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Of mini daffodils, tiny serpents, emerging dinosaur flowers and disappearing snowdrops!

Updated: Mar 7

The grass has been growing. It has reached that tufty stage where you can ignore it no longer. And yet, we have resisted the urge to mow, as the forecast is for a succession of sub-zero overnights. And hard frost does newly-mown grass no favours. so we'll put up with the tufts a little longer.

Yesterday really did feel like the first day of Spring, with a wonderful Dawn chorus and the sun making its presence felt. The greenhouse reached 31 degrees at 1pm!

Bulb growth has been astonishing, with daffodil and tulip shoots advancing every day. We have some early standard yellows already flowering in The Slope garden, species unknown, but elsewhere they are complemented in miniature by the exquisite Tete a Tete, perfect replicas of their larger cousins! We shall have to wait a bit longer, though, for those with other petal colours. The wiry, slightly contorted shoots of the snakeshead fritillaries have emerged, a little like baby serpents and so very different from the big, blowsy 'look at me' Crown Imperials round in the Summerhouse Garden. Lots of activity, flowers to follow!

In the borders, more quirky polyanthus, celebrating yesteryears' colours, pop up in random corners, peppering the earth with welcome pops of cheer, now joined by their big sisters, Primula denticulata, the drumstick primulas in their various shades of purple, pink, blue and white. The flowers start at ground level before extending upwards, ultimately resembling those timpani drum sticks with fluffy heads.

Yesterday also saw the first Magnolia blooms emerge; dark wine-red candles have thrust off their furry coats to brave the elements. Amazing to think that these plants were nibbled by dinosaurs...

But all was not rosy in the garden. The snowdrop raiders have returned to 'sustainably harvest' the wild snowdrops in the surrounding estate. While we might have a view on 'sustainable' bulb harvesting (and we do!), arguably this would be none of our business were it not for the fact that we discovered the team neatly lifting all our snowdrops too, having misinterpreted the directions of the estate office. The team were very apologetic and of course replanted them again, but we can expect poorer blooms from these bulbs next year. Be aware that 'in the green' snowdrops, a highly lucrative business, are not grown on farms in Cambridgeshire but ripped up from semi-wild woodlands throughout the U.K.. Sub-size bulbs are abandoned on the surface where they were lifted; some of them may survive, many will not. Horticulture, like many other industries, has a dark side...

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