Although it's not the most colourful time of the year, it's a time for reflection, planning and the promise of things to come.
Having said that, I love the russet colours of my beech hedge at this time of year. Beech hedging is so popular because it has bright green leaves in spring, which develop into a more intense green over the summer months, autumn sees a golden colour, until finally in winter you get these russet brown colours - offset by our yellow Labrador, Grace.
I have planted another beech hedge to reflect this one, and although they were planted last year as 60 cm plants - the leaves went through the same colour cycle as this 10 year old hedge. Like so many gardeners I love the seasons, the continuous change and constant surprises that Britain gives us.
My wife and I went out for lunch last week, to The Pig in Hunstrete, a favourite haunt as the food is amazing and the service fantastic. We had starters of piggy bits - crackling and apple sauce, pigs in blankets, hock eggs and Colman's dressing and fishy bits - salmon puffs, crispy cod cheeks and flaked hake crackers. Then main course (ox cheek and venison sausages) and a pudding (treacle sponge and custard). Delicious.
However, you never switch off from looking at the plants - there was a beautiful old olive tree in a courtyard and this rather sad looking lavender. It's gone a bit straggly and although it may look okay in the summer it really needs replacing. Alan Titchmarsh says about lavender that 'no garden should be without it', and he also says that it should be replaced every 3 to 5 years.
Coming back to my garden, the first signs of spring are starting to appear, not least our daffodils - the early varieties have come out in full despite the freezing temperatures - managing to survive perfectly well. The other daffodils come into their own in mid-spring and are a wonderful carpet of colour to make you feel that all is well in the world. But having these little pops of yellow to brighten up a dank January day are just as much a joy.
The snowdrops are also forcing their way through the soil, and these little beauties are the first ones in the garden to rear their tiny white droplet flowers. They appear in the most surprising places, I rarely remember the places where they have been planted and they're often in unusual places, sometimes at the periphery of the garden or under a shaded area and like daffodils bring a bit of colour to January and February. What I must do is plant up some snowdrops 'in the green' where there are a few noticeable gaps.
Last, but not least are the tulip bulbs, nosing above the ground, hope I planted them deep enough in the autumn, so that they're not sprouting up too fast. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a maverick when it comes to planting tulips and tend to plant the bulbs randomly round the garden, clusters of different colours appearing here and there. I did try to plant more pastel-coloured ones together, such as pink and cream - two of my favourites are Foxtrot (pink) and Exotic Emperor (creamy white). However, this year could be a riot of colour in clusters, lines or simply an odd colour here and there.
Dog and Dogwood
Don't forget that our newsletter for February is coming out next Saturday - with news, views, new products (we're excited about our new range - dahlias), top tips, jobs for the garden, events and so on.
If you want to sign up for the newsletter, click here.