Thursday, 20 January 2011

FINALLY !!! The first signs of spring

Wonderful. Feeling a bit more alive today than I have done for nearly a month, I decided to venture outside the office this lunchtime and have a bit of a soft shoe pootle around Clifton, where I work. My walking pace wouldn't have won any triathlons, but it was fabulous to be out in the cold, still frosty, sun washed air. Mind you I did have an ulterior motive as walking in to work today I spotted my first snowdrop of the year. Which was just so inspiring.

And so as a record, I took this atrocious photo (the one below is even worse). This is the problem with having an idea but only having my Blackberry with me. These snowdrops, and other bulbs, are in a private garden, and under a magnificent magnolia. They give a riot of colour each year and it always lifts my spirits to walk past as the snowdrops give way to daffodils, which give way to tulips and bluebells and all under a crown of magnolia blossom.

But today it was snowdrop day. That photo above really is awful, I must apologise. But it's proof if proof were needed. The trouble is it was taken through a metal fence and the snowdrops were 20 feet away - that's my excuse anyway. But note to self. Carry a proper camera with me at all times, spring isn't far away!

Anyway after this I pootled up to the Catholic Cathedral where there are early flowering daffodils planted around a horse chestnut tree. I have written about these daffodils before, and looking back on the 10th December 2007, they were just as high. That's when we had warm winters and by mid January I'd have whipped my vest off and unleashed the sandals. The winter of 2010/11 is a bit too much like proper winter for sandal wearing in January. Not without thick grey knee socks at least!!

But what a treat to see them poking through. For Christmas this year Julie bought me 2 big pots of paperwhites which when they arrived were about an inch high. A few weeks in the house and they're a foot high and flowering profusely. The scent they exude in the kitchen is wonderful.

Speaking of scents, on my way back to the office I inhaled an elixir draft of honey walking past a garden. A Christmas box was in full flower. This one I believe is Sarcococca hookerana var humilis (feel free to correct me). But, boy what a scent. Pushing my nose deep into the flowers it was really like being bathed in honey. Early spring flowering plants and shrubs are one of my favourite things in gardens. So unobtrusive, but they quietly go about making a big statement on sunny days. A perfect end to the walk.

Time for a cuppa I think............


  1. We have 5 inches of snow on the ground here. If the snowdrops are up I couldn't see them. Way too cold I think this year. Maybe later in the month. hmmmm this is later in the month I guess but hey, I will be watching for them. I have never seen a Christmas Box. I will have to look that up to see just what it is. It sounds marvelous.

  2. Fantastic, at last a promise of spring, its always great to see the first flowers and thats an early one for sure, I have lots of bulbs breaking ground in my patch but no flowers yet, Im itching to get out and set seeds in my veg patch, I'll try to get some seed spuds to start and chit this weekend. Nice post

  3. Hi Lisa, Christmas box may be the English name, but it is one of the most wonderful scented plants in the winter months. They need to be in full or partial shade but other than that they're pretty bomb proof. I have one at home in a pot which unfortunately suffered last summer as I temporarily moved the pot into a sunny position while doing something and forgot to move it back. It has survived though and has some flowers.

    Hi James, this sunny (if cold) weather is making us all feel a bit twitchy to get out there. My partner is a professional gardener and she's loving being able to garden again after all that snow. Good luck with the chitting. First sowings can't be too far off either. This season I'm going to rip up some decking I inherited with the house and replace with raised beds. Never grown veg in raised beds before so looking forward to experimenting.

  4. Hi Andrew, delighted to hear you are making snowdrop steps to feeling more human again. There must be a poem in your progress (were you to take the challenge) that would make an interesting read ;-)

    We’re not at the same snowdrop stage here yet with only a few noses breaking the very hard frosted ground.

    Like Lisa, I’ve never heard of Christmas box either. By its pretty shaped flowers you could tell it would have a nice scent before you bent down! I’m guessing early bees may find it :-)

    Wishing you a good weekend weather for more small steps :-)

  5. These snowdrops and the daffodils are, I think, in a microclimate situation shirl. Clifton isn't the city centre, but all these Georgian and Victorian houses with their inefficient insulation must have an efect. At home my snowdrops are just poking through.

    A poem eh.... humm I wonder!

    Have a good weekend too