The camellia we have has glossy, dark green leaves that throw the burgundy petals and yellow stigma into high relief. It’s a dense, squat shrub that flowers from February through to about April, offering the first burst of vivid color we can see from the kitchen. Our carnations are mostly the dwarf variety, some are pure white and others have a red ribbon tracing the outlines of the petals. The cordylines love it here: one actually came back from the dead after the succession of hard snows we had about four years ago, split itself in three and is now about six feet tall. But it’s the cherry blossom that is the show-stopper in the front garden. There is a bottle-brush that’s equally spectacular later in the summer and it too did the lazurus thing by being shriveled one winter, spent two summers in shock, and finally burst into red blooms again last year. I’ve learned not to dig them out immediately when they’ve been through bad winters, renewal is an amazing bonus when it’s spontaneous.