29th October 2017
Galanthus reginae-olgae ssp. reginae-olgae .
We have had about the same amount of rain as last week, but the pattern has changed and my mood has improved. It is a tiny detail, but it has made all the difference.
Last week, every time I went outside it started to rain as the weather acted out a vendetta against me. This week every time I came inside it started to rain, a much more comfortable experience.
It also inspired me to sweep the chimney and light the fire. The clocks changed last night but I haven't noticed the change yet (except that I had a very long breakfast
and was still early) but this evening will be a shock. No more rushing home at the end of the day and imagining I can still water the greenhouse.
Portents of spring are dangling in front of me like worms on the anglers hooks, tempting me to disregard the possibility of winter. Primroses abound and there are snowdrops everywhere.
The primroses are accidental, the snowdrops took a lot more work.
Galanthus reginae-olgae didn't prosper for me outside in its autumn flowering guise. Eventually I took it under cover and it is like a different plant. I'm not sure if it prefers the summer warmth
or the drier conditions. Perhaps there is some other factor at work that I don't understand. My blue tinted plastic greenhouse hardly resembles its Greek mountain home but it
grows well and I am happy.
29th October 2017
Galanthus 'Autumn Beauty'.
Snowdrops in autumn cheer me. I delight in the people who look at them sniffily and say "I don't really like them, it's not natural is it!" I laugh, though not generally in their faces.
All the more for me , then.
I didn't get really interested until G. reginae-olgae started to prosper. Suddenly I had another group of plants to nurse me through the dark days of winter when there's nothing
to do in the garden but lament the things that didn't get done last year. I decided to grow some more and I seem to do that in two ways. Sometimes I have a group of plants in mind
and as I wander about in horticultural aimlessness I see a thing and buy it on impulse. That is how I buy Begonia. Ooh that's nice, I'll have it. There is a lack of guile about
the process that I enjoy. It isn't clever or meaningful, just immediate gratification like stopping somewhere for a cup of coffee and deciding to have a great big cake as well.
My fathers favourite flavour of cake was big. It makes me laugh now, but as a child I was always quietly grateful.
And so G. 'Autumn Beauty' came home with me. I knew nothing about it, just that it was flowering in autumn and I didn't grow it. After the event I discovered that it was
a first generation hybrid between G. elwesii and G. reginae-olgae and that the plants on sale were seedlings and variable. They were all in bud at the time
so I hadn't noticed. Good thing really, if I had known I might have bought them all. As it is, I enjoy my clone and convince myself I am free of obsession.
Quite casual about snowdrops really, not at all fixated. Someone asked me how many varieties I had in flower and I had no idea. I don't count, that way leads to madness,
but I wish they hadn't asked. Then I wouldn't have considered the issue and the boat of equanimity wouldn't have foundered on the rocky shores of eleven.
29th October 2017
If 'Autumn Beaty' is a Begonia then 'Barnes' is a Watsonia. As different as chalk and cheese (and the fools say all snowdrops are the same)!
When I became interested in Watsonia I went out searching and bought them all. Calmly, with focus and ruthless determination. I wanted them, and it didn't really matter
if I had to drive a couple of hundred miles or pay more in postage than the value of the plant. I wanted them. They are still delightful, though the single minded
determination has softened. Some of it transferred to autumn snowdrops. Last year I only went to a few snowdrop events, but I went looking for early cultivars
and 'Barnes' was one of the results.
It originates in a consignment of G. elwesii from Barrs to E. P. Barnes in 1928. This is a very early flowering selection from the stock that was named much later.
There are a number of very early clones in cultivation, generally referred to as the Hiemalis Group if they flower before the new year. Confusingly I have one that came to me
as 'Hiemalis' that generally doesn't flower until February but I treat it like a naughty child. I'm sure it means well, it has just had too much coffee and cake.
And the rest of the obsessive behaviour? Best not to talk to me about Pyrrosia at the moment. I have started making lists that are scattered around me in the office like a cocoon
29th October 2017
Galanthus corcyrensis .
Whenever I think a thing has started, I look back and discover that it really started much earlier (a generalised comment that doesn't apply to my van).
G. reginae-olgae has been in the garden for a very long time but it was only once I had succeeded with it that I started to look at autumn snowdrops.
It is a tidy story, but not entirely true. About the same time I got G. reginae-olgae I got G. corcyrensis. It has suffered in the garden
for several decades and about ten years ago I rummaged around in the leaf litter to dig up the last remaining leaf with its tiny bulblet and put it in a pot.
It would be nice to report that it had prospered out of all recognition, but that itsn't quite true, however it has grown and now I get an occasional flower.
It was invented by Frederick Stern, who used the name to cover those snowdrops that had short leaves when they flowered rather than producing flowers without leaves
as G. reginae-olgae does. Modern growers note that the two forms occur in the same populations, and there is no justification for maintaining a distinction
so this is now just another G. reginae-olgae form. I maintain the name because I like names, and it helps to distinguish my clone.
I intend to move a bulb into the greenhouse as soon as I have a spare. I'm sure it would be happier, but this one survives outside where the last autumn sunshine
keeps the worst of the clammy weather at bay.
So I have ended the week getting wet and muddy, stooping to take pictures of snowdrops. With luck I will be doing the same until March. With compassion, and a measure of
determination, I will spare you the worst of it.