Going for gold

snowdrop 'Wendy's Gold'
Galanthus plicatus 'Wendy's Gold' waves to the ivy. 

I've resisted having a snowdrop collection for ages. I've been perfectly happy with my garden's masses of single and double forms of good old Galanthus nivalis for many years.

The slippery slope began when I bought two 'Winter Moonbeam' hellebores at an RHS show in 2011 which came with 2 free G. 'Augustus'. I resolved to have just one special snowdrop and no more.

That soon changed of course, because I love snowdrops and snowdrop owners can be quite generous with their gifts when you show your enthusiasm. I still don't class myself as a galanthophile, nor even a collector as my ten or so cultivars are far too modest for that.

Caught up in the euphoria of the garden bloggers meetup at Chelsea Physic Garden recently, I plunged a little further down the slippery slope because G. 'Wendy's Gold' followed me home. I actually bought a promise, because she was just a few leaves when I first saw her. Now she's donned her hat and lifted her skirts to reveal she is indeed my first yellow snowdrop.

I've chosen one of the more reliable yellows, both in terms of colouring and ease of cultivation. Some of the yellows have a reputation of being a bit weak and feeble, but 'Wendy's Gold' is universally rated as a 'good doer' and is one of the easier snowdrops to grow. I'm sure she'll develop a stronger hue in time - yellows often tend towards lime green when disturbed, plus the above photo was taken on a dull day.

It's not the best of circumstances for her to make her debut on Veg Plotting, but I'm sure you'll see her again.

'Wendy's Gold' on a brighter day
Backlit on a brighter day reveals the gold
Like many snowdrops G. 'Wendy's Gold' has an interesting story*. She was found at Wandlebury Ring, an Iron Age hillfort near Cambridge by Joe Sharman's mother in the 1970s. Joe is a noted breeder and collector of snowdrops, so naturally he was interested in this new discovery.

Bill Clark, the site's warden gave Joe a single bulb and Joe named it after Bill's wife Wendy to acknowledge the gift. There was much excitement in the snowdrop world, so Joe sold the bulb on to a Dutch company who had the facilities to bulk it up to meet demand. Just as hundreds of bulbs were on the brink of distribution, they were wiped out by an outbreak of Botrytis.

Luckily the galanthophiles tendency to share snowdrops amongst themselves meant there were 3 survivors. Sharman and Clark both had bulbs,** plus one had been given to Cambridge Botanic Garden for their collection.

Further twin-scaling ensued and her generous nature means I now have a G. 'Wendy's Gold' to call my own.

* = this is a retelling in my own words from Naomi's snowdrop book whom I trust as she got Joe Sharman to proof-read it. However, February's The Garden tells a slightly different story. It says Bill Clark named it around 1988 and goes on to say the RHS awarded its AGM in 1996.

** = the bulbs are amongst some of the largest, often around 2 inches (5cm) in diameter. As a result Wendy prefers to spread herself out a bit instead of forming tight clumps.

Which snowdrops are your favourites?


  1. I shall take this as a warning not to start buying named snowdrops in order to avoid the slippery slope!

  2. I slid sown the slippery slope many years ago! Wendy's Gold is a really super snowdrop, she now sends up 2 flower stalks from each bulb, you can't get better than that!

    1. Oh yes! Multistemmed is an unexpected bonus :)

  3. What a great story about Wendy's Gold. Thank goodness gardeners are so generous. I don't have a yellow snowdrop yet, though I have been eyeing them off for a while. Maybe next year....

    My special snowdrop is the double 'Bagpuize Virginia', named from Kingston Bagpuize garden in Oxon. The owner dug a few up for me years ago and I've been carrying them around from garden to garden. They are now growing in Sheffield.

    1. I'm eyeing up the Bagpuize cultivars too Gwenfar. I used to drive past the signpost to the village on the way to Oxford when I worked there. I always used to call it 'Kingston Bagpuss' in my head as I went by and giggle to myself. I still do. *giggles*

  4. I crave one of these yellow snowdrops. They are hard to come by here in the U.S.

    1. They're hard to come by here too Lisa. I looked up the descriptions given by most of the main snowdrop companies whilst researching this post and they all said they were sold out.


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