Symbolising warmth and hope, the Snowdrop is one of the very first flowers to appear, often braving freezing temperatures in the coldest months of winter.
Often found growing in hedgerows, Snowdrops to me signify the beginning of a new year and are refreshingly minimal after the opulence of Christmas flowers and greenery.
I certainly can't describe them better than William Wordsworth in his poem, To A Snowdrop:
LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!
We often see these dainty little flowers on our country walks here in Devon, and while we've just spotted some growing this week, these are photos I took last year on a cold, wintery day in a little Devon hamlet called Tigley.
If you are lucky enough to have any growing in your garden, did you know that the plant contains a natural anti-freeze? Even if the stem collapses from the cold, it will come back to life when the temperature rises; a natural chemical stops ice crystals in their tracks, keeping cells protected from damage and the plant safe!
The Snowdrop is the birth flower of January so if you know someone celebrating this month and you need to find a gift, simply wrap a little pot of Snowdrops in tissue paper and you have a pretty and thoughtful present that will last year after year.