Gardening Report
April to June 2011

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Arum Lilly lily - Zantadeschia.

Before I introduce this month’s hardening report by Wendy, may I respectfully guide your attention to a gardening programme that you can find on BBC Scotland.

The programme is called Beechgrove Garden and it should be regarded as an inspiration for us gardeners who just love to grow things but lack talent and knowledge.

Beechgrove Garden should be cult viewing and you can pick it up on BBC iPlayer. To quote one of my emails to Wendy,

The programme starts with a mildly camp, lowland Scots accent saying, “Wail, Halloo again.” And then goes on to offer reports that,

“The Mediterranean hairb garden didn’t survive, the rosemary’s gorne ... the strawberries don’t appear to have taken off ... the plants that I put in the gabions down to the pond don’t seem to have taken ... and so on. Excellent!

You get the distinct impression from this programme that Scotland is not designed for gardening only for propping up horizontal trees.



Wendy Here. All the way from North Anglesey.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures as the garden has been wonderful. I wonder if a shed load of snow and minus temperature numbers has helped things along.

The decking in April was almost done, all that was left to do at that stage was to fix some bamboo hurdle’s over the gap, and mum even with her angina has been climbing the steps to have a view over the garden to the sea.

Its amazing to see how different the garden looks when viewed from on high, and as mum and I have discovered, it’s a fab place to sit with a coffee putting the world to rights.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

The Monte Carlo Decking Wot Wendy Built


However, if it had been left to the boss, we’d be standing drinking our coffee.

Why is it the male of the species can’t think logically when it comes to spending money? On the one had they moan when we do spend it, and then on the other still moan when we try to save it!

My logic (and I can’t be the only female of the species that thinks like this) wanted to buy the outdoor furniture in the depths of winter in December because it is half price.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Perennial Beauty at Chez Wendy

The male of the species argued that it was a silly thing to do as it’s winter and it would have to stay in the garage for months.

Anyway, the female logic won this argument, mainly because whilst himself was trying to convert me to thinking like a man (ha, no chance) I had found it on line for a mind boggling ‘BOGOFF’.

So that’s what I did, bought a BOGOFF and we now have 4 chairs, 2 footstools and 2 tables all for half price. He now sits there smugly explaining to all that will listen to him that ‘WE’ (and note the ‘‘WE’) bought it half price and saved a fortune.

Good job I love him!

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

A Delightful Azalea


The Azaleas and Rhododendrons have been out of this world and I have to admit they seem to thrive on neglect (although I do have to admit to talking to them). The colours and size of the flowers have been amazing and been commented by all.

Same for the Yellow Erythronium, or Dogs Tooth Violet (Below), which pops up behind the Heather and in front of the Rhododendron at the bottom (or top) of the garden, depending on how you look at it.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Erythronium or Dog Tooth Violet

That’s something else that we don’t agree on, T says it’s the top and I say its the bottom. Anyway, after 25 years of married life we have learnt to agree to disagree on many things.

It used to be better when T wasn’t interested in gardening, but now he is (Still he says that he isn’t). We argue, lovingly of course, about all sorts.

Drafting this I think that we both need to get out more, how sad is it when you can’t agree what is top and what’s bottom in a garden.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Exquisite Beauty Manifest as an Aquilegia


The Aquilegia’s have also done well and I love the photo with the blue and white one which is at the top (bottom) of the garden in the woodland bit.

I was very brave this year and bought some seeds from Carrie at Touchwood Aquilegias in South Wales. She managed to convince me that they are easy to grow so I’ve been sowing seeds in the greenhouse and just hoping that they’ll do something sensible like grow into Aquilegias.

It was just a case of Watch This Space.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Yellow Welsh Poppy
Can You Spot The Bee?

I managed for once in my life to have the camera with me in the front garden to take the photo of the bee on the lovely Yellow Welsh Poppy. Its only a point and click digital thing but as T says ‘It’s Wendy-Proof’.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

When it's about the only thing that makes sense.


The potting shed arrived at the end of April just when it was too late to prick out all the seeds (i.e Aquilegia and Sunflowers) so I had to stand sauna style in the greenhouse in that hot spell pricking them all out.

Anyway, I was really excited (I really do need to get out more) as it meant that I could stand in the potting shed re potting all last years Fuschias.

I decided that as my back and legs are so bad I was in absolute agony standing for any length of time so I’ve asked Noel who made the shed to make me a chair for me to use.

I’ve seen some fabulous chairs that he makes that are like high up bar stool/chairs for outside use, so have asked him to make one with a backrest but no arms.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

The Welsh for a cup of tea is 'Panad'

The amazingly coloured kettles that are stood on the apple boxes in the potting shed are made of recycled plastic and come from Africa.

I love them and am just going to have to have some more as they are Really Whacky, but the comments so far are either raised eyebrows or comments like, “Only you could have something like these”.

I think/hope that they are compliments although I have to say I’m not sure.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Consider yourself warned. Wendy is serious

I found the Trespassers Will Be Composted sign in a shop in Caernarfon and, as they say, I just had to have it. More raised eyebrows from T, he doesn’t even bother shaking his head now!

