Galanthically Annoyed!!!

There’s always one; and there’s probably more than one! There are always those who think they are not bound by the practices of normal politeness; those who feel free to demand without any right to do so, to complain and grumble without any justification.


Snowdrops have been an interest for over twenty years with a few new varieties collected each year; a few received from friends and a few exchanged with fellow enthusiasts. Newspaper articles regularly comment snidely on the blinkered enthusiasm of galanthophiles – a term which has become one of derision, departing from its simple and what was its original use to describe people who are lovers of snowdrops. Of course, these comments and such attitudes come generally not from snowdrop enthusiasts but from newspaper/magazine contributors in need of something to fill a page or two and material with a little frisson always reads more entertainingly and they consider it better not to allow the truth to impede.


My own experience in snowdrop circles has been overwhelmingly positive. Our dabble into snowdrops started modestly with purchased dry bulbs of the common snowdrop; I grew G. caucasicus from a society seed list and then Mary began ordering three different snowdrops each year from Avon Bulbs or Beth Chatto’s. A few years later, a great gardening friend in Northern Ireland, Bob Gordon, heard of Mary’s interest in snowdrops and sent on a box of snowdrops and followed up with further boxes in subsequent years. Margaret Glynn and Harold McBride were also generous donors – and so it developed until Mary put me in charge of our snowdrops as they came in such number that she felt no longer able to keep track of them all. Over the years more and more wonderful friendships developed and snowdrops flowed into and out of our garden with no thoughts of who owed whom what or whatever. Most snowdrops here are now treasured because of their connection with some generous gardening friend.

Various online forums allow enthusiasts to view the gardens and prize snowdrops of other enthusiasts and to show one’s own.  Contacts are also made and offers of special snowdrops received regularly. It is all in a generous and friendly manner – well, mostly so!


Recently, someone wishing to start a snowdrop collection asked if I would sell some snowdrops. I explained that this was my hobby and that I felt selling them would change the nature of my pastime and I didn’t wish to do so. This was followed by a request for swaps though this person at present has nothing to swap other than taking bulbs from wild populations, something I could not encourage. There followed a request, which might more accurately be described as a demand, that I simply give bulbs to help start their collection. Now, if this were a person I knew, someone who lived close enough to drop in, then I could easily lift a few bulbs and pass them on but, for this person, I would have to lift them, package them and post them to the continent and I thought this a little unreasonable. This person was “very disappointed” with my lack of generosity and very taken aback that I would not oblige.

Perhaps, I shouldn’t find this upsetting but my experience with gardeners has so often been so very positive that this incident came as quite a shock. I suppose this is just a fly in the ointment and I should dismiss it and enjoy the snowdrops and the snowdrop people who have always been a joy and a pleasure!


Post Scriptum: The Christmas period did not allow time for writing – seasonal celebrations, visiting family, the christening of a beautiful grandson and laptop trouble – so it is good to get back to the keyboard again.

Though belated, a Very Happy New Year to you all.

Paddy Tobin.

To find out more about the Irish Garden Plant Society visit our website or follow us on Facebook

5 thoughts on “Galanthically Annoyed!!!

  1. Hi Paddy, Can you please email me this excellent blog and I can publish it directly on to Facebook. It will get much better coverage that way. Thanks.



  2. What a delightfully ascerbic swipe at the sniggerers and a perfectly justifiable defence of your reluctance to be cowed into sending to the continent your exquisite plants- There are so many people who can vouch for PT’s abundant generosity that one impertinent demandee can easily be consigned to the deserts of ignimony ignominy,igniminy???? well of ignorance. have just been enjoying your last years magazine’s contribution on snowdrops-made me proud to be a galanthophile though of modest mien!


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