LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they But hardier far, once more I see thee bend Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend, Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day, Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay The rising sun, and on the plains descend; Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May Shall soon behold this border thickly set With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers; Nor will I then thy modest grace forget, Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring, And pensive monitor of fleeting years!Wordsworth, 1819
As winter recedes, the woodlands briefly fill with flakes and puddles of white galanthus blossoms tucked in clusters beneath trees and flowing across hollows. These snowdrops are (for me) the first sign of spring in England, preceding the daffodils and bluebells (there is a sequence for these things). Various parks and stately homes cultivate displays for viewing in February, and so we were off to one of the largest: Welford Park in Newbury.
The owners claim that these are historic, medicinal blossoms, planted by Norman monks when the acreage was a monastery. The Georgian house was constructed 400 years ago, remarkable to think about, and has passed through the family to the present day.
And, more recently, the lawns have hosted the Great British Bakeoff. Twice.
However, today was about the snowdrops. It really was good, the flowers thickly carpeting the forests and fields.
Also good was the snowdrop tearoom, cakes echoing Mary Berry.