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. Until I recently started blogging I had no idea of this snowdrop mania! To be perfectly honest, I’ve only, in the last month, learnt the difference between snowdrop and snowflake. Now I discover that people are even prepared to pay outrageous sums of money for the bulbs. It’s almost like the tulip mania in Holland all those centuries ago. Coincidentally I did happen to plant one (yes one!) bulb in my garden last year and I’ll be anxiously looking for it to flower in about August when it should have become two, or even perhaps three!

  2. Great post. And I hope you noticed that when I spoke of snowdrops, there was not a single ‘yore’ or ”neath’, nor were my snowdrops growing ‘twixt’ the aconites. Just saying …..

  3. Not only do you have delightful and beautiful photos on your blog, but you accompany them with the most amusing dialogue. I always read your posts with a big smile 🙂

  4. Interesting take on a snowdrop post. They just herald spring – perhaps this is why we go out of our way to see the. Is Ness Garden in Scotland?

  5. I must admit that I am completely smitten by masses of snowdrops. I have never seen masses of snowdrops in Maine. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a snowdrop here. But, anybody who would pay such a price has more money than sense.

    1. You can divide the bulb to make others, but these are only small to start with, so it would take a while to recoup any investment, with the price dropping all the time as the rarity premium decreased.

  6. I so enjoyed reading this post, Susan!
    I know that for us here in NY, seeing the snowdrops and hellebores gives us hope for spring after very long, cold, gray winters. I’m not sure about mania but surely close. 🙂
    However, it will be a while before we see them, as mine at least, are covered with about a foot or more of snow!
    Have a wonderful week ahead!

    1. Thanks, Lisa. Something to look forward to then! I find it hard to associate NY with greyness at any time of year, but I’ve only visited the city, never the state.

  7. No signs of Spring here in Maryland yet, I love when little things start to pop up with hopes of warmer days to follow. Great post!

    1. Perhaps it’s worth trying out a hundred first 🙂

      A lot of the really good shows here have come about where people have let them naturalise and gradually split them up and spread them out.

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