Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
Snowdrops are a welcome sight in late winter. Their snowy-white blooms often appear in milder spells in early February. Even during colder conditions they will still develop and are almost always in flower by the end of the month. Many species of snowdrop exist, some of them distinguishable only by an expert. They are all native to Europe and the southwest of Asia, but have been cultivated in gardens in almost all the temperate parts of the world.
The species we have most of at Wave Hill is the greater snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii). It is larger and more robust than many of the others, with a natural range that extends from parts of Greece and Bulgaria to western Turkey. Some are just starting to flower in a few sheltered spots in the Wild Garden and on the slope just to the south of Glyndor Gallery. More will appear over the next few weeks.
The genus name, Galanthus, translates from the Ancient Greek as “milk flower.” The specific epithet of this species, elwesii, honors botanist Henry John Elwes. Someone who maintains a collection of snowdrop species is called a galanthophile.