One of the best ways to learn about nature is to hear and share stories about different plants, animals and happenings. Three years ago, this story was told to me by Ginger Franklin, an education officer at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Here in NE Scotland we still have snowdrops blooming.
The Snowdrop Story
Many years ago when, the Earth was being made by our Creator, He was being very generous with the amounts of colour He handed out to the plants and animals. So much so, that by the time, Snow had heard that colour was being given out, when she came to ask the Creator for a little colour there was none left. Snow was transparent.
The Creator was a little perplexed by this mistake. “Never mind,” He said to Snow, “I’m sure some of the flowers will share a little of their colours with you. I gave them lots. Just go and ask.”
So off Snow went, looking for flowers and a little of their colour. Before long, she came across Daffodil, who was looking gloriously yellow in the sunshine. “Hello Dandelion,” said Snow, “I’m afraid the Creator ran out of colour and I’m looking for some. Would you be able to share a little bit of yellow with me?”
Daffodil waved her trumpet head around importantly. “No, no, no! I’m afraid that’s impossible,” she said, fixing Snow with an arrogant stare. “I’m too busy catching the sun’s rays. If I lose any of my colour, I may not be noticed as much and not receive the warmth I need to grow. Go and look elsewhere for colour.”
Snow shrugged her wet shoulders and kept on looking. Before long, she saw Bluebell, who was looking ever so bonny. “Hello Bluebell” said Snow. “Would you mind giving me a little of your colour? The Creator suggested I asked a flower for some colour.”
Bluebell looked horrified at the thought. “Oh no, Snow!” she exclaimed. “That simply isn’t possible. You see, I make a beautiful carpet of blue every spring in the woodlands. If you were my shade of blue, then everyone might get mixed up between us and that would never do. Go and find another flower to help you.”
Poor Snow was beginning to feel quite desperate. Every flower seemed to need all their colour. Just then, she heard a little voice. It was the white Snowdrop. “Did I hear that you are needing some colour, Snow?” asked Snowdrop. “You can have some of mine. I’ve got lots of white. Here…”<
Snowdrop carefully scraped some of the white of her inner tepals, revealing some of her underlying green and handed the white to snow, who immediately transformed with her colour.
To this day, you can look closely at a snowdrop you can see the area of green streaks on the inner tepals where she scraped off her white colour to give to snow. And although when you see snow, it looks very white. If you hold a little snow up to the light, you will see it is transparent. Only a little white was ever needed to make snow visible.
In return for colour, Snow made a special promise to Snowdrop. “As you gave me your colour, I am giving you the freedom to emerge safely through my blanket of snow, every year. You will be the flower that symbolises the end of winter and will announce that spring is coming. You will be forever special, because of this.”
And so it was to this day.
There are other stories about snowdrops that can be found. Hans Christian Andersen, wrote one. The Grimm’s brothers wrote a fairy tale which is now better known as Snow White, though originally it was about a girl called Snowdrop!