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

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




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






  1. Dead head daily during the flowering season.
    2. Fill any gaps, so that most of the soil is covered, this helps keep weeds at bay.
    3. Don’t put up with plants you dislike.
    4. Keep any shrubs under control or they will merge into one mass.
    5. Take cuttings of your favourite tender perennials and propagate for next year.

Beryl Richards gets to the point.

  1. Don’t bother with no mow May, your lawn will provide for wildlife even when very short.
    2. Make your own compost, if at all possible, as most of what’s on offer wouldn’t grow weeds.
    3. If someone offers you a plant you don’t want, kindly decline, or they will keep checking that you still have it.
    4. Don’t be kidded into thinking those small tunnels just below the surface of your lawn are made by moles. They are rat runs which are mainly built over the winter.
    5. Probably best not to save those ice cream containers and yogurt pots, you’ll never use them.

If you don’t do much else this month, please make sure you water camellias and rhododendrons thoroughly to make sure next year’s buds develop. Time to trim the lavender after flowering (not the French plants they just need deadheading) but be careful not to cut into the old wood. Dahlias are coming into their own now and will need strong stakes and a feed. Roses will become more prone to black spot as the season goes on. Spraying is not what we want to be doing but for this disease I use rose clear. There must be some other remedies, but I have found this spray works well. Cut the seed heads off lilies before they set, this will give you bigger blooms on the parent plant next year. This month and next are the best times to spray perennial weeds especially ground elder and bindweed before they start to die back.

Using a high nitrogen feed on your lawn will have a detrimental effect, as it will encourage rapid green growth which has been proved to weaken the grass over the Autumn and Winter. Use a preparatory Autumn fertiliser. If you have leatherjackets in the lawn, then now is the time to start a nematode treatment.

Allotment old-timer Herbie will, on a good year, get a second crop from his broad beans by cutting them off to a leaf joint about 6 inches from the ground. They will then shoot and give a lighter crop. Harvesting beans, courgettes and salad will go on for quite a while as long as you keep picking. Tomato plants seem to need a lot of care to get the best out of them. We need to keep taking the top growth off and remove any leaf below the first truss as well as taking some of the leaves off the rest of the stem. We don’t want the plant putting any energy into growing greenery.

The Village Show on September 9th will hopefully encourage you to show off your produce and encourage others to take up gardening.

Take care and happy gardening








Two expats, Sean Connor and Penny Wise, give their thoughts on aspects of gardening.
Sean Connor
1. Consider turning a small area of your front garden into a veg patch, it will create interest and, if kept well, will be an asset.
2. Do not overdose when feeding plants, it’s a complete waste of money.
3. If you see totally green leaves on a variegated shrub, remove them or the plant will revert to type.
4. Pull suckers off from the base of roses or they will weaken the parent plant.
5. A battery powered hand pruner makes life so much easier in the garden.
Penny Wise, on how to negotiate a garden centre.
1. Do not buy small pots which are on offer, they are never big enough when you get them home.
2. The farm shop must be run by Fortnum & Mason
3. Check the limit on your Visa card before entering cafe.
4. Avert your eyes when passing the charismatic man selling conservatories that you can’t live without.
5. In July be careful driving in as the car park is full of lorries bringing in the Christmas stuff.
The gardens are in their second flush now after the Spring flowers have faded, so dead heading is a regular pastime. Peter Beale the rose grower advises that when taking faded blooms off roses you should cut back to a leaf joint but most just snap the the bloom off just below the spent flower. The recommended way to dead head delphiniums, foxgloves and Canterbury bells is to cut off the flower stalks just below the spent flowers but Sid & Lyn Cottle always take the individual flowers off and leave the spike and have good results. Plants like lady’s mantle and herbaceous geraniums can be cut back to the ground, they will recover well enough to give you another flush.
On allotments and veg patches the first crops will be ready to harvest. Beans, lettuces, spring onions and early potatoes will be waiting to be picked. The main problem at this time is the fact that most people take their annual leave and go away which leaves some gardens without someone to water, so be nice to your neighbours and they may assist.
Parsley is notoriously difficult to germinate outside but this month is known to have the highest success rate. They can then be potted up and brought indoors later in the year.
The village show in September will be your chance to show off your wares, to keep this event going we need plenty of entries. Anne Daniels might be in with a chance with her secret tomato food blend.
With a lot of May and a big part of June being really dry it is essential that we save as much dirty water as possible to use on the garden. Water butts don’t have to cost the earth any vessel that holds water will suffice. According to the people who know about these things we are going to have long spells of dry weather and when it does rain this will be prolonged so make use of the down pipes on houses and outbuildings. If you can cover these containers, it will stop evaporation. We are also going to have to consider which plants we grow if this is to be the norm. If you have unglazed or terracotta pots water will dissipate through these quickly, it is good practice to line the inside with plastic, bin bags will suffice, or paint the inside. Putting some weed fabric on the top around plants then some bark or stone will slow down the evaporation considerably.
Sadly, Trevor Case passed away at the end of May. Trevor wrote the gardening column in the What’s on for many years. He also led the environment team and was a driving force when Wenvoe competed in the best kept village competitions. A good man.
Take care and happy gardening



