Sunday, 28 February 2016

The first Slovenian Snowdrop Festival

Joint second prize in the school snowdrop art competition.
I've spent the weekend in Slovenia, as a guest of the Ljubljana University Botanic Garden, which is hosting the first Slovenian Snowdrop Festival. This has taken the form of a series of guided tours, talks, demonstrations and an art competition. Snowdrops are much appreciated in Slovenia, occurring widely across the country as wild plants, and commonly in gardens. There is an old tradition of picking bunches for the home or for sale in the markets, so they have considerable cultural resonance in the country. The press had also recognised this, and the festival was featured by several television and radio shows over the weekend, even featuring on the main national news. It was fascinating to see how much interest there was in snowdrops, and it was an honour to be involved with the first of what everyone hopes will become an annual event. Many thanks to all the kind people who made my visit so pleasant.

Dr Jože Bavcon, Director of the Ljubljana University Botanic Garden, and pre-eminent Slovenian galanthophile with three books on snowdrops to his credit, explaining the fine points of some of his selections.

School children from across Slovenia contributed artworks featuring snowdrops - zvoncki - to the competition and the diversity and quality of interpretation was outstanding. What was extremely interesting was that it was clear that there was a distinction between those children who knew zvoncki to be Galanthus, and those who understood it to mean Leucojum vernum. Botanic garden staff could even correlate this to their own knowledge of regions with or without one of the genera.

On Friday there was a demonstration of lace-making - a strong local tradition, and a number of ladies produced some beautiful lace snowdrops.

Jože Bavcon has been studying the wild snowdrops of Slovenia for many years, and has an extensive collection in the cold frames, with some extremely attractive and interesting selections.

A large-flowered clone of Galanthus nivalis.

A pale virescent clone.

Much of the botanic garden has been colonised by masses of local Galanthus nivalis, with the local Crocus heuffelianus and other early bulbs. It's very interesting  to see that these are mostly singletons or in small tufts, and are not clump-forming, very different to the typical clump-forming G. nivalis seen in the UK. Unfortunately the weather was dull throughout the time I was there, so they remained tightly furled.

13 comments:

  1. Could the lack of clumps indicate a lot of self-seeding coupled with a high predation rate?

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