The poetry of snowdrops

Every year again I can’t resist writing about the wonderful snowdrops. These small winter miracles are such a joyful and hopeful sign at the end of winter, aren’t they?! Finally we can start dreaming of Spring again!

Let’s dive deeper in the fairylike world of snowdrops…

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) have been known by various names but were first called Galanthus in 1753, from the ancient Greek for ‘milk flower’ while the Latin word ‘nivalis’ means ‘resembling snow’. The word ‘snowdrop’ itself is thought to be derived from the German ‘Schneetropfen’, literally snow-drop. Other names in earlier centuries are ‘Candlemas bells’ and ‘Fair maids of February’.


by Lord Alfred Tennyson

‘Many, many welcomes,

February fair maid,

ever as old time,

solitary firstling,

coming in the cold time,

prophet of the gay time,

prophet of the May time,

prophet of the roses,

many, many welcomes,

February fair-maid!

They are part of the Amaryllidaceae family and are bulbous perennials, with around 20 species. They first have green shoots, then small white buds and in the end fragile, white, bell-shaped flowers emerge. A visible message that spring is awakening.

In the woods they often form impressive carpets which makes a beautiful contrast with the brown hues of nature in winter.

‘The plants have been resting out of sight within winter. They’ve been gathering potential for the next season. Perhaps more goes on in the winter of the soul than any of us can imagine. No wonder we feel elated when we see the first shy green shoots of a snowdrop. “Now here, here is the beginning”, we might think. This is not true of course. The beginning was long before these signs.’ Gunilla Norris

Now a little snowdrop fairytale by H. C. Anderson. He couldn’t have described the beauty of the snowdrop any more poetic!

“Welcome, welcome!” sang and sounded every ray, and the Flower lifted itself up over the snow into the brighter world.

The Sunbeams caressed and kissed it, so that it opened altogether, white as snow, and ornamented with green stripes.

It bent its head in joy and humility. “Beautiful Flower!” said the Sunbeams, “how graceful and delicate you are!

You are the first, you are the only one! you are love! you are the bell that rings out for summer, beautiful summer, over country and town.

All the snow will melt; the cold winds will be driven away; we shall rule; all will become green, and then you will have companions, syringas, laburnums and roses;

but you the first, so graceful, so delicate!”

Having a little posy of snowdrops in our home on these last winter days is definitely a joy and comfort. They quickly open their delicate petals in the warmth!

On Snowdrops

by John Keble

‘I am come to calm your fears;

to console you in the absence of bright days

and to reassure you of their return. ”

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