Snowflakes or Snowdrops Bulbs that Outlast Us and Pretty Things Up for Folks that Come Later
I imagine he wore a fedora. One passed on or left accidentally by some traveler. His wife, the cook, the kitchen manager asked him to do it. Her kitchen, 100 yards from the house, revolved around a roaring fire. Like other outbuildings on the farm, it’s a practical, white, box of a building designed to do its job. She said, through the fatback and smoke kitchen air ‘Git out there and plant these flowers all the way ‘round.’
He took off his hat to bend, to squat to dig for her.
Also, bone white and designed to do a job, these flower bulbs outlasted them all. The kitchen rotted, the fedora frayed, the man and his wife had long ago gone back to dust. These bulbs, delighted, delight a century later. Now kitchens live in the house, and electronics turn raw foods into delights but bring no warmth, no roaring fire, no smells of oak trees, and don’t need flowers planted around. But in the field, those little snowdrops still flower in a row, in the rectangular footprint of the old kitchen, but now alone. If you came across them but didn’t know about how kitchens used to be away from the house, you’d wonder why anyone planted a rectangle of bulbs out in the field for only the donkeys and deer to enjoy.
In the deep south, we can grow only one type of snowdrop as a long-lived perennial. It’s called by botanists, Leucojum. Just a few hours up the road, in cooler places, they grow it as well as something entirely different that looks similar. They call this similar bulb snowdrop too but its botanical name is Galanthus. It won’t perennialize here no matter what people from up there tell you.
Southern Snowdrops bring handsome, winter leaves to the garden. In February, white bells top the leaves. Each bell shows a lovely stain, a tiny spot of green ink on the petal. Those flowers keep right on through March. Hundreds of them. You’ll see them on graves, under old bushes, in yards, and even in the roots of old trees. They survive almost anything. You can still plant them too. We planted 1,000 last week in a new garden down on the coast. (we still have a few available on the website click to see)
I sure hope that one day, some child wanders through the garden we just planted, I kind of hope it’s taken back by nature by then and turned back into a marsh, to find these snowdrops on a warm winter day. I hope he wonders about who planted these. Then, a little bit of the spirit, the inspiration, the wisdom, the ghost of that rotund old cook, who made her husband take off his found hat and plant bulbs around the kitchen, will then be kept alive, will then flow through long-gone me, through flowers bulbs and right on into that young gardener who’ll picks a few, or dig a few, and move them onto to where he thinks they’ll look pretty.
I love this!
When we lived on Edisto Island, I “borrowed” a few snowdrops from an old, abandoned house down the road and planted them in my yard. I hope the new owners of our house are enjoying them as much as I did.
Enjoyed your presentation at last year’s symposium in Greenville. Reviewing my notes from that talk this morning, and incorporating them into my newly organized gardening notebook. Looking forward to spring!
Thanks for your lovely words😊
Hello Farmer,I believe I have Crinum Pink Trumpet. It started with 2 interesting sprouts so I left it alone. It’s been growing for 23 years in a very sunny spot against my house behind the garbage cans. After 20 years of growing with no care from me, except to let it thrive on its own, I asked my yard mower to ‘weedeat’ the nasty 20ish years of frozen slimy tops off. My request was lost in translation. He took the rotten leaves off not sure how. It was all dug up with some bulbs cut or chopped. What was left is growing back. I hate to think what went to the street in a garbage bag. I’m grieving. I noticed last time he mowed, the weedeater was used for the NEW leaves. I haven’t paid him yet for this as he didn’t do what I asked. I need to tell him something or I’m afraid he’ll quit.
I am not sure what my point of this letter is but to share my horror of learning how valuable they are. My location is Katy, TX. The south side of I-10, Cinco Ranch. The ranches used to be a direct route for migrating geese as they were rice farmers. There was a plea from The Sierra Club a long time ago not to build which I read about. And then years later, I ended up buying a house on the rice fields.