Spring is on the way: Snowdrops at Markshall Estate

With the freezing mornings and dark evenings its still very much winter. Visitors to Markshall however can be assured that warmer days are on their way, thanks to the emergence of the harbinger of spring… the beautiful and delicate snowdrop!

Every February a carpet made of thousands of snowdrops emerges from beneath the ground in the wintry woodland of Robins Grove. Along with the more common species of snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, the Markshall collection is home to several different varieties.

There are three main varieties to be found in Robin’s Grove’s snowdrop spectacular. Although there are some single snowdrops and a large group of Galanthus elwesii by far the largest contingent here are double snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’).  These do not set seed and spread only from offsets.  As growing a snowdrop wood is a slow process, we can say that these snowdrops must have been here for a very long time, probably hundreds of years. 

There are over 600 varieties of snowdrop and they all like moist rich soils in a semi-shaded position.  Therefore, woodlands such as Robin’s Grove are ideal.

Snowdrop Facts

Its Greek name is ‘Galanthus’ which translates as the ‘milk flower’.  Known by several different names, it was officially named the Galanthus in 1753, by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

Snowdrops contain a substance used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Galantamine is a naturally occurring substance found in the plant.

Despite being loved throughout the UK, snowdrops aren’t actually native to the UK.  They became fashionable in the Victorian era, but no one knows for sure when they were first introduced to the UK, although one theory is that the Romans brought them into the country from southern Europe and Turkey. 

The arrival of these stunning white flowers is a welcome sight during a long cold winter and is always a sure sign that spring is on its way.  We are incredibly lucky to be home to a large collection of snowdrops. These produce a beautiful display that covers the ground in Robin’s Grove and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

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