Sunday, 18 February 2018

Snowdrops in Somerset

Those Fair Maids of February, those White Ladies were all the focus of the Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival 2018.


I met up with one of the Fair Maids of IAVOM fame and spent a lovely sunny February Friday afternoon exploring the two specialist stands in the market square, the exhibitions in the Church, and visiting some of the gardens open for snowdrops.

We just managed to fit in our visit to Windsor Hill House and Old Mill.  We were made most welcome.  Nestled amongst rolling hills, with springs and streams, this is where James Allen the famous Victorian Snowdrop enthusiast was born in 1830 and where he lived until 1853.

We listened with great interest to the owner who had some sobering stories about illnesses and looting mobs, and the bravery of James's older brother holding them at bay even though he was just 17.

I loved this old roller in the border, with a clump of the Candlemas Bells piercing the deep leaf litter. I wonder just how old this roller is, could this have been a Valentine Present?  Love the hearts.

Earlier, in the Church, we looked around a number of stands and exhibits.  Not having found my tiny little vase in my unpacking, I succumbed and bought one just right for showing off just a few snowdrop blooms.  I do hope that my purchase of snowdrop Viridapice nivalis green tip bulks up sufficiently for me to pick a few blooms next year.  As I start to get my eye in and see what differences there are between the cultivars, I have noticed much more about the blooms.  I like for instance about this one that it is very easily distinguished by its green wash to the lower outer petals, but I have also noticed the prominent and split spath.

I bought the plant from Jackie Williams the owner of Triffids Nursery.

In the Church Alison bought some tickets for the various prizes with all funds going to help with the festival.  We both admired the beautifully decorated cake...but if we could choose a prize it would be the large bowl full of growing snowdrops.

In Shepton we also visited the home where James Allen carried out much selection and hybridization of snowdrops of which he was a pioneer, with galanthus Merlin and Magnet being sole survivors to the botrytis which destroyed much of his work and which must have been devastating for him.

 Galanthus Merlin Flower

Galanthus Magnet 

Another IAVOM friend Anna, who is perhaps the most knowledgeable of the group as regards snowdrops has suggested a very good site for me to refer to: Judy's snowdrops

These are snowdrops and small arrangements from my previous garden...I just hope that when the few bulbs I brought from my last garden flower this spring the little one with a clear horseshow shows up, which is one I grew from seed.


  1. never seen a horseshoe on a snowdrop before. I do hope they are still in your collection.

    1. Hello Diana.. I only noticed this when I photographed the arrangement. I shall check whether this is a known cultivar. In the gloom and also the low winter winter sun, snowdrops are quite special.

  2. Oh that sounds like a grand day out Noelle. Thanks for sharing it with those of us too far away to get there. Your compliment has made me blush :) Cathy and Chloris are both very wise when it comes to snowdrop info. I hope that your 'Viridapice' soon makes a good clump. It's a lovely little snowdrop.

  3. I am not sure that the roller would have be a welcome valentines present here, Irene would never pull it!!

    1. Yes, but she may have bought it for you! Instead of going to the gym, lady gardeners work out in the fresh air....

  4. I read your IAVOM post last week but missed this one even though I am starring. I have had no phone calls so must conclude that I did not win the bowl of snowdrops or even the cake! The horseshoe snowdrop is very delicate, I hope she comes back for you.