Snowdrops in the Yeo Valley Organic Garden


Thursday 11th February 2021

Snowdrops in the Yeo Valley Organic Garden
Snowdrops in the Yeo Valley Organic Garden

Snowdrop season is upon us!

Over the past few years we’ve planted thousands of snowdrops in our Organic Garden. The nodding white flowers grow in clumps with narrow green leaves growing from the base. Flowering from January to March, they make a very pretty way to begin our year in the garden, leading us to the blossoms of spring.

Taking photos of Snowdrops in the Yeo Valley Organic Garden
It can be hard to get the right picture!

We all know this hardy flower by its common name but Snowdrop’s proper name is Galanthus Nivalis (it means Milk Flower of the Snow) and we think it was brought into the UK in the 1500’s. They’ve been growing around Europe for much longer and were first described by the classic Greek author, Theophrastus, in his book Historia Paltarum, Enquiry into plants (written sometime between c.350 BC and c. 287 BC).

There are several symbolic meanings to snowdrops, such as purity, hope, rebirth and sympathy, however, the Victorians thought it was bad luck to bring snowdrops into your house and that they can indicate an imminent death. There are a few theories as to the origins of this superstition but it’s most likely because the bulbs are poisonous to eat, even though they look a lot like shallots! They actually have medicinal properties – Galanthamine is a substance extracted from snowdrops that can be used to improve sleep. It is also sold as a medication for Alzheimer’s disease under the name of Reminyl.

The dog helping to take snowdrop photo in the Yeo Valley Organic Garden
Ivy trying to be helpful…

Snowdrops are in the same plant family as Amaryllis and there are 23 species of Galanthus and over 2500 cultivars found across Europe in woodlands and parks. On Valentines Day, you may even find some in the hands of Danish lovers as it’s tradition in Denmark to give dainty Snowdrops instead of red roses! They aren’t necessarily cheaper: A single Galanthus Plicatus ‘Golden Fleece’ snowdrop bulb was sold on Ebay for £1,390 in February 2015.

So, if you see some Snowdrops whilst you’re out for a stroll, have a good old look but definitely don’t eat one!

We’re opening the Yeo Valley Organic Garden doors a little earlier this year in support of the Shepton Snowdrop Festival. On the 17th and 18th of February come and visit the Valley and see our beautiful snowdrops for yourself! You can book you slot here.


Comments on “Snowdrops”

  • Hi loved article, but you didn’t explain that galanthus plicatus comes from the crimea, and they were brought over to this country and planted in church yards around headstones as a mark of respect to the fallen. Plicatus means pleated.

    Anonymous on 28th January 2022 at 7:48 am

  • Just noticed some sneaky ones in flower in my front garden – so a very timely and enjoyable read – thank you!

    Anonymous on 28th January 2022 at 12:34 am

  • I’ve grown some in my rocketry for several years now as they are my birthday month flower.

    Anonymous on 26th January 2022 at 5:34 am

  • Interesting blog.
    I did not know that Galantamine could be extracted from Snowdrops, as always taught that it came from daffodil plants.
    As a retired psychaiatrist I have used Reminyl to help people diagnosed with early dementia. Not a cure but can slow down progression of disease in certain people.

    Anonymous on 25th January 2022 at 5:19 pm

  • Enjoyed reading about these lovely and varied heralds of Spring

    Sheila on 25th January 2022 at 1:51 pm

  • That’s great, thank you. I’m pleased I took the time to read the blog.

    Anonymous on 25th January 2022 at 10:40 am

  • Excellent article. Thank you. Spring round the corner and hopefully some better weather!

    Anonymous on 23rd February 2021 at 11:43 am

  • Lovely feature. Thank you.

    Jacqui Batchelor on 17th February 2021 at 8:30 pm

  • Great info! Thank you.

    Anonymous on 17th February 2021 at 7:06 am

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