Welcome to a new beginning, full of new challenges and adventures. 2016 closed up in classic style and delivered all of the things that once way marked the traditional crossover between seasons. The leaves were great and the days were punctuated with sharp frosts, mist, fog and dampness. The berries were plentiful and the birds braver, with all manner coming in close to back doors to sample domestic feeders.
As we turn into the new season the gardens are full of interest, with winter shrubs all showing great flower and bud. In fact if you landed garden gift vouchers for Christmas and want to treat yourself it’s worth taking a peak into neighbouring gardens to get some ideas. The arching yellow bracts of Mahonia are stunning and many carry a lily of the valley fragrance. The winter viburnums are good too, many are covered in bud and flower, the buds tinged with pink and there a shape and a size to suit every space. The yellow Jasmine Nudiflorum is also showing a lot of colour as is the white winter sweet Sarcoccoca. Then there is my lifetime favourite the winter honeysuckle, Lonicera Fragrantisima, what a delight. It puts on a snowstorm of flower all borne on naked wood, this is a very special plant indeed. If space is tighter then there do seem to be plenty of Hellebores around this winter. The Christmas rose family are great fillers and whilst there are good white flowering forms around, do investigate the range, which offers many dirty colours including almost black. If you are trying to use up the small change then snowdrops are also being offered in pots. When something has a leaf on it, it does bring confidence. Across time I have planted a lot of snowdrops only to see them disappear.
Of course if you didn’t get those vouchers then don’t panic, business is still on. You can sit by the fire and consider your seed potatoes, work through your seed list and get a bag of compost undercover to warm it up and make it user friendly. When it comes early sowing there is nothing worse than a cold, soggy bag with a rime of frost and slime on it.
And finally just start a pinch of something on the kitchen window sill, the germinating seed carries a message of hope and new beginning.