It was rather a weak start to the snowdrop season here, a little disappointing but not entirely unexpected. The earliest flowering snowdrops here are of the Greek species, Galanthus reginae olgae and its cultivars and these don’t enjoy the conditions in my garden. I suppose that should come as no surprise when their native range is one of persistent high summer temperatures with prolonged dry periods and these Greek snowdrops grow in naturally dry spots with open free-draining gritty soil while the soil here is heavy and generally, if not wet throughout the summer, at least almost always damp. This does not suit them and they have never thrived in the open garden here, not even in raised beds where there would be improved drainage and not even in alpine troughs in the sunniest spots and filled with a compost as free-draining as a colander. They have consistently “died on me” and my only success has come by growing them in suitable compost in pots in the glasshouse – and, even there with this care, they don’t really thrive. One year may bring a reasonable flowering and another year will disappoint. I have persisted with them because they have always been the first snowdrops to flower each year and because one of them, Galanthus ‘Rachel Mahaffy’ (from the original Galanthus rachelae), has an interesting Irish background and connections. In coming years I feel it may be the only one of these early Greek snowdrops I will keep and I will seek out more snowdrops which will flower early in the year in the open garden, good garden plants rather than prima donnas which require an unreasonable, for me, level of attention.
As we are in the last day of November and the number of snowdrops coming into flower in the open garden will increase quickly in the coming weeks I am going to stop for a moment and look back at the snowdrops which have flowered to date:
There were several other of these Galanthus reginae olgae which flowered earlier this year but they didn’t excite me sufficiently to have me photograph them – it seems I am losing interest in these snowdrops which are a bother to grow and which are regularly disappointing. Open-garden snowdrops are more to my liking and I hope to add more of the early-season garden varieties over the coming years.