The University of Oxford Botanic Garden has arranged a series of winter lectures, beginning this month when the photographer Andrew Lawson will talk on "The Gardener's Palette". For his lecture, on Thursday 30 January, Mr Lawson draws on the theme of his best-selling book, The Gardener's Book of Colour (Frances Lincoln, pounds 25). There are five lectures in the series, including the brilliant Helen Dillon talking on garden artistry. All lectures start at 8pm and will be held in the Garden Quad Auditorium, St John's College, Oxford. Tickets cost pounds 6 for a single lecture or pounds 25 for all five. Contact Louise Allen, University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford OX1 4AX (01865 276920).
Flower of the hour: Viburnum x bodnantense "Dawn" Why? Because it flowers in the darkest days of winter and has a smell that a perfumer would die for. It's deciduous, so the pinkish flowers sit prominently on bare stems. The first flush starts in October and is generally paler than the later flush, which can go on until April. Upright at first, it gradually splays out as it ages to make a shrub that is as broad as it is high, the stems springing from ground level up to 9ft. It flourishes in any soil, in sun or shade.