Of all the flowers in the garden, I think those I welcome most are the humble snowdrops. It is the freshness and purity I love, their light green leaves and snow bright, clear white flowers. Of the same family as daffodils, their latin name Galanthus nivalis literally and poetically describes them as ‘milk-flowers of the snow.’
Winter has been a cold, dark and difficult time for gardens and gardeners. We take what pleasure we can from winter evergreens, bark and berries. But, when the snowdrops flower we know the dank and dismal days are over and spring is on its way.
Fanatical snowdrop enthusiasts, or ‘Galanthophiles’ as they are known, have bred over five hundred variations on this theme. None however are so distinctly different as to have spoiled the true essence of this most natural and perfect of plants. Fortunately selection has not ruined their simple and innocent charms through unnecessary embellishment or ‘improvement.’
If you have some but would like some more, it is best to split clumps just after flowering. Alternatively just leave nature to it... Ants are attracted to their seeds and will help their slow dispersal to new sites.
Snowdrops have long since naturalized along the river bank here at Levens. Winter floods loosened some and washed them away, perhaps to decorate the shores of Morecambe Bay. But many more remain to brighten the lengthening days - these most celebrated signs of spring.