January 30th, 2010

January Snowdrops

January snowdrops

The snowdrops are beginning to bloom this week. They are not native to the Pacific Northwest. A cursory search on the Internet traces them to Asia Minor and they were garden favorites in Britain and Ireland before they appeared in the new world.

Here on the farm, snowdrops are thriving and spreading. My mother or grandmother planted them in the front yard flower beds, but lately, patches of snowdrops have been popping up in semi-shaded areas of heavy leafmold at edge of the woods and in the windbreaks. The patches began as little clumps, but the largest is now is close to twenty feet across. I suspect the proliferation stems from the absence of dairy cows snuffling and trampling over the delicate snowdrop beds, but that is only a guess.

Tree invaded by ivy

New species scare me. My grandmother planted English ivy and now it threatens to choke the natives out. A couple years ago, it nearly strangled one of the evergreens in the yard with vines that grew as thick as a man’s arm.  We cut the vines with axe and chain saw and pulled the ivy up that surrounded the base of the tree with the tractor. Dead vines still wrap the tree, but each year the tree grows a little healthier and the damage less apparent.

I hope the snowdrops are not invaders. January needs reminders that spring is not far away. This is an el Nino year and January has been warm, the temperature occasionally making it into the sixties, and I believe we have not seen a single snowflake. Still, the sun seldom shines, and when it does, the landscape is muddy and muted. The holidays are past and spring is still remote.

January Lilac Buds

The snowdrops are thriving and even the lilacs are beginning to bud. There is still a chance of a bitter Northeaster, but the chance diminishes every day. The good comes with the bad. Warmth comes hand in hand with foggy overcast nights and the young astronomers have not had a single clear night for the telescope since Christmas.

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