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Sensational Snowdrops

Posted on 25th Feb, 2010

What is it about Snowdrops?

Pure and delicate they emerge just when the world around them looks bleak and miserable. Suddenly in the dark days February up they pop, providing at last a sign that winter will give up its hold.

Perhaps this year in particular their arrival has been much anticipated – for all of us it's been a longer winter than we have become use to. Today as I write, the north of the country and Scotland is again under a blanket of snow and here in London it's been raining all week. Last week however was a window of snowdrop heaven.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s London Flower shows provide a welcome diversion from the drawing board at any time of year, but the February show is particularly well timed. Last week on a particularly wet and miserable grey day, to be greeted with the scent and colour of the exhibits was to be instantly transported to a sunnier place. The beautiful displays of early flowering plants put on by specialist nurseries are a treat and feed the soul. Wonderful orange and yellow marmalade colours from the Witch Hazels, extraordinary pussy on the willows and catkins in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, helebores galore and colourful crocus, a feast for the eye. However, the show stealer were the snowdrops with people come from far and wide to marvel at the exquisite displays of well known and lesser known varieties. The room was filled with Galanthophiles notebooks and cameras in hand salivating over the latest rarity.
Discussing the show with a colleague yesterday, she told me she had arrived just as the doors opened wanting to be an early bird before the crowds. However, to her surprise, the room was already full. It turned out that a party of German Galanthophiles on a “snowdrop tour of England” were already monopolising the stands, elbows out, wallets in hand, ready to snap up some rare and prized example. Beach towels immediately came to mind!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the arrival of snowdrops is just the spur one needs to get out into the garden again. Happily a little window in the cold and wet arrived at the end of the week and surprisingly I was down to shirt sleeves with some hard graft. Clearing the last remaining leaves from borders exposed both snowdrops and hellebores looking good against the coloured stems of Cornus. The two days in the fresh air with even a little bit of warmth in the sun in between the occasional sleet shower did the power of good mentally although the gluteus maximus protested – Note to self…….you pay the price for winter hibernation!

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