I love seeing the drifts and clumps of snowdrops reminding us that we are the ‘right side of Christmas’ and spring is the next stop.
Every year when they are first noticeable, I fret that they are shorter and fewer in number than the previous year and then within a week or 10 days they have reached their full height and potential and are just as striking as previous years.
They are a favourite for early pollen for the bees and if you watch carefully on a sunny day when a few brave honey bees are flying, you will see them enter the bowed white flower-heads and reverse out with little ‘dots’ of orange pollen on their back legs.
These are the pollen baskets, which they fill whilst foraging.
It never ceases to delight me that the pollen of such a pure white flower is such a vibrant orange.
In fact the whole inside of the snowdrop is another level of ‘beauty’.
They are incredibly modest the way they hang their heads so these beautiful bits aren’t seen.
But if you display a small vase of snowdrops indoors on a mirror tile, you will also get to appreciate the interior in all its glory.
Not only are snowdrops modest but they are incredibly clever and ‘tough’.
The tips of the little leaves are designed to be sharp enough to push up though possible hard frosts and snow at this time of year.
Often you will see an old autumn leaf pierced by the sharp snowdrop leaves as they push through a carpet of rotting autumn leaves.
Snowdrops are best moved and planted in ‘the green’, so whilst they still have their foliage intact.
They can be sown from seed, and will self-seed, but can take four or five years to bloom this way.
And of course it is time to start thinking about seeds and planning another season in your garden.
To offer some encouragement, Monmouth Seed Swap and Potato Day is being held at the Bridges Centre in Monmouth on February 19 from 10am until midday. Seed detective Adam Alexander will be championing local Welsh heirloom vegetable varieties and sharing all of the Welsh heirloom vegetables he grows, as well as invaluable knowledge and advice.
Whilst the rare, endangered heritage and heirloom vegetable seeds are always the main characters on the seed swap stage, you are encouraged to take your own flower and vegetable seed along – including packets of commercial seed - to swap and barter with too.
And my favourites, Tools For Self Reliance, will have a selection of ‘must-have’ renovated and recycled garden tools for sale as well as accepting old tools for renovation.
They are also offering a tool sharpening service for everyone’s blunt hoes, shears and knives.
There will be refreshments available and lots of freely exchanged chat and advice, including tips on no-dig gardening from Cherry Taylor.
Do take notes - the pen is mightier than the spade!