Ah, hush! Tread softly through the rime,
For there will be a blackbird singing, or a thrush.
Like coloured beads the elm-buds flush:
All the trees dream of leaves and flowers and light.
And see! The northern bank is much more white
Than frosty grass, for now is snowdrop time.
Mary Webb, Snowdrop Time
Mrs Turnstone and I had just left the train at Edinburgh Waverley Station and were making our way into Princes Street Gardens. It was one of those warm February days when Scotland feels almost temperate. We walked down beside the Scott Monument and stopped as one. We were not expecting scent in February! The bank to our left, west-facing, was in full sun, with thousands of snowdrops at head height, releasing sweetness whether anyone was there to appreciate it or not.
Later in the week we visited the Botanic Gardens, by no means bereft of snowdrops. There was one, a specimen, that had a greenhouse all to itself. It was raised up on the shelving the better for us to see its golden stripe on the inner petals, gold instead of the classic green. I don’t know if someone deliberately crossed two flowers in their collection, or else got down on the ground, close enough to discern this special snowdrop. Thanks be to them!
Mary Webb’s north bank would, of course, have faced south, so plenty of time in full sun to add scent to the glory of the flowers’ appearance. Snowdrops do belong together in hundreds and thousands but it is worth looking at a singleton to appreciate its graceful form. Look, and see, and wonder; laudato si’!
Rime is a ground frost; the snowdrops here were growing in Fletcher Moss Park, Manchester.