Gardening Thoughts From The Silver Foxes


Gardening Thoughts From The Silver Foxes

The gardening thoughts this month come from the Silver Foxes, who meet their probation officers at the Library Hub on Fridays.

  1. Reduce the buds on roses for bigger blooms if you’re going to enter the village show.
  2. Cut back dogwoods and use the trimmings for pea sticks.
  3. Leave any bulbs growing in the lawn for at least 6 weeks after flowering before cutting back.
  4. Fill the runner bean trench with newspaper to help retain moisture during dry periods.
  5. Sweet pea seeds can be sown outside now.
  6. Split hostas before they start vigorous growth.
  7. Put fresh gravel around early flowering alpines to show off the blooms.
  8. Slugs will be on the march now and very hungry as well, so be vigilant.
  9. Place canes adjacent to tall perennials before they put a spurt on.
  10. If you could do with some excellent conversation and company then come and join us.

The 20th March is officially the first day of Spring but we know this can be cold and wet, so please don’t be tempted to rush to the garden centre and fill your trolley with all those lovely plants that have been grown in heated greenhouses. These plants will suffer badly when you get them home unless you have the right conditions to look after them. Nurseries and garden centres know this happens and will have replacement plants back in over the next few weeks so you can buy again when the first lot fail. Once the weather warms up, plants you delay in purchasing will catch up without fail. In Wenvoe we are lucky to have a garden centre on our doorstep and people want to support local businesses, just don’t throw your money away. We are encouraged to go peat free and from next year peat products in England will be banned for everyday gardeners. Professional gardeners will initially be exempt but a ban is planned for them too. Head gardener at Hestercombe gardens, Claire Greenslade, has said they are going peat free but the bedding plants that are purchased from nurseries are still grown in peat at present so, if you’re concerned about the use of peat, check that your supplier is doing their best to bring this practice to an end. British Soil based in Wenvoe have been peat free for a number of years and produce some good composts to grow plants from seed and to bring on young plants.

If some of your daffodils have not flowered it may be that the clump is overcrowded and may have to be split up. The main reason for daffs not producing blooms is that they are not planted deep enough, they need to be inserted at least three times the depth of the bulb.

One of the jobs that will give you a good return on your time is to remove the top 5cms of compost from your containers as this is where most pests, diseases and weed seeds congregate over winter. Replace with some fresh compost and a general fertiliser or, for roses, a balanced rose feed will give excellent results.

On the allotment they are still adding manure and preparing the ground. If the ground is too wet you are better off waiting as the ground will be compacted which will reduce the yield. Spring broad bean seeds can go in now as well as early potatoes. Be aware that there may be late frosts so don’t plant more than you can protect with fleece or cloches. One of the allotment holders is a renowned horticultural show judge so expect a critical eye on your produce at Twyn Yr Odyn.

There are plans for another Gardener’s Question Time in the Spring ( date to be announced). This will give you a chance to ask any questions you have and pick up some tips to enhance your love of gardening.

Upcoming events include the Spring plant sale Sat 29 April 10 – 3 at 29 Vennwood Close and the Wenvoe Open Garden Day on Sat June 17th 10 – 5.

Take care and happy gardening.


