Usually start to think about next summer's garden at this time of year. Used to be that all my Xmas presents were trees and shrubs, which I planted during the holiday, weather permitting. But I've become fussier about what I want to plant over the years and its difficult for present givers to choose for me. Big job has been sawing down a magnificent specimen of Pinus Stobus. Its been a tough decision, but it was blocking the marvellous views of Cornden and Long Mountain from the sitting room window. It was Mrs D's decision, but in the end it had to go.
I walk around planning what to plant and move in the next few months. And I was struck by how beautiful some of the tree trunks look. We have dozens of birches around the garden, including 10 Betula utilis 'Jacquemontii', the best white barked birch of all. They could be made even more stunning by washing them down. My favorite trunks are the Acer grisiums, which are expensive to buy if you want a well grown specimen - but well worth it. The most colourful shrub (which is not a tree only because Mrs D cuts it right back to the main stem every year) is an orange stemmed willow, that I do not know the name of. These need to be chosen to taste from nurseries.
As you would expect, there is not much colour about at the moment, but the yellow 'Pallida' witch hazels are already showing good colour. If the weather is half decent over the next few days, I have already identified at least one fairly mature variegated rhododendron that needs moving. I know that I would be better leaving this until March/April - but these jobs have to be done when there's time.