February Half term is our annual chance to get away with our NCT friends in the New Forest, specifically the log cabins at Sandy Balls. Such larks we have had over the years and this year was no exception.
With no garden center or garden open to the public, the family thought they would be free of any boring flora, fauna or foliage. Ha, little do they know, there is always something to enjoy if you know where to look. Look I did and on one of our leisurely strolls we came across a most interesting looking moss. This I was told is Sphagnum moss which is reputed to have medicinal qualities.
Certainly it is a healthy looking plant with no noticeable scent, it has a very springy texture and covers the ground not unlike a shagpile. I have since established that it is sponge like, in that it can hold up to twenty times its dry weight in water, which can be drunk. ( Reader I can confirm that I resisted the temptation to try this out, but if ever I get lost, I will take comfort from the fact that I will know where to seek refreshment, assuming the local hostelries are closed). This feature of the moss is essential in the formation and protection of peat bogs, the moss will hold water and provide essential nutrients to the soil long after it has dried out, this will prevent the decay of dead plant material which gets compressed over the hundreds of years to eventually form peat. How clever is that.
This moss is highly absorptive and acidic which inhibits the growth of bacteria or fungal infection, consequently it has been used as a dressing for wounds as recently as World War II and more bizarrely was used as an early form of sanitary towel. I doubted this latter fact but internet research seems to back up this claim. No further comment.
Another wonderful sight on our walk? Banks of Snowdrops. So numerous were the flowers their scent filled the air in a way that most of us had never previously experienced. A heady, honey smell. These covered the ground like virgin snow. It seemed invasive to even step up onto the edge of the banks to sneak these pictures. Now I am no Galanthophile and I cannot confidently advise you of the species however I suspect they are our Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis and the spectacular ones below are the common double?
Galanthus nivalis f pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’. I especially love the way these were curling their outer petals up to the rare sighting of sunlight, rather like a Nuns wimple. Exquisite.
After our weekend of fun, Monday saw me miss my ‘in a vase’ slot. Instead I was involved in domestic duties, away from the rain and even got around to washing my garden gloves. Let me share that fascinating sight with you instead. D.