“Go on,” I hear you sneer, “exactly how much rain have you had then?” The southeast of England has had its wettest January since 1910, seeing a 200% increase over the long term average. The UK as a whole has had a 35% increase in rainfall compared to the long term average. Weather geeks can get a glut of information including graphs from the Met Office website here.
The reality behind these statistics is that many parts of the country have had rail links cut off by floods and land slips, entire villages have been cut off by flooded roads for over a month, vast swathes of farmland are being laid waste and peoples homes have been wrecked by filthy flood water. Our coastlines are being re-drawn as coastal erosion is hastened by the gales and storms. Our familiar and beloved Victorian seaside promenades are being ripped up and thrown inland by the ferocious waves that have been whipped up recently. Perhaps it is time to listen to the scientists who have been warning for many years that climate change would increase the amount of stormy weather that the UK faces.
Of course wet winters in the UK usually coincide with mild temperatures. Some trees and shrubs are already producing the first budding leaves as they prepare for spring.
The lawn and garden are speckled with little purple crocuses. The crocus is a widespread and varied member of the iris family. The name means saffron and indeed the spice saffron comes from the stigmas of an autumn blossoming variety. It is the most expensive spice in the World and is also used as a yellow dye. In folklore it is associated with wealth and power. Saffron was apparently used to make moon cakes as an offering to the Phoenician fertility goddess Astarte (sometimes known as Ashtoreth) who later morphed into the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. There is some information with pictures about Chinese moon cakes here.
The leaves and flowers are waxy which protects them from frost, so the crocus is often one of the first flowers to bloom in early spring. They add a dash of colour to the grey British garden.