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H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Galanthus Nivalis - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Galanthus Nivalis - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Galanthus Nivalis Described.

Galanthus Nivalis - Common Snowdrop, Early Bulbous Violet, and Fair Maids of February; Nat. Ord. Amaryllidaceæ.

Galanthus Nivalis wild in woodland - Common Snowdrop, Early Bulbous Violet, and Fair Maids of February; Nat. Ord. Amaryllidaceæ.One of the most charming members of the British flora; a native of our fields and orchards, so beautiful as to be beyond description, and, fortunately, so common as to need none. It belongs to a noble order of bulbous plants, the genera of which are numerous, as are the species too, in perhaps an increased proportion. Comparatively few are hardy in our climate, and very few indeed are natives of this country, so that in this respect the Snowdrop, if not a rare flower, is a rare representative in our flora of the order Amaryllidaceæ.

It may be useful to give a few of the better-known genera to which Galanthus is so nearly related: Amaryllis, Nerine, Crinum, Vallota, Pancratium, Alstrœmeria, and Narcissus. The last-named genus is more nearly allied than any of the other genera mentioned; not only does it resemble the Galanthus in style, early period of bloom, and habit of becoming double, but also for the general hardiness of its species, a feature not usual in their order.

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Galanthus Nivalis

The literal meaning of the generic name is "Milk Flower." The title with such a pleasing reference was given by Linnæus. The specific name—meaning white—may, for two reasons, seem unnecessary; first, because milk is white, and again, because no other than white-flowered species are known. All the three common names are happy ones: "Snowdrop" and "Fair Maids of February" are appropriate both to the season and a pretty flower; "Bulbous Violet" pleasantly alludes to its sweetness; all are poetical, as if this lovely flower had the same effect on the different minds of those (including Linnæus) who first gave them. A dropped name for the Snowdrop was that of "Gilloflower"; Theophrastus, the father of natural history, gave it the name of "Violet" (Viola alba or V. bulbosa)—that would be 2100 years ago! The bulbs should be planted by thousands; they will grow anywhere and in any kind of soil; the demand for their blossom is ever increasing, and Snowdrops, as everybody knows, are always in place, on the grass, border, or window sill, or for table; they may be used as emblems of either grief or joy; they are sweetly pure and attractive, without showiness.

Flowering period, February to April.


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