Snowdrop-aholics in the news

Close up of snowdrops with many others behind them
Snowdrops look alluring in a mass planting

Snowdrops are so hyped up this year that the clickbait on the BBC News website’s most viewed article on Saturday morning was Are you suffering from galanthomania?. Anything that sounds like an ailment evidently has the whole of Britain (minus those aware that a galanthus is a snowdrop) clicking away to find out if they have the symptoms. Well, it is winter.

I have recorded my personal pangs here, but wouldn’t go so far as to call it a mania. Muddy knees, sometimes; mania, nope.

Snowdrops with large bergenia leaves in a winter garden
Red branches and bergenia leaves make a lovely backdrop for snowdrops

But I won’t try to deny that snowdrops cast spells on us. I offer just one proof: it’s almost impossible to write about them without using words such as ‘oft’, ‘of yore’ and/or ‘harbinger’. “Oft, of yore, with leaping heart I espied those harbingers of Spring, snowdrops…” – that kind of thing. I’ll try to resist.

There were a fair few snowdrops at Ness Botanic Gardens, where I took these shots. Is that prosaic enough?

Paths laid out amongst snowdrops
Paths at Ness laid out to create a snowdrop walk

I’m mocking myself as much as anyone else. If you’ve recently published a post on snowdrops and ‘oft’ or ‘of yore’ crept in, don’t go thinking I blame you. I blame some form of mass hypnotism:

“Just watch this swinging pendulum for a while… going back… and forth, …back, …and forth. One bulb is a steal at £1,400, honest it is… swi-i-ing… and don’t forget the ‘oft’…”

I can see why galanthophile might have been coined for those keen enough to pay £1,400 for one. Snodrophile would have been a bit too belt, cap and braces for anything that small worth more than a tenner.

Galanthophile, in contrast, has a delightful rise and fall. It’s the word version of the Lipizzaner horses trained to bob around the show ground, presenting their knees for our approval.

Galanthophile has something of excess about it. It’s the type of word that might appeal to someone who saw nothing silly in naming the common double one Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’. My own belief is that the name is only suitable for snowdrops with just two rows of petals. Anything fully double should be called Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’, just to make sure we get the point.

The green inside of a double snowdrop
Surely double enough to justify the ‘…Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’

Although Galanthus nivalis ‘Bouffant’ would be more descriptive.

It’s surely a scandal for any of these snowy flowers – little more than buds at their fleeting best – to be worth that much, even the cute ones with the little green smudges.

Small snowdrops with green streaked outer petals
Small galanthus with green-streaked outer petal tips

Imagine buying the £1,400 one and coming home to find it had been nibbled by a slug… though we all know a slug would devour it and leave nothing but the slime.

It takes all sorts, but I’d be inclined to swop the most expensive ones for a drift of the common ones and plant a few hellebores to go with them.

Purple hellebore nods over a sea of snowdrops
Hellebore bows its head before snowdrops

On a more serious note, Ness Botanic Garden was looking wonderful earlier this week, with the snowdrops at their peak. They have masses of singles and doubles and quite a few fancy ones. If you get half a chance, brave the cold weather and go and get your heart uplifted.

34 Replies to “Snowdrop-aholics in the news”

  1. Just gorgeous! Your photos are extraordinary, as always. Snowdrops don’t seem to flourish in my vicinity as much, but we have fabulous hellebores that thrive here! Mine self-seed all over.

    1. I saw a carpet of self-sown seedlings under some of the hellebores at Ness. They were very sweet, but so thickly spread that they couldn’t possibly have all survived together. They must weed them out – it would be an idea to dig up a clump now and then and let visitors try to rescue as many as they could in return for a small donation. The entrance charge is very reasonable compared to many of our gardens.

  2. I’m on the slippery slope (‘harbinger’ crept in!). I have seven named varieties, ten quid is the most I’ve spent on one bulb. And yes, the slugs got it.

    1. It seemed to be granting them homage. My hellebore is prostrate. I tried taking a picture but it was more pitiful than pretty. The snow makes them seem as if they will never perk up again, although they somehow do.

  3. Hilarious! Though of course I can’t see anything objectionable in a yore or an oft or a hey-nonny-nonny (isn’t that the equivalent of yeah-yeah-yeah?) from time to time, especially when inspired by flowers. I certainly see the magic in these little blossoms and I understand the mania. Beautiful photos! I especially love that top one, with the detail in the foreground and the massive effect in the background. Lovely!

  4. Hi there, I’m about to plant bulbs of the lovely galanthus for the first time. They’re not common in Australia, so if they succeed I’ll be over the moon. The bulbs cost $10 each so I’m starting with just 3…

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