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The Tuesday tree: a stroll amongst the snowdrops

February 14, 2012

At the weekend we spent a happy day with friends who live on the east coast of Scotland. It was one of those rare, fine February days that remind you that Spring is not too far away. The air was still cold enough to nip the fingers, the ground frigid enough to chill booted feet; but a pale lemon sun shone through the trees, tempting us out into the woods to walk off our splendid lunch. And oh, what enchanting woods. Under the slender grey trunks of beech trees, more snowdrops than I have ever seen carpeted the ground. Beside every path, around every turn, the earth was strewn with snowdrops.

Two generations, at least, of our friends’ family have worked to achieve this effect, diligently dividing up clumps of bulbs and replanting them every year to encourage their spread. The success of their efforts is in the fact that the woods ‘feel’ entirely natural. At this time of year, many of Scotland’s great houses open up their grounds to the public for snowdrop season. (Not us, as yet, although I think our gardener has plans for the future.) I suppose I have seen more dramatic policies than these, where the snowdrops tumble down steep banks by mountain burns (streams); and grander, where the little white flowers nod against a backdrop of ancient stone and dark topiary. To be honest, though, I don’t think I could think of anything more perfectly pretty in February than snowdrops in a sunny beech wood.


You might enjoy: A Valentine for an Ent?Signs of Spring.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2012 11:16 am

    Oh that looks so beautiful! When you said it was in the East I was hoping it would be in a park (and a somewhat nearby one!). Oh well, those woods and all those snowdrops are gorgeous either way. What a lovely stroll that must have been!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 15, 2012 12:30 pm

      Sorry not to be more helpful for you, Jodi! These friends do open their snowdrop woods to the public next week, but they are down near Montrose, which I guess is a bit of a hike for you. Next time you’re in a bookshop, you might like to have a look for the annual softback published by Scotland’s Garden Scheme. It has a bright yellow cover and lists all the private gardens, big and small, which open to the public for charity at various times of the year. I hope you too get a stroll through the snowdrops!

  2. hmunro permalink
    February 15, 2012 3:11 pm

    GLORIOUS! Beautiful photos, as ever. But my mind can’t quite grasp that this expansive, lush carpet has been lovingly replanted every year for two generations. Extraordinary!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 15, 2012 5:30 pm

      It must be a lot of work, although I think my phrasing may have misled you. Most of the snowdrops can be left where they are, year after year. The bulbs naturally divide and so each clump thickens until it is a bit choked. That’s when you dig up a clump (or part of it), divide it and plant sections of it in new places, where they start their natural spreading all over again. So the flowers do a lot of the hard work for you. Still, it’s pretty cold and backbreaking work, so I have great admiration for the effort that has gone into this lovely wood!

      • hmunro permalink
        February 15, 2012 8:37 pm

        Ah, no … no misleading. It’s I who misread.

        But, as you say, that patch of sowdrops is an impressive feat nonetheless.

      • hmunro permalink
        February 15, 2012 8:38 pm

        GAAA! Snowdrops. I mean “snowdrops”!

        Though I suppose some farms must indeed have plenty of sowdrops. LOL. 🙂

  3. Menatra permalink
    February 15, 2012 4:14 pm

    Those pictures are just beautiful, as usual. You definitely have a talent with photography. It is funny that you mention the feel that spring is not very far away, because here in Canada that is our spring! We are still under a few feet of snow and still expecting another month of snow fall.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 15, 2012 5:38 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m sure I’m just lucky with the light in Scotland!
      You are right about snowdrops being part of spring themselves, of course. Sometimes our winters here seem to last until the beginning of April – not so much in massive snowfalls as in the rawness of the weather and the landscape – so the snowdrops are very welcome. I guess what I meant was that a rare mild February day shouldn’t lull us Scots into a false sense of security, as we almost always have a fair amount of raw, wet, windy days to come. Snow in April is not unusual, although it never lasts long by then. I can imagine that you must be longing for your first sight of spring flowers by now!

  4. February 15, 2012 7:54 pm

    What a glorious sight, DB. Thanks so much for your lovely photos. I too have never seen snowdrops like those, closely resembling the profusion of a bluebell wood. One of the small churches in my last parish has a profusion of snowdrops in its churchyard and invites people to a tea and snowdrops day when they are at their best – in aid of church funds of course. 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 16, 2012 4:03 pm

      Snowdrops in a churchyard must look so pretty. As for these ones, I too was reminded of a bluebell wood. And my photos show only a fraction of the grounds – and the snowdrops!

  5. February 16, 2012 5:57 pm

    It’s positively magical!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 25, 2012 4:48 pm

      My pleasure.

  6. February 25, 2012 8:13 am

    One of the most uplifting sights there is, and yet so simple.
    And backbreaking work to achieve, judging by what I feel like after planting only a few spring bulbs.

  7. dancingbeastie permalink*
    February 25, 2012 4:48 pm

    Yes, a pretty full-on job, but what delightful results.

  8. February 26, 2012 10:23 pm

    Beautiful. I’m a great fan of snowdrops – they look so delicate and yet they’re not. We’ve got a lot of them in our front garden this year, much more than any other year since we’ve been here.

    Seeing them under the trees in your photos reminds me of bluebell woods. Now that’s another sight that I love to see – great blankets of blue.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 27, 2012 7:39 pm

      These make me think of bluebell woods too. The first green shoots of our bluebells are already appearing out of the earth under the trees, so that’s something to look forward to!


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