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Of brown gold, trendy haircuts and broken pots!

Not an awful lot to write about in early January. There's only so many times you can talk about tidying up the borders, but now that we've completed the fruit tree pruning, that's the main task for now. Not removing everything, though, just the material that looks, well, sad! Plants with some structural interest can stay for another month or so.

But the garden's not sleeping. It's lovely to see the first of the Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) appearing in the Walled Garden; they spring up from nowhere, suddenly popping their cheerful yellow heads up from what was yesterday just brown soil. Along with the early Hellebores, they present some welcome colour before the snowdrops appear later in the month. We have Winter aconites in several places in the garden, with the large, north-facing clump at the foot of The Slope garden flowering last in February.

With the border clearance comes loads of fodder for the compost bins. This is the time of year we exceed capacity with all 4 bins filled. To speed up the process, we've been turning the compost this week to let the air in. Amazingly, despite the air temp being around 4 degrees when we were doing this, you could feel the heat on your face from the more recent material as we moved it to the next box.

With the cold snap before Christmas, the pelargoniums in the greenhouse have rotted off; in recent winters, we've managed to keep them going over winter but the greenhouse is unheated and the temperature here did drop well below zero, which is much too cold for the pelargoniums. You win some, you lose some! Having said that, the resident agapanthus seem fine, although I have given them a trendy haircut this week, chopping back the old strappy leaves and tidying up round the stems. Come March, I'll divide up some of the most congested pots as they are starting (quite literally!) to break out of their current ones!

Talking of which, I'm off to Gorilla-glue one of these poor terracotta pots! We use the clear stuff to repair them and try not to throw out broken pots these days!

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