Thursday, 19 December 2013

Venturous Harbinger of Spring, (hopefully)

Receiving new materials is always exciting, and this week I finally bought myself the Stillman and Birn Zeta series sketchbook I had been promising myself for ages. As soon as I opened it, it oozed quality. A beautifully bound, hardback book with 270g smooth, natural white paper, thick enough to support watercolour washes will be a treat to use. Of course, I have loads of sketchbooks in my collection (hence the name of the blog), as the family always think of them as useful gift ideas, but this one is a bit special and will be used for a very special project in the new year. But more on that later.

With Christmas just around the corner, I have been out and about, finishing off those last minute things that always seem to take ages and keep me away from the desk. Still, it's a fun time of year and I enjoy the smiles and joy that my efforts bring to family and friends. Alas, methinks the desk will stay rather empty until after the festivities. Well, I deserve a bit of a Christmas this year, as last year I was busy working on a leek and onion for my SBA Diploma. Very festive, ha, ha.

Lots of lovely fresh green, but the petals are a little too grey
This time around, I am working on something a little more seasonal, snowdrops. I love the simplicity and pure delicacy of these flowers, they look tender, but are in fact quite hardy little plants. In the language of flowers, snowdrops represent hope. Quite apt really when snowdrops are some of the earliest flowering plants of the new year, and herald the start of spring and the warmer weather to come, hopefully. Historically, snowdrops are native to damp woodland and meadows but are not believed to be native to the British Isles. The first recording of snowdrops growing wild here doesn't appear until the 18th century. However, they have certainly become very popular since.  

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!

William Wordsworth 1819

If you fancy a wintry day out, top spots to see snowdrops planted breathtakingly en masse include Kingston Lacey in Dorset; Anglesey Abbey Gardens, Cambridgeshire; The Argory, Co. Armagh; Nymans, West Sussex; Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire and many other fabulous locations. It really is a wondrous site to see snowdrops peeking out from the snow in such huge numbers.


shevaun said...

I love your snowdrops, and like you, am very excited about this new project!! The Stillman & Birn sketchbooks look wonderful. Have a lovely Christmas, Jarnie!! Are leeks off the menu then? xxx

Janene said...

Snowdrops are amongst my favorites and you are doing them justice!