Although better known for her work as a novelist, Colette also wrote beautifully of flowers. In one such plant portrait she mused:
If a bee had three wings it would be a snowdrop . . . Or rather, if a snowdrop had but two wings, would it be a bee?
—Colette, Flowers and Fruit, ed. Robert Phelps, transl. Matthew Ward, 1986)
The pendant flowers of the snowdrop are in fact visited by bees. Galanthus is especially valuable as a source of nectar, since it blooms so very early in the year.
Colette complains that in the Paris of her day, snowdrops were picked in the bud and bound into nosegays too early to expand their “wings,” and before their delicate perfume, which she compares to orange blossom, could scent the air.
Unlike other bulbous plants, snowdrops are not best planted in autumn, but rather “in the green,” after they have flowered.