I've suddenly noticed that it is now light both mornings and evenings when I take the dog out for her walk. And that seems to have a distinct effect on the rest of the day. Even when it isn't sunny, I feel sunnier. Not that SAD is a problem, just that light is better than dark.

When we first moved into our cottage in England I was thrilled to find a Morello cherry on a north-facing wall, half-assed trained as a fan. But the half-assedness extended to having used wire to secure the main trunk to a stake, wire that had long since been engulfed in a bulge of tree scar. I did what I could to liberate and retrain the tree and that summer, as I recall, it rewarded us with three whole cherries. The following year, with a little judicious netting, there was plenty for a damn fine cherry pie and more besides. In later years we've had too many cherries and have even let the netting slide and the birds have a feast.

That's what I really like about gardening: most plants are very forgiving and respond beautifully, if slowly, to tender loving care. So I was more than thrilled with my lemon harvest this year. Six removed, three still on the tree. That's a ninefold increase on last year's harvest.

I've always dreamt of reaching up to pluck a lemon from my own tree to garnish a long G&T; of a summer's evening. The real problem is that the lemons seem to ripen as winter is giving way to spring. Will there still be any by the time it is hot enough to want a long G&T; on the terrace? And how many olive trees would I need to get, say, a litre of oil?

P.S. 1 January 2016: That tree is still going strong, and at the most recent count sported 33 lemons. We've already used a good dozen, I'd say.

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