This isn’t a humorous tale – it’s just the beginning of a story about a wood full of flowers.
When I was working in Devon in 1985, I used to go on a long walk with my dog, Rosie, and came across
a wood and a clearing full of snowdrops in my village.
It was owned by an antique dealer in Dartmouth, and a friend and I bought the standing crop for £10.
We only picked a tiny fraction of the crop because there were millions.
We used to bunch them up with ivy leaves and sell them in a greengrocer’s.
People loved them, and they still do. I tried to buy the wood from the dealer, but he agreed a price, said he
couldn’t find the deeds, and then tripled the price six months later, so I didn’t buy it,
Fifteen years later, when I was living in Totnes, I still wanted it, but the dealer had died and nobody
knew who owned it. In the end I managed to find out, and bought it for four times the original price!
By this time it was a jungle of laurel twisting up in the air and along the ground. You couldn’t see the river. You couldn’t see any ruins and few flowers. Stanley loved the noisy chainsaw, but in the end, the farmer next door came with his tractor and uprooted everything, so it was all bare earth.
The first colonists were cleavers.
And then suddenly there were masses of flowers.
Loads of Comfrey, which is a very strong plant. I nurture it to this day as fertiliser.
Everything, including Granny’s Bonnets, just came, where there had been laurel and tiny patches of snowdrops.
There were huge spikes of foxgloves because they love disturbed earth.
I thought it would last forever, or I hoped it would, but it didn’t. I planted fruit trees, kept cutting back the brambles, so that snowdrops came to life, but slowly it all changed.
Grasses and nettles were much stronger than the wild flowers, and it all had to be strimmed every year.
But I planted thousands of wild daffodils, and the apple blossom was wonderful. This is only the beginning of
the story of the snowdrop field, its flowers, trees, insects and frogs, but this blog is long enough!