Frosty this morning – so cold in comparison to last week – but there’s always a bright side – the birds are back on the bird table in all their winter colours – the robin showing off his new waistcoat, the great spotted woodpecker in all his glory – and all the tits – the stunning black and yellow of the great tits and the tiny blue tits and coal tits, nibbling seeds when they can get a beak in. Blackbirds are fighting over territory in the apple tree and nuthatches are busy gobbling up sunflower seeds – and peanuts – they don’t eat them on the bird table, they fly off with them – to eat in secret – or to store? I would love to know where they go with them.
The frost has finished off the runner beans – and the nasturtiums: “They’ve gone willy-nilly, umbrellas and all.” Along with the Nasturtium Fairy.
Today’s Treasures – Snowdrops – Tiny Pearls of Springtime
The days are getting longer and the first flowers of the year are peeping through Autumn’s fallen leaves – snowdrops – tiny pearls of springtime, creeping towards the light; frosts may wither them but their fragile stems soon revive in the sunshine, they shake their petals free of winter and their tiny white bells tremble in the spring breeze.
Snowdrop Walks mark the start of the season for many of our historic houses and there are lots of early spring walks through snowdrop-dappled woodland. Rode Hall, just over the North Shropshire border, has a wonderful display of snowdrops set in enchanting woodland.
The snowdrop trail begins alongside neatly manicured lawns overlooked by a picturesque combination of unusual mature trees, through formal rose gardens, heavenly scented in summer but now lying dormant waiting for the first rays of the summer sun.
Through the gap in the hedge, a whole new vista opens out and you enter a wild woodland star spangled with snowdrops roaming unchecked, under the trees, along the brook, scrambling around the shrubs and bushes that decorate the landscape, and you can find a bench, or perch on a stone bridge, and merge with the magic of the trees, serenaded by robins and blackbirds and soothed by the sound of the stream bubbling over stones, watched by myriads of tiny snowdrop faces, studying their reflections in the water.
Rode Hall is open from Saturday, 4th February to Sunday 5th March (except Mondays) for snowdrop escapades for all the family (including dogs – on leads). The tearoom is open serving light lunches and you can warm up by the logburner with a welcome pot of tea and homemade cakes. The art exhibition in the barn is well worth a visit, showcasing creations by local artists – and not all of the paintings feature snowdrops! www.rodehall.co.uk
In the Druid calendar Snowdrops heralded Spring and first appear at Imbolc – celebrated on 31st January and 2nd February (Candlemas Day).
There are snowdrops walks all over Shropshire, including Combermere Abbey, Attingham Park, and Dudmaston Hall.
The Snowdrop Fairy
Deep sleeps the Winter
Cold, wet, and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!
Yesterday the frogs were gathering in the pond and Spring was in the air, today we wake to a winter frost. I’ve had to thaw the water out in the bird bath this morning for the robin and the nuthatch has been patiently waiting for me to get up and put some more peanuts out. It is a really beautiful morning though.
Better than all the rain we’ve had, although there is an old saying:
“If in February there be no rain, ’tis neither good for hay nor grain.”
which I found in a Country Wisdom & Folklore Diary www.talkingtreesbooks.co.uk
Sunset over Shropshire as the last rays of the setting sun shine on the flood waters spreading across the fields
Managed to spend sometime in the garden last weekend, tidying up, muck spreading in the polytunnel – digging in rabbit manure and some lime. Rabbit droppings are quite acid and tomatoes suffer from blight (yellowing and wilting of the leaves and the tomatoes rot) if the soil is too acid.
Just finishing off and I was leaning on the fence in my favourite spot, the sun was setting and a flock of starlings were making patterns in the sky. This isn’t a lake it’s a waterlogged field, we’ve had so much rain this winter; I’ve had to move the hens from the front lawn as they were paddling in mud. Now there’s Spring in the air and we wake to frosty mornings. The Candlemas Day rhyme was right – it was fair and bright and winter is having another flight although this year it’s more like it’s first fling, this morning’s frost felt like the coldest so far this winter!
It was a beautiful frosty morning, the sun glinting off thawing raindrops. I love this time of year when it’s just warm enough – and hopefully dry enough – to get out in the garden but not much is growing yet, so you can catch up with clearing up the vegetable patch.
It’s a rare ‘window of opportunity’; time to get rid of all the perennial weeds like docks, nettles, buttercups and the perennial grasses. I give the weeds to the hens – they love scratching though them looking for worms. By the beginning of February there’s a sort of hopefulness in the air, the birds are singing, showing off their bright spring feathers and busily looking for nesting places and the air is alive with the promise of things to come. It’s exhilarating just getting outside and living and breathing – and becoming part of – Spring.
This clematis survived last night’s frost but won’t be here much longer – looking at the forecast. It was planted last year and I’d forgotten about it, then suddenly a few wispy tendrils appeared climbing up the hen house. I thought it was much too late to flower but then a few days ago it produced this beautiful bloom, just in time for the frosts! So need to make the most of it, treasure it, whilst the sun shines!