February means just one thing for me, lots and lots of snowdrops flowering in the garden. This is the month when the wild ones, Galanthus nivalis, join in with the specials which are already flowering. Usually by the middle of the month, in the UK, the snowdrops reach their climax, depending on the weather of course.
In my own garden, I have found that last year I planted some special new snowdrops and new hellebores in the bed which leads round to the bog garden. What I failed to remember was that the grass gets so sodden in the winter that we don’t like to walk on it at that time of year. I have made a mental note that they must all be moved to the woodland as soon as they finish flowering so that I will be able to enjoy them in future, the bark chipping path there is an all weather path so that our feet, or rather our shoes stay clean and dry!
If by any chance you are visiting your local garden centre and they have small pots of snowdrops for sale, do look at them closely. They might be labelled as Galanthus nivalis, as these were, but when you look more closely, if you are lucky, they might be something different.
I think these might be Galanthus elwesii var. elwesii, which has a variety of markings on the inner petals and the growth is variable too, some small, some tall. This photograph has been taken from the snowdrop bible “Snowdrops” by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis & John Grimshaw, showing the variety of markings.
As you can see, the markings on the inner petals are all different, the last one looks as if it is going to take off, but it was just the sunshine in the kitchen that made the petals sweep back so far. They have all now been planted in the woodland and labelled as G. elwesii var elwesii, so I hope that is correct , if anyone knows differently, please let me know!
Angelique is a really lovely variety with just two tiny green dots on the inner petals. This one is increasing nicely and is almost ready for splitting.
G. Robin Hood is another that is increasing, having just started with just one bulb. The named bulbs can be rather expensive, it depends which varieties you choose.
Galanthus woronowii is a species which likes to grow in moist woodland, it must have been very happy last year when we had our non stop rain! This one spreads by seeding around, rather than the bulbs doubling up. My original bulb is spreading nicely in this area so is obviously happy with the moisture levels. The leaves are such a bright emerald green, so different from most other snowdrops which have a grey/green colour to them.
G. Atkinsii is a strong grower, bulking up very well. Most gardens which are open to the public have a good number of this one as the backbone of their collection.
I must split this clump of G. Magnet as soon as the flowers are over, they are getting so congested. When bulbs double up in number, the bulbs in the centre of the clump get pushed down further and further each year and simply can’t flower. You can see the extra long pedicel on the very front snowdrop which gave this variety it’s name, calling it after the children’s game of fishing with a magnet for metal fish!
Starting to form a nice little clump is G. Wendy’s Gold. Last year we had 5 flowers, this year it will be 6. The inner markings and the ovary at the top of the flower are yellow in this variety and not the usual green. Most yellow snowdrops are not as tough as the green ones but Wendy’s Gold seems to be the exception.
G. Modern Art was new just two years ago and shows great promise already.
This is a snowdrop where the leaves are the important part. Their name G.plicatus indicates that the edge of the leaves are folded back when they emerge from the soil, they soon straighten out as they grow.
Another species snowdrop, like the last one, this time G. gracilis which has the twisted leaves. Here it is showing the marks on the inner petals.
One of my doubles, this one is G. Desdemona. I find the doubles very similar to each other so haven’t bought many.
Where has G. John Gray gone? This is one of the early ones to flower, but no sign of it at all. John Gray was my first special snowdrop and it is so sad to see the label without any flowers beside it.
A close up of G. Merlin which has all green petals in the centre. This is an old variety but I think still one of the best.
G. Cedric’s Prolific, is doing really well, time to split and spread around in this area to make more.
Soon Crocus tommasinianus will be joining in with all the other flowers on the woodland floor, they are seeding about between the snowdrops
In this view of the woodland floor, there are just the double wild snowdrop, the singles are still coming up and will probably be flowering in another weeks time, weather permitting! When the singles join in, the drifts will get larger and larger and of course by splitting these clumps about every 3 years, if you start off with just 50 bulbs as I did, you will soon have lovely drifts of white in the shade.
Lovely to see so many Snowdrops; they are gorgeous!
Not so sure I’ll be getting into the whole collecting Snowdrop thing, but some of yours are very pretty. I’m going to get some more flore pleno this year if I can find any otherwise all mine are Nivalis 🙂
Really looking forward to Tomasinianus over the coming weeks; the purple is stunning!
