I was asked on Twitter the other day what my top ten would be and now the snowdrop season is coming to a close its worth reflecting! This is a really tricky question as frankly its like being asked to pick your favourite child but I will attempt to pick that are easy to recognise.
So in no particular order here goes!
This is possibly one of the easiest to identify snowdrops ever!
The inner tepals of this flower have a strong sinus mark but also two faint eyes which denote it’s elwesii var. elwesii heritage. That combined with the exaggerated curve on the outer tepals gives, to a person with a vivid imagination, the impression of a baby peeking out from a Moses Basket, hence its name! This is also a big snowdrop, standing around 10 inches tall, with long glaucous leaves.
A word of caution though, if you choose to buy this and the next year it fails to do its thing don’t panic. Snowdrops sometimes take a few years to settle when split, divided and / or get moved. I bought mine in 2019 and its taken until this year for it to start doing its thing again.
Another large elwesii type, this time var. monostichus (meaning one mark). It has an exceptionally long pedicel, this is the small thin structure between the flowers green egg like ovary and the scape (flower spike). This allows the large flower to nod about freely in the wind, much like a chap flinging his rod around in the hopes of luring an unsuspecting trout… or something like that… fishing is not my strong point!
A truly wonderful plicatus, its flowers are held high above the pleated foliage, like nodding pennywise balloons, and even the flowers themselves are pleated. Often described as seersucker, it truly is an easy to identify snowdrop!
So lets have a look at some double, and theirs lots to choose from, I think I have a soft spot for them as I own quite a few plus I seem o take lots of pictures of them.
First up is…
A really pretty form of nivalis which is very different to the average flora pleno nivalis, but what makes it different? Firstly it has virescence (green colouration) on the outer, clawed tepals and the sinus mark of the inner tepals is strong and covers over half of the tepal. The over all effect is a neat compact, strongly coloured snowdrop, Found by the late Alan Street found it in a churchyard in oxford.
A fun little clawed, or tusked, form of nivalis. Sometimes its spathe will also split into two tusks. Its described as being vigorous but for me it has been slow to multiply and judging by the fact I’ve rarely seen it for sale AND its held a good price I cant be alone in this.
Doncaster Double Charmer
Another nivalis, but this time its the spathe (this is the part that protects the emerging flower bud, seen clearly on the flower furthest left of the pic above) that makes this variety memorable. Its Huge! Plus its slightly clawed outer tepals are strongly virescent.
My next choice is hard to place into any category as she wants to be in all of them… at the same time!
Im not sure who Mrs Thompson was but I get the feeling she was barking mad! The only thing uniform about this snowdrop is the fact it never does the same thing twice. It can produce 3, 4, 5, 6. possibly more outer tepal. Siamese twin scapes or in the case of the one above triplets, and sometimes be perfectly poculiform. You just never know what she will do next.
And if you like her poculiform guise heres a couple that are particularly fine examples…
This unusual snowdrop has 6 inner and 6 outer tepals, the only elwesii that does. Found in Margaret Owens garden in the 1990’s and named after her husband. On a warm sunny day the flowers outer tepals open right out like a star, just stunning, and although not a true poculiform its as close as dammit.
A true poculiform, this huge plicatus was found at Myddleton house and named after the legendary plantsman and owner EA Bowles. Its flowers are pure white with the inner tepals being the same size as the outer
Named after the wonderful National Trust Garden where it was discovered this elegant poculiform can be a bit fickle. Like a lot of the really unusual forms it can take a few years settle after division but when it does it rewards you with the most perfect white star. Even when its being reluctant there is much to commend it though. Bright green fresh leaves, with no trace of the glaucous hue of your average nivalis and a wonderfully proportioned flower.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a couple of the inverse poculiform (IPoc) types, there’s several names used to describe these. I personally like pagoda but I’ve also heard Trym type as Trym was one of the first well known and has been responsible for being a parent to a lot of them.
A strongly marked, well shaped vigorous snowdrop, found in Primrose Warburg’s garden in 1992. The inner tepals are a wash of emerald green whilst the outers have a morse code dot, dash streaking up to a dumpy ovary. On a warm spring day they reflex fully demonstrating the pagoda shape.
A similar, yet completely different I promise, IPoc is…
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, given it’s name, this is one of the many progeny of Trym. Its inner tepals have a delicate heart as a sinus mark. Its outer petals reflex with a small notch at the end. Its outer marking is sometimes described as a large heart or V. I guess it depends on how romantic you are.
So I’m on to my last 3 choices…. yes I’m fully aware we are way past 10 but I also said it was impossible to just pick 10!
So lets have a look at some of the virescent types
Originally found in the garden of Heyrick Greatorex, the eccentric breeder of double snowdrops, this drop has extremely strongly marked outers with tightly pinched tips giving it a birds beak like appearance.
I was introduced to this snowdrop as Modern Art but there is some debate about a mix up with Courteen Hall. This does sometimes happen, the most obvious case I know is penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ and ‘Stapleford Gem’. Years ago there was a printing error in the RHS A-Z where the wrong picture was attached to the text. Anyone reading the text would recognise that but we are inherently lazy and so confusion arose over the correct name/plant etc.
I’m not sure how this confusion arose for this snowdrop but its immediately recognisable. The shape always makes me think of snoopy, its outer petals look like his droopy ears and the strong virescence just adds to that effect for me. It really is best seen en masse and as its an old hybrid there are several places that have a large collection.
Last but by no means least, I absolutely love this entirely virescent snowdrop. She was the very first of her type and though there are now quite a few she has remained popular and reliable.
An elwesii hybrid she was found in her namesakes garden in canada in the 1960’s
Snowdrop season is such a fleeting part of the year but it does give me great joy and one day I dream of being able to plant all my beauties into a forever home. Nothing would give me greater joy than to create a woodland walk filled with these treasures and honestly I may well have found that place but only time will tell. Ask me this time next year and I may have changed my mind on my favourite Snowdrops once more, its honestly so difficult to choose!
2 Replies to “Top Ten Snowdrops!”
Always interesting Lou, thankyou!
And all pretty tvm xx
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Thank you 🙂