Am I becoming a Galanthophile?

by Pat Hunter

G. nivalis
The Lane side

When I moved to my present garden, snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, were growing in one large patch under the beech hedge. Over the years I moved them first to the shrubbery, but then decided to move them to the lane side.

I have, over the following years, bought elwesii and woronowii, but no named hybrids, other than Sam Arnott which has now bulked up well, grows in good clumps, is allowed the privilege of a good garden border and smells wonderful early in the year.

G. elwesii

Last November, I thought I would like to learn more about a plant that can spread so rapidly around my garden, obviously happy with my conditions. I decided to book for 2 snowdrop days in 2020. My thoughts ran along the lines of, if I book 2, maybe I won’t lose both to bad weather. I booked for the Alpine Garden Society Snowdrop Day at Lilleshall and the Hardy Plant Society Galanthus Day at Tuxford Academy near Retford.

The first event started with snowdrop sales from nurseries specialising in snowdrops before 3 lectures and a hot lunch. The snowdrop sales, as a non Galanthophile were an eye opener, the numbers of varieties (can you tell the differences, really?), the prices, and the number of sales. The most expensive I saw was £500, one was sold as I stood looking at £200! There are people around with deep pockets.

The lectures were good and I definitely came away with increased knowledge. The first talk was from Ian Young who writes a brilliant Bulb Log on a weekly basis about his 900sq.m garden in Scotland which is stocked with many woodlanders and bulbs, but he was not keen to know every snowdrop by name! The second talk was on Poculiform(cup shaped)snowdrops, this is where the inner segments are the same as the outers, so a 6 petal snowdrop? The third talk was “Snowdrop Potential” what is to come, pink snowdrops? The breeders are onto it!

As we have had such a mild Winter I have had no problem attending both events. The second event was the day after storm “Dennis” hit, but as this impacted more on South Wales and Herefordshire travelling East was no problem.

This day also started with snowdrop sales from private member sellers, the costs I thought were comparable to the nurseries, members received payment less a percentage to subsidise the day. I bought a snowdrop!

There were 2 lectures before eating your sandwich, then 2 gardens to visit nearby in the afternoon.

The first lecture was about snowdrops in France and some specials that have been found in the wild. The second was from a lady who gardens near Heidelberg in Germany. She gave a talk on 6 months of snowdrops. This was my favourite of all the lectures as I try to make my plantings span the year, so anything that can cover 6 months in different varieties is worth noting. I made a note of a few names here to spread to either end of the season. From the superb photography here it was also obvious she has some good companion planting in her garden.

I must mention here that there is a large free raffle during the day and I won a snowdrop. It is marked at £50! I now have the pressure of keeping it alive. I hope my theory/reason for attending the day is proved right and snowdrops like my conditions.

The 2 gardens in the afternoon were brilliant early Spring  gardens. The Beeches had a snowdrop collection along a wall top, brilliant for viewing these little gems and Church Farm had plenty of snowdrops, many were named clumps around the garden.

So……last weekend I decided to visit a Yorkshire snowdrop garden.  Bridge Farm House at Great Heck, apparently has 150 varieties of snowdrop. A great mix of Spring plantings, Hellebores, Corydalis, Cyclamen coum along with named Galanthus clumps.

Am I a Galanthophile?  Well, we are now well into Hellebore season, I LOVE them………..


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