With about one sunny day every seven – if we’re lucky – I’m changing the terms by which I judge a snowdrop.
On those occasional sunny days you can almost hear the snowdrops making stretching noises as they spread their arms out wider than you thought possible, as if to maximize their exposure to the rare blast of sun. You can’t help but smile at them, and sometimes go so far as to laugh out loud at their apparent joy in the moment. In the sunshine, every snowdrop is a heart-stopper.
But the rest of the time, they’re closed. And it’s at this time, I reckon, that they most differ in the pleasure they provide. Some with flared outer tepals are almost charmless when closed– you’re just waiting for the next blast of sun or warmth to transform them.
Some of the doubles are so double that the outer tepals are forced apart, like the arms of someone in a Sumo-suit. There’s a kind of pleasure in that – a sense of mimicry of the real joy of sun-induced tepal-spread, but it’s only a dim reflection of the real thing.
The ones I like best, without any doubt, are those that close into a tight, egg-shaped pearl (top image). You can’t help but think that they’re nearly as good closed as open.
Then along comes a sunny day, and you love them more still, with their distinctly cup-shaped outer tepals in propeller position.
Then they close again, and you love them like that too. In my very small collection (of currently only four different types) that makes Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ the out and out winner.
A call to all you serious collectors: I can’t have stumbled this easily on the best of them. Which of them would you still want to grow if you only ever saw them closed?
This added some hours later, after I’d received an email reply from Otto Fauser. He included a pic, so I’ll put his reply in here, as I can’t put a pic in the reply box.
Due to the dull weather most of the 80 odd species and cultivars of snowdrops in my garden were in the closed state ,except those already past their prime and the Doubles which can’t close due to the many inner segments .I took a composite photo of just 7 , most of them old and tried ones ,including ‘Magnet ‘ on a long arched pedicel which enables it to sway in a breeze . Gal. ‘Spindlestone Surprise’ has a yellow ovary and yellow markings on the inner segments (hard to see on the photo). I think I mentioned it before : if I could grow only one snowdrop it would be ‘S. Arnott’
from left to right : Gal. nivalis ‘Viridapicis’ ,rizehensis , ‘S, Arnott’ , ‘Magnet’ , elwesii , ‘Spindlestone Surprise’ and ‘Hippolyta ‘ (the double).
Back to me – Michael. You can see from the pic, can’t you, that S. Arnott is probably the best when closed, given the exceptional cupping in the outer segments. There’d be plenty of overlap, and that seems necessary for that globular, pearl-like quality. Both G. rizehensis and ‘Spindlestone Surprise’ look like they’re pretty good at overlap as well, though they’re substantially smaller, and slenderer than ‘S. Arnott’.
Thanks for the pic and para, Otto!