Showing posts with label Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

"When my time comes, I have to flower" - Snowdrops once again

Britta Huegel

little ballerinas - so fragile-looking in their white tutu - and, like dancers serving up Illusions: both, dancer and flower, are working hard and unrelenting against gravity. 
I love them in their simple form - elegant Art Nouveau style snowdrops, with a hint of virginity about them - their frilly sisters, the 'filled' ones (I hope you will kindly tell me the adequate term) are not my cup of tea. 
Snowdrops balance on the line that divides winter from spring - the quote in the headline is from a snowdrop-poem that the German poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal wrote. And the author Robert Walser (rough translation by me) remarked: 

"They still talk about winter; but also of spring; they speak of the past, though at the same time boldly and cheerfully of the new. They talk about coldness and yet already about more warmth; they say: There is still a lot of snow near the shadows and on the heights, but in the sun it has already melted. Still there can come quite a lot of roughness. You can't trust April."

You, my ardent reader, will startle at this last sentence. "April?" you will ask. "When I look into the front gardens they are already here!" I know - but Walser lived in Switzerland, and there many things come a bit later. 
In our gardens you will mostly find Galanthus nivalis - the 'common' snowdrop, though there are - as Vita Sackville-West points out - 14 different species (and not all are flowering in spring). 
I saw a beautiful little video on youtube - filmed by Artur Homan for Sir David Attenborough, called "Early Spring" - indulge in those 2 mesmerizing minutes! I cannot load it up, but here is the link: it is worth to paste and watch it.
As a practical gardener you have to plant snowdrops 'in the green' (if you take dry bulbs they often don't flower for years). Then, hopefully they spread - left on their own they weave huge carpets of white and green in the woods.  
In 'The Morville Hours' Katherine Swift mentions an 'Old Tom the shepherd': 

"(...) who has been planting snowdrops for more than fifty years. He started in 1953, the year he married. The date was written in snowdrops on the front lawn of his cottage, flanked by two snowdrop pheasants (...). He lives at Broncroft Parks, (...) he used every year to take clumps of snowdrops from the banks of the brook and plant them out along the lanes, each year a little further - from Broncroft Parks to Broncroft; and on towards Broncroft Castle: and now other people (...) do the same (...) spreading the snowdrops from Broncroft to Broadstone, from Broadstone to Tugford, from Tugford to Holdgate, lining the lanes with snowdrops, a ribbon of white." p.65

That sounds so marvellous! 
And as inviting as the Scottish Snowdrop Festival: 

Have you ever been there?