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

An Insect Hotel


The log pile at the top/bottom of the garden is in the little woodland bit and is the result of chopping down the trees from round the pond (which is still work in progress).

I’d love to know what sort of bugs are living in it but think that I will have to ask someone else to check for me. I don’t ‘DO’ bugs, as much as I love them and know that we need them.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Apple Tree Art by Wendy

I must admit that I am pretty pleased with the photograph looking through the apple tree up to the blue sky. Think I must be getting all artistic in my old age.

Wendy Steele April to June 

More than just a couple of chairs, mind you.

I also quite like the picture of the two Adirondack Chairs looking past the old bike looking over to the Summer House and the pond. I’ve managed to get some lovely shadow - quite by accident I assure you - from the sun and the huge pine tree.

The birds love the Birdbath and I’ve counted twelve sparrows in it at one time. This picture shows one of the blackbirds having a fabulous time getting Down and Dirty (or should that be Down and Clean).

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Come in, guys! The water's bleedin' lovely. Ayiee!

The picture of the blue flowers below is called Corydalis. It's a favourite flower of mine and the perfume is absolutely amazing.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Corydalis - When Nature says, 'Thank You'


Even though the pond looks all green and horrible i’ve taken a photo of it as I want to do a before and after once it has been treated.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

"Bloomin Ada.
Ain't it time she did something about this.
Soorry, didn't see you."

A few years ago I discovered the most wonderful treatment that is called Viresco Aqua and it is a micro organism and therefore perfectly harmless to the plants and fish.

It can only really go in the pond when the water is about 50 degrees or above so April is too early. I’m hoping to be able to take a photo in June/July when the water should look like gin.

I’ve been using the stuff for years now and it’s never let me down yet.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

The picture of the Clematis is of one called Diamantina and as far as I can remember it was new at the Chelsea Flower Show last year. Ooh! Get you, I hear you say).

This is how it looks in April and I shall take another photograph in June to show how it opens. It’s fabulous and seems to love growing up the apple tree.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Wail, haloo there, Wendy.

At last! And I can’t quite believe it. I’ve managed to get a photo of ‘my mate’ the Blackbird.

I can’t not know who he is as he is the only one with a white spot at the side of his right eye. He is busy filling his face with suet pellets and sultana’s for the first brood of babies. He had two broods last year so I’m hoping that this year will be as productive.

Isn’t he a sweetheart? I don’t know what I’ll do when he isn’t around anymore. He must be the only blackbird known to man/woman who walks to heel like a dog.

He has on many occasion walked the full length of the lawn from top/ bottom to the bottom/top at my side looking up at me like a faithful hound.

A couple of weeks after I took the photos of him with the beak full of food I heard the peculiar tweets and squeaks of a baby blackbird.

There he was with ‘My Mate’ close by.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Wife and a couple of families to support.

I think that there is only one babbie this time whereas he had two babbies at this time last year.

Anyway I hope that I’ve not bored you to death, but I did warn you that a lot was happening.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

Cirsium and Leucanthemum

The blousy white flower is a leucanthemum and it is growing quite happily with a cirsium in a really wet bed. This is the bed that I spent three months clearing of plants that were a solid mass they had been in so long.

I also added about three tons of mushroom compost - or at least that is what it felt like digging it all in. T and his gang then put the liner in the pond and it seems to have re-routed the stream.

Ken's garden next door is now dry and this 'long bed' as I call it. Doesn't it sound like we live at Chatsworth - Flooded.

I could have cried and would have thrown the towel in except that I needed it for mopping up all the water coming from under the pond.

Wendy Steele April to June 2011


This spot's right by the Summer House – Crikey! Now I sound like Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen.

It's also very damp and where the weeds, for some heinous reason, were almost uncontrollable. So we have covered it in weed suppressant and then purple slate chippings.

That's a Dierama (Angel's Rod) growing there. It's that the long leaved straggly thing growing behind the model of the Old Bridge House at Ambleside. Must admit though I quite like that corner. It’s quite affective.

This last photo is of a wonderful pot holder and I suppose if it has to have a name it should be Little Boy Blue. Crikey! – again - Can't you tell I've had a hard day at work!

Wendy Steele April to June 2011


Mum had already bought me my birthday present last year but we almost fell over it outside a shop in Beaumaris. Bless her she's 86 but I've not seen her move so fast in years.

She was back in the shop to buy it as it was So "Just Wendy" and she "Just had to have it". Now where have I heard that before!?

Anyway, I decided to coat it in marine varnish to preserve it/him, and there he remains perched on the top of the pot of one of the Camellias.

He's a little cutie isn't he? I tried putting a small plant in it but kept forgetting to go and empty when it had rained, so he just has to sit there topless!

Wendy Steele April to June 2011

A Farewell from Wendy's Garden.
I'll Be Back

Isn’t Nature wonderful?

Do you have any questions for Wendy
or want to share some thoughts?

It's good to share, especially if you can spare someone's feeble back with your magical advice.

I am so delighted that Wendy has decided to write her articles and to share the challenges and delights of her gardening adventures.

So if you have any questions about how to engage with Nature to transform your garden into the best room in the house, then do get in touch.

If you have any photographs then we'd love to see them.

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