Snowdrop Anxiety.

To the best of my knowledge psychiatrists have yet to place this condition within the spectrum of mental ill health but there is little doubt that it is a cause of great tension, stress even suffering for those with a more than normal interest in growing snowdrops and is particularly prevalent at this time of the year as the snowdrops are emerging from dormancy and breaking the surface of the soil. It is an annually recurring condition though anticipation and preparation do little to assuage the worries of the snowdrop grower and the suffering receives little or no sympathy from those who do not share this interest though recent years has seen the development of support groups on some social media platforms and it is obvious from Facebook, for example, that it is an international problem as I have noted groups based in the U.K, Germany, North America and even far-away New Zealand.

The essence of the stress/anxiety centres on a worry that those special flowers which the enthusiasts love so dearly may not appear in the current season, that they may have succumbed to pest or disease – and these are many: narcissus root fly, swift moth larvae, bacterial fungus, Snowdrop grey mould -Botrytis galanthina – or the dreaded Stagonospora curtisii, a death-knell fungus which strikes panic and despair in the heart of the snowdrop grower. It is a pastime rife with worry and it really is no surprise that many enthusiasts live life on a knife edge of anxiety until their special ones have reappeared and flowered once again.

These “special ones” give rise to the highest levels of anxiety; some because of their expense – individual bulbs of newly introduced varieties can cost from €50 – €100 or more – while one would be frightfully upset to lose a kind gift from a generous fellow enthusiast. This all leads to a practice at this time of year which I call “snout-spotting”, that daily patrol of the garden hoping to see the tips of the new growths from the bulbs appear over ground and sufferers are even known on occasion – or more frequently, depending on the severity of their condition – to engage in a scraping away of the soil in hopes of finding bulb growth a little deeper down – any growth is a source of great relief and the most welcome of sights for the sufferer.

I must “come out” and admit that I am one of these snout-searchers, that I am presently going through the most difficult time of my gardening year and every day is fraught with worry but also, thankfully, relieved by the reappearance of treasured old favourites, the bounteous mementoes of generous friends. With further research a cure may be found but I hope not.

Some old reliable varieties – here it is Galanthus ‘Benton Magnet’ – give reassurance that all will be well.

26 thoughts on “Snowdrop Anxiety.

  1. I know your anxiety, the sight of disturbed soil , is it mice or something else that will devour bulbs?
    Is it signs of growth?
    You try not to look too often , but get sucked past the site daily and in bad cases morning and evening.
    The promise of a flower bud is a rush some only experience with the help of needle and narcotics, but its slower to work πŸ˜€ .
    The there’s the tidying up around the clump for the photo record and it be just as acute an anxiety , ( though you seem to have conquered all fear on that score ! ) .

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    1. I was on my hands and knees on a narrow footpath running through a border today, checking on snowdrops to left and right and it’s brilliant when special favourites reappear, especially when they come in larger number!


  2. Snout-spotting has a floral counterpart – I have often walked around looking for newly opened buds – but the feeling evidently has more going for it than the snout-spotting. Once the snout appears, can we conclude that a snowdrop fancier’s worries are over for that particular bulb?

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    1. The appearance of the snout is a source of great relief for it shows the bulbs has not been devoured by one of those dreadful pests and there is the promise of flower to come.


    1. I’ll have to look into Rescue Remedies! In the meantime I’ll be happy with reappearing snowdrops – the best remedy for many ills.


  3. I love the label ‘Snout-spotting’ which I’ve not heard before . I have very few snowdrops in my garden… as yet… but having seen the wonderful snowdrops in Paddy’s garden (via an HPS Galanthus Group Zoom talk) I am already beginning to search my garden for the ‘snouts’ I should be able to see! I suspect this affliction will increase with time!!

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    1. It only gets worse with passing years and the increase in snowdrop varieties in the garden but the arrival of snouts and flowers is a great joy!


  4. Thank you. I shall now confess to also being a compulsive snout spotter. Sometimes I go back every few days and again scratch mulch away just for the reassurance that I really did spot something. It’s a heavy cross to bear, this affliction.

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  5. I have been too busy this past while, and have not made time to sit back and read my favorite blogs – your blog being at the top! Loved this post. Happy to say that I knew nothing about all of the things that can go wrong with snow drops. But now that I know… Looking forward to seeing them all very soon!

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