I don't think there is anything to quite rival the joy of seeing the first snowdrops. In the shade garden, we've had hellebores flowering all winter, but seeing the snowdrops really starts the hope that spring is just around the corner. And I feel this year it's especially needed as the start of spring will bring with it the hope  we might be coming out of lockdown, might be seeing friends and family again, might be able to go beyond the borders of our own gardens.

Early spring bulbs are such an important food source for bees on the warmer winter days.

We've had some cold weather recently, even some snow, but the last few days have been wet and mild so even though the snow has only just melted, there were a few bees flying. It really emphasised to me the importance of bulbs as a food source at this time of year. And as the snowdrops go over in the next couple of weeks, it will be the perfect time to lift and divide.

Some snow drops pop up next to a (bully) bergenia which provide a verdant backdrop to show off the white bells.

If your garden is sans-snowdrops at the moment, spring is a great time to plant them too as you are much more likely to have success with them if you plant them 'in the green' (while they still have leaves but after they flower). You can buy them at this stage online (the shade garden was planted up with bulbs in the green from Sarah Raven and Avon Bulbs) or if you spot your neighbour with a chunky clump maybe you can ask for a few when they divide them.

Hellebores and the ivy-leaf of cyclamen hederifolium are excellent companions in a late-winter garden.

The Shade Garden really is my favourite part of the garden for the start of the year and the snowdrops in it have really cheered me up. But I've also been surprised by how well the snowdrops are doing in the grass too, especially since we don't mow any of the back part of the garden.

Despite not mowing the grass for nearly 16 months now, the snowdrops still make their way through.

So I'm looking forward to spring, warmer and longer days, and seeing friends again. But until then, the snowdrops will definitely keep putting a smile on my face.

Silver leafed cyclamen coum (which will flower in the spring) add to the late-winter display in the Shade Garden.