Dr. Mark Gardener
Dr. Christine Gardener

About Us

Blog Spot...

Here you can find our diary/blog entries (I am not always that good at keeping up to date).

See entries for 2010-11 here.
See entries for 2009 here.

See entries for 2007-08 here.

Some of our friends:

David Lock: who can help with all aspects of your gardening, from mowing the lawn, trimming hedges to a complete garden makeover with landscaping , raised patios decking or perhaps you fancy a pond?

Geoff Link: Special Educational Needs Consultancy. Finding the ideal school for children with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, speech and language, aspergers syndrome and other specific learning difficulties.


June 2013 Garden buildings

We've been busy in the garden. The new summerhouse is more or less ready and just in time for the summer apparently? Thanks to David Lock at yourgardencare in North Devon for making the base and putting the summerhouse together. The ground slopes away alarmingly!

Summerhouse Base
A serious slope to contend with

The next project (not quite complete) is a greenhouse. We acquired an 8' x 6' aluminium greenhouse from a neighbour – thanks Geoff, much appreciated (see his Special Educational Needs Consultancy website). We promise plenty of produce in "payment". This time I got Adrian Nelmes to make me the base – now installed and ready for glazing.

Greenhouse ready for glazing
Just needs glass

There's still quite a bit of work to do, adding the glazing and making the internal beds. Maybe this will keep the blight of the tomatoes in future?

Tamar Lakes Country Park

Bude Canal & Harbour Society

Bude Canal Trust


February 24th 2013 My left foot

It wasn't until I stepped into a muddy puddle that I realised that my left boot had a catastrophic "sole failure". This happened at Tamar Lakes on the Devon-Cornwall border.

Lower Tamar Lak
View from the bird hide at Lower Tamar Lake

We had a nice stroll around lower Tamar lake – there were not many birds about but we did see tufted duck and goosander. Then is was down the aqueduct trail to Virworthy Wharf.

Virworthy Wharf
Virworthy Wharf – no traffic for a while

After lunch at the wharf (a picnic) we returned to the lower lake and then had a look at the upper lake, sadly the cafe doesn't open until the end of March.

RHS Rosemoor


February 17th 2013 Spring flowers and sculpture

RHS Rosemoor this weekend and a nice day, which makes a change. We had a good walk about and looked at the spring flowers. What a difference a few dry days and a bit of sun can make, it felt almost like spring.

A Hellebore at RHS Rosemoor

Rosemoor often have some sculpture around the place and this time we saw some interesting new items.

Sculpture  Sculpture
Sculpture at RHS Rosemoor

First proper picnic outdoors – roll on the nice weather!

Bude Canal & Harbour Society

Bude Canal Trust

Cornwall Council Bude Canal and Marshes


February 9th 2013 - Lock, stock and barrel

It's been a long time since I updated this. We finally managed to get a day off to ourselves last weekend and decided to head for Bude. Lots to see, canal, coast path and nature reserve, and the odd pub. The weather was kind (for a change) and we had a nice stroll up to the cliff path before sampling some local hospitality.

The Bude canal starts (or is that ends?) at the beach with a fine pair of lock gates before heading inland. The canal passes close to the River Neet and between the two is a nice wetland reserve (Bude Marshes).

Bude Lock Gates
The lock gates at the end of the Bude canal

We managed to see a large flock of lapwings as well as numerous wildfowl, the sparrowhawk was a bonus! We'll definitely go back, this time I'll take a better camera with some batteries in it.


December 2012 - Winter chores

Things are slowing down in the garden. I picked the last of the raspberries at the beginning of December and now the canes are mostly cut back.

The last of the raspberries. Not a bad year in spite of having been moved to a new home and the wet weather.

I've also been busy with the chainsaw and "trimmed" a few unruly trees. The elder shown here was in serious need of a haircut – not my neatest pollarding job ever.

The pollarding opens up the view a bit – the elder will soon spring back. It's still fairly mild but soon the lids will need to go on the cold frames.

We've had a couple of frosts now but generally things are still fairly mild. Still, it won't be long before the cuttings in the cold frame could do with a bit of extra protection.

