SUDDENLY, it seems, the garden has woken up, or could it be me who’s come out of hibernation.
All this colour is a jolt to the sleepy senses.
Even at home the demure, short-lived cyclamens are peeping red faced through the mulch, and new growth on the pond grasses is a feathery, fluoro green.
But it’s hats off to the lemons this winter. We have been surrounded by their warm yellow glow for the best part of three months.
We’ve juiced, grated, baked, frozen, gifted, donated, pleaded with passers-by and shipped them off to friends, colleagues and family far and wide.
Local op shops have been inundated because, really, who doesn’t know someone with a lemon tree.
Old gardening wisdom says you must cut lemons off the stalk (never pull them), when they are a pale yellowy green. You can keep them in a paper bag for some weeks to maximise their juice or store them wrapped in tissue paper in a cool, ventilated space. Never pick them in the wet or keep the skin wet as the fruit rots.
Another trick is topping a sterilised bottle of freshly squeezed lemon juice with olive oil, to exclude any air before sealing. Keep the bottle in the fridge and use the oil and lemon juice in salads or cooking.
Lemon juice ice blocks can go straight into your gin and tonic in the balmy evenings to come, and there’s always preserving.
A gardening friend made up two delicious batches of lemon marmalade this year. I can pass on the recipe if anyone is interested.