Weekend work: Time to stay stay inside and keep warm


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The Independent Online

What to do

It's impossible to take seriously the week that sits between Christmas and the New Year. So stay inside, keep warm, spin dreams.

Masochists can fret over the lists produced every year by the RHS, inventories of the top 10 garden pests. A new one will be appearing in January. On the last one, slugs and snails once again came top. In our skewed world, cats kill the birds that should be eating the slugs and snails. Cars squash the hedgehogs, another natural predator.

Sap-feeding cushion scale insects took second place. Vine weevils are still there of course, now at number three. Ants feature at number four, followed by viburnum beetle and fuchsia gall mite.

Cypress aphid is still there at number six, but I look upon it as a godsend as it defoliates and eventually kills hedges of hideous Leyland cypress. Below that, in order of importance, are the leek moth, chafer grubs, mealybugs and brown scale, which can make a mess of many woody shrubs such as cotoneaster. It's being so cheerful that keeps us going.

What to see

Visit Burton Agnes Hall, Driffield, East Yorkshire YO25 4NB to get more ideas for Christmas decorations. There's a huge Christmas tree in the hall and the rest of the house is decorated with things gathered from the garden as well as homemade gingerbread and wreaths of oranges. Even the crackers are homemade. Open today and tomorrow, admission £8; burtonagnes.com