Waiting for snowdrops

January can be a miserable month, so a few weeks of bright, dry weather make for a welcome start to the year. Refreshingly chilly conditions in which to while away the garden hours until the first flowers of spring appear.

I have been waiting for snowdrops. I suspect this might be what January was invented for.

If you believe what you read, the whole gardening world spends January in a state of excited anticipation, waiting for snowdrops. We gaze fixedly at patches of bare soil, waiting for the first glimpses. It sounds a peaceful, meditative occupation. Just the thing, after the holidays. 

In spite of my own recommendations, I have had no time to stand and stare. This month –  when people who ought to know better suppose that I’m, “really quiet now”, earning themselves either a few minutes of instruction upon the garden in winter, or a withering look, depending upon my mood – is a steady working month. It is possible to have ‘put the garden to bed for the winter’, as they say, but it requires the investment of many more gardening hours during the preceding nine months of the year than the majority of people are either willing or able to manage. 

Now there’s mulch to be barrowed about and spread, roses and fruit trees and wisterias to be pruned, last year’s hellebore leaves to be removed, wigwams for sweet peas to fix and mend, bonfires to manage, brambles to wrangle – this list, while not endless, is long. 

I wrote some time ago in this post about my ideal winter. January 2017 has very nearly met my high expectations, with dry, sunny days, bitingly cold temperatures, and slug-nobbling* frosts. There could have been more snow – there could always be more snow to my mind, in spite of the inevitable slushy, messy aftermath – but so far January 2017’s been a corker. 

There have been bright frosty days…

There have been bright frosty days…

…and dull frosty days with beautiful patterns

There have been frozen duck ponds…

…and frozen watering cans.

There have been beautiful, misty early mornings…

…and even a dusting of snow.

And, when it all gets too grim, there's been the potting bench in the greenhouse to escape to…

…and a cosy fire at the end of the day.

And then, just as the month draws to a close, the snowdrops begin to appear.

The wait is almost over. 

Now, what to wait for next?


*Extensive research (five minutes on Google) has revealed that the slugs aren’t too bothered by frost. Even with the ground frozen, they head deeper into the soil and lurk. Although we had several nights when the mercury fell to -7°C, slug eggs can survive down to minus ten. Which is rotten news. So, to my arsenal of beer traps and wildlife-friendly pellets (assuming wildlife doesn’t include slugs, which of course, it does, but we know they mean hedgehogs, frogs and dogs) I’ll be adding nematodes and copper tape. Little sods.