It’s bitter and biting out today, with a cruel nor easterly straight outta Siberia. But pootle along to Otterspool and bright flecks of white splash the roadside: clumps of hardy snowdrops spiking the soil with promise of spring. And, boy, are we ready for it.

The first annual flower of the year, snowdrops pack a mighty punch: their bulbs are harvested for anti-alzheimer drugs. For hundreds of years, the good folk of the Russian steppes drank a tincture derived from the root, to ward off the memory loss brought on through old age, and to generally pep them up. In time, folklore became scientific study and, sure enough, those Russians were onto something. Turns out the isolated alkaloid, Galanthamine, does indeed stay the onset of dementia. It’s now the principle ingredient in most modern anti-alzheimers drugs. It’s also the name of one of the Mersey Ferries – Birkenhead and Wallasey following different trends in naming their ferries; Birkenhead used local place names such as Woodchurch and Claughton, and Wallasey used spring flowers, such as Daffodil, Snowdrop and Primrose.

Oh, and there’s a Snowdrop Street – part of Kirkdale’s ‘flower streets.’ It has a grim recent past, sadly. See also, other spring flowers: crocus and harebell. In neighbouring Daisy Street school, the protestants and the catholics were kept seperated at play time and had different dinner times and going home times until the mid 60s. Not very flower-empowering, really?

We’re not suggesting you dig ’em up and swallow ’em. Or lick the fo’c’sle of a ferry. Just head down to Festival Gardens, Otterspool Prom, Speke Hall, or St James’ Gardens beneath Liverpool Cathedral and enjoy that other well-researched feel-good therapy: immersing yourself in nature for half an hour or so. Unbeatable.

Or visit Bretherton Hall, Leyland, this Sunday, 1st March, for their Snowdrop Sunday – the Hall’s gardens offer some of the best displays in the region.

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