Friday, February 18, 2011

Snowdrop mania

How many snowdrop varieties have you got in your garden? I have one, Galanthus elwesii. I hope I never have any more, as it could prove extremely expensive.
I can quite understand how people get addicted to a certain plant, and start collecting all the cultivars they can lay their hands on. I could - were it not for the fact that I have a will of iron - quite easily become an acer addict. I have unfortunate tendencies when it comes to succulents and spiky plants. And as VP will testify, I cannot pass an exotic nursery stand without making a purchase. But I don't think I could ever become a snowdrop devotee.
Perhaps there's something lacking in my make-up, but to me a snowdrop is a snowdrop is a snowdrop. The fact that one might have a green bit where another one has an all-white bit is a matter of supreme indifference. I'm certainly not prepared to pay premium prices for one measly bulb.
However, I do admit to a preference for G. elwesii, as they are bigger, so they show up better in the garden, and they have a sort of sprightly elegance about them.
I spent Tuesday at the Royal Horticultural Society London Plant and Design Show. This was a rather uneasy mixture of roof gardens and spring bulbs. I think the juxtaposition seemed odd because mid-February is not the sort of time you think about sitting out in a roof garden. Needless to say, the hall with the plants (below) was much busier than the hall with the design.

However, the proceedings were enlivened for me by the presence of VP, Arabella Sock, Lazy Trollop and Helen and her partner. A flower show is always an attraction but a flower show followed by a pub lunch with fellow bloggers? I'm there.

Here we are assembled on what Arabella (centre) calls the "biddies' balcony", where all the pensioners go to eat their sandwiches. I am represented by the totally gorgeous spotty aspidistra (Aspidistra mushaensis 'Spotty Dotty') which I bought from Crug Farm Plants. You'll note that I purchased this without a whimper, whereas I bored VP (left) rigid all afternoon about the high price of snowdrops...

19 comments: said...

Crikey, see what you mean about it being heaving. Glad I didn't go, I would have self destructed in a puff of smoke at the sight of all those bodies!

Agree with you about the barmy prices of snowdrops, but will admit to being on the verge of being a galanthophile, whilst not succumbing to galanthomania!

Make sure you remind me to bring those G. elwesii bulbs I mentioned next time I see you.

Zoë xx

Lynne said...

Hope you enjoyed your sandwiches! Today, we finally have sunshine in the garden, after a mini-snow(1") and freezing nights. Spring is close.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

I am not really one for snowdrops.

You know that if you came to visit me you could take a little side trip to Crug Farm?
How tempting is that!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Sadly I don't have any snowdrops in my garden . . . maybe next year! Sounds like you had a great time!

Ewa said...

Love blurs the sight!
Never seen such Aspidistra before :)

Arabella Sock said...

Every year the Bedsock says "Can't we have some snowdrops?" I have to disappoint him as although they do look lovely en masse as in your photo, a little pot of them or teensy clump just looks lost and dismal and we don't have room for more. By contrast even one or two dwarf irises brighten up the garden at this time of year.

It was such fun to meet-up and the shows make it feel like the gardening year has really started.

petoskystone said...

wow--that is a serious outlay for one bulb. what is the buyer going to do if it gets eaten by a squirrel? i think you did rather well to get away with buying only the one plant.

Victoria said...

Zoe: At one point it became really difficult to move. It was like a cross between the Harrods sale and a theatre bar during the interval. (But without the chance of a drink.)

Lynne: I hope so - though the weather here is horrible today. Very wet and miserable.

Karen: So tempting, but not as tempting as the thought of coming to visit you. I'll do it one day!

Ocean Breezes: Yes, we had a great time. Do read Arabella's blog on the show as well - especially the bit about the snowdrop hats.

Ewa: No, neither have I! How could I resist? I have a plain green one at the end of my garden, so I know they are completely hardy. But a spotty one will have to take pride of place, I think.

Arabella Sock: Yes, that's why I like G elwesii - they're big enough to pop up between things like bergenia and not get lost. It was great to meet up with you all. I really enjoyed it!

Petoskystone: Um, well, actually, I did buy some elwesii, but only two pots as they were £5.50 a pot. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth when I discovered that they were half that price in my local garden centre...

Fay McKenzie said...

