Moving on to seasonal flowers, here is a shrub that is not seen very often. When spring really arrives we will be surrounded by pink ribes, yellow forsythia and white spiraea. But before that bright display starts there are a few other, rather more subtle shrubs that provide a little colour. My favourite is possibly Osmaronia (now Oemleria) cerasiformis which is, admitedly, a rather spreading, blundering oaf of a shrub. The stiffly pendant spikes of rather small, white flowers are scented of almonds. But here we have Prinsepia utilis which is a Himalayan shrub with small white flowers and eye-catching (literally) spines. Not in the first rank of garden shrubs it reaches about 2m high and a bit more across with a slightly untidy, arching habit and is deciduous. In western China it is planted as hedges and, if you have the room, it would be good for that, what with those spines. The trouble will be finding a supplier.
Though subtle in the extreme, unless you walk into it, the flowers are produced very early and it produces purple fruits that are apparently edible.