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 crocus.co.uk)

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
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn