It is easy to believe that winter is a time when the chilly, grey landscape has no flowers at all. At Sun Rising, though, primroses, little cowslips, gorse by the main gate, the occasional determined dandelion, ivy and hazel are all in flower.
Over the last week the snowdrops have begun to flower too. The first you may have seen here are those that were planted ‘in the green’; these are flowering from the nourishment in their bulbs, bulbs which have not yet put down little roots to replenish themselves. Flowering a little later and, for me, the most beautiful are those which are well rooted, having been planted a few years ago. These tend to be scattered, rather than in clumps, the little white flowers peaking through the tatty winter grasses. If you look carefully, you can spot their sturdy little leaves, darker and thicker than the grasses in which they are growing, before they flower. They seem to me to have a quiet independence, a brilliant spirit.
Snowdrops don’t much like wet winters, struggling in water-logged soil, so the success rate for the little wild Galanthus nivalis snowdrops we are planting at Sun Rising is not as high as it might be if planting specially bred cultivars. In the semi-wild environment of the nature reserve, our snowdrops can flower later than those in gardens too. Each year more come through, though, and despite the recent rain and increasingly wet soil, let’s hope we have plenty this year.
Nor should we yet complain of the rain. After such a dry 2017, it is lovely to have the moisture in the earth now. Looking at the photograph here, too, the sparkling raindrops on grass beside the newly flowering snowdrops only adds to the delight and sense of hope: a first whisper of spring.