With only a few months' training under her belt, GardenSite's own Flori Bosnigeanu took part in this year's Great Birmingham Run, raising over £500 for the city's Children's Hospital.
In the bleak mid-winter it's encouraging to know that, even in this coldest season, some reassuringly warm colour can be present in the garden.
If you garden is masked in white and the sky is grey, there are a fair few plants and shrubs that can provide inspirational colour. Whether this is through foliage, berries or flowers, they can be a welcome relief from a monochrome month.
Here are ten shrubs that can provide flashes of colour until spring arrives:
Renowned for its fragrance, the deciduous Wintersweet flowers all winter. Usually the small blooms are yellow and cup shaped, with a purple centre, while 'Luteus' has totally yellow flowers. Very useful stems for cut flower arrangements. Likes full sun and moist well drained soil.
The Siberian Dogwood will add brilliant colour and structure to the frosty landscape. Creamy white flowers in the spring and early summer are followed by round blue / white berries and then in the winter you'll be left with bright crimson stems. Will grow in most soils if placed in sun or partial shade.
The deciduous Winter Jasmine with its arching branches prefers a well drained sheltered position. Yellow star shaped flowers appear on leafless stems from February into early spring. This is a very hardy climbing shrub that can be trained with wires or left to flow over the ground.
The red spindly shaggy Witch Hazel flowers are sweetly fragrant and appear from mid to late winter. Before this in the autumn, the foliage will give an outstanding display of orange / red brilliance. Prefers a slightly acidic moist soil.
Commonly known as the Corkscrew Hazel due to its interestingly shaped shoots. In the late winter pale yellow catkins hang from the branches before the spring foliage appears. Likes alkaline well drained soil, a slow grower it was first discovered in a Gloucestershire hedgerow.
A shade loving small evergreen shrub with red berries that are present throughout the winter. It is slow growing, so container planting with a moist humus rich soil is ideal. The attractive aromatic leaves are shiny dark green and before the berries arrive there are clusters of small white flowers.
This is a dwarf evergreen shrub that has has a bushy creeping habit with leaves that are edged with yellow and pink in the winter. Fully hardy, it will grow in sun or partial shade in any well drained, moist soil.
Commonly called 'Heavenly Bamboo', although it does not belong to that family, overflows with lovely crimson red leaves in the winter and will provide colour all year round. You might also be lucky enough to get berries as well. Position in sun or partial shade with an acid to neutral soil. Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' Originating from the Himalayas with purple / pink and white flowers. It will grow well in a border or container in a small garden but does not like to be moved. The lovely scented flowers possibly outweigh the fact that the sap might can irritation. May not be fully hardy.
Mahonias have sharp holly shaped leaves, glossy and evergreen, that are often tinged with red and purple in cold weather. The scented yellow flowers carried on racemes last for weeks and are often followed by purple berries. This shrub will thrive in most soil in a sheltered shady position.
My favourite golden leaved evergreen with its broad leafed waxy foliage. 'Sundance' Mexican Orange can grow up to 6ft in a rounded shape. It likes full sun and can be cut back hard if it grows too big. It is fairly hardy and flowers with fragrant white flowers in spring and summer.
When purchasing a Christmas tree, you may or may not be aware that you're continuing a centuries old tradition that was enthusiastically adopted by the Victorians. An artificial tree as Andy Taylor explains is just a modern take on this age old practice.
There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.
Christmas wreaths, swags and garlands might be thought a little old fashioned, but Robert Hall thinks that modern versions of these traditional decorations are a fabulous way to combine tradition with colourful contemporary themes.
This guide by Andy Taylor is all about battery powered lights, a very safe way to decorate your home with festive colour. With low running costs and bright LEDs, batteries may be the smart choice this Christmas.