In the depths of winter, when trees are bare and gardens lie dormant, what is there to inspire the flower lover?
Nature very kindly offers us evergreens, hedgerows filled with bushy ivy or shiny, spiky leaves of holly contrasted against bright red berries.
We gather pine and spruce to decorate our homes with garlands and swags, make door wreaths representing the continuity of life and to remind us that spring is not far away.
Our houses are filled with lights, as we follow centuries old traditions.
But nature is not entirely asleep. In my back garden, tucked in and protected underneath the hedge, buds are about to open on pale yellow primroses, plucky red cyclamen and cheery winter pansies are bright dots of colour in borders and containers.
And for any garden big enough to hold one, the winter flowering Mahonia with its fragrant yellow fronds is in its element.
And then there are the Viburnums. This time of year is their moment to shine. Viburnum bodnantense, named after Bodnant Gardens in Wales where it was first cultivated, is in full flower, with pale pink tubular scented blooms on its bare branches. Meanwhile, large, evergreen Viburnum tinus is about to burst open its clusters of white, starshaped flowers, nestled amongst dark green oval leaves.
We may not be able to fill our houses with fresh cut flowers from our gardens just yet, but nature is still providing – if you know where to look!
Images: www.funnyhowflowersdothat.co.uk & istock