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China Girl blog 21st February 2018

The first view of Cothay in February, stretching the length of the Avenue of Limes are thousands of snowdrops. Galanthus, their botanical name, from gala meaning milk and anthos, flower. Sparkling like jewels in the early morning winter sun, they bring cheer to late winter. Mostly native of the eastern mediterranean region, these diminutive bulbs are easy to grow in sun or shade, seeding freely The should be lifted and separated after flowering, before the leaves die down; known as ‘splitting them in the green.’ If this is done in a short space of time, you will have a wonderful white carpet. During the Crimean war, C V Warham collected a fine double-clone of Galanthus plicatus, which we grow here by the river.

Circling the old tulip tree and planted some thirty years ago, are hundreds of mauve and white crocus, which this month lighten the cold days with their glorious display. Crocus are also planted on the mound in the meadow, the form Crocus tommasinianus, which seeds about freely.

The winter-flowering cyclamen, planted in shady areas, add interest to the winter garden. Ma remembers seeing them in Turkey forty years ago when on a plant-hunting expedition with the botanist Oleg Polunin, when they were looking for early bulbs on Mount Ararat. It seems to her a life-time ago, a link in the chain which connects the past and the present.

Ma said when she strolled through the garden, that it was like snaking back in time; we counted about eight brave winter-flowering plants in flower. Please God, send spring soon in your own good time, but hurry!