It’s January. The first Snowdrops are nodding their boring, gloomy little heads in the grey damp grass, doing nothing to bring joy to my horticultural heart chamber… I know. Shoot me.
‘Galanthophiles’ is the name given to you weirdos out there who obsess over the white and green bore-fest that is the Galanthus genus. I find them such a boring plant that I’ve never even bothered to take a photo of one, so I’ve used a picture of equal interest to me, which is of my hallway before we decorated it. I know I’m bucking a trend here, but I just can’t find anything intriguing in these little things. I’ll admit, their little heads are quite cute, but I find them extremely ‘MEH’.
I don’t really understand the, seemingly, universal appeal of these flowers. It’s like all the humans in the UK and Ireland have been collectively brainwashed into holding these flowers in some sacred esteem. Maybe that’s thanks to school, where from the days of the nature table, we’ve all been told that snowdrops are special. They and they alone, remind us that Winter is on its way out. They are as engrained in our collective horticultural aesthetic as Poppies in wheat fields, Daisies in gardens and Yew trees in churchyards. In the late Winter, there are snowdrops.
I personally, fail to find the allure. I know it’s all about nuances, those tiny details of form and morphology. The fact they’re cute, graceful and elegant, I get that. But at the end of Winter, where everything is a variation on the palate white, grey and green I long for something else.
In my mind, some true harbingers of Spring can be found in the Hamamelis. Glorious in their spangly flowering from bright golds of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Barmstedt Gold’, to the moody and classy sexiness of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’… and they smell good! Then there’s the absolute joy that is given by the Winter flowering Daphne species. Pleasing, blushing clusters of flowers on evergreen stems, exuding one of the most heady and seductive of fragrances which will warm the most bleak of days. Or even Chimonanthus praecox and its mellow, but sophisticated waxy dishes, another scented beauty.
Personally, being someone who has naturally gloomy inclinations anyway, I need overt joyfulness and sensory stimulation at this time of year. Not a nodding, contemplative white and green suggestion.