January gets a bad press. The weather's not perfect, the festive season is over, and there's a sense of exasperation as we haul our (often slightly larger) selves around in what seems like permanent twilight waiting for some sign of life. It all seems rather gloomy.
That is unless you're gardening. Having recently joined forces with Andy Byfield at Flete Walled Garden, I have of late found myself working in the large Victorian greenhouses potting up segments of snowdrop bulb. These little nuggets of plant matter, sometimes as small as a grain of rice, hold the potential to create luscious and collectable plants in the future. Then there are the fully-grown snowdrops nudging up through the soil or even in full flower. There is simply nothing (apart from a large steaming plate of rich food with a mulled wine on the side) that lifts the spirits more.
The snowdrop (from the Latin word for milk flower) has a secure place in stories from several European cultures. When Adam and Eve were turfed out of Eden an angel promised them spring would arrive and as a sign he blew down a snowflake that instantly turned into a snowdrop as it hit the soil.
On the other hand they say a single snowdrop flowering in a garden warns of future catastrophe. We have several single snowdrops already blooming outside, blissfully unaware that they are messengers of doom. But I certainly won't be disturbing them with anything other than a blast of carbon dioxide when sighing with relief that at least something is stirring.
The Flete Estate Office,
Haye Farm, Holbeton,
Telephone: 01752 830234