Galanthus elwesii

Some gardeners get very excited about snowdrops, arguing passionately about the different species and their forms. I cannot get into this – while being as happy as anyone to see carpets of white flowers in late winter.

I don’t bother with Galanthus nivalis, widely seen in hedgerows, preferring instead the rather larger elwesii, with broad, strappy, bright green leaves and the usual pendulous white flowers. I have a patch of them under an apple tree, and they are already advanced despite the recent cold weather. Along with the other spring bulbs, they are best planted in bold drifts.

Galanthus elwesii has large flowers and broad, bright green leaves

If you have the space, grow as many different species as you can – because they will hybridise and some interesting forms will appear. A few years back I spotted a single fine variant of elwesii with substantial, pewter grey leaves – I’m guessing a hybrid of this with nivalis, which must be growing in some other garden nearby. Alas, I fear I have lost it, but shall keep my eyes peeled on my next walk round the garden.

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