“What are the six best snow­drops? Turn to page 18,” says Gra­ham

Who can re­sist the ap­peal of the el­e­gant and ad­dic­tive snow­drop? Gra­ham re­veals which ones to choose for blooms that look a mil­lion dol­lars but cost a lot less

Amateur Gardening - - Contents -

WOULD you pay more than £1,000 for a snow­drop? That’s a sin­gle snow­drop bulb? No, nei­ther would I. But some peo­ple do. In 2014, a snow­drop bulb (along with the rights to name it) was sold for £1,602, while other bulbs have changed hands for £1,390 and £720.

Col­lect­ing snow­drops has be­come such a pas­sion among so many peo­ple that last year the av­er­age price in one snow­drop cat­a­logue was £37.77 – per bulb – and the cur­rent en­thu­si­asm means you could find that even old favourites will now set you back a fair bit more than they did in the past. Thank­fully, some of the most de­light­ful, most el­e­gant and most ap­peal­ing va­ri­eties are still af­ford­able, so it’s pos­si­ble to grow a se­lec­tion without break­ing the bank.

Snow­drops are def­i­nitely worth shelling out for as they have to be the great­est de­light of the win­ter gar­den. Our more-or-less na­tive wild snow­drop,

Galan­thus ni­valis, is avail­able by mail or­der in eco­nom­i­cal bun­dles of 10 or 25, but there are two things to keep in mind. First, these are of­ten not grown by a nurs­ery, but will have been dug up from the woods. Sec­ond, the flow­ers are small – they don’t have the im­pact from a dis­tance of most named va­ri­eties. With its added bulk, the dou­ble form ‘Flore Pleno’ stands out bet­ter, but it’s still not that el­e­gant.

Va­ri­eties such as ‘Atkin­sii’, ‘John

Gray’, ‘Mag­net’ and ‘S. Arnott’ have larger, some­times scented flow­ers that cap­ture the at­ten­tion far more ef­fec­tively in win­ter’s dull light, and they in­crease well. ‘Viri­dapice’, with green tips to the ends of the pe­tals, is a very pretty vari­ant, and ‘Straf­fan’ pro­duces two flow­er­ing stems from each bulb. Look closely and you’ll see how the green mark­ings vary with the dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties.

Snow­drops are very cold hardy and thrive in most gar­den sit­u­a­tions that are not hot and dry. As a rule, they don’t like be­ing grown in pots, but they’re gen­er­ally adapt­able and, frankly, not easy to kill. They’ll usu­ally spread, some­times by seed but mainly by mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of the bulbs, and you can help them in­crease by lift­ing, split­ting and re­plant­ing ev­ery few years.

And while I wouldn’t ad­vo­cate spend­ing hun­dreds of pounds on them, they are strangely ad­dic­tive. I got up to about 30 va­ri­eties – af­ter that, it’s tough to tell them apart! My ad­vice? Start with a few dis­tinc­tive (but af­ford­able) ones and take it from there.

Hardy and adapt­able, with their green and white colour com­bi­na­tion Galan­thus have a sim­ple beauty that re­ally lifts the spir­its in late win­ter and, over time, they will spread

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