Snowdrop season

by James Alexander-Sinclair

...there is something particularly gorgeous about the intricate and delicate tracery to be found beneath the skirts of a snowdrop.

Emerging snowdropsMy snowdrops are at the point where it is possible to start spotting them among the long grass. Not much longer to wait and they will be in full flower: tiny, green-spotted delights to lift the sombre mood of both recession and late-January.

 When we first moved here we found a clump of snowdrops just on the edge of the garden, by the woods. Over the years we have split and moved them, so that all of the wilder parts of the garden have little clumps showing their heads.

However, I have absolutely no idea which variety they might be, although I expect they are nothing very distinguished. There are many different cultivars, some of which are extremely rare but all of which are small and white. The differences lie in the delicate green markings and the shape of the petals, which range from the very plain to the extraordinarily ornate like Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus.

This month is the time when the galanthophiles roam the countryside. They are recognisable by their magnifying glasses and willingness to lie flat on the wet and frozen ground in order to get up close and personal with a tiny snowdrop. It may seem like a strange hobby but there is something particularly gorgeous about the intricate and delicate tracery to be found beneath the skirts of a snowdrop.

There are a number of different gardens which hold snowdrop collections, but well worth a visit are Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire, Hodsock Priory in Nottinghamshire and Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire.

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Gardeners' World Web User 27/01/2009 at 16:10

I'm sure they're earlier this year. I've had some in bloom for a couple of weeks. My best birthday present was a few years back when I received 1,000 in the green snowdrops to plant up in early March. I worked at Hodsock Farm as a student, testing peas for their tenderness. The post was always addressed to Odd Sock Farm!

Gardeners' World Web User 28/01/2009 at 10:20

Mine are up and out! I bought a beautiful one last year at the Chelsea Physic garden, called Galanthus nivalis 'Sandersii', and I'm eagerly awaiting that one - it seems to be a late developer.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/01/2009 at 12:16

I agree they are earlier this year (than last anyway) which surprises me considering the cold weather we've had. Very welcome their cheery little heads are!

Gardeners' World Web User 28/01/2009 at 15:08

I don't have any snowdrops yet but the witch hazel is still glorious. It has been in flower for more than a month but the problem is I don't know which variety it is (I inherited the garden a few years ago with mature planting); it seems too orange to be Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' but not sure what else. Can I submit pictures on this blog?

Gardeners' World Web User 28/01/2009 at 16:05

I have a few wee snowdrops in my 'white garden' and when I saw the first bloom the other week I was chuffed to bits. You've got to admire them - we've had some quite hard frosts and then heavy rain, sleat and hail, followed by more frost, and there they are ... bravely flowering and looking fab! Last Feb we visited the walled garden at Colzium House,Kilsyth as part of the Visit Scotland snowdrop festival and it was a delight.

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