I am a naturally curious person with an enquiring mind. Recently my curiosity has been piqued by snowdrops and the obsession some people have for them. I have stared at photographs in magazines trying to spot the differences but if I am honest I am struggling. The differences between the varieties are minute – or so it seems to me. Some have outer tepals that are splayed out, some that fall down. Some have green markings on the inner tepals, some on the outer tepals, some on both. I also believe that some of the differences relate to the foliage and this isn’t so obvious in books and magazines where they focus on the flowers. Some snowdrops are taller than others, some have longer leaves, some have glaucous leaves and so it goes on and its all on a tiny scale.
As I encounter more and more plants people I am finding that many have a secret, and sometimes not so secret, passion for snowdrops and a few claim to be galanthophiles – the name given to the real experts. What makes them so passionate? And why do some people spend an inordinate amount of money on one bulb which to someone like me looks very much the same as another variety?
I have decided that, as part of my drive to learn more about plants, that I am going to try to learn more about snowdrops and so I have joined the Hardy Plant Society Galanthus Group and I am going to a study day this weekend. I hope to come away with more of an insight into this particular and intricate fascination in what is after all such a small and dainty plant.
I find it increasingly hard to learn things from books so I have decided to buy a few different snowdrops in order to see them in real life and learn to recognise the differences. After all comparing one plant against another one must be better to learn from than by comparing photos or pictures in books. My first snowdrops arrived today from Avon Bulbs – 3 plants carefully packed amongst newspaper. They soon perked up once I had uncovered them and stood them up and they are waiting in the garage until the weekend when I will pot them up.
I am hoping to get some advice at the study day this coming weekend on the best location for the snowdrops and how feasible it is to grow them in pots. A fellow garden club member recently told me that she grew her special snowdrops in aquatic plant pots which she submerged in the border. This allowed the roots to spread out but also meant that she knew where they were. I also need to find out whether badgers are partial to snowdrops because if they are I shall need to take this into account when I plant my new acquisitions.
I have to say that I could tell the difference between the three snowdrops I bought, featured in this post. I just need to learn, and remember, their names and then maybe next year I can add a few more!!