'Tis the Snowdrop Season

The beginning of a New Year can sometimes be quite testing, Christmas is over, the weather is often wet and miserable and everywhere is brown and devoid of much colour. Then all of a sudden a little miracle starts to happen, green spikes start to bravely poke up through the soil shortly followed by beautiful white flowers that gently nod their heads in the bitter weather bringing a feeling of better things to come.

Galanthus Nivalis is the Latin name for the more commonly known Snowdrop and being the first to flower after winter it is no surprise it is known as a symbol of hope. They are also referred to by many other names such as Fair Maids of February, Candlemass Bells, White Ladies, Little Sisters of Snow, Snow Piercers, Dingle- Dangle, Flower of Hope and Death Flowers.

Despite the British countryside and gardens being swathed in these dainty white flowers from as early as January onwards the Snowdrop isn’t actually a native of the UK but comes from the mountainous Alpine areas of Europe. They became fashionable in the Victorian era but as they were known by so many different names it is difficult to determine when they were actually introduced to this country.  The Botanist John Gerard is said to have first described the Snowdrop in his writings in 1597.

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I was in the garden at Allonby Cottage looking at the snowdrops and was really surprised to spot this hungry little chap.  I had no idea bees love snowdrops, emerging from their winter slumber they are on the look out for sources to replenish their dwindling supplies which will see their hives and fellow bees through the leaner, colder months. On warm days the snowdrop gives off a highly scented fragrance of honey which attracts the bees and the green chevron guides the pollinators straight to the nectar. It also helps the plant photosynthesis increasing the energy reserves helping the bees further. Its amazing what you spot and learn when you stop and look at nature even in these winter months.

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This lead me on to read more about these pretty, very resilient flowers and I learnt all sorts so thought I would share them with you.

 Snowdrops are named after earrings not drops of snow, in the 15th – 17th centuries ladies wore white dropped shaped earrings known as ear drops and the snowdrops resembled these so hence their name.

Legend has it that the Snowdrop became a symbol of hope when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Like many of us Eve began to give up hope of the long winters ever ending, apparently an Angel appeared and to prove they would end turned some snowflakes into Snowdrop flowers showing Eve that spring would follow on from the cold winter. They are still doing that for us these days.

There is a naturally occurring substance within the Snowdrop called Galantamine which is used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s however the actual bulbs are poisonous to humans and animals so please don’t eat them!

Almost unbelievably Snowdrops contain a natural anti freeze and if the temperatures plummet the flowers can collapse with freezing stress. Their anti freeze helps them recover as the temperature warms up again. In the First World War Snowdrop bulbs were used to de-ice tanks! Who knew?


Superstition leads people to believe bringing the first snowdrop or indeed a single stem into the house will bestow bad luck upon the household and in some instances even mean a death. Sometimes the flower of the Snowdrop is referred to as ‘corpse in a shroud’

 Dumfries and Galloway has lots of wonderful places you can see snowdrops  during the Scottish Snowdrop Festival all within easy reach from Allonby Cottage Kippford. 

Drumlanrig Castle has a beautiful way marked route around the garden where you can enjoy different varieties of snowdrops. You can then enjoy refreshments in the Larchwood Cabin.

Castle Kennedy Gardens owned by the Earl and Countess of Stair is another great place to visit and view snowdrops. Once you have wander round the grounds you can enjoy a delicious bowl of soup and something from the Snowdrop themed bakery in the Garden Tea Room.

Logan Botanical Gardens is Scotland’s most exotic garden with plants from all four corners of the world and in amongst them are clusters of snowdrops. Enjoy a stroll around these beautiful gardens and finish in the Potting Shed for some refreshments at the end of the day.

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