While replenishing the bird-feeders this morning, I spotted our first snowdrops of the year poking out from beneath the leaf-litter. They were already in flower. There was no sign of them at the same time last week. Snowdrops don’t hang about. They’ve established their niche by flowering before most other plants. One good way to avoid competition for resources is to strut your stuff when nobody else is trying to strut theirs.
To pull off their trick of flowering early, snowdrops have evolved a form of antifreeze to mitigate against the worst of the winter weather. Their leaves also have stiff tips to help them push out from frost-hardened soil and snow. Candlemass bells, they used to be called, being at their peak around the mid-winter feast of Candlemass on 2nd February. Or Groundhog Day, if you prefer the secular.
Our snowdrops came from my parents’ garden, whose snowdrops in turn came (before I was born) from the local wood: a practice which would be frowned on these days. Some of my parents’ snowdrops have also been transplanted to Mum’s grave. She always said they were her favourite flowers. Which is why she was so keen to have some growing in her son’s garden.