It's Valentine's Day, so we thought we'd write about something we truly love. No... not a basket full of Dairy Milk and a fluffy teddy bear! ;) We're actually talking about the beautiful snowdrop - the flower that cheers you when it's cold and dark and you spot it on a Winter's morning, pushing up through the earth and opening those delicate pale petals as if to say,
" Oi! It won't be long until Spring :)".
In Somerset we adore this gorgeous flower... so much so that Shepton Mallet has an entire two-day festival dedicated to it!
On the 16th and 17th of February the town will celebrate the snowdrop, the festival is now in its third year and to discover more, we've been chatting to Angela Morely - garden designer, plant guru, artist and secretary of the Shepton Mallet Horticultural Society.
The society decided to launch the festival after member Dominic Weston, discovered that a special someone connected to the snowdrop used to live and work in Shepton. Angela tells us more, by answering four questions we thought you'd love to know the answers to.
1. Can you tell everyone a little bit about the Shepton Snowdrop Festival and what they can expect?
Well, it's a vibrant community festival celebrating James Allen, 'The Snowdrop King'. James was a self-taught horticulturalist who made his home in Shepton and was the first person ever to breed new varieties of snowdrops from wild plants. That achievement earned him 'The Snowdrop King' nickname.
The event itself happens in the Market Place and St. Peter & St. Paul's church. There'll be specialist snowdrop stall holders, workshops, arts and crafts, a lecture, walks, strolls and rambles, music, poetry and photography competitions. It's a great chance to get together and celebrate the stunning snowdrop, right here in the heart of Somerset.
2. What are you most looking forward to about the festival this year?
We'll have two specialist snowdrop nurseries displaying and selling unusual snowdrops. It's fascinating to discover the subtle differences in the shape and colour of this delicate flower. There are so many hybrids, bred by 'Galanthophiles' and reflecting the work that James Allen started over 100 years ago in Shepton Mallet.
Also, the festival has lots of things to do for children and we love the fancy dress competition which is overseen by Shepton's Fairy Godmother! The children also make a fantastic contribution with paintings and poetry.
3. Why do you think we have such a love for snowdrops?
I think it's because the dainty flowers herald Spring whilst standing up to snow and they flower for weeks on end - some are even scented!
4. Tell us a secret about the Snowdrop Festival that no-one else knows.
At the festival opening, (10am on Saturday February 16th) we'll reveal the winners of the photography competition and the best snowdrop themed window display - but that'll have to remain a secret until then! ;)
Something else people might not know is that over the past three years we've planted over 300,000 snowdrops throughout the town, including 40,000 on the 'Rock Flock' roundabout on the A37. They still look like new plantings at the moment, but we've created something beautiful that will grow and develop in the future - and we hope they will establish Shepton Mallet as a snowdrop town, drawing visitors from far and wide.
Well, we think it definitely will and I have to say, that's my favourite ever roundabout at the best of times (yes I have a favourite roundabout ;)). I didn't think it was possible to love it any more! Turns out it is :). What an amazing community project that planting was and it's set to be a great festival, so get set to explore it this weekend.
We love the sound of the Kokedama workshop with Angela, where you can use a broad range of different materials including moss, bracken, colourful dogwood twigs and conifer foliage, to make a hanging snowdrop display.