Snowdrops: Innocence, Purity, and Rebirth

Flower of the Week: Snow Drops

When everything is still asleep, snowdrops are one step ahead and blossom magnificently.

Underneath big trees, around the corner of the garden, or in the open field, these small bell-shaped white flowers muster everything they have to emerge from the snow.

Although snowdrops do not seem outstanding in detail, especially when they are short with not more than 15 cm (6 in) in height and their grayish-green leaves hold their white droopy flowers, it is as if they are firmly holding on to their beliefs – spring is coming!

Flower of the Week: Snow Drops
Places of interest

Because of the weather, the United Kingdom is a wonderful place to enjoy snowdrops. There are many famous flower gardens in the country.

1. Anglesey Abbey

If you wish to see all kinds of snowdrops, the 240 varieties of Galanthus flowers with many unique species cultivated in Anglesey Abbey is the perfect destination. With an area of 114 acres in Anglesey Abbey, you might need a guide to make sure you don’t miss the essence of this breathtaking experience.

2. Cambo Estate

Cambo Estate is the largest professional Galanthus collection in Scotland. Victoria’s walled garden and woodland garden accommodate 300 varieties, a number that is growing slowly, and they also sell some snowdrops every year.

3. Benington Lordship

In addition to the large garden of snowdrops that cover the moats, castles, and gardens, these Hertfordshire gardens have a walled kitchen garden with a variety of collections of Galanthus that visitors can book to visit and might encounter some rare varieties.

Please check the specific opening hours online, because Benington lordship is a private residence.

4. Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden is perfect for London residents to explore. As the oldest botanical garden in the capital, it has 75 different kinds of snowdrops, which the locals can visit without a long journey.

Flower of the Week: Snow Drops
The reaper of graveyards

Snowdrops play an important role in art and literature, symbolizing spring and purity. However, the plant also has something to do with a little dark superstition. In Victorian times, Galanthus bulbs were often buried near cemeteries, so in many parts of Britain at that time, snowdrops were also regarded as a sign of doom and death. This superstition has been passed into the 20th century.

Snowdrops are indeed toxic, but you can extract from the flower an active substance called galantamine, which exhibits a therapeutic effect on dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Flower of the Week: Snow Drops
Snowdrops, a disguise for American military police

During World War II, “Snowdrop” was nicknamed by the British for the American Military Police, because they wore white helmets, gloves, leggings, and Sam Browne belts around olive uniforms, looking like snowdrops.

Are you a Galanthophile?

Now we tend to call snowdrop collectors “Galanthophiles” and this might be related to the famous horticulturist and botanist Edward Augustus Bowles, a fanatical collector of snowdrops, who wrote a letter to another snowdrop enthusiast, titled “Dear Galanthophile”. Hence, the origin of the word “Galanthophile”.

In 2011, a Galanthus plicatus ‘E. A. Bowles’ bulb named after Bowles was sold for 357 British pounds at an auction. For people who are not galanthophiles, this might seem inconceivable. After all, there is no big difference between different varieties of Galanthus. In fact, this is not the highest price in the history of snowdrops. In 2015, someone bought a small Galanthus bulb for 1,390 British pounds on eBay.

Flower of the Week: Snow Drops
Can I grow a decent Galanthus?

Galanthus originate from Central Europe and the Caucasus. Like most Amaryllidaceae plants, Galanthus grows from its bulb. It is generally recommended to plant snowdrops in autumn so that they can bloom the next January to May.

Potted snowdrops are lovely, but the scene of large clusters of snowdrops is way more spectacular than you can imagine. You can plant the bulbs of snowdrops closely together to achieve this effect.

However, it should be noted that the leaves and bulbs are poisonous. When planting them, wear gloves at all costs to avoid direct contact with the plant to avoid allergic reactions. Special care should also be taken when storing bulbs to avoid accidental consumption by children or pets.

Size: 7-15 cm (3-6 inches) tall

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-7

Sunlight: full sun to partial shade

Soil: well-drained soil with plenty of humus

Bloom time: from January to May