Bulbs are the bright harbingers of new year from the time you see the first snowdrops appearing. Here is my guide to choosing and planting spring flowering bulbs.
It is always great to blow away the cobwebs after the Christmas holidays and visit the trade shows that come thick and fast in the coming new year.
However I was having second thoughts when marching from East 2 car park at the NEC, Birmingham, at 8.30am on Sunday morning towards the Spring Fair.
As always, on arrival, I was rewarded with the sight and sounds of hundreds of expectant people waiting for the 2013 version to open it's doors.
White, no sugar for me, black with one sugar for my wife Kay and black, no sugar for Simon, one of my business partners, was what was need to kickstart us on our day.
We were here primarily to buy Christmas lines for the coming season and spent time on Premier Decorations and Swift Imports trade stands as well as Kaemingk Season Decorations. Here we ordered a large and very varied selection of Christmas Decorations that we are already excited about receiving next September.
Some of the lines will go onto our website but the vast majority will be for in store sales at our Garden Centres and The Garden Room coffee shop in Sutton Coldfield. The opportunity to combine a coffee shop with retail space was one not to miss when the opportunity presented itself in 2010. The Garden Room has proved very popular though our regular customers keep us on our toes by demanding new, different and unusual lines for sale all the time.
The organisers of Spring Fair 2013 had despatched a TV camerman along with an interviewer and they wanted my feedback on the show even though I had only seen 2 of the Halls at this point. I obliged, which was Kay and Simon's cue to go and get some lunch?
The afternoon saw walking sticks from Classic Canes and glass and giftware from The Straights Trading Company added to our purchases of Christmas lines, some of which we had previously purchased at the Harrogate Toy and Christmas Show earlier in January. One of our most novel purchases was 50 Log Reindeers from Celtic Wood Crafts.
This is a new and innovative company that has produced these adorable reindeers from local sources. Standing about 3-4ft tall before you add the antlers on, and will sell at well under £80.00 each, representing great value for money.
The House of Sarrunds supplies hand made Belgian chocolates to our coffee shop at The Garden Room and we could not help but be drawn to their display again.
The coloured chocolates could only have looked better than they tasted beccause they were gorgeous.
I will get to taste them when the stock arrives. You can get most of what you want at The Spring Fair and we will be back in 2014 without a shadow of a doubt.
Britain's Best Gardens is a new three part series that begins in January on ITV. Nathan James Dodd has learnt that top amateur gardeners from all over the country will be featured in this brand new programme.
The Big Allotment Challenge returns to our TV screens on 2 January. The first series featured a series of challenges themed around growing vegetables, flower arranging and making preserves. Nathan James Dodd discovered what makes this programme such a ratings success.
Traditional cast stone garden planters often reference styles from the classical to the rustic, with many replicating stately home originals. Nathan James Dodd reviews the range of traditional planters for sale in the UK.
Sky announced that its new 'Show Me Your Garden' series will be on your screens from 2 January next year. Nathan James Dodd has discovered more information on a programme that promises to explore the nation's most beautiful back gardens and their passionate gardeners.