The Tuesday tree: a stroll amongst the snowdrops
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.