Humble Beginnings Nature's New Life Begins with the Snowdrop

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman.

" SHINING WHITE AND VEINED WITH GREEN,

YOU HANG YOUR LITTLE HEADS

A VISION OF SWEET SIMPLICITY,

IN FROST BOUND FLOWER BEDS"

A New Cycle

The above words from a poem by K.O. Farrel called Snowdrops served to remind me that even in the grip of winter, nature's new cycle of life has begun. As far as the flora is concerned things may appear to be bleak at the first glance but signs of humble beginnings are starting to be revealed.

The snowdrop is one of the first of our flowers to face the new year. In archaic herbals it was referred to as a bulbous violet and it was not until the writings of Gerard the 15th century herbalist that the name snowdrop appeared.

The botanical names relate to the colour and its early flowering habit.The genus name of Galanthus derives from two Greek names gala meaning milk and anthos meaning a flower. The species name of nivalis alludes to snow.

Although not native to Britain it is now well established and welcomed part of our flora. They have always been a cottage garden favourite and bulbs were passed on from one cottage garden to another as their popularity increased.

The plant is a bulbous perennial which begins its growth in winter sometimes beneath the bitter snow. Rising up from the bulb is the blue-green fleshy leaves and flower buds to pierce the surface. The point of the leaves that protect the flower head are thickened and tough enabling the palnt to pierce through the hard surface of winter.

The slightly scented flower emerges from between a pair of leaves, nodding at the end of slender stalks which are up to 6-8 inches long. The flower comprises of two sets of three segments, the larger outer set spreads widely responding to any sun shine. The inner set form a loose cup or tube. Each of these inner segments are marked with an inverted green V near the notched tips. They have yellow anthers.

The main propagation method for the plant in the UK. is by offsets or bulblets from the original bulb.

There are many cultivated varieties available to the gardener and they are usually sold in " the green" as opposed to bulbs or seeds. The common snowdrop is Galanthus nivalis a recommended variety is "S. Arnott" which bears larger flowers. There is a double form " Flore Pleno" with globular flowers. The Giant snowdrop G. elwesii, has a bit of a misleading name, for although they grow taller the flowers are no larger than either G.nivalis or "S.Arnott"

Divide mature clumps immediately after flowering and replant at once. Snowdrops should not be mistaken for snowflakes which are an entirely different species.

Snowdrop in flower

The snowdrop delicately nodding on slender stems is the first humble beginnings of a new season. photograph courtesy of David Paloch.
The snowdrop delicately nodding on slender stems is the first humble beginnings of a new season. photograph courtesy of David Paloch.
Bankhall Bretherton has a fine display of snowdrops. Photograph courtesy of Bankhallbretherton {talk}
Bankhall Bretherton has a fine display of snowdrops. Photograph courtesy of Bankhallbretherton {talk}

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Comments 18 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Peggy W Your welcome. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Thank you for sharing this information and the beautiful pictures about snowdrops. I was unfamiliar with them and always enjoy learning about new things.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

HI,Haunty, nice to meet you. thank you for reading and for leaving your comment.


Haunty profile image

Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

I love snowdrops. The grow in our garden every year. :)


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi, Laura nice to meet you. Thank you for reading and for leaving your appreciated comments.


Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 6 years ago from Aurora

Thanks! I like the poetry and nature's own poetry herself!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi poet nice to hear from you again. Indeed snowdrops are hardy plants that remind us of better things to come.


poetlorraine 6 years ago

we were in Belfast this weekend, though it was snowing we saw the snowdrops fighting their way through the soil reminded us better weather is on the way


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Darlene thank you so much for your encouraging comments. We are lucky in the U.K. and especially in the west of England where the climate seems to suit a lot of our wildlife.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Another one of your awsome articles, I could never tirer of reading your words, nature is each and ever one of us and part of us. We all started with humbling beginnings. Why does all this beauty grow in Britain, is it fog, mist, earth, weather? Thank you for giving this to us...


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Dream on thank you for reading glad you liked it. Nice to meet you.


DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 6 years ago

I pride myself in trying to learn something new every day.Well you made top of the list.Snowdrops is my new word of the day.I will be back to read many more of your hubs.What a great way to start the day.Snowdrops are something special and since I have real snow here in Maine.I rather have snowdrops.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Justin McCrory--thank for reading and for tyour comments which are appreciated.

2uesday--Thank you for your comments and for reading. I appreciate it.

britishbirdlover--thankyou.

Nell--thank you for reading, snowdrops are the harbingers of spring which fills us with optimism.Nice to hear from you.

jayjay thank you for your kind comments and for reading.


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

Love snowdrops,lets you know spring is coming. Beautiful hub


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Lovely pictures and I can't wait to see the first flowers come back. Just think, one more month and the daffs will be back. Hurray! cheers Nell


britishbirdlover profile image

britishbirdlover 6 years ago from London, UK

Those snowdrop pictures are beautiful!


2uesday profile image

2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

Thank you for this lovely hubpage - I look forward to the arrival of the first snowdrops. Seeing the photos here and reading your hub was like a breath of fresh air.


Justin McCrory 6 years ago

Thats a real pretty flower. I can see from the picture why they call them snowdrops it looks like snowdrops on the ground. You are very good at nature research hubs and I look forward to your next one.

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