Looking for ways to ward off damp January spirits? Under such cold grey skies, there is nothing more hopeful than the sight of snowdrops. I am not sure how the first snowdrop bulb made its way across the Channel from Europe but records show them grown in British gardens from as far back as 1597, the same year that Shakespeare bought his house in Stratford-upon-Avon. At some moment they must have made their way over the garden wall because these hardy perennials have proliferated in the wild ever since, covering lawns, woodland floors and churchyards from January onwards.
I can’t help but be inspired by the delicate strength of these little blooms. Fragile yet mighty, they push through the harshest conditions; their leaves are armed with hardened tips to help them break through frozen soil and their sap contains a form of antifreeze to prevent ice crystals forming. Welford Park near Newbury and Killerton House near Exeter are both well-known for their snowdrops and well worth a visit.
Sometimes, a mere glimpse of this little flower is enough to lift my spirits, which is why you will find snowdrops represented on lots of my favourite things at this time of year – pottery, fabrics and soft-furnishings.
Recreating them in my designs has permitted renewed appreciation for the tiniest variations in these bell-like flowers: pale white petals giving way to dappled green and yellow, fragile stems arched over at the tip, to dangle the bloom like a lantern. In the words of poet RG Gregory, these little flowers are a reminder to ‘take deep darkness off the rack and shake it free of lethargy…’ because Spring is on its way.
For a more detailed view of our design process, please see our Snowdrops
feature in ‘Dreams and Schemes….’