Just in time for the plummeting temperatures and approaching snow, the small green and white heralds of February, the snowdrops, are making their presence felt in dark corners of the garden. I have to admit to an (as yet) unfulfilled snowdrop-lust. So far I only have three varieties to enjoy, though I have my eye on many others in the Broadleigh Bulbs catalogue, especially ‘Desdemona’. I first discovered that particular frilly little gem at when studying at London’s Chelsea Physic Garden with the English Gardening School. Gorgeous little number: rampantly overflowing in its voluminous skirts, it puts the garden centres’ double Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ to shame!
With three February birthdays in the family I’ll be hunting the shelves for unusual plants as gifts this weekend, and will no doubt take a peek at the available snowdrops as well. Where snowdrops are concerned, I should really felt my purse firmly into my handbag as I simply can’t be trusted! But at least I’m not as bad as the real galanthophiles, whom the BBC reports as having spent up to £360 on one bulb recently. Yet when you watch the BBC’s time lapse photography of snowdrops determinedly making their way through the soil into the light, you can sort of understand the fascination with these miniature marvels.
I’ll content myself with some of the snowdrop walks, of which there are already quite a few coming up, due to the (until now) mild winter. You can find National Collections of snowdrops on the Plant Heritage website, like those at Cambo in Fife, or Brandy Mount House in Alresford, Hampshire, though for the latter 2012 will be their last year of opening their garden, after 25 years of helping to educate and enthuse the public.
There’s one other Snowdrop that really makes me smile, and that’s Snowdrop the Sheep at The Farm Animal Sanctuary. Her own determination to live, and that of Sanctuary owner Janet to keep her alive, has resulted in a special bond between them. Janet is still valiantly fighting another battle - against eviction from the Sanctuary's current site, which would leave Snowdrop and over 450 of her woolly friends without a home, plus pigs, horses and other maltreated animals given back their dignity by the care they've received.
I know I’ve appealed on the Sanctuary’s behalf before, but if any new readers of this blog feel they can help its fight for survival by Tweeting the Sanctuary’s website or Facebook page link to your networks, or by making a donation by post or anyhow direct to the Sanctuary, then your support would be most welcome.
Sheep have now been found to be really quite intelligent, according to scientists at the University of Cambridge, so we should all take a lesson from Janet’s book in treating them with the respect and kindness they deserve. They’re fellow creatures on the journey in this life, and shouldn’t be subject to “man’s ingratitude” as Shakespeare put it in his famous poem Blow, blow, thou winter wind. May the approaching snows and freezing temperatures bring out the indomitable Snowdrop in all of us this coming week. Keep warm!