Tag Archives: introduction of snowdrops to Britain

Snowdrops, the poet’s flower

Poets love snowdrops.  Even Linnaeus got lyrical when he classified them as Galanthus nivalis, which translates as “milky flower of the snow”  (in Greek,  gala = milk and anthos = flower). For St. Francis the snowdrop was an emblem of hope and the touch of green on the inner petals has often been seized upon as a symbol of spring’s return.  It is uplifting to see the green sword-shaped leaves piercing the snow and the apparently fragile bell-shaped flowers resisting all that winter can hurl at them.

There is some disagreement about when the snowdrop was introduced to Britain: some say as late as the 16th century.  It’s noticeable for its absence in Shakespeare.  Snowdrops grow particularly profusely in damp deciduous woodlands, and flower from January to March: this year the Big Freeze has delayed them.

A list of gardens with particularly good snowdrop displays can be found here.