Country & Garden: Nature Notes

Article excerpt

THIS DARK corner of the year brightens when the snowdrops come into bloom. Though the weather is as dreadful as ever, with worse to come, there is promise in the air, renewal in the earth. The snowdrop is a kind of botanical blessing, almost the quintessence of winter itself in its cold purity and minimal lines, the droplet of green on each petal emphasising its virginal whiteness. Carpets of snowdrops appear at Candlemas on 2 February, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. Former generations saw meaning in this, and planted snowdrops in churchyards and monasteries as a symbol of renewal. Perhaps there was also meaning in the way in which the snowdrop faithfully holds its ground, year on year.

Oddly enough, snowdrops and snow do not necessarily go together. The native range of the flower lies in southern Europe from the Pyrenees to Turkey, and in Britain it is believed to be a garden plant that has gone wild. …