Galanthophilia….it’s a slippery slope…..

Last autumn, a friend, Julia Stafford-Allen, who writes a lovely blog The Garden Gate Is Open, fired my interest in early-flowering snowdrop varieties by posting a wonderful photo of scarlet maple leaves and snowdrops in her blog Thralling Thenford.

Snowdrops in Maple Leaves credit: Julia Stafford-Allen
Snowdrops in Maple Leaves by Julia Stafford-Allen

“… now we have small armies of snowdrops…marching everywhere”

We have been growing snowdrops here for many years as we “inherited” lots of g. elwesii (the giant ones) and g. nivalis flore pleno (small doubles, like little ballerina skirts).  Those bulbs have multiplied like rabbits, so that now we have small armies of snowdrops…marching everywhere.

Galanthus nivalis flore-pleno in their little tutus
Galanthus nivalis flore-pleno in their little tutus
elwesii giant snowdrops
Elwesii "giant" snowdrops

“it had a lovely scent!”

Many years ago, before I knew anything about growing snowdrops, I ordered three different named varieties as dry bulbs, planted them here and then, lost track of their names and locations. 

It wasn’t until last winter that I noticed a distinct clump of later-flowering snowdrops and, having picked one to try to identify it, found, upon bringing it indoors, that it had a lovely scent!

I never did manage to identify it, despite many attempts…suggestions gratefully received!

Mystery scented snowdrop
Mystery scented snowdrop taken February 23, 2020
a close up of "mystery scented"

This winter, to my great excitement (you know how it is with gardeners…), I located the other two varieties, one with slightly spotted outer tepals (petals to most of us) and one with an exquisitely dainty flower.

Mystery spotted
Mystery spotted
Mystery elwesii dainty flower

“listed by intensity of fragrance!…now that’s dedication”

In the meanwhile, Julia’s photo of early-flowering snowdrops emerging from acer leaves caused me to seek out and order three early-flowering varieties: g. reginae-olgae, ssp reginae-olgae (the earliest), g. reginae-olgae “Tilebarn Jamie” (pictured with the maple leaves), slightly later and g. elwesii hiemalis group “Barnes”, later still (but prior to December)….

Having stepped into the den of temptation, I also proceeded to research scented snowdrops and found this delightful site:  Not only are scented snowdrops listed, but listed by intensity of fragrance!…now that’s dedication.

Hopelessly hooked, I now find myself perusing snowdrop sites, picking up snippets of info and…being tempted.

One of them, g. “Ginn’s Imperati”, reputed to be amongst the most scented of all snowdrops..(hyperbole is no stranger to specialist snowdrops sites…).

Galanthus nivalis “Ginn’s Imperati"
Galanthus nivalis “Ginn’s Imperati"

I am now going through the list and trying to decide what I will choose next…

Fortunately, the Hellebore season is upon us and I may be distracted before I do any serious damage to my bank account…or before I develop that dreaded condition: galanthomania!!

varied markings on elwesii taller
varied markings on elwesii (taller version)

Now if you’re looking at these photos and wondering to yourself..”what’s all the fuss?”…well, you’re not alone, it is a rather specialized interest to say the least!

…although I’m rather taken by the heart-shaped mark on the large flower in the pink vase…

As an addendum…I had a quick trawl through the G. elwesii in the Hellebore bed and found these variations in size and in the “sinus” (inner tepal/petal) markings (…not including the one with slightly spotted outer tepals, which was too chewed by the local invertebrate wildlife for a photo).

You can see how they have “sported” (altered from the original plant) in their markings; all except for the two scented flowers are just variations that have developed in the garden over time.

shorter variations

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