The beauty of snowdrops
Amateur Gardening|January 22, 2022
Snowdrops may have tiny, delicate flowers, but they are remarkably strong, hardy and reliable plants. Tamsin Hope Thomson reveals some of her favourite varieties
Tamsin Hope Thomson

IT’S not hard to see why collectors are so passionate about snowdrops. From a distance you can see swathes of tiny white flowers nodding in the breeze. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice fascinating differences, from subtle ones like the tiny green marks on the inner petals, to bigger differences in the number of petals, colour of markings and petal shape.

Snowdrops are hardy, reliable and resilient. They will push through frozen ground and flower away through hail, rain and wind, bringing hopes of spring in the midst of winter. Yet the best thing about these plants is that they are low maintenance. Once planted, they will simply increase overtime to produce bigger and better displays.

Gardeners’ favourites

Snowdrop enthusiasts have been known to spend hundreds of pounds on one variety, but there are plenty of affordable snowdrops out there. It’s fun to go out and see if you can spot rare varieties, but there are many more that are easy to obtain and have remained on gardeners’ must-have lists for a reason. Varieties such as Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ AGM, G. elwesii AGM and G. elwesii ‘Helen Tomlinson’ come up again and again.

There are 2,500 varieties to explore so there’s something for everyone, from the common snowdrop G. nivalis AGM, which you’ll see in woods and growing under shrubs, to G. plicatus ‘E.A. Bowles’ AGM, with its identical-sized white petals and the yellow flowering types that stand out with their gold sepals and markings. There are also doubles, where the inner petals look like petticoats. Some of the most famous are the tall Greatorex doubles, which were bred by Heyrick Greatorex during the 1940s.

Planting in a container

Snowdrops may be associated with woodland, but they look equally good in a small space. Try underplanting a tree with snowdrops for early winter interest, or combine with plants such as winter-flowering heathers, ivy and berrying skimmias in a container. And while now’s the time to enjoy them in flower, don’t forget to order them ‘in the green’, too, to plant next month, so you can enjoy displays year after year.

6 of the best snowdrops

Galanthus nivalis AGM

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