Although the weather at this time of year tends to be rather cold and dreary there are a few beautiful blooms which brighten the grey and act as a prelude to the glory of Spring. One of my favourites is the Chimonanthus praecox. Also known as winter sweet due to its heavily scented flowers, this Chinese native spends most of the year over shadowed by the riot of colour in the Long Border but at this time of year becomes the star of the show.
Another tonic at this time of the year, although slightly less exotic, is the humble Snow Drop. The pure white blooms which appear throughout the garden, often under shrubs, are one of the joys of Winter. These are in the Long Border but I have also spotted clumps in bloom through the Wild Garden, Spring Garden and East Garden. There are also clumps to be found in the wider Gravetye estate naturalised through the woodland.
The final plant which is in full glory this month is the Witch Hazel. We have several through the garden and, similar to the Chimonanthus, spend most of the year in relative obscurity within the borders before bursting into colour at this time of year. The work which has been undertaken in the shrubbery has exposed a beautiful red specimen, which would have previously been screened from view.