Snowdrops

Through all these cheerless covid months and ghastly weather, the snowdrops have been silently pushing up through the cold, sodden ground. Their delicate flowers, surely could not be more welcome. Restrictions have forced the abandonment of the National Garden Scheme Snowdrop Festival however, some gates of a smattering of gardens will be open across the country this February, for those visitors lucky enough to be local to them. However in the eastern region, deep snow has forced many closures. More details can be found at https://ngs.org.uk/february-openings-2021/.

Back in 2017 when travelling was unrestricted and I was able to visit some 90 gardens throughout the year in celebration of the 90th anniversary of The National Garden Scheme, the snowdrop gardens were memorable; and I would identify three different types of snowdrop landscape: The snowdrop walk such as at Welford Park in Berkshire where the sight of millions of these tiny flowers carpeting the woodland floor was a sheer delight.

Of course you cannot come away from any of these landscapes without buying some little temptation, and so I bought Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’ and in my blog which followed I airily asked the question who is Brenda Troyle and was delighted to receive a knowledgeable reply. https://thegardengateisopen.blog/2017/02/14/snowdrops-spike-and-baked-off-at-welford-park-8

The second type of landscape is the simple but lovely Snowdrop garden where you find clumps of snowdrop scattered beneath winter shrubs, and bringing life to dormant borders, such as here at Gable House near Beccles, where Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ is prolific.

Here amongst the plant sales I could not resist Galanthus elwesii ‘Brian Matthews’ who is now doing well in my own border.

The third type of landscape is quite different and fascinating; that of the The snowdrop specialist, such as at Spring Platt in Kent https://kentsnowdrops.com/#home. A snowdrop spectacle, where they are arranged in a display, individually potted, seemingly different and labelled, each with a beguiling name. You could say, and although I am not fond of the word, it was here that I experienced the first stirrings of becoming a ‘galanthophile’.

It was ‘Fly Fishing’ that was my purchase here, a must for any fisherman and so it grows just outside my husband’s office, a bending rod gently moving in the breeze.

Then things began to get expensive; at £40.00 per tiny bulb (and that is nothing in this world I can assure you ), I could not resist ‘Tilly’. She is spreading nicely so I am not feeling quite so bad about that reckless expenditure.

Then my first granddaughter was born, so in celebration I planted Galanthus plicatus ‘Florence Baker’ (please could someone please breed an Alfie), and my small collection began to expand, and all around the garden I have the names of friends and family growing gracefully, all different and doing their own thing. Last year I painstakingly labelled each one, only to be stumped by my dogs who thought this was a great idea and spent the summer months finding and helpfully retrieving them.

The names always intrigue me and I like to know their origin, so I bought, begged and borrowed books on the subject, the snowdrop ‘bible’ being the most elusive Snowdrops A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis and John Grimshaw, which I was fortunate to be lent and I notice that although currently unavailable on Amazon it is a mere £550 on ebay.

I also find this website invaluable and the photography sublime. https://www.judyssnowdrops.co.uk/Plant_Profiles/plant_profiles.htm. This is from the website and shows Galanthus ‘S Arnott’ a lovely tall snowdrop with a scent of almond and recommended by ‘The Land Gardeners’ http://www.thelandgardeners.com/home as a cut flower which however they suggest potting up and bringing indoors rather than picking.

Snowdrops do come in other guises; I loved this giant wicker snowdrop standing at fifteen feet high at Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire,

and these metal ones either side standing guard at a gate in Welford Park.

My garden is deep in snow with not a single snowdrop in sight, just a metal sculpture, a reminder of what will be there when the thaw comes.

I have already made this year’s purchases, Galanthus plicatus ‘Three ships’ which should flower before next Christmas from friend, plantswoman and instagrammer Jane Anne Walton, and the other in aid of St John Ambulance Galanthus plicatus ‘Diggory’, a Norfolk boy, he is a beauty.

Luckily for me I have a Snowdrop Walk local to me and which will be open next Sunday 21st February in aid of the National Garden Scheme https://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/4388. If that path isn’t just the perfect place for a little exercise, then I don’t know what is.

There has never been a greater time than now for us to support the nursing and care sector and so if you are unable to take your exercise in a local snowdrop garden why not consider making a donation by visiting the just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/norfolk-ngs

——-14-02-21——-

18 thoughts on “Snowdrops

  1. Such an interesting post Julia. Beautifully written and illustrated. It makes up for the disappointment of missing out on the real thing. Thank you

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  2. I have spent the last month admiring my own little clumps of snowdrops and resisting picking one to put in a small vase. Instead I put a photograph on my WhatsApp groups to spread the delight and hope they bring us. Thank you so much for your interesting snowdrop-file … I had NO idea how many types there are … personally, I like Tilly the very best!

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  3. These naturalised areas of snowdrop (and aconites) are spectacular and fabulously beautiful. Of course, the individuals, the named snowdrops, are also very interesting and pretty. Zoom has taken the place of garden visits this year; online visits rather then being out in the fresh air.

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  4. Pingback: Feast of light in the darkness – The Beyonder

  5. Hello! I always enjoy your blog posts, this one on snowdrops is delightful. And so fascinating following your links. My very local snowdrops are in Royal Fort Gardens, part of the University of Bristol. It’s my (almost) daily walk during this pandemic and so spotting the first snowdrops has been very cheering. I’m a member of the Friends of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection so my annual post on Twitter has been this lovely snowdrop costume design. Attached.[Image] Snowdrop costume design by Wilhelm for ‘Red Riding Hood’ at Prince’s Theatre Bristol 1885. University of Bristol Theatre Collection

    Feel free to share with other snowdrop lovers!

    Very best wishes, Rosemary Silvester

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  6. Hi Julia ,
    Thank you for another very interesting and cheering blog – well done you. I have happy memories of your visit all the way over to Welford Park in Berkshire. We are sorry the owners have been unable to hold their annual snowdrop weeks this year. It turned out that there was blue sky, sunshine and a dusting of snow on the day that was to be in aid of the National Garden Scheme – fingers crossed for next year!
    Best wishes, Heather.

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  7. I always enjoy your garden walks, Julia, but this one was particularly welcome and might even convert me to being a galanthophile! I’ve got a few choice snowdrops, which I put in the greenhouse to protect them from the heavy snow last week, and that meant I could enjoy them at eye level for a few days.

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  8. Thank you Julia for another informative blog and descriptive photos . The last week we have had lots of snow drop , now after the meltdown Snowdrops are such a welcome sight , knowing the muntjacs, who have been regular visitors to our garden , will leave them be is heart warming .

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