The end of the week sees the first Scottish Snowdrop Conference. Held on Friday 20 February at the Garden it is part of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival. In the library foyer is a display of historic photographs and botanical illustrations from the library and archives on the Genus Galanthus. Included is a snowdrop model used by John Hutton Balfour, Regius Keeper 1845 – 1879. Also represented are very early woodcuts of Snowdrops and Snowflakes from 1576 and one of the earliest British representations of Snowdrops and Snowflakes from J.Parkinsons’ Paradisi in Sole, 1629. These compliment the species and cultivars growing throughout the Garden.
Galanthophiles are committed snowdrop enthusiasts. This is their month. Deciduous woodland is carpeted with Galanthus nivalis flowering to take advantage of the light before the canopy leafs over.
What better way to highlight one family’s passion for plants than to mention two cultivars we grow at RBGE? Galanthus ‘Mrs. Backhouse’s Spectacles’ and Galanthus ‘Backhouse No.12’, raised by one Robert Ormston Backhouse 1854 – 1940. He and his wife raised these Galanthus cultivars at Sutton St Nicholas in Herefordshire. Robert came from a County Durham Quaker family, previous generations of whom were bankers, horticulturists, nurserymen, (founding a 100 acre nursery on the outskirts of York), foresters and missionaries amongst many other professions. Earlier generations of the family grew a collection of Narcissus which formed the basis for a classification system of the genus.
One relative, a missionary in Australia collected seed which he despatched to, amongst others, William Hooker in Glasgow.
The images show a slight difference in the darkness and size of the green splash on the inner tepals. Larger and darker in Galanthus ‘Mrs. Backhouse’s Spectacles’. This cultivar also appears more bulbous in bud. I guarantee a lot of people will pore over these minute differences on Friday!