Monthly Archives: February 2012

Subtleties in Snowdrops

The recent snow coated the trees like confectioners sugar.  Much closer to the ground, the snow of merely an inch crept up the snowdrop’s diminutive stems.  If you are not too far flung from the Haverford campus, pay a visit to the bookstore steps at the Campus Center.

This small garden has shown something blooming every month of the year.  Right now the tiny bulbs of Galanthus are waking up.  Snowdrops, as most people know them are one of the harbingers of spring.  They also go by the cute name of Fair-Maids-of-February.  We have five kinds growing at the bookstore steps and another naturalized in the lawn behind Woodside Cottage.

Derived from Greek, gala “milk” and anthos “flower”, they are in the Lily family.  Mainly from Russia, Europe, Georgia and Ukraine; there are approximately 20 known species, many are threatened in their native range.  For the Galanthophiles, (people who are obsessive over this little plant) the number of cultivars are reaching 2000!

Since we really haven’t had a winter in 2012, these little snowdrops may be as much of the white-stuff as we’ll see.  No complaints here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How sweet it is

A plant’s scent is derived from volatile essential oils.  What is better than walking past a shrub devoid of leaves in January, and being stopped in your tracks?  The translucent yellow flowers are streaked with a purple interior and have a delicious spicy-sweet fragrance.  Winter sweet’s Latin name is not so easily passed over the tongue….Chimonanthus praecox.

I have this shrub in my home garden where it is approaching 14 ft in height.  The back yard is saturated with a pleasant odor.  You can put your nose up to Haverford’s as you walk up the steps out of the bookstore from the Campus Center.  Winter sweet blooms on warm days through late December through February.  For the rest of the year the shrub inconspicuously blends in to the garden.  This is one of those plants whose best attributes come at a time we least expect a powerful punch of perfumery.  Close your eyes and let your nose be you guide !