Spring passed me by last year. I simply turned my head away. I missed those first signs of life, the tentative shoots letting slip the hustle and bustle taking place underground in the depths of winter. The joy of new growth - sedum emerging like goose barnacles, hellebores unfurling their gracious necks, the brown paper packaged fireworks of the witch hazel - the latter aside, I often find this stage more joyous than the petals when they come. This week, with it's unseasonal but welcome warmth, sent our garden into overdrive - the Californian poppies have sprung up everywhere, their self-seeding programme is going well. The weeds are already flowering. It felt good to start spring cleaning the garden, gently readying it for two marauding tinkers and their friends.