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NOTES ON SOME OF THE SNOWDROPS I HAVE HAD CONNECTIONS WITH
I recommend you consult "Snowdrops" the monograph by Bishop, Davis and Grimshaw
Galanthus rizehensis "Margaret Billington" -
This snowdrop came from the garden of Margaret Billington in Stogumber, Somerset.
Mrs Billington was born c1910. She trained as a Norland Nanny, and her first job was in Penrith in the English Lake District. She worked for a family who lived next door to the Heelis family. Beatrix Potter was the Heelis' daughter-in-law, and Mrs Billington knew the author. Margaret and John Billington farmed in the Midlands and retired to West Porlock, Somerset. They purchased Bales Mead from the great plantsman, E B Anderson, in (date needs confirmation) ...
(E B Anderson had purchased the property in 1947 from Walter Butt, another renowned plantsman)
The snowdrop was growing in the garden at Bales Mead and Mrs Billington noticed that it was different. She took it with her when she moved to Stogumber, where she made a lovely garden, using hellebores she took from Bales Mead.
The snowdrop was passed to my friend Brenda, a keen gardener who lived nearby, and Brenda generously gave it to me in the early 1990s for safe-keeping.
All who have noticed it here have thought it distinct and worth naming. In 2016 I spoke to Brenda, and suggested the name of Galanthus rizehensis "Margaret Billington" for the snowdrop. She thought this was a wonderful idea, as it will commemorate a lovely lady, and keen plantswoman.
It is an exceptional snowdrop, producing 3, 4 and 5 outer petals. A group of them is outstanding at the front of the border where they can be best admired.
Galanthus "Shepton Merlin"
In the early 1990s I was permitted to dig up some snowdrops from what was left of the garden surrounding the home of Victorian snowdrop collector, James Allen, in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. I selected one Merlin-like bulb from a large clump. Presumably these were seedling descendants of Allen's original bulbs (he introduced Merlin, Robin Hood, Magnet and Galatea - in my opinion still among the most beautiful and vigorous of snowdrops, still going strong after 125 years).
"Shepton Merlin" is not as floriferous as the others, but it has a distinct upright habit, smaller flowers and is of historical interest
Galanthus "Sibbertoft Soldier"
I have had this snowdrop since the late 1980s - the source is now lost in the mists of time. I had it as "Sibbertoft" but this name is incorrect. I have no idea if it has any connection to Mrs Warburg and her Sibbertoft Bank at South Hayes. People overlook it in early snowdrop time, assuming it is a narcissus because of its very large, upright growing leaves. I have distributed it as "Sibbertoft Soldier" - keeping its original name and adding my own choice in view of its regimental habit.
West Porlock Snowdrops - "Seagull" and "White Wings"
A very dear plantsman friend, George Chiswell, shared with me some snowdrops he had collected as seedlings in the woodland rented by E B Anderson when he lived at Bales Mead, West Porlock. Two of the 9 seedlings (which I initially numbered) proved to be worth naming.
George was asked to name them. Number 1 became "Seagull", and Number 8 "White Wings", which has green tips
Galanthus gracilis - Kew Form
Generously given to me years ago by Jenny Spiller, this exquisite snowdrop is always admired here.
Much more graceful, vigorous and eye-catching than the usual Highdown forms
Visitors who have visited Snape Cottage will know of my various areas for grouping snowdrops (I have a Street Corner, an Atomic Zone, a Double Bed, and a West Porlock area). There is also a Cornish Corner, where I grow as many of the wonderful introductions by my Gloucestershire friend Phil Cornish
His Hoverfly, Lapwing and Gloucestershire Old Spot are among my own personal favourites