Wednesday 13 February 2013

Snowdrops in Belgium

Koen Van Poucke's selection of Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis, 'Amigo'.
Nice flowers and very attractive 'striped' leaves.

Snowdrop sales at Arboretum Kalmthout: the rush had passed by the time I got there and only cheap things were left.
The weekend in Belgium gave me a chance to meet up with a number of galanthophilic friends and acquaintances and get a brief view of snowdrop-growing there. The snowdrop day at Arboretum Kalmthout provided the opportunity and was very enjoyable: it's amusing how such events are similar throughout the world. I missed the start of the sale, but I imagine that Belgian elbows are as sharp as those in England or Ireland! In addition to the sale and the lectures, there was an indoors display of imaginatively presented snowdrops that was quite charming.

Original 'snowdrop hedgehogs' by Wedgewood c. 1800. Unfortunately the 'Flore Pleno' flowers have aborted in these.

Single plants displayed between mirrors: very effective.

Dioramas of  snowdrops (and other plants) displayed in cabinets with a lens-like glass window.

Snowdrop photographers brave the elements at Arboretum Kalmthout.

A green-tipped G. nivalis in a naturalized population near Antwerp where 'Scharlockii' has hybridized with 'normal' G. nivalis: this clone has slightly enlarged spathes.

A freaky G. nivalis with a double pedicel, and extra appendages... several such variants are known from the low countries.

On Sunday I was taken under the wing of my friends Johan Mens and Valentin Wijnen to see some local snowdrop sites and gardens, and had a lovely time. It was rather cold (but dry) and many of the 'drops were not very advanced, but it was an interesting opportunity to see some of the selections that have been made there in recent years.

Valentin Wijnen's selection, G. nivalis 'Grakes Gold' which has distintively yellowish leaves.

A fabulous yellow G. plicatus, 'Sarah Dumont'

G. nivalis 'Flore Pleno' naturalized at the castle of Alden-Biesen.

The oldest snowdrop cultivar, G. nivalis 'Flore Pleno', still of outstanding merit for its effectiveness in the garden - and its robust tolerance.


  1. I am slowly beginning to spot the differences between the varieties but sometimes they seem very slight

    1. I agree with you Helen, but 'Sarah Dumont' is truly outstanding!


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