Tuckers Spring Plant Sale




Saturday 69th April

Once again, by popular demand, the Tuckers will be holding a Spring Plant Sale on the drive at 29 Vennwood Close on Saturday 29 April. So please mark the date and come to snap up some garden bargains.

You can choose your plants, browse a few local craft tables and buy a slice or two of home made cake. We will be joined by other local gardeners and there will be lots of free gardening advice on offer. (If you are interested in having a table to sell your plants please get in touch.) There will also be the usual raffle with good quality prizes and proceeds will go to the Wenvoe Wildlife Group to help enable them to continue with their excellent work in and around the village. Wenvoe Wildlife Group will have a table and will be able to answer questions and give information about their work.

Come and have a chat and pick the Village Gardener’s brains. We’re looking forward to seeing you all.


Rita and Elizabeth’s Advice


This month Rita Edwards and Elizabeth Jones give us the benefit of their gardening knowledge.


  1. Separate clumps of snowdrops while in the green as they will naturalise better.
  2. Prune hedges before the birds start nesting.
  3. Check fences for broken posts and loose panels.
  4. Prune wisteria back to 2 or 3 buds.
  5. Cut back perennials that were left protecting the crown of the plant.



  1. Make sure that the mower is serviced before mowing begins in earnest.
  2. Do repairs to paths on dry days.
  3. Sow sweet peas.
  4. Strimmer line will keep its strength if stored in water, honestly.
  5. Seaweed is a brilliant fertiliser, just make sure you wash the salt off first.


Right then gardeners, you can be sure that plants are going to cost quite a bit more this Spring due to high heating and fertiliser costs which the nurseries have to pass on to the garden centres, who in turn pass this on to customers. So, start saving by sowing seeds. We have to heat our homes, and windowsills make an ideal spot to produce seedlings. Cosmos, sweet peas, kale and tomatoes will thrive on a warm sill. Just cover at night to keep the chill off. This is the one time you need to use properly prepared fresh compost with a bit of perlite added for drainage. This will help prevent damping off which is a fungal disease that can wipe out trays of seedlings. The main causes of damping off spreading are low light and poor air flow.

Outside, the garden seems to need attention everywhere you look. Now is a good time to move deciduous shrubs that this year, with fresh eyes, seem to be in the wrong place. Prune mahonia and winter flowering heathers. Cut back buddleia and elder down to the base. This will help keep them a reasonable size. Cut back the overwintered fuchsias, check on any plants that may have become dislodged in the inclement weather. There is still time to purchase bare root shrubs. This month is the latest you should be pruning apple trees. Most apple trees produce fruit on short stems that sprout on old wood, while a few fruit on long shoots produced just the year before. Check to see which type you have before pruning or you may end up with no fruit at all. The important thing is to have an open aspect by thinning out the middle to allow a good air flow and increase light. This will help to keep disease at bay.

Keep deadheading the pansies to prolong the flowering. The one thing that needs to be done every time you go into the garden besides weeding is to look in crevices and under pots for slugs and snails as everyone you deal with now is going to increase the number of buds that will develop in Spring.

Take care and happy gardening

Let’s Hope For Some Kind Weather


Happy New Year. Let’s hope for some kind weather to give us a good start to the year.

We start the year off with some tips from people who in their own way have left their own mark on the area.

Gareth “top banana” Lewis of Twyn yr Odyn.

  1. Plant chilli seeds in a propagator as they need a long season to bear fruit
  2. If you are lucky enough to find a tasty tomato while shopping, keep some seeds and with a bit of luck they will make good plants.
  3. Start chitting some potatoes but keep out of direct sunlight, which should be easy at this time of year.
  4. Don’t garden by date, garden by the conditions.
  5. Sort out all your seed packets before the rush to plant comes along.

Silver fox, Parry “Barista” Edwards

  1. It’s January, stay in, you will do no good traipsing over the lawn.
  2. Order some more seed and plant catalogues.
  3. Try to buy British and help keep plant diseases out of the UK.
  4. Keep a garden diary as a reference.
  5. If you do insist on venturing out, be careful as no one wants to end up in A & E.

