Friday, 1 February 2013

Roll Out The White Carpet!

Two things are guaranteed to lift my spirits at this time of year. One is the lengthening of the days: mild days in February often deliver false promises of spring, but progress towards longer evenings is a relentless, celestial certainty - at least until midsummer's day. The second event, the appearance of snowdrops spearing through the soil, is a consequence of the first.

Roll out the white carpet. A much-anticipated sight in the winter months, the snowdrop's slim green leaves and bobbing white blooms are iconic. 

Snowdrops are able to survive the cold winter months and flower so early, because they grow from bulbs. Seeds are produced provided there are insects around to pollinate the flowers, and early emerging queen bumblebees will provide this service when the weather is warm and dry enough.
 
It used to be thought that the snowdrop was native to the far south west of England and the Welsh borders. However, it was first recorded growing in the wild in the 18th century, after being cultivated over here since 1598. As such, although formally considered native, it is actually a recent arrival.

In some counties the snowdrop is or was known as 'Death's Flower' and it was considered extremely unlucky to bring it into the houuse.