Our day amongst the snowdrops
My companions, Anne, Karin and Sue had all been before but it was new to me and, I must say, I found the whole event delightful. Apart from the rain, which did rather spoil any outdoor activities – but most of the day was inside so that was fine.
Have you ever been to Shaftesbury? I travelled west across Cranborne Chase and, although I’d seen the squiggles on the map, that didn’t quite prepare me for the “bendiest one mile stretch of road in Great Britain”! You can go down the zig-zag hill for yourself thanks to YouTube, should you want to.
We were given a very warm welcome with coffee and biscuits and a chance to get our bearings and prepare for the day ahead. The others, having been before and being ‘in the know’, had found and reserved seats for the upcoming talks. The auditorium, which has banked and very comfortable seating, has only one problem – it’s very dark, so notes were somewhat haphazard!
First up was Kevin Hughes to talk about ‘Snowdrops and Their Bedmates’. Kevin is well-known to Kent members, in fact he is coming to speak to us in April. He talked about all the plants that can be grown with snowdrops, from deciduous trees, which keep the soil from being too wet in the summer, through shrubs such as magnolias down to crocus, narcissus and aconites.
It was then the turn of Joe Sharman with ‘Yellow Snowdrops – A Jaundiced View’. He told us about the genetics involved in the breeding of yellow snowdrops, some of the crosses he has undertaken and the outcome of his experiments – some good, some not so good. He also explained how the yellow colour can vary depending on the amount of iron in the soil, different conditions of light and shade and various other factors. But what struck me most forcibly was the length of time from doing the cross to finding out what the resultant seedlings are like (five years), deciding which crosses to do next and waiting for the outcome (another five years), making sure you’ve got something worthwhile and bulking it up for sale (another five years) – he has the patience of a saint! All we have to do is go and buy the results of that work and waiting. And that’s just what we did next.