What to do
The week between Christmas and the New Year is a strange one. So stay inside, keep warm, spin dreams. Masochists can fret over the lists produced every year by the Royal Horticultural Society, inventories of the top 10 garden pests. For the seventh year running, slugs and snails come top of the list. In our skewed world, cats kill the birds that should be eating the slugs and snails. Cars squash the hedgehogs, another natural predator. The harlequin ladybird (a new entry) takes second place and vine weevils, which were number two pest five years ago, have dropped to number three. They are most destructive at the larval stage, when they eat the roots of young plants, especially those in pots. Rabbits are easier to see, more difficult to deter. Number eight in the most recent list, they were number three just five years ago. Secure netting, buried in the ground, is the only way to keep them off your veg patch.
Ants and cushion scale insects take spots four and five, followed by the rosemary beetle, the berberis sawfly (both new entries) and the lily beetle at number nine. These replace the sap feeding soft scale insect, the woolly aphid that produces fluffy white colonies on the trunks of apple and pear trees and the red spider mite, scourge of greenhouses, all of which appeared in the list five years ago. Cypress aphid is still there (number 10 this year), but I look upon it as a godsend rather than a pest as it defoliates and eventually kills hedges of hideous Leyland cypress. Long may it last on the list.
What to buy
The staggering delights of the Lindley Library in London include its collection of botanical drawings, paintings and prints – about 28,000 of them. A hundred or so of these treasures are now available on-line to be printed on paper or canvas, at prices ranging from £15 to £280. To order, go to rhsprints.co.ukReuse content