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29 Jan 2009

Snowdrop spectacle

Snowdrops appear all over the country during February. You can see these hardy annuals at their best around the country now, although some flower right into March, particularly with the colder weather we are expecting!

In Scotland there are many historic properties boasting drifts of white flowers. The annual Snowdrop Festival takes place from 1 Feb to 16 March at castles and country estates. As part of the festival, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh host a snowdrop conference on 20 Feb for galanthophile experts and enthusiasts.

From 14- 22 February, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in Doncaster will be hosting its first Snowdrop Festival – a hands-on event. Hundreds of thousands of snowdrops have been planted over the last five years, creating a stunning collection of blooms and visitors are invited to come and help plant 50,000 more snowdrops ‘in the green’.

The National Trust offer lots of opportunities for walking in a winter wonderland throughout February. Kingston Lacey in Dorset is open at weekends and over 35 different varieties of snowdrop can be found there.

Snowdrop Lore:
Snowdrops are sacred to the Goddess Brigid, often appearing at Imbolc (2nd Feb), the wiccan festival that marks the mid-point of winter, which is also celebrated as a feast for Brigid. They are seen as a promise from Mother Nature that the spring is coming, the wheel of the year is turning, bringing light and joy into what can be a dark time of the year. There are reports of the bulb being used in Eastern Europe to treat Alzheimer’s although these tests do not seem to have been substantiated.

Snowdrop Facts:

- Snowdrop does not actually mean drop of snow but is Old English for earring.

- The flowers are sometimes referred to as Candlemas bells as they come out on 2nd February (Candlemas or Imbolc)

- The Latin name is Galanthus, which means ‘milk flower’.

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