Sandy's Garden ... Snowdrops Signal Spring

I have cleared walkways through the 20cm of lying snow in my garden to allow safe access to the area where my green, blue and burgundy bins live.

By Sandy Simpson
Monday, 22nd February 2021, 9:08 am

The roadway itself is, as I write, a slushy mess of mashed-up snow, ice, salt and grit, negotiable in a car or on foot, but not a pleasurable place to walk as I can testify.

During what we wistfully call the ‘normal’ times of yesteryear, I would have been consulting reference books and the internet to ascertain where and when there were to be snowdrop festivals, expecting some of these delightful experiences to be available by this time in February.

Out of curiosity, I had recourse to a VisitScotland website … … to see what was on offer this year.

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Falkirk Herald gardening guru Sandy Simpson

There, I read … as I already knew … that, “As of 5 January 2021, everyone in mainland Scotland including Skye is being asked to stay at home except for essential purposes. These restrictions will run throughout January and until at least mid-February, though some gardens are able to remain open to local residents. Please check ‘Covid-19 restrictions’ for the most up to date information.”

Yes, the dread words, ‘local residents’ are in evidence, in accordance with Scottish government restrictions on freedom to travel beyond the boundaries of the local authority within which I live. I should not leave the Falkirk Council area without a valid reason and, indeed, should only use my car for essential purposes within my home area.

So, what is on offer locally?

I have failed to find any way to access glorious displays of snowdrops near me. Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, a facility to which I have had recourse over many years, suggests Attadale Gardens, Strathcarron – not Strathcarron Hospice near Denny but Strathcarron in the Scottish Highlands.

No, I can’t go there. Ah, Riverside Park, which takes in the impressive Bellwood Heather Collection, Norie Miller Park and also features a snowdrop trail along the historic banks of the River Tay – oh, that’s in Perth; I can’t go there. Ardkinglas Woodland Garden? – No, that’s in Argyll.

Cambo Gardens, which are lovely on the evidence of past years: but they’re at Kingsbarns in Fife. I can’t go there. The snowdrops will be gorgeous at the Royal Botanic Garden – in Edinburgh, so I can’t go there.

I looks as if I have to content myself with the small clumps in my own garden of what are described as, “dainty white flowers doggedly pushing through February’s snow in a delightful sign that spring is on the way, and just the pick-me-up we need in these unprecedented times.”

I won’t argue with that sentiment. There is indeed something rather magical about admiring the grit and determination of these seemingly-so-fragile and delicate flowerheads emerging unscathed after having been buried under heavy snow, beacons of brightness in a bleak wintry garden.

All of my clusters of snowdrops … ‘bulbous perennial herbaceous plants with two linear leaves and a single small white drooping bell shaped flower whose smaller inner petals have green markings,’ in Wikipedia’s words … are Galanthus nivalis - the common snowdrop.

But common or not, they may well be the best that I shall see this year; and I am truly grateful that I can enjoy seeing them.