Buying New Names for the Garden

The snowdrop year is approaching mid-season. The first snowdrops flowered here in early October and the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, is in bud with quite a few showing colour and their flowering marks mid-season.

Snowdrop view (5)

Snowdrops in lane

I am a member of a number of online snowdrop groups, all on Facebook, where members post photographs of their presently-in-flower treasures, exchange information, tips and comments and display the latest introductions to the galanthus world, the latest must-have snowdrops.

Snowdrops in Ash bed (2)

The members are an assorted group, some beginners, some experienced, some expert. Some grow snowdrops as a collection – in much the same manner as one might collect stamps or coins – while others grow them as garden plants, plants which will do well in the open garden and give a pleasing effect there. It is a disparate group united by an enjoyment we hold in common.

Snowdrops in Ash bed (3)

Snowdrops with arbour

The care of the snowdrops in our garden rests with me because the head gardener told me to take them on when their numbers grew quite suddenly due the generosity of a gardening friend when he realised Mary was keen on them. The number of cultivars in the garden has continued to increase over the past twenty or so years and there must now be in excess of 200 varieties in the garden. The head gardener reckons they have become an invasive species here but I know she enjoys seeing them in the depths of winter especially those which have increased to make a good clump and give a good effect.

Snowdrops in Ash bed (1)

There is one aspect of snowdrop collecting, as seen through members posts on the various forums, which puzzles, and bewilders, me. I have regularly noticed that beginners often have the very latest – and at time dreadfully expensive – introductions but do not grow those cultivars which have been tried and tested over years and have proven themselves as good, reliable and easy to grow plants.

Snowdrop on wall (3)

There is no doubt about it, snowdrops are presently a highly fashionable garden plant and the consumer is influenced by trends, hype and marketing in the same way as are followers of any other fad. I suppose I should not be surprised that people are influenced in this manner but I regret seeing beautiful, long-grown and valued snowdrop ignored, even cast aside, for recent introductions which are regularly of insignificant difference to predecessors and certainly unproved in the garden.

Snowdrop view with cyclamen

The trend is to buy each new name which comes along rather than searching out good, distinct garden plants. No, I won’t trot out the old saw of the fool and his money but it certainly seems to me that some money is spent quite foolishly. Buy good snowdrops not new names!

Snowdrop views (5)

Snowdrop view (21)

Snowdrop view (11)

Snowdrop views (6)


An interesting article I have come across since writing above: The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Growing Snowdrops






8 thoughts on “Buying New Names for the Garden

  1. Hi Paddy
    We are in the middle of a very hot summer here in New South Wales.
    Just looking at your lovely snowdrop photos makes me feel cooler !
    I am able to grow them here as we have quite cold winters.
    I am looking forward to the end of February when the cyclamen start to flower heralding the cooler weather of Autumn.
    Thanks for the lovely pics


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Fiona, Glad to hear you are able to grow them. They are a delight in the garden especially as they flower in mid-winter when little else is about here. Best wishes.


  3. Matt, I am taken aback by your comment. I merely suggest that the latest snowdrop introductions need not be considered the best simply because they are the newest and that there are many tried and tested cultivars which deserve to be grown and that the new grower, in particular, would do well to spend money on these well-established cultivars before paying the high prices of the newest ones.

    Success has been yours and I wish you continued success and you have my best wishes.


  4. Good post Paddy,
    I have given up collecting snowdrops because of the huge amount of mislabeled cultivars. I must have 5 versions of Sam Arnott, same with Magnet, Castlegar etc. All good snowdrops but each performs differently. Some are very poor. The Gins Imperati I bought on the basis of it being a great multiplier is great but not G. Imperati. Such is life I suppose but I know of no other plant that can cost so much and be mislabeled to such an extent. God bless your patience!


    1. I must say I have been fortunate enough not to have come across very many mislabeled snowdrops though there are a few which unreliable in their names – ‘Fred’s Giant’ or ‘Beth Chatto’ which were really both a clump of seedlings split, propagated and distributed under their names though there were variations between them. You have my sympathies to have had this experience and it certainly would put you off. You have good space in the garden and can create good drifts which will give good effect for you.


  5. Thank you Paddy for encouraging me. I only have Nirvalis and one other whose name I can’t bring to mind – but as a relatve newcomer to the world of Galanthus I definitely favour any that will bulk up quickly. My dream would be to have them invade!

    Liked by 1 person

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