According to Anna Pavord, there are as many as 150 different
kinds of snowdrops. I’ll take her word. She only includes 14 or so in her new
book, Bulb, and admits that to ordinary gardeners (like me) the differences
between the various types are minimal at best.
Indeed. Until a couple years ago, I didn’t realize there was more than one variety. I
had always liked them, and the small row by the front of our house was the
first thing I noticed when we moved in ten years ago. But, for various reasons,
we had to pave over this area and they never revived. I ordered a bag of bulbs
to plant in a new area, and didn’t even pay attention to whatever came after
“galanthus” in the name. (It was likely elwesii.) The next year, I noticed the nivalis
“Flore Pleno” doubles and that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
Tulips are another matter. I am capable of poring over the
tulip pages in a bulb catalog for days, circling and crossing out different
varieties, agonizing for hours over which two Single Lates to pair in the front
beds, and carefully figuring out which of the species types I still lack.
Obviously, I don't have the delicate sensibilities of the true
snowdrop connoisseur. I can’t get as excited as I should about the various
types of green markings or lack thereof. To my eye, the basic shape and petal configuration
of a snowdrop just doesn’t change all that much from variety to variety—we won’t
talk about the color.
So the experts can have their 149 varieties. I’m sticking
with the Flore Pleno (top). From above, these look like any other snowdrop—first there's the fat white pendant, then the three long petals unfold. You can
see hints of what’s inside, but the best thing to do with these is take a few
inside and place them in a small vase on a tall shelf, as I have done. There, in warmth, without pain to back or knees—and in happy ignorance of all the more interesting varieties I should have—I can admire them to my heart's content.
Count this as a Rant contribution to the March GBBD—just a day late to the snowdrop party going on throughout the Northeast.