Clunk! The squirrel flies off the bird feeder at my approach and hurtles down the holly tree where they are working their way through the berries which the birds didn’t need this year. No shortage of food for squirrels it seems!

The weeds are going full steam ahead, and I’m trying to keep up with removing them. Encouraging green shoots of plants are potted on and given fresh compost. Not too many were lost I’m glad to say, as we only had one hard frost of –4.5 degrees Celsius.

Not all Spring shrubs and flowers did as well as expected. After a promising start with Hellebores in pots coming into flower early, several didn’t flower at all. Witch Hazel had very few flowers and the Mahonia, none. A dry period in late summer can cause poor flowering the following Spring.

Varying results from new peat-free composts last year were frustrating for many. The moisture-retention properties and stability of peat have been difficult to replicate. I’ve been making up a recipe for potting on plants, throwing in a bit of everything. I combine a good multi-purpose, a trowel of sterilised topsoil and a bit of homemade compost for bacteria – the secret ingredient!

Homemade compost is always recommended these days, but our bin has had some strange additions this year. Dregs from cleaning the bee frames, wax and bits of deceased bees! Even less common: Alpaca dung! After taking my granddaughter to see Alpacas, I was offered free bags of manure. It stunk the car out and was an unwelcome smell stored near the greenhouse! After it lost its pungency I added it to the compost this year. A crate has been placed over the manure to stop the Labrador feasting on it! Still to come is the bio-char which will then be spread on the vegetable border.

Finally to insect life. I thought it time to let out the little cluster of ladybirds overwintering in a corner of an upstairs window. Hopefully, they found the mass of grey aphids on the Flower Sprouts. The bees are making occasional forays and feeding on Primrose, Celandine, Anemone and the rather battered Pulmonaria. Clearing out under the greenhouse bench, I disturbed a spider with an orange stripe! I’d never seen one like that before. I like to look after my spiders in the greenhouse. I rarely see aphids in the greenhouse which I like to put down to the spider patrol!