Snowdrops emerge, brushing away the memory of Autumn

This week's work-party gave me a chance to see the very first snowdrops emerging in the garden. Being an Antipodean who frequently struggles with the long dark winter here, I always feel a moment of disproportionate wild joy when the first promises of spring-to-come appear. We have a startling spread of snowdrops here at Flatford, as I discovered last winter. In fact, the very first volunteer work party rushed to transplant wheelbarrow-loads of little white bells out of the way of the landscapers who were about to start work. The number flowers here today show that we did a reasonable job!

We're lucky to have both single and double snowdrops in huge numbers in the garden, and the ones which are just appearing now are the double variety. As with so many flowers, they have an intriguing history. Their genus name, Galanthus, comes from Greek meaning milk flower. Although native to western Europe, they were most probably introduced to Britain during the early 16th century. Still, they seem to be quite happy here, and appear to be attempting a fleeting domination of our sandy little corner of Suffolk.

Even a single snowdrop is welcome in January

This week has also brought another sign of spring - a song thrush tuning up - filling the morning air from its treetop perch. And in the golden afternoon sunshine, the garden was full of the optimistic song of great tits and robins. Strange them, to simultaneously see fieldfares wheeling overhead into the Balsam polar – I associate them firmly with winter. I wonder then if we ARE in for an early spring, or if winter still has a trick up its sleeve...

This weekend (21st & 22nd Jan) sees our first two days of events aimed at encouraging people to watch the wildlife in the garden and in particular, to get involved with the Big Garden Birdwatch. Do come along, whether or not you can tell a robin from a chaffinch, or a dunnock from a sparrow - volunteers and staff will be on-hand with activities and information for all-comers.

We hope to see you there, but even if you can't make it you can still get involved online!