Many of us are starting to spot that beautifully understated little flower that so delicately drips from its stem bringing us that welcome nod on these long, dull, and damp Winter days.
I like to think of Galanthus or Snowdrops as a lovely early reminder that Spring isn’t that far away; that it won’t be too long before the days are longer, the sun is brighter and the signs of new life are all around us.
For many people the Snowdrop is a symbol of ‘hope’. According to the bible the Snowdrop appeared after an Angel turned snowflakes into ‘Snowdrop flowers’ to prove to Adam and Eve that cold Winters do eventually end and Winters do eventually give way to Spring.
As positive a message as this is there is also folklore surrounding these wonderful little gem like flowers; superstition would have it told that to bring one of these delicate angelic flowers into the house would result in impending death.
Known as ‘Deaths Flower’, this legend probably stems from the fact that although pretty, pure and innocent looking these little flowers can cause death if the bulb is eaten – you certainly wouldn’t want to muddle your shallots up with these little onion like bulbs!
As with a lot of plants Snowdrops used in the correct doses can also have benefits to our health as humans. Galantamine is extracted from the plant and used to help treat our nervous systems. It is commonly used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Great reasons to respect these wonderful little Winter jewels!
I’ve noticed over the years that Snowdrops are appearing earlier and earlier, once upon a time these bulbs started appearing in February, they are now increasingly found to be in flower in January this is perhaps an indication that the UK’s climate is changing.
Cultivation of this wonderful little flower is very easy for us at Thorp Perrow. Thriving in dappled light under deciduous trees, Springs Wood is the ideal location for heavy mats of these little wonders. We aim to move and divide our vigorous Snowdrops regularly thus preventing overcrowding and disease. I can recommend doing this in your own garden too, Snowdrops can be moved when the flowering ends and you still have green leaves on the plant. I would aim to move vigorous varieties every 5 years. Transplant by lifting the plants and very carefully teasing the clumps apart to avoid damage to the roots. It is best to replant the bulbs singularly and to give a naturalised appearance throw the bulbs and plant where they land. As with most plants Snowdrops would benefit from the addition of organic matter.
Most of our Snowdrops reside in Springs Wood, however, being a promiscuous little plant we do keep our more interesting and rare varieties apart from the bunch, this prevents cross pollination.
During the month of February, we have a Snowdrop trail running, at no extra cost you can follow the map around the Arboretum wonder through the drifts and spot the more unusual varieties of nature’s little Winter beauty!
Photo Credit – Thorp Perrow