Snowdrops: pearls of the opening year

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Putting away some specimens in the herbarium last week I noticed a folder labelled Nat. Ord. CLXXIV Amaryllaceae GENUS 8. Galanthus.

Snowdrops!

Unfortunately pressed flowers rarely keep their natural colours, and snowdrops are no exception – even though their petals are white.  The flowers turn brown and the leaves darken too.

 Our cultivated collection also includes illustrations.  Below is a colour illustraion of ‘Eight kinds of Snowdrops’ from The Garden, dated 23 January 1885:

A short article in The Garden (no date, probably around 1886) by F. W. Burbidge begins, ‘THE GIANT SNOWDROPS. One of the minor miseries of my life is having to live in a garden containing thirty distinct kinds of Snowdrops, and not being able to boast of possessing Galanthus fosteri, the “giantest”, and so far, the most to be desired of them all.  Still, I live in hopes, since we are told that, “all things come to those who know how to wait”.’

Burbidge goes on to describe the species and varieties of snowdrop giants in his garden.  He concludes, ‘I hope all the readers of these notes who have distinct Snowdrops in their collections … will be so good as to tell us of them, since there are now a good many of us deeply and seriously interested in these pearls of the opening year’.

Another delightful little piece about the average flowering dates of snowdrops (probably dated around 1880 to 1890):

 

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