Thursday, 14 February 2013

Snowdrops & Daffodils...

Hope of new beginnings. Spring is just around the corner and the bulbs are reaching for the sky... I love Snowdrops, and... our dear friend, the faithful, sweet, powder - scented Daffodil. Forever enlightening our gardens and woodlands. Reliable, trusting and honest. The purity of a delicate Snowdrop. Innocently reminding us of the first few steps away from winter. The Daffodil... Leading us into spring.
Or perhaps, not so innocent. It has been suggested that there is an active substance in the snowdrop called galantamine, which, could act as an antidote to certain poisons. Although not a cure, galantamine can aid as a treatment of Alzheimer's disease. I wonder if there is a link to the minerals in the earth after the winter, because this substance can also be traced in Daffodils and other narcissi (one of my favourite scents). I'm no scientist or botanist, just throwing out a thought...
Introduced around the early sixteenth century, some snowdrops species are threatened in their wild habitats, and in most countries, it is now illegal to collect bulbs from the wild. Quite right too.
Storytellers and poets have been inspired by these bright, white, little flowers.. As their name suggests, they are dropped into lines and verse and connect us to the changing season. The poet, Ambrosius Stub, is compared to the flower - as a summer fool, born before his time. Hans Christian Andersen follows the fate of a snowdrop, from a bulb striving towards the light, to a picked flower placed in a book of poetry... Then, there is the folklore. Telling the story of a little girl sent out to the dark forest in the midst of winter, by her wicked stepmother, to gather galanthus flowers (snowdrops). The spirits of the twelve months felt so sorry for her, they make it possible for her to pick the flowers in mid winter...
In Persian literature, the daffodil represents a beautiful face in a spring garden... Their trumpets blowing silent tunes to dance and celebrate the turning of the season. Or, in the words of William Wordsworth, "I wandered lonely as a cloud, That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of dancing Daffodils..."
The ancient Greeks believed the narcissus plant originated from the vain youth, Narcissus. Whilst obsessing over his reflection in a pool, he was unable to move and the gods turned him into a Narcissus flower. Furthermore, the daffodil has consequently become a symbol of unrequited love. So.. In the West, a symbol of vanity and in the East, a symbol of wealth and good fortune..
That said, the spring flowers we all love, whether we realise it or not, are the stuff of legends and myths. Their sweet scent and bright colour, takes us back in time, and yet, leads us forward and into the glorious spring...

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