We have friends who arrived a year or two before us, who told us the first January they were here they gardened in T-shirts. As they tend to be hardy types and as every January we've been here it's snowed, we've taken their tale with a pinch of salt.
We thought they were exaggerating. Maybe not. T-shirts are perhaps a step too far (we're not as tough as they) but we've certainly gardened steadily through this month and even have shed jacket and sweater because it's been so mild. Oh the joy of being outside and getting to the tasks that rarely get accomplished in the rush of March and April.
Hazel saplings have been planted in the lawn behind the cottage. The apple trees and wisteria have been pruned, the banks strimmed, the borders weeded, cuttings potted, bulbs that were hiding in the shed planted. I've reached parts of the garden I haven't touched for years and discovered young elms springing up and a Japonica with fat flower buds completely smothered in the long grass. Pots stand against the cottage wall with no more than a thin fleece over them for night-time chills - underneath geraniums and begonias continue to thrive. The violas I flung in a pot without much hope before Christmas are radiant.
Ten thirty, the early mist has cleared and the sun is streaming through the cottage windows. Time to grab the gardening sweater and jacket, find the gloves and secateurs and get outside. Who knows, by mid-afternoon I may be in shirtsleeves again.