I know I’ve mentioned them already, but this year’s crop of snowdrops has been quite astonishing. Maybe they weren’t quite such a feature of our local landscape in France. Maybe when we last lived in England, because we were in town, we saw them only tucked into quiet corners of suburban gardens, or on occasional weekend sorties. Perhaps snowdrops round here are always this special. But for us, this year has been a real treat.
Snowdrops have been almost the first thing we see as we set foot outside the house. They’ve been in dense groves in nearby woodland. They’ve been on sheltered verges. At first slender, pointing their sheathed leaves upwards in search of light, now they’ve opened their petals into blowsy bells and flattened their leaves gently towards the ground beneath. This is the sure signal that they’re on the way out. Gardens are displaying the first of the early crocus, and even daffodils are opening in more sheltered spots. I think snowdrops prefer to be the centre of attention, prepared to share the woodland only with occasional patches of aconites. Now that spring is really on its way, and the birds are honing their voices in preparation for their courtship rituals, the snowdrops are preparing to allow their flowers and leaves to wither and die, as the bulbs enjoy their long and nourishing hibernation below ground.