Cheryl Cronnie has sent us pictures from the bottom copse in Sheepfield, of snowdrops just about to burst into flower.

The ancient Greeks called snowdrops white violets and it wasn’t until the middle of the 18th century that Carl Linnaeus reclassified them as part of the Amaryllidaceae family, the same family as our native daffodils and wild garlic. He named the species Galanthus nivalis, which means milk flower of the snow.

A whole gallery of snowdrops just about to flower. They are such a welcome sight in the middle of a cold winter that people photograph them as soon as they appear. A search in our media file for snowdrop has found dozens of similar pictures and they all mean the same thing: spring is on its way!

Snowdrops are not native to Britain; they have just been here for so long that people are inclined to feel that they must have been here for ever. They are native to mainland Europe and the Middle East, and were, for a long time, believed to be have been brought here by the Romans, who were surprisingly keen gardeners and introduced many Mediterranean plants into Britain. But it is now thought that snowdrops probably arrived here during the early 16th century; the Tudors were also keen gardeners

Because it is such an early flowering species,  the fragile white flowers, often struggling through snow, have come to represent brave new beginnings and rebirth. In fact, snow drops are tough and resilient, perfectly capable of surviving our cold and wet winters. Given time, they will spread right through our woodland.

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