13th October 2019
Galanthus reginae-olgae 'Foursome' .
Autumn has been in control this week. The dry spells have felt like a strange oversight, something that slipped in between showers, a pluvial daydream. There's a chill in the air
and a dense dew coats the early morning grass. During the summer the grass would have soaked up every last drop of available water, now it feels as though it is squeezing it
out again. I walked over a lawn on wednesday that didn't squelch, it splashed. It is still warm and it feels too early in the year to retreat to the greenhouse and cheer rowdily
with the Nerine. That will come, but this week the autumn snowdrops have taken centre stage. I can enjoy them in the greenhouse and pretend I am outside. None of the early
snowdrops are actually showing yet but it becomes more likely with each day that passes. If 'Remember Remember' has survived then I can expect it in the last days of October.
It will only take a couple of days for the flower spike to emerge and then open. Suddenly everything will seem to be perfectly on time again.
If it has survived. I have killed it once before, so nothing is certain.
I bought Galanthus reginae-olgae 'Foursome' a year ago. I am told that it sometimes produces four segments instead of the usual three. It didn't have them when I bought it,
hasn't got them now. I can be patient. Snowdrops in October are still a tiny miracle, or 75% of one anyway.
13th October 2019
Galanthus 'Autumn Beauty' .
Some snowdrops arrive with a fanfare, the doors of a golden carriage open and they descend with stately elegance into the presence of an adoring public. Others appear
as if by magic on auction sites and then disappear into the gardens of people with very strange fashion sense. Ordinary clothes with eccentrically deep pockets. There is a third
group. Snowdrops that appear with little fuss, little history and get a limited distribution.
G. 'Autumn Beauty' comes into the last group. A few plants appeared in the Plant Sales area at Wisley. Subsequent investigation has suggested that they are chance seedlings
of the cross between G. reginae-olgae and a very early form of G. elwesii. I'm not sure if it is true, but that is the story.
I have it quite by chance. I happened to be at Wisley as they appeared on the bench. I bought one and went away, wished I had bought three so went back and they had all gone.
Again, the story has it that they were a mix of variable seedlings of the cross. Last year G. 'Autumn Belle' appeared in the same way. I bought one and await the outcome
with interest. Over the last few years I can say for certain that I got 'Autumn Beauty' at Wisley, it flowers in autumn and is a beauty. Everything else is hearsay.
13th October 2019
Galanthus peshmenii .
I have spent a few years concentrating on the autumn snowdrops. I once saw them as troublesome and unreliable. They still are outside but when I discovered that I could grow them in the
Nerine house, things changed. Fortunately at about the same time a number of new selections came onto the market and I was able to indulge myself.
Galanthus peshmenii predates the current enthusiasm. There is a small population of autumn flowering snowdrops in southern Turkey that had previously been attributed to G. reginae-olgae.
An overspill of the population onto the island of Kastellorhizo had been taken for G. cilicicus. In 1994 it was recognised that these plants represented a new species,
an it was named G. peshmenii. In 2009 I bought a pot of seedlings at an Alpine Garden Society event and planted them in the garden, convinced they were doomed. For several years
they produced leaves outside but then I brought them into the Nerine House, they flower regularly and I was hooked.
I have two clones now that are marked "early" and "late". This year "early" has flowered early and "late" is just showing. There are about two weeks between them usually. It's a very sensible arrangement
until you know that last year "late" flowered early and "early" flowered two weeks later.
Some snowdrop growers start off mad, others arrive there by degrees.
13th October 2019
Galanthus reginae-olgae 'Uranium' .
The fastest growth in recent years has been in the number of selections of G. reginae-olgae that have become available. My earliest clone, that just calls itself
"Galanthus reginae-olgae", seems almost naively simple. It looks just like a snowdrop, and it flowers in autumn. A great many of the more recent clones seem to
do exactly the same, to the point of indistinguishability, but who am I to question the proliferation. I am just enjoying it.
However, I do view new names with a certain caution. I like to have some good reason for parting with the cash - and it inevitably involves parting with cash.
On the other hand, strike while the iron is hot. That is what I did with 'Uranium', on the promise that it has a slight yellowish tinge to the flower. It has, it is a tinge,
it is yellowish and it is slight. I am pleased with it. I have to look very closely, and that is never a bad thing. I have to look with the eyes of confidence,
and that does me no harm either.
So with autumn drenching the garden, I am having a snowdrop week. A moment's gentle reflection midst the chromatic carnival of Nerine. Before long the snowdrop beds outside
will start to move. Wet knees, dropped glasses and strange groaning noises will accompany the transition into spring. The sceptical will point out once again that they all look the same.
Secretly we all know they are right.
The same is true of diamonds.