The delicate Snowdrop is the first glimpse of Spring in the bleakness of Winter as it works its way through the snow to bloom. These tiny flowers grow 3 to 4 inches tall and make an excellent ground cover in gardens and woodlands.
Snowdrops are one of the few flowers that only come in one colour – white. This is probably why the snowdrop symbolises purity, the traditional colour meaning of white flowers. It also symbolises hope, rebirth and consolation or sympathy.
One of the finest snowdrop species is Galanthus Elwesii, named after Henry John Elwes. Elwes was a larger than life character with an intense and wide-ranging interest in the natural world encompassing big game, insects, birds and botanty. On a visit to Turkey in early April 1874, Elwes came across ‘a fine large snowdrop’ while in the mountains near Smyrna. The snowdrop was subsequently named G. elwesii by Joseph Hooker and was illustrated by W.H. Fitch in Curtis’s botanical magazine in 1875.
A woodland walk among snowdrops is as refreshing as it is rejuvenating. In Norfolk, the River Stiffkey meanders gently through the Walsingham Abbey grounds, surrounded by carpets of snowdrops.
In the variety Galanthus Green Man the green marking on the side of the flower is thought to resemble a face, a first glimpse of this charismatic figure peeping out and marking the quickening of the year.