My father viewed paths as suggestions, and we spent as much time off trails as on them. With rare exceptions he viewed our woods wanderings as detours rather than being lost. Once the flashlights came out, he would reluctantly admit perhaps we had not ended up where he intended. Still, because of these explorations we made some interesting discoveries. One of my favorites came when we were rambling in a nearby park when I was around ten. Well off course, we suddenly came to a hillside covered with white. On closer inspection, we found that it was dotted with thousands of snowdrops. I was struck by how the delicate flowers had flourished, in contrast to only a few remaining stones of an abandoned homesite.
We took a few snowdrops home and put them along the edges of the shrubs which he planted to block the view of the rather busy road we lived on. They spread over the decades, and he bought more varieties to join their wild cousins. Many years later my father passed away, but his snowdrops lived on. When my mom sold my childhood home I gathered some of the bulbs and took them to my current garden. They were some of the first flowers I planted, and they have thrived now for over a decade in their new residence. More recently I’ve added more varieties to lengthen the snowdrop season and starting with the first green shoots a month ago, appropriately the first two blooms of the winter snowdrop season fully opened this afternoon to welcome the new year.
This is a Galanthus elwesii, known as the giant snowdrop. They are diminutive flowers so the name might be a bit misleading. Still, it is the largest of the snowdrops so among these small bulbs it is a colossus. It is a wonderful way to start 2022, with a flower blooming in winter. A small fly spent quite a while parked on a petal, perhaps a pollinator for this hardy bloom. Today doesn’t feel like January, with a record temperature in the upper 70s. But later this week it will plunge to the low teens, so I am enjoying this early taste of spring.