The Essential R Reference will be available late November 2012

See also:

My Amazon Author page (UK)

My Amazon Author page (US)

My Publications support page


September 2012 - Book Launch

My latest book "The Essential R Reference" is nearing completion. The anticipated release data is November 20th - just in time for Christmas! See it on Amazon (UK) or Amazon (US).

The new book should be available late November 2012

The Essential R Reference is intended as a useful guide for users of R, both new and experienced. There are over 400 R commands listed and arranged by topic: you look up the topic and find the commands that you need. Each "entry" has a brief explanation of the command and what it is for as well as commonly used parameters and explanations. There are plenty of annotated examples.

Check out Wrenwood renovations, their website features a couple of our neighbours houses.


August 2012 - In the gutter

The builders finally arrived to replace our fascia boards and window cladding. After waiting for a "break in the weather" for ages the gutters came off and then, torrential rain.

The new fascia and cladding look great, pity the rain came pouring down before the gutters got replaced

Now we have a mini-break in the weather and the job can continue. We'll have shiny new fascias and the house will get a coat of paint too. We are really pleased with Wrenwood renovations, highly recommend.

My Amazon Author page (UK)

My Amazon Author page (US)

My Publications support page


June 2012 - Bookends

My new book is out at last. Beginning R: The Statistical Programming Language. It is not likely to make the top sellers list in WH Smith but I hope that in the appropriate field it will do well. See it on the Wrox site or on Amazon (UK).

My latest book

It has been a long process and quite a different experience from working on the first book. My UK publisher Pelagic Publishing is much more laid back than Wiley. They are rather more "demanding" shall we say. There are merits to both approaches and I value the experiences from both. My next project is already underway. Another book on R, the statistical programming language. This time the idea is to produce a reference work. The help that is built-in to R is extensive but hard to get at unless you know what you are after. I hope to clarify that and produce something that will be useful to seasoned users as well as those new to R.

Then it will be a return to ecology with a follow-up to the first book; no rest for the wicked. Anyhow, what else am I going to do when the English summer is like this?

Check out RecycleNow and find out about compost.


Late March 2012 - Turning over an old leaf

More work in the garden, taking advantage of the nice weather. This time I am moving compost; turning over the old heap and putting the material in an empty bin as part of the process. The fresh stuff at the top now ends up at the bottom and can begin to rot down nicely.

A fairly full compost bin

Turning over the compost - old compost on the left moves to empty bin on the right

Half-way down the old compost I came upon some nicely ready material. Just in time for the final digging of beds and preparing for the new growing season.


March 2012 - Signs of life

Busy work in the garden this month, removing weeds and preparing for the new growing season. Quite a few changes as various fruit has been moved about to new homes over the winter. The rhubarb is showing good signs of life already and most of the gooseberry and blackcurrant cuttings seem to have survived. The strawberries are prolific as usual and we now have 3 dedicated beds full!

Rhubarb shoots showing signs of new growth.



February 2012 - Butterflies and the RHS

We went to RHS Wisley recently. Whilst we were there we visited the glasshouse and discovered an exhibition of tropical butterflies. Fortunately, being just before half-term and a week-day, it was not busy. The butterflies were flying around quite busily and quite a few were feeding on plants or fruit (provided at feeding stations).

The Greenhouses at Wisley

Butterflies at the Wisley Glasshouse

See my profile on Amazon.co.uk HERE


January 2012 - Book published

Mark's book "Statistics for Ecologists Using R and Excel" was finally published just before Christmas. See it at Pelagic Publishing. This is a book about the scientific process and how you apply it to data in ecology. You will learn how to plan for data collection, how to assemble data, how to analyse data and finally how to present the results. The book uses Microsoft Excel and the powerful Open Source R program to carry out data handling as well as producing graphs.

The book took a long time to get finished but I think it was worth it. I certainly learned a great deal about writing and publishing during the process. The follow-up book to this is already in the planning stage "Community Statistics for Ecologists" will pick up where the first book left off and carry on to examine community data.

I am also in the process of finishing off a book exclusively about R, the statistical programming language. This is an Open Source, free program that is powerful and flexible (details here). It is fast becoming the de facto standard tool for just about any analytical job in business, science and industry. The book will be published by Wiley and is called "Beginning R". It's already listed on Amazon here.