“If there was only one snowdrop allowed to be in cultivation, I would have to choose Sam Arnott!” Adrian Bloom.
Galanthus ‘Sam Arnott’ with Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea’ (left) and Ophiopogon and Cornus (right)
The Story of Sam Arnott…
Few gardeners may realize that we are in an era of Snowdrop Mania, and each year at this time so called Galanthophiles meet to view collections, exchange or buy newly found or bred varieties. Prices for rarities are edging up or over the £500 mark for a single bulb!
Gardens with masses of snowdrops are breathing new life, opening to the public to view these harbingers of spring. But which one would you choose for your garden?
Is there really much difference between them, and if I had to choose one for my garden what should that be?
The closer you look (probably on your hands and knees), the more difference you might notice between varieties of snowdrops. But in Adrian Bloom’s view, who now has several thousand plants spread through the Bressingham Gardens, and particularly in his own 6 acre Foggy Bottom Garden, for display, and fragrance, it’s difficult to beat the large flowered Galanthus S. Arnott.
There’s a history to this plant. Discovered as a seedling in his garden in Yorkshire in the late 19th century by keen gardener Sam Arnott, who recognised it as a robust, larger flowering seedling than most. Eventually it made its way as Arnott’s Seedling into other gardens, and was finally given the R.H.S. Award of Garden Merit in 1951, apparently then to be correctly (and impersonally) named Galanthus nivalis ‘S. Arnott’.
Fast forward to Adrian Bloom’s story – “I was given a clump by a nurseryman friend over 40 years ago, not knowing much about snowdrops, little aware of what a treasure and delight this ‘mother plant’ would bring to Foggy Bottom in winter”.
Over the past few decades Adrian has divided clump after clump of Sam Arnott, planted in meadow, lawn and woodland amongst trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials and planted Sam Arnott in other gardens! Now in early spring, wherever you look groups and clumps of sparkling white, fragrant flowers light up the garden.
The plants you will get will have come directly from the gardens at Bressingham, part of this long lineage going back to Sam.
Adrian suggests you consider planting this spring in a moisture retentive spot in sun or half shade where they can be seen from your home. You might also consider planting with the black leaved Ophiopogon Nigrescens, ruby red winter foliage of Bergenia Bressingham Ruby, and for gold and yellow combinations, Acorus gramineus Ogon or Luzula sylvatica Aurea.