"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes" Henry Thoreau
For weeks I haven’t set foot in the garden without buttoning up my twenty-five year old Chinese People's Liberation Army coat. I bought it in northern China for a song, just as the weather was beginning to bite. Snuggly quilted with cotton wadding, I even slept in it to supplement my budget accommodation. Then for years it was my “Bonfire Night” coat with fur collar turned up against the wind and pockets deep enough for frozen hands. Latterly it has become my winter gardening companion with those same pockets easily holding half a dozen eggs and a bunch of spinach.
However, with a long overdue hike in temperatures this weekend, it was with relish that I hung up my second skin for another season, in favour of gardening in shirt sleeves. I was not the only one chirruping. Across the fields new-born lambs were shaking out their tails with a skip and bleat, and a lone yellow Brimstone butterfly had crept out of hibernation to be buffeted by the whim of the wind. Every branch of every tree in the garden was throbbing with birdsong as I planted potatoes, sowed peas, waged war on the nettles, ferried barrowloads of debris to the bonfire and picked the first few salad leaves for lunch.
Who put that quite obviously new, quite bright, quite inappropriate scarf around Monty Don’s neck on Gardener’s World last Friday? Surely he should have been wearing a well loved twenty-five year old remnant!