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E-Garden Almanac: Snowdrops

E-Garden Almanac

The E-Garden Almanac is the push-button, real human journal of Kelly D. Norris. All errors, grammatic grievances, and opinions are that of the author. Kelly is a freelance writer and Master Gardener from southwest Iowa. His passion and obsession with horticulture, plants, and gardening embodies nearly every function of his life. The E-Garden Almanac serves as the web extension of his columns, articles, and lectures.
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Friday, February 16, 2007


Recently I have found myself defending my liking of the Galanthus or the snowdrops to my horticulture major friends. They balk at the minuscule nature of this darling spring ephemeral, dismissing it with an obvious lack of enthusiasm. Though not a "galanthophile", I have come to admire these vestiges of spring really out of a general adoration for anything to offset the doldrums of winter.

Snowdrops certainly are not denizens of color like the crocus of the reticulate irises who follow their display. But snowdrops' persistant, do-or-die attitude says to me that this is a geophyte worth appreciating. In snow or ice, they charge updwards into the sun only to find themselves the first form of plant life in the barren garden. My friends couldn't imagine how something like this would ever be noticed in the garden at such an early time of year. For me, they are a lighted billboard with neon arrows. I abhor snow and winter and come late February am on a careful watch of the soil for anything that will hinder the prolonging of cabin fever. Simple they are with two ranks of modified tepals ("petals" that can't be distinguished and called as "petals", so the botanists play anagrams and create...tepals) coming only in cream and white. But the coolest part is the stains of green that blush to varying degrees the lobes of the tepals. Such intricacy and detail reminds me of hand painted china.

Plus, their diminutive nature forces the gardener to view the world from another perspective. I've found a vignette in my garden that is best viewed lying on my stomach looking at ground level. Can you guess where my snowdrops are?


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