Tuesday, 2 March 2010

ABC Wednesday - Galanthus

They were late, but now are in everywhere and how happy to see them as they push against the door called spring.  The snowdrop's Greek name is from its milky white colour, gala (milk) and anthus (flower) giving Galanthus.  Experts can identify the 350 different species and cultivars from the green markings and the people who love them are called Galanthophiles.  Who could not love these little flowers that appear in the cold days of winter.  In the Victorian 'Language of Flowers' they symbolised hope.

Covering the woodland floors and nestling in hedgerows.  If the temperature reaches 10 degrees centigrade

the outer petals open horizontally, attracting pollinating insects.  This little bunch was in a sheltered spot and they were opening but it hadn't reached that magical warmth so were only half heartedly thinking about. it.

I always though of snowdrops as an indigenous flower but it is not. There is some dispute of how they arrived but the consensus seems to be that monks brought them to Britain from Italy in the 15/16th Century and that is why they are often seen in monastery grounds.

There are many beliefs about them, such as the first sight represents the passing of sorrow. The Christian story tells of an angel turning snowflakes to flowers to give Adam and Eve hope after being cast out from the Garden of Eden.  However folk law can see them as unlucky perhaps because

they grow in cemeteries and churchyards.  Never bring a bunch into the house for it is to invite death, so if you

 St Mary's at Whicham Churchyard
are using them as pain relief for a headache then it might be a precaution to rub them on your forehead outdoors.

No wonder our little Galanthus like the sheltered places for the only flowers on the hill tops are plastic ones.

See how brave those little snowdrops are, nestling in the Whicham valley, below these cold tops, but the snow was delightfully crunchy.  And how delightful that I found a flower beginning with G by accident when setting off for a walk.

Many poets have written about snowdrops and Wordsworth wrote at least two poems but I'll leave with one expressing Tennyson's simple joy at a first sight

The Snowdrop by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Many, many welcome
February fair-maid
Ever as of old time
Solitary firstings,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair maid.

Gallop over to the ABC Wednesday meme to see more words starting with G


Johnny Nutcase said...

wow! so many of them, like a blanket...beautiful photos!

Sylvia K said...

How exquisite! And so many! I've never seen them before, how delightful! And I really enjoyed your words as well as Tennyson. And your photos are so lovely! Great post for the day! Enjoy the rest of your week!


Amy said...

Beautiful photos, especially the first one - such sweet flowers. Tennyson fits perfectly!

Stan Ski said...

Spring is in the air.

Tumblewords: said...

Wonderful! I've never seen them. Interesting how they appear to blanket the earth with white during the early spring. Nicely spun narrative, too! Thank you!

Manang Kim said...

I so love the story. And the flower, it is amazing it is all over. Happy Wednesday.

G is for Gold

Anna said...

Snowdrops are my favourite flower Joy - I greatly enjoyed your post especially the photos of the churchyard.

Paula Scott said...

Whoa! Now, that's what I call a 'full tilt' post! As if the flowers weren't enough (and they were), that cemetery looks pretty darned cool! I hope you post more on that at a later date. I guess you could've called the cemetery a graveyard too and gotten an extra 'g' out of it!
I enjoyed my stop here today. Thanks.

lv2scpbk said...

That's alot of flowers. Pretty. On behalf of the ABC team, thank you.

Roger Owen Green said...

The change perspective really did it for me. Impressive sequence.

Carol said...

Great photos...esp the cemetery shots...it's a beautiful little flower...it gives me hope for spring!

Spiderdama said...

Beautiful pictures of the flower!:-)

jabblog said...

What a lovely post and I learnt so much from it. I'd never heard that they were unlucky or that they were a cure for headache. That's one of the joys of blogging, isn't it?