Lone flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest.
from To a Snowdrop by William Wordsworth, 1819
Long before flamboyant tulips and daffodils boldly announce the arrival of spring, the precocious snowdrops challenge the waning winter by pushing up graceful flowers through the melting snow. The botanical name Galanthus comes from the Greek words gala for milk and anthis for flower. Look for the first “milk flowers” to emerge just south of Glyndor House in late February, where the warm slope encourages the sturdy little flowers to push up through the lingering snow. By early March, the Wild Garden is blanketed not with snow but with the white blossoms of the giant snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii, which have happily seeded around the garden.
The pendulous flowers lure hungry bees who receive a shower of pollen as they probe into a blossom in search of its sweet nectar. On a warm March day, you may find our Wave Hill honeybees visiting Wordsworth’s admired flower, busily collecting the first nectar of the season in anticipation of the summer honey harvest.
Laurel Rimmer is Assistant Director of Public Programs. Among her many contributions are botanical drawings of plants found at Wave Hill, such as the snowdrop protrayed here.