We have been enjoying an unusually mild winter here in England this year. There was a brief cold snap in early December, but since then it has felt more like spring than winter.
When I go for my weekly run in the park I've noticed a lot of plants already in bloom. I hope the mild weather has not brought blooms out too early, because much colder temperatures are forecast for this coming weekend. But I think many of these plants are winter bloomers anyway, so they should be safe.
First we must start with the snowdrops (scientific name Galanthus), that ubiquitous early sign of an English spring.
Then, clustering thickly among the snowdrops, winter aconite (Eranthis).
Next, the shy and retiring Hellebore, or Christmas rose.
You are likely to overlook the tiny blooms of the Sarcococca hookeriana, or sweet box, but you'll be reminded of their presence by their heady scent, which follows you long after you've past the shrub.
Another sweetly scented shrub is the Viburnum x bodnantense - more delicately scented than the sweet box, but with unmissable pink blooms.
And then there are the winter cherry trees (Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis'), providing a more delicate scattering of pink blossoms.
And finally, this unidentified shrub with clusters of small pink starry flowers, which I was unable to find on the internet - if anyone knows what it is, please let me know!