I know so many people who are champing at the bit for the clocks to change and who seem to have existed in a state of suspended animation over the winter.
It doesn’t have to be like that. Well there’s two things I’ve done over the last few seemingly still dark and drizzly weeks that have made me realise us gardeners really can enjoy this ‘down season’ and even anticipate its arrival.
Firstly - go on a course to learn something new or pick up ideas and inspiration for your garden in the year ahead.
I went for the hands-on creative approach and spent a day making small animal figures out of wire. The course was run by artist and sculptor Julieann Worrall Hood, based in Wiltshire. Her straightforward, yet encouraging teaching style was spot on. Sitting in the studio chatting with others course attendees, achieving something there and then, and picking up a new creative skill at the same time was one of the most refreshing things I done for quite some time.
My chicken (and I had time to make a swift, too) may not have the artistry of Julieann’s creations but they definitely have a character of their own and I’d like to think that the chicken will make it into the garden in fairer weather, to peck among the pots at the edge of the patio.
Secondly – don’t under any circumstances miss seeing some snowdrops. I attended the Snowdrop Study Day at The Garden House in Buckland Monachorum on the edge of Exmoor last week – in what proved typically damp moorland weather. Eighty galanthopiles gathered to hear plantsman, writer and former RHS director general Chris Brickell, Alan Street of Avon Bulbs and Garden House head gardener Matt Bishop talk about these determined little garden heroes. There are hundreds of desirable cultivars, all with distinct characteristics – the current fashion, it seems, is for unusual green markings.
The highlight for many was the sale of bulbs in the green with eager crowds thronging the potting shed tables to hopeful pick up a prize. Prices were nothing in comparison to recent auction amounts – but the rarer examples didn’t leave you much change from a £50. Still, the look of delight on everyone’s faces as they came away clutching their quarry was heart-warming.
Then it was off round the gardens with little concern for the persistent rain and every concern for enjoying the late winter colour – emerging crocus and eranthis, intensely coloured Iris reticulata, fragrant daphnes and hamamelis – and of course those precious snowdrops. One lady carried on of those nifty telescopic pocket mirrors, which allowed her to view each flower's intricacies without resorting to muddy hands and knees.
Wonderful for lifting any remnants of winter blues. Highly recommended. Snowdrops are definitely something to look forward to every winter.
Check out our list of just some of the snowdrop days taking place around the country this month.