Love your post - do prefer to see snowdrops au naturale............My favourite is Cambo snowdrop festival in Fife. Pefect in that setting - but I'm with you - for one bulb a ridiculus amount of money - not a hope - better to enjoy them in the wild!

I've two in my garden (two snowdrops not two types) they accidentally came in a pot from our last house - its a start!

Garden show looks very busy!

patientgardener said...

having spent this morning looking at a collection of 200 odd snowdrops with VP I can begin to see why some people get very excited about them. It takes a while to get your eye in and I seemed to be more aware of those I didnt like than those I did! I didnt like the ones with long stems or the stubby ones, I didnt like the yellow ones as they looked diseases. Guess what I like the common and cheap ones. We also agreed that snowdrops look best en masse preferably on a bank as opposed to individuals planted in a border

VP said...

I lost my heart to a fab Hellebore - 'Winter Moonbeam' after leaving the pub. I bought 2 for £24 and got 2 free snowdrops - G. 'Augustus', so my 'collection' has started.

Helen and I have been to John Sales' (ex NT Gardens advisor) garden today - he has a collection of 250 different snowdrops :o

However, I find massed plantings of just the ordinary snowdrop very hard to beat

About Last Weekend said...

Yes I agree about the snowdrops. I love them in a more country garden but I am more the succulents and exotic plants and natives Downunder... Though I think my garden needs more white in it to offset all the green, still searching for that white easy flower (though I do have calla lilies which I love, though nest for darker corners). Your tales of mingling with sandwich-eating pensioners are wonderful. Makes me really miss England.

Plantaliscious said...

Oh thank goodness, I am not alone. I know snowdrops can vary greatly, and they look beautiful in close-up. But you never really get to see them in close-up in your garden, so really, what's the point? A lovely drift of white at this time of year is, well, lovely, but I'll stick to whatever the garden centre is selling cheaply and still prefer a trip to the woods to see them carpeting the ground.

Donna said...

with you Janet..while I can become obsessive about some plants I just draw the line with spending all that money....they are lovely though

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I already explained in a comment on Helen's blog how the process of becoming a galathophile works (I have written two posts about it). It sneaks up on you. Very recently, I too thought they all looked the same. And I don't pay those prices, I trade with other galanthophiles or they just give them to me---true galanthophiles are very generous. And, in response to plantilicious, it is in my own garden, where I crawl around on my hands and knees viewing all the flowers close up and exclaiming (to my cats) how beautiful they are, that I truly appreciate them. It would be very undignified to do this in someone else's garden.

Will said...

Ahh snowdrops - after such a cold winter I've decided that I need more than the two small clumps I have in the garden. In fact I need more of anything that flowers in the winter!

Victoria said...

Fay: I grew up in Fife, but have never seen the Cambo snowdrop festival. Fife didn't seem quite so flowery in those days...

Patientgardener: Yup, common and cheap - that's me!

VP: I was very envious of your outing to Mr Sales' garden. I think an enthusiast in full flow is hard to beat.

About Last Weekend: Good luck with the hunt for white flowers. Yellow or silver foliage also helps in my opinion.

Plantaliscious: That's why I like the bigger varieties - you can see them at a distance.

Donna: I was quite taken aback by the prices. But I think that a few can be really cheering in the right place.

Carolyn: Ah, the voice of the galanthophile! I did notice a bit of kneeling down going on while I was admiring mine (at least, I heard my knees complaining). Snowdrops and cats - what a lovely combination.

Will: I need more of everything full stop. Except grass. I've got way too much grass.
It's funny suddenly having a spring garden. It's a bit like putting on a disguise or a false moustache - I feel as if I'm gardening under false pretences. But I do love spring flowers.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I also have only 1 type of snowdrop, and it's G. elwesii. What I like about them is that they are the absolute earliest blooming thing in my garden. In mild winters, they can start blooming as early as December, but in most years, I can rely on them to start doing their thing by sometime in February, at the latest. Here in the American Midwest, that's an amazing feat. By comparison, the Helleborus nigers don't start blooming until March. With that kind of performance, who needs anything else?

fairegarden said...

I would have loved to join you on the biddie balcony, and the plant tables! We have the sad little clump here, the snowdrops don't care for our hot, dry summers. G. elwesii is on my wish list, and WILL be added later. As for your Acers, you already are in their net, I fear. In a good way, of course. :-)