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Most of us are familiar with Snowdrops which are the harbinger of spring.  Many of us will have been privy to swathes of these delightful bulbs drifting throughout woodland.  These bulbs are usually the common Snowdrop, more correctly known by it’s latin name Galanthus Nivalis which is pictured at the top of the article.

Galanthus Nivalis however is not the only variety of snowdrop.  There are many other, lesser known varieties.  You could be forgiven by most for being unaware of the very subtle differences between each variety.  However, avid collectors and experts on snowdrops, or Galanthophiles, would be aghast and quick to pull you up on this, pointing out markings which distinguish each treasured form.

It has been known for a single bulb of these rarer varieties to fetch £1000. Will you be tempted to join the ranks of these obsessive collectors.  If you think you might I have displayed below some of the more unusual varieties that you may be interested in buying as the beginnings of a collection.  These varieties are not as pricey as some that you may wish to purchase from more specialist nurseries, but will be something to discuss with fellow Galanthophiles and to fill you with joy in the depths of winter, scattered under trees and shrubs, in rockeries, in shady areas of  grass or in small containers in dappled shade.

Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’

A rare, relatively large and vigorous form, named after Samuel Arnott (born in Dumfries in 1852) who was a keen gardener and snowdrop aficionado. He first discovered this in his garden and later introduced it into cultivation. Like a pumped-up version of the common snowdrop, this super-sized version has deliciously honey-scented flowers.

Galanthus elwesii

Named after H.J. Elwes (1846-1922), an English sportsman and plant collector who collected the original plants in N.W. Turkey, G. elwesii is actually native to the extended area of Yugoslavia, Romania and the Ukraine, south to Greece and western Turkey. Distinguished from other species by glaucous leaves neatly folded one inside the other. Flowers have two green spots on the inner petals which sometimes join to present a totally green inner face.

Galanthus nivalis ‘Viridapice’

A taller variety with a distinctive, long spathe which looks like the flowers have a hood. This is a good choice for those looking for a slightly more unusual snowdrop, or those wanting to add to their collection as it is still quite rare. Both the inner and outer petals are white, but have green markings which make them look as if they have been painted with a brush.

To view these Snowdrops at Crocus click here

Mark Snelling

All images and descriptions copyright Crocus

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