Tag Archives: Snowdrop

Poetry & Flowers



Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

Louise Gluck, from her book, The Wild Iris

I think in the spirit of Emily Dickinson, and growing gardens with poetic meaning, all poetry is fitting, and so, I’d like to add another book of poems to my garden–Louise Gluck’s, The Wild Iris, the Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry in 1993.

It has been a few years since I read it, but as one of my favorites, I opened it up again and found this poem about Snowdrops (above). I think when I first read it I assumed she was talking about snowflakes, rather than a flower, but now I know better.

She has another book I’ve just started–Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry. And, she has a number of other books of poetry. The Wild Iris is my favorite.

The Pulitzer Prizes were recently announced and the winner for poetry is W.S. Merwin for In the Shadow of Sirius. It’s his second win–the first being The Carrier of Ladders in 1970. I’ve ordered the book–which is out of stock on Amazon waiting to be published in a second edition. You still have the opportunity to purchase it in first edition if you’re interested. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t make a personal recommendation. Generally, I agree with the Pulitzers. One of my favorite books of poetry ever–Claudia Emerson’s, Late Wife–won a few years ago, and that’s how I found the book. I’m excited about Merwin’s work. I have high hopes. Here is a review from Publisher’s Weekly:

The nuanced mysteries of light, darkness, temporality, and eternity interweave throughout Merwin’s newest collection of poems. “I have only what I remember,” he admits, and his memories are focused and profound — well-cultivated loves, the distinct qualities of autumnal light, memories of Pennsylvania miners, a conversation with a boyhood teacher, and “our long evenings and astonishment.” From the universe’s chiaroscuro shadows, Merwin once again calls upon the language of surprise to illuminate existence. He is writing at the peak of his powers.

I also received my 1850 book, The Poetry of Flowers, which I mentioned earlier. It’s a small book, but in very good condition. I have to read through it delicately, but what a joy! The notes that someone took in it over one hundred years ago–WOW!! I love old books! And that was a rare find–on my birthday, no less. What a gift. And, it fits so perfectly with this gardening journey!

I was going to write about possible Mother’s Day Gifts today, and what they mean symbolically, but I’ll do that tomorrow instead since I’ve gotten side-tracked. We still have plenty of time to put together a thoughtful gift for our mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters–whichever mothers we honor on May 9th. This is a good time to begin thinking about it, and I’ll look forward to your memories and suggestions tomorrow.

My mom reads this blog, so there’ll be no surprises for her on Mother’s Day! We’ve often bought my mom flowers for her garden as gifts. However, this year it will be more than just a pretty flower.

If you live out of town or want to go with cut flowers–you might consider Teleflora–and you have a chance to win a beatiful bouquet on this blog by leaving comments and/or linking to your site. (1 entry for every comment and 3 for linking to your site. You can earn 3 entries every time you link.) So, link up with us and join the discussion about creating a poetic garden–a special place to be!

Questions for today–Do you have a favorite book of poetry? A favorite poem? What are your thoughts about poetry and gardening? Do you write your own? Is there a book of poems you’d like to add to your garden?

Snowdrops in Spring

New feet within my garden go–
New fingers stir the sod-
A Troubadour opon the Elm
Betrays the solitude

New Children play opon the green-
New Weary sleep below-
And still the pensive Spring returns-
And still the punctual snow!

Emily Dickinson (79)

March 25, ’09
Degrees 40’s
Yesterday we had snow.

My books arrived and, oh my goodnes, I LOVE them. I’m just getting started, and have read the “Early Spring” section of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens by Marta McDowell. We’ll follow along with her on this blog the early Spring plantings of Emily. If you’d like to add other poems of hers (or others) that you think might refer to the flower we’re highlighting, please do so in the comments–we’d love to read them.

Today’s flower, in Early Spring, is the Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis). They were the first flowers to bloom in the garden. They are a bulb flower. Here is a picture:


Information from theplantexpert.com as follows:

“The major benefit of planting Garden Snowdrops is their early arrival. They can show up weeks before crocuses do, and will often poke through a covering of snow. In the South, snowdrops may even bloom all winter long.

A snowdrop plant looks like three drops of milk hanging from a stem. This accounts for the Latin name Galanthus which means “milk-white flowers”.

Since they are small, you probably need to plant a large number to make a dramatic effect. However, in a rock garden, or planted among other early-blooming plants like Snow Crocuses, an odd number of snowdrops here and there can be just as effective.

Under the right circumstances (see Notes) snowdrops will naturalize very well, and a planting of them can last a lifetime. They are well worth the investment. As an added benefit, snowdrops (like other members of the Amaryllis family) are normally avoided by deer and rodents.

Flowering time: Very early spring

Plant height: 4 – 6″ (10 – 15 cm), although some cultivated varieties grow up to 10″ (25 cm) tall

Minimum planting depth: 3″ (8 cm)

Hardiness zones: Suitable for zones 2 – 9, although they do best in zones 4 – 7

Colours: Clear milk white, usually with emerald green tipped inner segments

Shape/form: A single, nodding, bell-like flower, about 1″ long with 3 lobes, and shorter inner segments, hanging from a stiff, slender, leafless stalk; 2 – 3 very narrow leaves grow from the base of the plant

Alternate names: Common Snowdrop, Milk Flower

Latin name: Galanthus nivalis

Notes: Good for rock gardens, under trees and shrubs, at the fronts of borders or in front of flowering shrubs, in lawns, or along woodland paths

Prefers moist, humus-rich soils, sun-dappled shade, and cooler climates, as in zones 4 – 7

Naturalizes both by self-seeding and bulb offsets

Example varieties: Garden Snowdrop (white), Flore Pleno (double white flowers), Viridapicis (green markings on tips of both outer and inner petal segments), Sam Arnott (larger flowers, with distinct heart-shaped green markings), Atkins Snowdrop (taller than most, with long, shapely petals)”

Have you planted Snowdrops in your garden? Will you this year? What is your exprerience or memories of them?