You could be deceived into thinking the winter is the drab time in the garden but if you are lucky enough to have evergreens or plants with coloured bark or stems along with some winter flowers then you are in for a visual treat. Evergreens too make a wonderful backbone to your garden with an enormous range of variegated, golden, grey, blue and even russet coloured conifers available in a variety of shapes.
Coloured stems and bare bark trees such as the shining white silver birch or the rust red coat of the paper bark maple make a lovely contrast to a background of evergreen shrubs.
Last winter I visited a garden at a stately home and was very taken with the shiny conker-coloured bark of the Tibetan cherry Prunus serrula and the vivid green striped stems of the snake-bark maple Acer griseum.
A large clump of red-stemmed dogwood makes a bold statement in my garden and there is also a yellow green version available. Shrubby willows too come in several shades including a dramatic scarlet or the purple stems of the violet willow Salix daphnoides.
Witch Hazels are well worth having with their red or gold autumn leaves followed by their spidery, winter flowers. I have several mahonias that bloom from mid-winter into spring with their heady scented flowers. But the winter shrub everyone knows is the winter jasmine with its glorious splash of colour an ideal for a north facing wall.
As for flowers, well the choice is limited but for bulk colour I favour universal pansies, primroses and winter heathers especially for planting where the ground is well drained and just when you had given up hope of spring ever arriving, the snowdrops appear to mark the end of winter.
Hopefully, the heavy hints about Christmas presents of a gardening nature will come to fruition which just leaves me to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a successful gardening season for 2017.