Last September I planted my first ever snowdrops, about twenty-five Galanthus nivalis bulbs. Not having been efficient enough to order them ‘in the green’ earlier in the year, I had to make do with bulbs from my local garden centre, and having heard the doom-and-gloom stories from other gardeners about how poor the germination rates are for shop-bought bulbs, I wasn’t holding out much hope. But ever since the snow cleared after Christmas, I’ve been able to see little green shoots poking through the soil (and have been congratulating myself for planting them just outside a glass door so that I can see them without having to brave the elements).
A bit of trivia: the botanical name for the snowdrop – Galanthus – comes from the Greek ‘gála’, meaning milk and ‘ánthos’, meaning flower. They’re also known as Candlemas bells, because they bloom around the time of the Christian feast of Candlemas (February 2nd), when candles are blessed in church services. To be strictly accurate, the flowers on mine actually opened the day after Candlemas, but it’s close enough for me.
Reading up more about snowdrops, I discovered a lovely and inspiring tale. Legend has it that when Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, an angel took pity on Eve, who was weeping in despair, thinking that winter would never end. The angel blew on the snowflakes lying on the ground, and they changed into snowdrop flowers, as proof that winter would eventually give way to spring. In this bleak mid-winter, my little snowdrops are a sign of better days to come!