On gloomy, grey days like the ones we had last week, a sighting of a few of these tough bulbous perennials, flowering despite the bitter cold, is a reminder that the days are slowly lengthening and nature’s cycles endure. Some of our woods have a veritable carpet of them, like a modest winter version of the Bluebell. It is thought that Snowdrops were brought to Britain early in the sixteenth century, and subsequently became naturalized ie spread sustainably into the wild. The name may well derive from the German equivalent, which was the name for teardrop-shaped pearl earrings popular in the sixteenth century. An old alternative name is Fair Maids of February. The Snowdrop is often used in art and literature as a symbol of spring or purity. We don’t do badly for festivals in Otley, but Shepton Mallet has a Snowdrop Festival!