That's my girls: There's something kinda ooh about the flowers already dazzling us


God, it makes you feel old to think that Girls Aloud are now a thing of the past. We shall not look upon their like again. Sniff. But anyway, thinking about that former cultural phenomenon recently, I had a moment of nostalgia recalling the video for "I Can't Speak French", in which the Girls flounce around in very short, corsetted can-can skirts, with layers upon layers of net and frills and feathers in various shades of pink and pale lilac-y colours.

And for a second, the net and frills, those fancy skirts, gave me an odd little moment of excited anticipation. Not about Nadine's next solo outing, but about piles and piles of imminent flowering blossom, all in the brightest colours – the sign that spring is properly on its way. The very earliest blossom of the year (already to be seen in the middle of January in a mild year), flowers on bare branches, reminding me quite poignantly of Cheryl Cole's naked shoulders with her frouncy satin straps over the top.

One January gal already showing her stuff is the winter-flowering cherry, Prunus x subhirtella "Autumnalis". This tree flowers intermittently through the winter during mild spells, sometimes giving that cherry-blossom effect several times before spring officially arrives. It also comes in pink, under the title "Fukubana" (pictured); my mum has one in her back garden and it's already covered in pink buds, showing their colour vividly against a late afternoon winter sky of medieval blue. Standing in the cold last week, admiring the tight, tinged buds already being nosed by the first brave bees, my mum says, "You feel so grateful, to have flowers when there's nothing else," and I have to agree.

Then suddenly I hear a warm, bubbling sound over the cold air, the blinding light of the low sun and the long shadows. As the bird flies away, I see it is a mistle thrush, which Thomas Hardy celebrated in his midwinter poem "The Darkling Thrush"; a song I'd never heard till now in real life. It's the middle of the winter or the beginning of spring, depending on how you look at it, but I'm feeling cheerful, channelling Girls Aloud, listening to fresh birdsong and standing next to blossom that has actual bees on it. It doesn't get much better for mid-January.

And so the new year finds me going on about trees again – this time, small, elegant trees to be planted somewhere you can see from the window where you do the washing up. In fact, these Prunus are the perfect trees for even very small gardens; although all will do best in unobstructed sun for a good part of the day – perfect front garden material, in other words.

The habits of trees are important. And by that, I don't mean what time they get up in the morning and whether they contribute willingly to the electricity bill. I mean the individual way the twigs and branches curl to form a recognisable shape against the cold winter sky. The white Prunus carries soft, rounded flowers, reminding me of apple blossom, on radiating starlike bursts of branches; the pink, on the other hand, has a curling, wilder growth, which develops later in February, with increasingly tight-furled points of rose.

Each flowers on entirely bare stems, and can spare entire long twigs for cutting in early spring. Yet, after spring, they almost disappear from the garden, becoming invisible over the summer. Until, that is, their elegant long leaf turns a vivid red in autumn, another positive point of colour in the year.

But for the moment, it's can-can skirt blossoms imminent in my sightline. Ah, that's a nice thought: the Girls are back.

Winter wonders: Blossoming over the coming months

Prunus x subhirtella 'autumnalis'

Starred with pure white flowers in mild winter moments. £47.99 for a 1½m tree (All plants here from

Prunus x subhirtella 'autumnalis rosea'

The same winter blossom as the white, but in a soft baby pink. £34.99, on sale now

Prunus cerasifera 'Nigra'

This black-leaved plum, which has an RHS award, is smothered in tiny pink flowers from March to April. £49.99

Prunus mume 'Beni-Chidori'

Technically this tiny beauty is an apricot. But what an apricot. Bright pink and almond-scented. Flowers March. £37.99

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone