"Blossom of snow, may you bloom and grow..."
It's not the prettiest flower in the gardens, but what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for as a conversation starter. Visitors bend down to get a closer look at the plant marker to see what the fuzzy white star blooms are. Invariably, they'll get a smile on their face and say, "So that's what Edelweiss looks like!"
No doubt we all became familiar with this unique plant thanks to the classic movie, The Sound of Music. This was one of the very first movies I saw in a theater and I was so taken with it that I played my parents' soundtrack LP over and over and over again. I knew every song by heart and practiced my imitations of Maria, Liesl, Mother Superior, and little Gretl.
When our family was fortunate to get to visit the Swiss Alps area of Europe the summer of 1974, I once again encountered Edelweiss, incorporated into tourist items such as pressed and framed specimens, embroidered handkerchiefs, and the like. We got to visit Salzburg and saw familiar sites from the movie, including the gazebo where Liesl met Rolf on that rainy night.
I've had Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) in my garden for three summers now and while it hasn't spread much, it's faithful about returning and producing several cottony blooms. When I walk by and take notice of them, I'm taken back to those days of my youth and I break into song...
"Small and white, clean and bright, you look happy to meet me."