Have you got it – Galanthophilia, sometimes growing into full blown Galanthomania?
It’s at it’s worst at this time of year – an interest in snowdrops which grows into a truly, madly, deeply held obsession. The well known garden journalist Val Bourne admits to having it, writing in ecstatic terms : ‘Snowdrops, such virginal innocent beauties, tempt you like the devil in the biblical wilderness. Many people fall by the wayside and succumb. Some even turn to crime as the mania takes hold.’
One potful of ‘Green Tear’ was the star of the Vincent Square show of 2011. It was looked upon with lust by the crowds but someone green with jealousy stole the entire stock from the Somerset nursery. The theft was only noticed after the Chelsea Flower Show in May, but the stock number was clearly visible at the February Vincent Square show so the heist was obviously premeditated.
If you haven’t got into these little white beauties yet a good place to start would be one of these top three recommendations from the RHS.
Very early, vigorous and slightly honey-scented, ‘Atkinsii’ is distinctive in its outer 3.3cm (1.25in) petals being long and slender in shape. There is a green, heart-shaped mark at the tips of the inner petals. Another, small, distinctive feature is that one edge of one of each bulb’s two leaves is usually folded back. Introduced in the 1870s, similar plants with malformed flowers are often seen and known as ‘James Backhouse’. 20cm (8in).
Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus
Known, wrongly, as G. caucasicus for many years, it features broad, greyish leaves, one wrapped around the other at the base. The flowers have oval, pure white outer petals about 2.5cm (1in) long and a green, inverted ‘V’ mark at the tip of each inner petal. This mark never covers more than half the petal. Vigorous and dependable, occasionally flowering in autumn but usually in February. Grows wild in southern Turkey. 15cm (6in).
The familiar naturalised snowdrop of our February woods and gardens, the narrow foliage is grey-green, the edges touching at the base (not reflexed or overlapping). The flowers have outer petals about 2.5cm (1in) long and the inner petals have a small neat green inverted V at the tip. Often thought of as a British native, it was probably brought to Britain in the 16th century. Adaptable and resilient. 15cm (6in). This one will do me.
I have just missed the great snowdrop sale at Myddleton House but there are probably still some in the garden if you fancy popping up there this weekend.