It’s Snowdrop Time!

To a lot of people snowdrops are all the same, I thought this for many, many years, until I once visited a garden which had lots of really different varieties and fell under their spell. There are still species snowdrops to be bought, but mainly these days the bulbs that are bought are the many hybrids that are produced, sometimes by seeding naturally, sometimes by selective breeding. Some bulbs cost a small fortune, upwards of £300, but a lot can be bought quite reasonably, thank goodness. I only ever buy one of each variety, then wait for them to bulk up, some do so much quicker than others. Snowdrops vary in the length of the flower stem, in the colour of the leaves, how the leaves are joined to the stem, are the leaves pleated or not, are they twisted, and how fat or thin are the leaves. The flowers can be single or double, and the marks on the inner petals vary considerably. Some hybrids have markings on the outer petals and some have yellow markings where all the others are green. In spite of all this, the wild snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, looks wonderful when spreading in drifts in a woodland setting. This year, because of the mild winter that most of us have been experiencing, the hybrid snowdrops are 2 to 3 weeks ahead of where they would normally be, but the wild ones seem to be about the same as usual, they are here anyway.This post will be about the hybrids that are out at the moment, I will do a post later about the wild ones and the later hybrids. I will start with Atkinsii which was flowering just after Christmas and is now just starting to go over. This one bulks up quite quickly and is good for selling at open days when raising funds for charity, quite a tall variety.



The twisted grey leaves indicate that this is the species gracilis, a lovely small snowdrop with beautiful clear markings on the inner petals.

Ding Dong

Lovely green marking, all down the inner petals. This is just 2 yrs old and has now put up 2 flower buds, hope it continues to increase like this. The name Ding Dong is explained by the fact that it comes from Avon Bulbs in Somerset ( I get most of my snowdrop bulbs from them), think back to the Avon cosmetics TV advert in the 70’s, you would have to be a certain age to understand!!


This one is called Lapwing and I think has a rather nice marking on the inner petals.


Still havn’t identified this one, can anyone help please, quite tall with very grey leaves.


A large double, Desdemona, increases nicely, looks lovely when fully open in the sunshine. I don’t have many doubles as I feel they look rather similar.

John Grey

A very tall snowdrop with large flowers and a fantastic marking on the inner petals. John Gray was the first special one that I bought, it has a lot to answer for!


A tiny snowdrop, a species Galanthus rizehensis, lovely little one which increases well when happy, I think mine are happy!


Another that is very happy and gets split for open days is Magnet. This has increased really well and is now forming nice large clumps. I split mine when flowering is over and the leaves are just starting to turn yellow, I feel that the leaves have now fed the bulbs for next year and it doesn’t seem to do the bulbs any harm as they always flower again the following year without any problem. There is a feeling now that we should leave them to be dormant before splitting them, this would mean digging them up in the summer when I would never be able to find them, think I will stay with the old method as that is what works for me!


This is still Magnet, showing the extra long pedicel which joins the flower to the flower stalk. Because the pedicel is so long, the slightest breeze makes the flowers dance as if they are a cloud of butterflies!

Modern Art

Very new, just planted last year, Modern Art. The leaves are grey with a silver stripe down the centre.

Alison Hilary

Alison Hilary, another nice one, just starting to increase well.


Straffan is being over run by Milleum effusum aureum, must do a bit of judicious weeding before the snowdrop gets choked to death!

Robin Hood

Robin Hood is another tall snowdrop and another of my first ones. I wish this had opened up so that I could show you the markings inside, maybe next time.


Another of my early purchases, Merlin, the first one I bought with all green inner petals. This is quite a tall snowdrop, but hasn’t increased as fast as some of the others unfortunately. In the background you can just see some of the wild snowdrops just starting to show, they are coming on time, have never known the others to be so early.


Showing the really dark green of the inner petals on Merlin.


This one is Augustus and has quite rounded flowers compared to some of the others and the leaves have a silver stripe down the centre. The outer petals have the texture of seer sucker material.


Another species, Galanthus woronowii, which has very dark green shiny leaves. I have found that this one is seeding around and has now formed 3 distinct clumps – lovely!


Another double, but not as tall as Desdemona is Hippolyta. The petals are quite heavily ridged on this bulb that is increasing nicely.

These are all the snowdrops that are flowering at the moment. There are lots more still to come and of course the wild ones which will make the woodland look as if we have had a sprinkling of snow, should open in another couple of weeks, will keep you up to date. Do you still think that they are all the same, I hope not!!



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16 Responses to It’s Snowdrop Time!

