holders have the benefit of a constant water supply, albeit with buckets and cans, to have good crops. This takes quite a lot of effort to reap a good harvest but nothing tastes as good as growing your own. Even without an allotment, growing some veg in pots is so worthwhile. I’m sure we will see some of the fruits of our villagers labours at the village show on the 9th Sept.

Take care and happy gardening


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