Liz, at one time I couldn’t see the point in collecting different snowdrops, that was before I went visiting gardens in February and found out how many different sorts there were! We have so many gardens down here that open for their snowdrops, it’s so easy to buy just one or two and before you know it, you are hooked!! I still love the wild ones spreading at the back of borders, the named ones are at the side of the path in the woodland.
Hi Pauline – good to see more close-ups of your snowdrops and parts of your woodland, and I would love to see them in real life one day. I was interested that your doubles are coming up first as that’s what’s happened with mine this year and I hadn’t noticed it before, but perhaps it is the norm after all. I sold a few bulbs of my specials last year but I am not going to disturb them this year to give them the chance to bulk up more. It’s disappointing when you lose some specials – my woronowii have not survived and there is no sign of Chedworth yet 🙁 Please keep posting your pictures!
Hi Cathy, so glad to see that you are ” hooked ” as well as me, if ever you are down here you are very welcome to pop in, it would be lovely to talk to someone else who is so keen on snowdrops. I’m finding that over the last few years the doubles of nivalis have flowered earlier than the singles, I’m sure that at one time they both flowered together! Reading the other day in the snowdrop bible, I was surprised to find that G. woronowii likes such moist woodland soil, maybe that is why yours haven’t appeared, although after last year I would have thought they would have been happy!! It is so disappointing when specials don’t put in an appearance the year following planting, especially when the cost is so high in some cases, maybe Chedworth is still finding its feet and will appear next February, I hope so!
Oh I’ve enjoyed seeing your ‘drops Pauline 🙂 It seems to me that they are slightly late this year so really living up to that beautiful name of ‘Fair Maids of February’. My heartfelt sympathies on the non appearance of John Grey which is one of my favourites. Was it a big clump? I imagine that you will have a delve at some point to see what’s transpired underneath. Have you seen ‘Anglesey Abbey’ which also has a vivid green leaf but not as broad as woronowii ?
Thanks Anna, glad you enjoyed them. I think John Gray had about a dozen flowers last year, it was special because it was my first and yes, I certainly will have a little dig to see if I can find anything underneath. I do have a couple of bulbs of Anglesey Abbey but I didn’t focus the camera properly so I didn’t show it, will take another for next time. I have to admit, I had never noticed the green leaves, must check tomorrow, thanks.
Pauline, your snowdrops put a big smile on my face today. So gorgeous. I’ve never grown them, nor even seen so many, but you have piqued my interest. susie
Susie, compared to some gardens over here, my collection is rather small. There are lots of gardens that are open to the public at this time of year, simply to see their snowdrops, I hope to be going to one soon. I hope your weather in the winter doesn’t mean that you can’t grow them, or maybe you are too hot in the summer, not sure exactly where you are, but they are super little bulbs for brightening up shady areas at this time of year, do give them a try if you can.
Pauline, you have enough for a national collection! I am seriously impressed. Christina
No, don’t be Christina, I know lots of people with far more varieties than I have. I suppose if I got rid of my wild ones, then I would have a lot more room for special ones, but I like to see the wild ones spreading under deciduous shrubs and trees and keep the specials by the path.
Galanthophilia has not really caught on here in Switzerland, so not many different varieties can be bought. I must admit, I have no clue what mine are called. When we took over the garden 6 years ago there weren’t any at all, and the ones that grow now didn’t come with a special name when I bought them. At present they are buried under a big cover of snow. I really enjoyed seeing your photos, and especially liked angelica, very pretty indeed.
Hi Helen, I think your snowdrops will be very happy under their duvet of snow! To be honest I like the wild little ones just as much as the named varieties. We have such heavy clay soil here, I am just so pleased when something does so well, then I try to find lots of varieties of the same plant. I am improving the soil all the time and the snowdrops seem to love it!
Gorgeous, really gorgeous, Pauline. All the snowdrops at the Priory are unnamed – looks like I need to invest in ‘The Bible.’ I particularly like Merlin but then it seems unfair to pick out just one. Great collection – I’m envious! Dave
Thanks David, but hold back for a while before you buy the snowdrop bible, an update is in the process of being produced! I think some of the old snowdrops like Merlin are just as good as some of the new ones that get named, and are far cheaper!!
Goodness Pauline, you should open your garden to visitors with that collection, I love the way you have them mixed with the very pretty hellebores, you are causing me to have a hellebore rethink, though I think I will stick to just the common snowdrop and aim for quantity, I lack your dedication to the cause!
