I’m always delighted and amazed when I see the fine green spikes of new beginnings emerge from the dark and frozen ground. They encase a droplet of white which elegantly unfolds to reveal the snowdrop, a symbol of hope and purity .
These flowers have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the beautiful county of Derbyshire and remember the lawns at home being covered in soft drifts of white, with them often pushing up through the melting snow. A family tradition has long been to plant a clump on a beloved pet’s grave, so we would remember them with affection every year .
This symbol of remembrance and hope has long connections with Christianity in this country. Flowering at a time of year that celebrates Candlemas (2nd Feb) many churches and other religious orders would be decorated in abundance as a symbol of purity and hope. This connection is thought to have started when the monks in the 1400s planted then in the grounds of abbeys.
They are not a native to Britain but do originate in Europe, their ranges spread for the eastern shores of the Mediterranean to Turkey and up into Russia. Whether they arrived with Romans or The Christians they are very much part of our countryside and gardens today.
Flowers in Victorian times were hugely significant in symbolism of love, purity and grief. They believed the snowdrop represented death with the folding white petals symbolising the shroud encasing the body of a loved one.
It’s clear that this beautiful and uncomplicated little flower provokes passion in people. Galanthophiles the lovers and collectors of snowdrops (there name deriving from the Latin for snowdrop, Galanthus Nivalis ) are a passionate body of people, travelling far and wide to photograph, collect and grow these delicate blooms.
Since leaving my childhood home in Derbyshire, I have always taken a clump of snowdrops with me to every garden I’ve ever called home. Dividing the clumps after flowering, so the green leaves are still easily visible, a process called ‘planting in the green’ ensures the bulbs are fresh and healthy. The dying back of the leaves provide nutrients so the bulbs can develop for the next flowering season. Such an easy plant to pass onto a friend or neighbour and guaranteed to give such pleasure at this time of year.
Places to visit .
Anglesey Abbey – Cambridgeshire
Colesbourne Park – Gloucestershire
Hunton churchyard – Kent
St Leonard’s church – Boeley
Where to buy .