Through the gloom of the miserly 6 hours of gardening daylight (not to mention the never ending rain) there shines hope! Just enough, I think, to propel me damply into February. For the first snowdrop is here, spotted on the 6th January – a full month ahead of last year.
This is always a major moment in my gardening year – like the first Swift returning. It signals to me that whatever the extent of my incompetence or neglect, or however much it feels the elements have all unfairly conspired against me, it is going to be OK. Things are still growing. My mistakes are of minuscule significance on the scale of things. And, heck, it takes more than a few feet of rain to deter these tough little Galanthus guys. The flowers aren’t open yet, most are still just pushing their way through – but who cares? It means life goes on!
There are actually abundant signs of life all over the garden, so it is probably silly to burden the little snowdrop with so much sentimental symbolism. The cyclamen hederifolium, for example, has been glowing in its slowly expanding clump for many weeks. As hardy as anything, I would have more by now, had I not managed to plant all my expensive new coums upside down a few years back. Fortunately, this particular specimen was bought already in flower, so it was somewhat easier to figure out which way was up!
I’ve been far too ashamed to buy any more coums since my debacle. Happily plenty of the seed I have collected over the last few years has germinated, so there are lots of baby cyclamen bulking up in pots. But I’ll only plant them out once they look big enough to stand up to the thuggish blackbirds and vine weevil they will have to contend with.
Another plant putting on a heroic show is the Christmas box, Sarcococca Confusa. I have propagated loads of little plants from this parent shrub and it just takes it all in its stride, smelling heavenly and glowing away. It is perhaps a little too glowing (a touch of yellow compared to previous years?), which makes me think it will need a good feed come Spring. I may even plant it into the garden (it lives in a pot at present) and create a little area of shady hedging.
So with spirits soaring after a relatively not-that-wet-or-cold-compared-to-usual Sunday in the garden, I felt justified, nay, compelled to drink wine and order seeds. Unfortunately in that order. I now have a LOT of seeds en route to Inverness – but that is another post entirely!