Snowdrops are one of winter's most enchanting gifts. These brave little flowers add a bit of magic to the cold months, while also reassuring us that spring will be here soon.
That's why taking time out to appreciate them should be a calendar essential. A great event in the Borders is the Scottish Snowdrop Festival at Dryburgh Abbey in Melrose. Other spots for enjoying these lovely white blooms include Kailzie Gardens, Cringletie Estate and Dawyck Botanic Gardens, which even offers Sunday snowdrop walks.
But if you need a little added inspiration to get yourself off to a white-carpeted woodland soon, then here are a few fascinating snowdrop facts for you...
Snowdrops travelled far to get to us
Snowdrops aren't actually native to Scotland — they most likely arrived in the 15th century, when Italian monks brought them over for gardening. In fact, snowdrops are actually native to the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
But nowadays, they're such an essential part of our landscape that it's hard to believe that there was once a time when winter wasn't made pretty by them.
Snowdrops have medicinal powers
In folk medicine, it's been said that snowdrops can help with memory problems, neuralgia and the healing of traumatic injuries, among other things.
Amazingly, the memory thing could true — modern research indicates that these humble white flowers might help cure dementia.
Snowdrops droop for a very good reason
Snowdrops are famous for lowering their heads shyly. But actually, there's a reason behind this — it's to keep their pollen sweet and dry for the rare winter insects that fly around. Given all of the hail, wind and rain during the cold months, that's no easy task.
Snowdrops inspired a very famous writer
In his 1863 tale, 'The Snowdrop', Hans Christian Anderson describes the bravery of the little white flower, which bursts out of its bulb in midwinter after being coaxed by the sun.
The snowdrop ends up being picked, sent off in a love letter and pressed into a book of poetry (but don't worry, it doesn't mind — snowdrops rarely complain).
There's lots of superstitions about snowdrops
For centuries in Britain, it was thought to be unlucky to bring snowdrops indoors. That's because people believed that they could turn cow's milk watery, make butter a funny colour and even cause hens to hatch fewer eggs.
Not all superstitions were negative though. For instance, snowdrops were sometimes carried into houses in a Candlemas ceremony known as the White Purification, which was thought to have a cleansing effect on homes.
Snowdrops have many other titles
Although the flower's fancy Latin name is Galanthus Nivalis, it has collected various folk names over the years, such as Snow Flower, Snow Piercer, White Cups and Purification Flower. Other names reflect the calendar, like Fair Maids of February, while still others have religious significance, like Christ's Flower and Mary's Taper.
Many people view snowdrops as feminine, dubbing them Naked Maidens, White Queens and White Ladies, while others see them as bells, nicknaming them Candlemas Bells, White Bell and even Dingle-dangle.
Snowdrops are linked to Eden
There's even a Christian folk myth about the humble white flowers. It's said that when Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden into the wintery world beyond, Eve began to cry. An angel appeared and breathed onto snowflakes to turn them into snowdrops, giving her hope that summer would return again.
Winter wouldn't be half as magical without these delicate white flowers. Thankfully, they'll be thriving in the Borders until early March, so why not stay in a deluxe Airhouses lodge while out snowdrop spotting?
Airhouses is more than an award-winning holiday escape — it’s an experience you will never forget. Explore woodland walks, hiking trails and the peaceful village of Oxton (plus Edinburgh is less than an hour away). And don’t forget to say hello to our friendly animal family of alpacas, goats, donkeys, pigs, Shetland ponies and more.