For me, snowdrops are simply the first indicators that spring—and a much more interesting display—is on the way, and I think one of the nice things about them is that they often appear as if by magic during a partial thaw. But if I lived in England and belonged to some wacky snowdrop-worshipping cult, I might feel differently. There, where it is usual for them to bloom in February, annual snowdrop galas are held and single bulbs of unusual varieties like “Green Tear” and “E. A. Bowles” go for $500 each. I’m no snowdrop connoisseur; I have nivalis, nivalis “Flore Pleno,” and elwesii, and that’s good enough for me.
In Britain, as they are here, the snowdrops are early; they started in December and were forming carpets by January according to garden writer Monty Don. Early February snowdrops are the norm in the UK, but not in Buffalo, where I usually see them in March. Gardeners throughout the Northeast are getting their early spring blooms in late winter; in Philadelphia, some have already seen tulips come and go. The groundhog may have predicted 6 more weeks of winter, but if it is 6 more weeks of the gray, dull winter that wasn’t, at least we'll have some unexpected flowers to enliven it.