With three stray snowdrops found last year and potted up into little lattice pots before being replanted with ‘unknown galanthus’ labels, as well as at least two clumps emerging this year which may or may not be snowdrops, I have been keeping my Snowdrop Detective Hat handy to assist identification when clues emerged. The first clue was in the leaves, although I was completely ignorant of differences in snowdrop leaves until acquiring Gunter Waldorf’s ‘Snowdrop’ book last year – but now identification of applanate (like praying hands) and volute (wrapped round each other) foliage and the folded edge leaves of plicatus varieties are a great start in identifying snowdrops, and especially if you know what varieties you started with. It was with unusual foresight that I kept a list of the snowdrops I purchased (including when and where), something I have not done for any other plants!
My first ‘specials’ were bought at an open garden in 2005, adding to these from specialist nurseries the following year before getting too involved with Work to think much more about them until 2012, when my collection expanded exponentially from the first 15 and became what it is now. I hope to restrict additions to a few extra each year but the temptation is strong as many other bloggers know, although the idea of exchanging varieties with fellow enthusiasts is a sensible one. After disturbing mine in 2012 by digging up and selling a few ‘spares’ most of them sulked last year, so I have since given them plenty of TLC in the hope that I will be forgiven – every day new white buds are evident so it looks as if I am!
So, with my Detective Hat on I watched the applanate leaves of the snowdrop on the left as they emerged, but can now see that they have a bit of a kink in them so am pretty confident that this is G. gracilis and once the flower opens I should be able to confirm this. My gracilis dates from 2006 but lost its label and this seems to be a stray bulb from a little clump I rediscovered two years ago. The leaves of the snowdrop on the right, however, are volute (G elwessii being the best-known example); the contenders for this, snowdrops owned but lost, are G elwesii hiemalis and G woronowii, and again the flowers will determine which it is. My money is on the hiemalis, as the opposition was new in 2012 and planted in a lattice pot (as all the specials are now) so unlikely to be a stray, whereas I have not been aware of the hiemalis for a long time.
Exciting times – if you are interested in snowdrops that is! To show I am not completely suffering from tunnel vision I donned my makeshift armour this afternoon to tie in ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’ on the wires strung up for that purpose. He did not take kindly to being forced to lie down instead of leaping skywards and thrashed around somewhat, but with judicial pruning he will eventually be tamed. Although not raining it felt damp, a chilly dampness not conducive to gentle gardening and requiring something more vigorous like digging to take the edge off the coldness, but no digging was required and I retired inside to pursue warmer activities.