January 23, 2019

Caroline’s Garden Diaries – January Snow: 9.1.13 / 14.1.13

9 January 2013
More excitement today- the first snowdrop is properly out in flower in the garden! The bud that was sheathed in green has finally emerged and bent over to give the familiar and beautiful “drop”. I’ve been watching for this to happen since I first noticed the little grey-green points of the new flowers nosing out from the ground; it’s been a magic moment for me since I was a child when we would watch for the first ones to show under our weeping ash tree. It’s the same enchantment that Mary and Dickon feel when they first explore in “The Secret Garden” and they find points of bulbs hiding in overgrown places. Perhaps it is because snowdrops are the first tiny signs that life is returning to the garden that we love them so.

Despite all this, I’m not a galanthophile; it’s an ugly word anyway, although now I know (thanks to Google) that the “gal” bit in Galanthus means milk in greek, (as in the Milky Way galaxy), so the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis translates as “snow-covered milk-flower”, I feel better about it. But galanthophile meaning “enthusiastic collector of snowdrops” –that’s not me. Save that for the nerdy men (usually) who collect rarities with yellow spots on, or twirly petals. No, I just love the ordinary type. But I am an enthusiastic distributor of snowdrops; one of my favourite jobs in the garden is just after the snowdrops have finished flowering is to dig up the large clumps of leaves still there, separate out the bulbs and spread them around the garden. Current thinking is that you should not plant them “in the green” like this but wait until they’re dormant. Typical garden advice, you grow up being told one thing and then They change their minds. They don’t tell you, however, how you’re supposed to find the dormant bulbs. And actually, the old method works fine– my garden’s full of beautiful snowdrops.

14 January
Snow. It really was over-optimistic to think of spring on 9th January but you just can’t help it if the sun’s out and you’re out in the garden finding the first snowdrops, the first Christmas rose, and even a primrose or two. I could say that I was misled by them and by the blue tits, one of whom was looking into the birdbox as if he were thinking about nesting, but perhaps we’re all – humans, birds, primroses – in this together; we all felt spring was in the air.
But now it’s winter again. The snowdrops will take care of themselves; I hope the primroses and birds will be Ok, but me, I’ll stay indoors and read garden catalogues, and think about all the lovely things I might grow this year. Mmmm.

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