The Christmas Rose in flower around December, Helleborus Niger, is a plant which brightens the darkest days. Promising that there are better days to come meantime, and surprising that the larger flower heads can be buried under the snow one day and emerge the next without frost damage to their petals.
Another promising plant, Sweet Box, is not the sugary, left-over-from-Christmas confection, it is the Sarcococca. The Hellebores provide the larger, blousey flowers, the Sarcococca has smaller insignificant flowers, but it makes up for it with a strong, heady perfume.
Skimmia Japonica, the slow growing, shade tolerant shrub, may have clusters of tiny flowers, they too know how to tempt insects to sweet-smelling blooms.
Whilst we wait for the burst of spring colour, there are still a few more early spring-flowering shrubs preparing to show their livery. Camelia is in bud and it won’t be long before they pop open. Azaleas lie in wait as do their bigger siblings, the rhododendrons, assuring us that spring is well and truly on its way.