A couple of posts ago, I wrote that snow in March never lasts long. I was wrong. Slowly, slowly, it is now starting to melt, but is still a foot or so deep in the shady parts of the garden where it drifted in the strong easterly wind.
Where the daffodils break through the snow, the sun-warmed air reaches into the hole they have made and melts the snow round each plant. Spiky bulb leaves do this, but flatter slow growing plants, such as cushion saxifrages, must wait. My scree bed lies under a cold blanket, except where a rabbit has passed – the sun widening out its tracks, so that it looks as if a gigantic Easter bunny has visited.
Since I constantly moan about warm, wet, winters and premature warmth in March, I’m actually happy with all this. It’s exactly what alpine plants need. Of course it is frustrating not to be barrowing compost and splitting blue poppy plants and all the other jobs that are now queuing up, but because of the cold and the snow, it’s less likely that May frosts will wipe out all the young growth, as happened last year.
And, where the snow melts, the early primulas rush into flower. Here is p.sonchifolia, breaking out of its resting bud and eagerly putting out its blooms before bothering to grow a stem. As you see, the leaves have suffered badly from frost. It’s an irony that many high-altitude primulas can be easily frost-damaged – the snow cover in their native mountains normally keeps them safe. Unfortunately, in Scotland the snow melted before the frosts were past. Such is life.