Sunday, March 01, 2009


A trip to Ness Botanic Gardens at this time of the year is a chance to admire the snowdrops. I used to think that a snowdrop was a snowdrop was a snowdrop. This sort of thinking would have me hounded by galanthophiles - those people somewhat obsessed by the genus Galanthus.

I'm a big fan of the bog standard Galanthus nivalis, especially en masse. These snow piercers are simple and elegant. Before spending a couple of hours peering at the different varieties growing at Ness, I'd not really noticed the diversity between cultivars. And, whilst it may well take a real galanthophile to notice and adore the infinitessimal differences, even a mere amateur can admire the more obvious differences.

Galanthus 'Silverwells'
Its rather long 'ears' (sorry -not a technical term) remind me of Droopy
Galanthus 'Ketton'
Introduced by plantsman E.A. Bowles

Galanthus 'Hill Poe'
One of the more 'frilly knickered' cultivers, which are a bit too elaborate for my tastes.

Galanthus elwesii
Elegant and shy.
Galanthus 'Galatea'
A tall snowdrop, which somehow seems wrong, but with gorgeous, delicate flowers.
Noel Kingsbury's post on snowdrops suggests that there are 1000+ cultivars! I'm ashamed to admit that we currently have a grand total of zero snowdrops in the garden. We had a couple, but thay haven't come up this year. This will be remedied as soon as possible, but I think I'll limit myself to plain old Galanthus nivalis - I wouldn't want to invoke the Siadwell Principle, as so excellently explained by the Garden Monkey.
(Photos by Somebeans)


Anonymous said...

They do look better in large groups. I agree that most of them look very similar.
As far as I'm concerned there are singles, doubles, tall ones and short ones - and combinations of these! That seems description enough.

HappyMouffetard said...

I like your thinking!

VP said...

Snowdrops - I love them. And I'm perfectly happy with G. nivalis too. It's too cold to lie on yor tummy at this time of year in order to appreciate the subtle differences of the cultivars.

A few years ago NAH bought me 1,000 snowdrops 'in the green' for my birthday. One of the best pressies I ever had. Anglia Bulbs is the supplier to go for - the cheapest and no p&p.

VP said...

Oh and they do smaller clumps, if 1,000 got you a bit worried just now.

HappyMouffetard said...

Thanks VP - I'll take a look.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It's far to easy to slip into clinical Galanthomania. You've taken the first step on that slippery slope. The only thing restraining me is the lack of readily available cultivars around here.

Anonymous said...

Lovely snowdrop pictures - and I am with easygardener on the "classification"

VP - I will have a look at Anglia bulbs - although the thought of planting 1,000 snowdrops - I struggle with half a dozen tulips :)

chaiselongue said...

Lovely pictures ... and I thought there were just snowdrops! When we were in Wales they were the first sign of spring, poking their leaves through snow, frost, ice, mud or whatever in January as soon as the days started to lengthen. We don't have them here in the Midi, so thanks for the photos.

Nutty Gnome said...

I've got hundreds of snowdrops this year - but NO idea what variety they are!
You have put me to shame and I'm going to have to go and have a look now to see if I can identify mine against your photos!!! :)

Anna said...
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Anna said...

Beautiful photos. I love snowdrops and must confess to having a small collection of named snowdrops, but would not describe myself as a galanthophile :) Too many of them look too alike, unless you go completely cross eyed trying to see any variations in the markings. Have not been to Ness this year. Did they have any snowdrops for sale in the nursery there and what else was out ?

Anonymous said...

Did you know - and this may well be considered to be lowering the tone a bit - that 'snowdropping' is Police slang for the offence of stealing underwear from other people's washing lines?

HappyMouffetard said...

James, I can only wonder as to how you know this. Do you have a confession to make?

Anna, they had a few for sale but only a couple of varieties - probably just as well. I did resist temptation. Also in flower were hellebores, a few early Camellias and Rhodies, and a range of early (and very pretty) bulbs.

Nutty Gnome - good luck - there are 995 varieties we haven't photographed!

I am tending to agree with the singles/doubles/small/tall classification, but can understand the slippery slope to snowdrop mania.

Anonymous said...

Hi Happy, 1000 varieties! I had no idea. We have our first batch in bloom right now, five little double knicker ones. You can't tell they are doubles without lifting their skirts though! I have dreamed of seeing the fields of so many snowdrops in the UK, Shirl showed some in Scotland last year that were mouth dropping gorgeous. Now I need to add this place to the itinerary!

Anna said...

Thanks for the info. - I feel a trip to Ness coming on :)