It’s Snowdrop Weekend here in Selborne, and our garden team have been researching this welcome sight of spring.
Laurie Woods, our resident snowdrop expert and deputy head gardener Rose have begun to establish two colonies of Selborne Greentips in Gilbert White’s Garden in Selborne.
Selborne has several fine drifts of the native or common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) and the Crimean Snowdrop (Galanthus plicatus). However we are now trying to establish a colony of Selborne’s very own Galanthus elwesii ‘Selborne Green Tips’. This was first discovered in Selborne in 1982 by well-known galanthophiles Ruby and David Baker. This snowdrop has two excellent qualities: it is early flowering, and it can produce two flowers on a single stem. It has fine green markings on the tips of the white outer segments and V-shaped green markings with a broad green bar above on the white inner segments.
The latin name for the genus, ‘Galanthus’, comes from the Greek ‘gala’ meaning ‘milk’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’, ‘milkflower’ being perhaps not as pretty a name as ‘snowdrop’. The species elwesii (Giant Snowdrop) of which the Selborne Greentips is one, is named after Henry John Elwes (1846-1922), a British naturalist, traveler, plant collector and entomologist, who discovered this species in Turkey in 1874. Gilbert White himself living in Selborne in the Eighteenth Century would have likely only recognised the Galanthus Nivalis which is thought to have been brought over during the Crusades of the Middle Ages.
Thick carpets of snowdrops grow each year in Gilbert White’s famous gardens covering Bakers Hill and the naturalist’s garden. Often blooming in February the flower is often associated with the Feast of Purification also known as Candlemas which although now falls in early February was later according to the Julian Calendar.
Missed our Snowdrop weekend? No worries the snowdrops will be out for a little time yet!
Or find some snowdrops near you!