The photos are from Gill Henwood’s garden in the Lake District which I thought, with an occasional reflection, might help to cheer us towards Spring.
First, the heading of this post needs a slight explanation. There are a number of collective names for snowdrops but my favourite is a ‘Nod’ of snowdrops with their nodding white heads tinged with green. I suppose if you had bell-ringing leanings you might want to take up the Candlemass Bells theme and call them a ‘Peal’ of Snowbells.
Other collective nouns are a drift; a carpet; a blanket; and even, most appropriately right now, a ‘hope’
In his poem ‘to a Snowdrop’, William Wordsworth called them ‘Chaste’.
Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend.
the poem ends:
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!
Mary Robinson, in her 1797 novel, Walsingham’ wrote:
The Snowdrop, Winter’s timid child
awakes to life bedewl’d with tears
Tennyson called the snowdrop February’s Fair maid to which he wishes, many,many welcomes.
The National Trust website for its property at Polesden Lacey heads up its site by calling the Snowdrop a ‘Ray of Winter Sunshine’.
The Trust reminds us that as we get ready to leave winter behind, “there are fewer perfect signs of Spring regrowth and regeneration to come than the humble snowdrop, one of the earliest flowers in the garden. You have to admire the tenacity of their delicate nodding heads as they force their way above ground and seize their moment in the winter light, ready to delight and enchant anyone who seeks them out.”
Thanks to Gill for her photographs and her clear devotion to Galianthus! (all 23 species!)
- for more information about the Snowdrop visit the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library blog. The article by Gill Briggs (RHS staff), quoting Mary Robinson, refers to the Snowdrop as Winter’s Timid Child.’ I’m not sure I agree. I think I prefer to agree with Hans Christian Andersen in his story of the Snowdrop. He calls her ‘Brave’. She’s that and more!
- (See the delightful BBC YouTube version of the story)