Alex Tisthammer | Fort Collins Nursery
Winter has always served as a time for the world to rest and reflect while waiting for the next season to arrive with joyous anticipation. In Greek mythology, winter comes to earth when Persephone, daughter of Demeter, is in the underworld with her father Hades, the god of the underworld. Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and rules over the changing of seasons, and the world becomes barren and cold when she is in mourning that her beloved Persephone is gone. But spring returns just as swiftly as it left when Persephone returns to her mother’s arms and the land is once again filled with flora and fauna. Fortunately, some flowers are impatient and can’t wait for Persephone to return and will bloom through the snow. These are some of my favorite flowers, bringing a message of approaching spring and all the warmth and life that follows.
These harbingers of spring are hellebores, galanthus, crocus, and chionodoxa. Hellebores are also known as the Lenten Rose because they bloom around the same time as the Christian observation of Lent. These flowers may appear delicate, but can push their buds through the snow! Furthermore, these robust flowers do not fall off quickly. They remain on the plant long after blooming and turn a beautiful shade of green.
Another common snow bloomer is a bulb, galanthus, also known as Snowdrops, a name that references how the flowers are pure white and shaped like drops of snow. This bulb is a symbol for the traditional Gaelic festival Imbolc, celebrating the coming of spring and the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox.
Some of my personal favorites are the early blooming crocus, also called Snow Crocus. When their clusters of large, five-petaled flowers appear in my garden I get giddy with excitement because I know spring is around the corner! It comes as no surprise that people react like this when they see these colorful bursts of life because they symbolize hope, rebirth and renewal.
Finally, there is a stunning star-shaped flower that often accompanies crocus in garden beds called Choinodoxa. Choinodoxa, also known as Glory of the Snow, is native to Turkey, Cyprus, and the mountains of Crete. As the name would suggest, masses of blue, pink, or white flowers pop up through the snow in late winter.
The next time you are walking through your neighborhood on a nice day keep an eye out for the snow bloomers that will start to appear and bring us the message that spring is near. Soon after, other plants will yawn and poke their heads up through the cold earth, the buds will swell on the tree branches, and every day we get to enjoy a few more moments of sunshine. In no time at all, Persephone will return, spring will arrive, and we will be digging in the soil once again!