At last evidence that Spring is not far away. Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrops) are now starting to flower. These wonderful little flowers are closely linked with ancient church traditions and grow naturally, often in huge swathes in church yards and maonastic sites.
Often called Candlemas bells in the country, because the feast of Candlemas falls on the 2nd February, when the flowers are in bloom. The feast celibrates the purification of the Virgin Mary and the spotless pure white flowers are a perfect symbol for this occasion. It was a custom for young girls to be dressed in white and let them throw snowdrops over the church alter where the image of the Virgin usually stands.
Galanthus bloom mainly from late winter to mid-spring and are hardy once established. They should be planted in the autumn, in a humus-rich, moist but well drained soil and partial shade location. Results are more reliable if they are lifted, divided and planted in the green after flowering.
There are about 19 species of 'snowdrops' ranging from double flowered Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' (10cm), Galanthus elwesii, a taller (12 - 22 cm) honey scented variety, to Galanthus reginae - olgae (10 cm) which flowers in the autumn.
Looking round the garden the lawn is filled with leaf shoots of the emerging Crocus's and Narcissus (Daffodil's), which are late this year due to the long, cold, winter and deep ground frost in December. I cannot wait to see the carpets of Crocus's again, with their heads held high looking up at the sun on a bright clear morning. Its been a long winter but Spring is coming!