Wildlife & Nature to See in January : Snowdrops

A welcome and cheering sight during the long winter months.

Wildlife to See in January : Snowdrops

Image by Laurie Campbell

Image by Laurie Campbell

There are few sights more cheering after a long winter, than a new bloom of snowdrops. The delicate white flower is the herald of spring, and in the midst of recession, a reminder that pleasure doesn’t always mean shelling out.

Despite its fragile appearance, the snowdrop is a hardy plant, which flowers for longer when the weather is cold. Due to the extreme cold of this winter, snowdrops may flower late compared to recent years, possibly around the end of January. This is good news for the flowers, as a mild winter can tempt them to bloom earlier, leaving them at risk from late frosts. A more traditional, cold winter means the flowers are better protected.

Apparently soldiers in the Crimean war were so taken with the flowers, that they brought home specimens to replant in their gardens. And it is easy to see why, as the cheerful snowdrop has become an emblem of approaching spring.

Dr David Rae, RBGE’s Director of Horticulture, said snowdrops are among the best-loved of Britain’s flowers and have been collected and celebrated for hundreds of years. He explained “Cultivated snowdrops date back to Medieval times and signify the start of the transition period between winter and spring. Originally known as the Candlemas Bells, they were viewed as an emblem of purity and were widely seen in monasteries and country estates. Today there are endless varieties but each has its own distinctive characteristics which is perhaps one of the reasons these botanical gems are so loved and admired.”

The day will end with an exhibition of snowdrops by the Scottish Rock Garden Club and plant sales, so all in all, a Galanthophile’s (a term for snowdrop enthusiasts) dream.

 

For visits to Edinburgh Royal Botanical gardens, see: http://www.rbge.org.uk/

Scotland too far? Why not visit Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. The gardens contain huge varieties of snowdrops, including rare flowers, such as Galanthus lagodechianus.

http://www.angleseyabbey.org/gardens/snowdrops/index.html

Article by Lizzy Dening You can follow Lizzy on Twitter or go to her website