Our Gardening expert Lynne Allbutt is back to offer her advice to local gardeners, with the following message.

"So we’ve just had the warmest New Year’s Day on record at a balmy (or barmy) 16 degrees – lovely for working outside but it’s not really right is it?

Mind you, there’s a lot of winter left for nature to make things difficult yet and whilst it might have been the warmest New Year on record, it is still pretty wet and slippery under foot.

There’s the dilemma – on the one hand it’s great to make the most of the t-shirt days to work in the garden at this time of year but you really don’t want to be compacting the soil in beds and borders and/or making those little muddy sheep tracks all over the lawn.

I have managed to turn over the soil in my veggie beds but I used old scaffolding boards to stand on, which will prevent compaction – and traipsing mud everywhere.

Whilst it is traditionally the right time of year for Christmas Roses, or Helebores to be in bloom – it is amazing the amount of ‘summer’ roses that are still in bloom too.

Some of my daffodils are already in bud and the little primroses are blooming as though it’s spring.

They’ll all have a shock when we get the frosts – as will the gardeners.

If you do feel inclined, make the most of ‘workable’ days at this time of year to keep the garden looking good, even if it’s just clearing up leaves and tidying up in general.

And of course there’s always stuff in the shed to do too.

Make sure all your tools are clean and oiled – any needing repair can be taken too Tools For Self Reliance in Crickhowell who will appreciate you ‘beating the rush’ in the spring.

Similarly, get your mower serviced and blades sharpened, and hedge cutters strimmers etc all overhauled and ready to go ahead of the grass cutting season.

If this warmer weather keeps up, it’ll be a long season.

And if you haven’t already got rid of your Christmas tree, consider up-cycling it by putting it back up outside, and decorate it with food for the birds. I do it every year.

It means they birds benefit from it, as they love having the cover when they eat, and I continue to enjoy it and them well into the new year too.

The only word of caution is it might not be such good idea if you have cats, as they tend to utilise the ‘cover’ aspect too, which can prove disastrous for our feathered friends.

Once outside, you can decorate the tree with fruit on a string, open pine cones filled with fat or suet and/or shop-bought fat balls.

This year I bought some grapes and blackberries from the reduced section of the supermarket and threaded them onto thin wire to make fruity garlands. I used monkey nuts, apple slices and bread crusts to do the same. And made a star with the end crust.

As you do.

Make sure that you place the tree away from dogs though as grapes and fat balls are not good for them.

Or alternatively just use foods that won’t hurt your dog should they manage to snaffle them.

If you don’t have a tree to up-cycle you can still use your homemade fruity garlands to hang from a tree or bird feeding station in your garden or even the washing line."