  1. It’s certainly snowdrop time. Pauline, I’m so impressed by your galanthus knowledge. it’s easy to get hooked, I think. I’m trying to stop myself collecting auriculas. It will get to the point I’ll need a theatre to display them…

    • Pauline says:

      I didn’t mean to get hooked, I really tried not to Janet, but in the end , couldn’t help myself !! This is the first time that I havn’t ordered any new varieties as I feel that there were not enough, at my price, that were very different from what I already have. Maybe I am on the way to being cured! Best of luck with your auricula craving!!

  2. some beautiful snowdrops, I used to love them and wanted them in my garden but they don’t like my soil and conditions, I bought the last I’m going to 2 years ago, they never came back last year, there are some wild ones I was sent from Orkney but they don’t seem to be coming through, the crocus are growing well, all your lovely leaf mould Pauline keeps your snowdrops happy, Frances

    • Pauline says:

      Such a shame Frances that snowdrops don’t like your soil, maybe you are too acid for them, no point in wasting more money on them unfortunately. So glad your crocus are happy, gardening is all about having happy plants!

  3. Very fun to see your collection. you are so lucky to have so many cultivars available. So you weren’t the eBay buyer who spent 360 pounds on ‘Green Tear’?

    • Pauline says:

      No Carolyn, it certainly wasn’t me, some people have more money than sense!!! We have a pheasant who struts around the garden digging things up, I would hate to provide him with such an expensive breakfast! Love this time of year, each day brings more flowers opening in the woodland strip.

  4. catmint says:

    how fascinating Pauline, that there are so many varieties. I love their delicate appearance, and that they are quite tough and disappear each year and then return. There are also snowflakes, I don’t know the difference.

    • Pauline says:

      Such a lot to choose from Catmint, all so tempting, but a lot are far too expensive for most of us. They are very tough, they survived our really cold winter last year , then just flowered a couple of weeks late. They originate mostly from the mountains of Turkey where they have very cold winters, so they are used to low temperatures. Snowflake flowers are like Tiffany lampshades, still 6 petals, but no inner petals like snowdrops. The spring snowflake is about the same height as the snowdrop but the summer snowflake (which is flowering now in my garden!) is much taller, a good 18 inches.

  5. Goodness, that’s quite a collection! I admire your patience in only buying one and waiting to get a clump.

    • Pauline says:

      Some bulk up quite quickly Janet, but then, gardening teaches us patience doesn’t it? Also, a lot of them are too expensive to buy more than one!

  6. wellywoman says:

    I love snowdrops. I’ve got a few clumps in flower at the moment but mine are just the species. I really like the lemony flowered ones but these seem really hard to come by. You have a lovely collection there Pauline.

    • Pauline says:

      So glad you like snowdrops WW, so cheerful at this time of year. I noticed that the yellow one that I have bought, Wendy’s Gold, has now just put up 5 flower spikes, should be flowering properly in about 2 weeks, not bad when only one bulb was bought 3 yrs ago! Still waiting for all the wild ones to open up, the flower spikes are there, but the flowers are a bit reluctant to open, maybe they have been waiting for this cold spell that we are having!

  7. Alberto says:

    Hi Pauline! This is a kind of a living catalogue you know? 🙂
    I have to admit I am one of those. Yes, one of those who think snowdrops they all look the same… but I had to change my mind watching your beautiful collection! I even spend some time on the website you mentioned but then I close it because I have already ordered some spring bulbs and I can’t order more…
    If I have to pick one I think it would be G. rizehensis, that clump is so beautiful.
    Do you keep them scattered around your garden/woodland? When I read that you only buy one for every kind and then wait for it to bulk up I understood a lot about your patience… I should learn from you.

    • Pauline says:

      So glad you have had a change of heart about snowdrops Alberto, they are all so tempting! I have the special hybrids by the side of the paths through the woodland and the shady borders,so that flowers can be turned up to be examined. Further back, under the trees and deciduous shrubs, are the wild singles and doubles. I think all gardening teaches us patience, but especially snowdrops!!

  8. Can’t believe it took so long for me to get to read this post. That is what constant company in Barbados is doing to me. ALL are gorgeous, unfortunately in Canada, there are not a lot of growers of galanthus, as a matter of fact, I can’t think of any, and very difficult to import from either the UK or US. Hopefully, that will change in the future. (Or else I will have to go visit Carolyn’s Shade Garden and smuggle them back in my underwear).

    • Pauline says:

      You’re enjoying life too much Deborah!! Had to laugh at the thought of you smuggling bulbs back from Carolyn’s Shade Garden, maybe Canadians will have to start hybridising their own snowdrops and make the rest of the world envious!

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