seasonal living, wildflowers, Winter

Deep sleeps the winter

Deep sleeps the Winter,

Cold, wet, and grey;

Surely all the world is dead;

Spring is far away.

Cicely Mary Barker

I have known Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies books as long as I can remember. I had the set – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – as a baby, and apparently I could recite some of them by the age of two, so they must have been firm favourites! This one has been going round and round in my head for weeks. It is bitterly cold here (for Athens!) and I’ve covered up my pot plants to protect them from the frost. The lowering grey clouds may look bleak …

The Acropolis and Lykavitos Hill on an overcast day

… but down on the ground, the plant life is far from dead. In the poem too, Cicely Mary Barker continues …

Wait! the world shall waken;

It is not dead, for lo,

The Fair Maids of February

Stand in the snow!

Cicely Mary Barker

This poem, which is entitled The Song of the Snowdrop Fairy, is talking about the beautiful white flowers that appear around February in the UK. In many European countries, they are a herald of the coming Spring. I haven’t seen any snowdrops in my local area – although I’m sure they grow in Greece – but there are plenty of other flowers to convince me that soon “the world shall waken.” Join me on a forest walk to find them!

Cape sorrel (Oxalis pes-caprae)

I saw my first Cape sorrel of the year on Christmas Day, and now they are carpeting the sunny parts of the forest. These bright yellow flowers like to open in full sun, but luckily we have had some clear days for them to show their faces.

Poppy anemone (Anemone coronaria)

The poppy anemone is the opposite to Cape sorrel. Instead of growing in clusters, they grow fairly well spaced. They also prefer the shady parts of the forest. A true fairy flower.

Mustard species

Another bright yellow flower that grows abundantly on untended ground at this time of year. It’s some species of mustard, but there are over 350 in the Balkan area, so I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess as to which this is!

Moon trefoil (Medicago arborea)

There are some of these shrubs in the forest near my house, but I snapped this one up on Filopappos Hill. Moon trefoil is the only shrub in the Medicago family – the rest are low-growing plants. It also has a really awesome common name!

Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)

The first blossoms of the year are growing on the firethorn bushes. These little flowers are so delicate and beautiful.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)

I’m not going to say too much about stinging nettles because I’m sure I’ll write a post (or three!) about them. But there are a lot of them about!

And, of course, Spring is coming to the balcony too. Remember those bulbs from Autumn Planting? Well, they are coming up! Here we have hyacinth, crocus and iris. Very exciting!

I hope you enjoyed seeing all these pre-Spring plants from Athens, Greece. There are plenty more, trust me! Including this gorgeous, teeny-tiny one that I can’t identify, but would love to know what it is. Any tips greatly appreciated!

Can you identify me??

Until next time! I hope you enjoy the sunny days and the cloudy ones!

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