The way that one plant or a group of plants can completely consume a person into a collecting compulsion has always intrigued me but also bewilders me. Few do this in quite the same fashion as snowdrops. The entire month of February ( March depending location or the winter we have had) feels like it is dedicated to these beautifully charming characters which are littered naturally in swathes of white in dapple shade or shining alone in all of their glory.
The great Christopher Lloyd who I presume invented the galanthobore phrase when describing the great obsessions these dainty little flowers have created. I am in part inclined to disagree as I now see the beauty in them, not always the differences granted.
This craze that is coined Galanthomania is thought to have started many years before, when soldiers brought bulbs back from Crimea thus creating the ‘White Fever’ which has followed. The mere 20 species has borne an incredible 2000+ cultivars, one of which Galanthus plicatus ‘Golden Fleece’ sold for 1390 pounds (plus 4 pounds for postage). If that doesn’t show the monomania involved in snowdrop collection I do not know what will.
The delicate yellow hats (yellow ovary) are of increasing value as are the poculiform (entirely white flowers, caused by the replacement of the inner segments with an extra whorl of outer segments). Poculus meaning a little cup in Latin, these classified in the poculiformis group are very collectable as people hunt to find them. Double flowering varieties are popular but often sterile and can take longer to bulk up in number.
Snowdrops in order of appearance
Galanthus ‘Ophelia’ is a fine early Greatorex double which often has aberrant inner segments with a green U-shaped mark with a pendulous habit.
Galanthus ‘Blewbury Tart’ was found as a single clump in Blewbury churchyard in 1975 by a man called Alan Street. This sterile double form has a upright habit showing off the freshly painted green. Clumps quickly and needs split regularly.
Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ a staple in every snowdrop collection.
Galanthus ‘Colossus’ A large flowering, tall, robust plant with plicate foliage. It beautifully complements the dark foliage of Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’.
Galanthus ‘Galatea’ from James Allen of Shepton Mallet in the 19th century. Long pedicels with a delicate green marking.