Wet and cold January weather makes looking at the garden from a window the best option. On an occasional nice day a bit of weeding always helps but be careful of emerging bulbs. Planning for the seasons to come is always a good idea, as when the growing season starts we will only have time for the usual jobs. If you need help with the physical side of any plans you may have, get in touch with landscapers early. If you are worried about whether they will be any good talk to people who have had work done or ask at British Soil for their approved contractor list. Make sure that you can reach the middle from either side of any new beds or borders that you build. A common fault is to plant too near the edge of borders. You can be sure that the label on the plant you decide to put in will not mean much once it’s been planted and fed: they always get bigger in good growing conditions.

As gardeners we are encouraged to leave an area for wildlife. This doesn’t have to look unsightly or to be occupied with bee hotels and hedgehog houses from garden centres where you’ll need a mortgage and a good credit rating to buy them. A few holes drilled in a log for bees and a small covered dry area for the hedgehogs will suffice. Wenvoe has a plethora of these spiny mammals as a lot of residents make provision for them and one of the best things to do is have a hole at the bottom of your fence to allow them access to more gardens. A wildflower area can seem like a good idea, just make sure to find a packet that has flowers for both Spring and Summer which will give you a longer season.

A few years ago, the village had an Open Garden Day which was very well received. Glenys and I are planning to organise one this year and if you are interested there will be more details in the February issue of What’s On and on Facebook on the Wenvoe Community Support Group page.

Take care and happy gardening

Gardening in December


This month’s tips come from the most popular person on the planet at this time of year – Father Christmas

  1. When we get on in years the main gift we want for Christmas is our health. That’s why the other presents dry up.
  2. Please send letters to me, otherwise you will end up with socks and another scarf.
  3. Families cannot fathom why you would want a roll of bubble wrap but stick to your guns.
  4. Don’t tell the friends and relatives that you can’t help with the clearing up after the Christmas dinner because you need to water the allotment, they won’t believe it.
  5. If friends buy you a year’s magazine subscription, don’t expect it to continue indefinitely.
  6. Unlike myself you only have to wear your Christmas jumper this month, so go for it – you know you want to.
  7. Before the big day make a space in the shed and when the partner asks you why, just say you’re expecting a sizeable gift. Disclaimer, it doesn’t always work.
  8. Don’t take your new gloves to the allotment in January as the conditions will make them unusable for the rest of the year.
  9. Give yourself a bit of extra time to think about New Near resolutions, that way some might be achievable.
  10. Gardeners are a sociable lot and have many friends. Just give a thought to those on their own. Loneliness is miserable.


Although we haven’t had any significant frosts in our area before Christmas for a couple of years it is still best to insulate the greenhouse, replace any broken glass and use a clear flexible mastic on loose panels. A single layer of polythene beneath the glass will reduce the amount of sunlight able to get in by 10%, which at this time of year should not affect the

plants. We need to have all pots that are outside, up off the floor to allow drainage. Watering will be at a minimum at this time of year, so it may be a good idea to empty out water butts and leave upside down. With high winds guaranteed, check that any trellis is safe and that plant stakes are fit for purpose.

Bare root plants are available now and are good value compared to potted ones. Plant them up as soon as they arrive but they won’t need a feed. Apple trees, vines and acers can be pruned now. If you wait, they may start to bleed which can make them susceptible to diseases. Take hard wood cuttings from now until late winter. Gardener’s World magazine says most deciduous plants will take but some evergreens, such as cotoneaster and holly, are also worth trying. Just take off the soft growth and cut above a bud, then cut just below a bud anything from 6 – 12 inches from the top and stick in a pot or the ground leaving a third above ground. These are going to have to stay put until next Autumn then you can move them to either their own pot or a patch of ground. Blackspot on hellebores is a problem at present. Pull the infected leaves off but don’t compost them; put them in the bin. While you’re dealing with this remove some of the lower leaves to show off the flowers.

At the allotment Bernard will be on hand for any advice you may need over the winter period. There will be a lot of netting rolled out to protect brassicas from hungry pigeons. People who put onion sets in will have to place them quite deep or birds will pull them out and they only do this to annoy you.

A big thank you to all who contributed to this page (whether they wanted to or not) over the past year and to the What’s On team for giving me space in the magazine.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

from the village gardener.


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