What is it about snowdrops?
I’ve always been in love with snowdrops. For as long as I can remember. It might have something to do with the fact that they are the harbinger of spring. The first signs that the sleeping garden is starting to wake again from its winter slumber. After several months of drabness, and no colour, the pure green of the snowdrop stems, particularly obvious when they come poking through real snow, is such a joy to the heart of any gardener. They seem so fragile, so tiny, but yet they are strong enough to push their way through the heavy snow, or through the cold earth to find their way into the rays of the winter sun.
When I was younger, I never knew that there were different types of snowdrops, they all look the same if you don’t get close enough to really look at them, and really appreciate the delicate nuances of difference between the different breeds. When I moved to university my mother gave me a tiny glass vase. I couldn’t work out what the point of it was, it was surely too small to actually put anything in, other than maybe to use as a pot for storing earrings or something similarly small… But come late January, it became clear what the use was… Waiting for me in my pigeon hole when I got back from lectures, was a brown parcel, about the size of margarine tub… I opened it, and that’s what it was… A small margarine tub – the writing on the brown paper was my mother’s – she’s gone completely mad I thought; why is she sending me margarine? I opened the tub – it felt too light to have margarine in it, and inside, wrapped in damp tissue, were six perfect snowdrops. I picked up the phone and called her immediately – the first ones from the garden at home that year – a piece of home, a piece of heaven, a piece of her. ‘That’s what the tiny vase is for’ she told me. Magical.
Every year she did the same thing, tiny snowdrops, sent hundreds of miles, connecting me with her, connecting me with the garden of my youth. Now that I have my own garden, I collect the first snowdrops from my own garden and the vase sits proudly on my kitchen table. The only difference is that my passion for snowdrops has grown. I wouldn’t say I know enough about them yet, or indeed have enough different varieties to call myself a galanthophile, but I’m definitely well on my way! I like to visit snowdrop gardens – Welford Park just outside of Newbury is breathtaking. Like a carpet of pure snow, with a scent so light that it carries on the air, and unless you really pay attention you’d miss it altogether. This year I’m going to Bennington Lordship, in Hertfordshire, and I can’t wait to see what it’s like. I can’t wait.
You can read more on my blog: theenglishrose.blog.com