We did open it once Janet, to raise money for a mission in Sierra Leone and raised over £500 for them. Thank goodness the weather was kind to us on that occasion.I think hundreds of the wild snowdrop look stunning, just as good as a few specials!
That’s an amazing collection, Pauline. I’ve just got nivalis. I’d love some more varieties but I’m always put off by the price. 😉 The nivalis I planted a few years ago are popping up all over the place now which is lovely to see. I really like the lemon yellow coloured ones. I love the sound of that book, another one to add to my ‘to buy’ list.
Hi WW, some bulbs sell for amazing prices, but lots can still be bought quite reasonably. If you find one that increases quickly, you soon get your money back if you eventually sell a few! The single G. nivalis is now just starting to open here, I keep thinking they have vanished, then up they pop and are flowering in no time. I started with just 50 wild singles and 50 wild doubles and by splitting every 3 or 4 yrs I must now have thousands which shine out of the shade under trees and shrubs, they look so pretty. An update of the snowdrop “bible” is due to be printed soon and there is also a smaller and cheaper book just out, “Snowdrops” by Gunter Waldorf which is a far better size to take into the garden and try and identify a flower that has lost its label!!
Hi Pauline! As usual I am very impressed on all the varieties you have in your garden. Angelique and Merlin are the ones I like best. Oh and Magnet too, it looks very elegant.
I wonder how can you have those perfect labelled clumps in the middle of the woodland. I guess mine would last a couple of weeks, not more. 🙂
I also have to admit that I smiled when you wrote that all the doubles look alike… Not that the simples look that different, huh? Or at least it’s a pity that from a distant view they all look almost the same, you have to kneel and watch them closely to see the inner petals. Do snowdrops have a flowering lap together with the crocuses or will they just be consequent?
Hi Alberto, sometimes the labels go missing, is it the birds that pull them out or is it us when we are clearing the leaves in the autumn? Just as well that I know what most of them are!
No, sorry but I don’t think all the singles look the same, some are small, some very tall ( for a snowdrop), some have very green leaves, some have blue/grey leaves, and yes I have to get down to see how the flowers are different, maybe that’s why I have so much back ache! I have read that really serious Galanthophiles get a mirror on the end of a stick to save all the bending, maybe that’s what I need!!
The crocus are up at the moment, we just need some sun to make them open, then the woodland floor is washed with white and purple, please send us some of your lovely sunshine!!
Pauline, your collection of snowdrops is as impressive as your collection of Hellebores. Before I started blogging, I had never paid much attention to snowdrops. Now they are on my most wanted list. So far, I have only seen a few varieties on offer here. I hope I am able to track down some of the lovely kinds of bulbs that you have collected. Your snowdrops are all really beautiful.
Good luck with your snowdrop hunting Jennifer, I don’t know if you are allowed to import them from the USA, but Carolyn of http://www.carolynsshadegardens.com has a very good variety on sale by post or from her nursery. Be warned, once you start collecting, they are addictive!
I am late coming to this post and so glad I made it. Your snowdrops are impressive for their variety but also for the size of the clumps. I am so envious because most of mine are in ones and twos which is all I can pry out of fellow collectors in a swap—no where to buy them (except from myself). You are so nice to mention my business. I can’t sell to Canada though. I know someone there who sells snowdrops.
Hi Carolyn, I too buy just one of each bulb but this is because of the price, some of them are just so expensive, I can’t see that they will ever be in my collection! Gardening has taught me patience, it has taken a long time for some of the clumps to reach the size that they are, soon they will need splitting. I’m surprised that no-one else is selling snowdrops in the USA apart from yourself, you have cornered the market! Over here, the UK and Ireland have wonderful selections and now Germany is catching up with different hybrids. The Irish have snowdrops that are different from ours and are beginning to appear in the UK catalogues which is wonderful for us, but I am running out of space!
Breathtaking white in your garden! I like how you showed the subtle differences…very nice. They look so lovely spreading around your landscape all in white, so delicate and elegant.
Thanks SB. it is such a lovely time of year and I make sure I go each morning to see what has opened up overnight. Soon it will be time to split the larger clumps, when they finish flowering, so that it looks better next year, worth the effort though. I love the tiny flowers too, even though they are so small, they can still feed any bees that are about in the warmer weather.