When temperatures drop below freezing and the earth appears inhospitable, a valiant, little plant summons the courage to fight its way above ground and herald the promise of spring. From January to early March, English woodlands play host to the first flowering bulbs of the year. Wander among the trees and you’ll find yourself amid a scattering of modestly bowed, white-bonneted snowdrops. These flowers love to grow in dappled sunlight and, even if it snows, their determined little leaf tips can push through icy flurries. Let the storm rage. The cold never bothers them.
Demure and delicate, they symbolise the hope of warmer days to come, braving the cold to flower before the spring equinox. We like to think of them as thoroughly British, but they started life in Turkey, southern Europe and the Middle East. It’s thought that soldiers from the Crimean War brought snowdrops bulbs back with them to remind them of their travels, and we have claimed these bobbing blossoms as our own ever since.
Demure and delicate, snowdrops symbolise
the hope of warmer days to come
Snowdrops have undergone several name changes before we settled on the one we know and love today. Theophrastus, a protégé of Greek philosopher Aristotle, nicknamed them ‘white violets’. Their Greek name galanthus means ‘milk flower’. They have been called Candlemas Bells, Little Sister of the Snows, Fair Maids of February and White Ladies. The term ‘snowdrop’ probably comes from the German name for the pretty drop-pearl earrings fashionable ladies wore in the 16th and 17th centuries. Could it be a better fit?
The snowdrop has also been a literary muse for thousands of years. Galanthophiles (or snowdrops lovers) may already know that in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, the herb ‘moly’, which Odysseus eats to protect himself against enchantress Circe’s magic, is believed to have been a snowdrop. Snowdrop is even an alternate name used for fairy-tale princess Snow White – and just as pure and innocent.
At Jo Malone London, we have paired this wintery princess with another mainstay of the forest to create White Moss & Snowdrop. This is the essence of winter beauty. Crisp, fresh and iridescent, like freshly fallen snow. Bright like sparkling icicles suspended from the trees. A cold and mysterious kiss you would follow anywhere.