Anna Pavord has the right attitude toward snowdrops. 

In her 2009 book, Bulb (recommended), she notes, “Though there are only 18 species, you can now get hold of at least 150 kinds, including one called ‘Nothing Special.’ Quite.”

Quite indeed, but I think she drastically underestimates the number of varieties. There’s a galanthus farm near me, Temple Nursery in Trumansburg, NY, that claims to have 400 types. Clearly, galanthophilia is not limited to the UK, though, of course,  that is the mothership. 

I have maybe 3 kinds: elwesii, nivalis and nivalis ‘Flore Pleno.’  Oops, just checked my bulb order archives; apparently I also have ‘Hippolyta.’ I would not be able to tell it apart from the ‘Flore Pleno’,  which is also a double, though I am sure it’s still out there somewhere. That’s the thing about galanthus; they are survivors.

Mainly, I rejoice to see these every year simply because they are usually the first flowers to appear, aside from my earliest hellebore, which generally blooms under snow and looks pretty bedraggled after the first thaw. Galanthus, however, laugh at snow; they look just as good after a thaw as they did underneath a two-foot blanket of the stuff.

Another of my favorite garden writers, Beverley Nichols, notes that you really need a mirror base to properly display snowdrops inside, especially the doubles, so the intricate interiors can be seen. I fear that strategy would come off as more than a bit twee, so I’ve never tried it. He’s got a point, though.

Snowdrops aren’t that easy to photograph either. They’re generally surrounded by late winter debris and, without professional equipment, the white can be overpowering.

Still, they spread beautifully and are pretty much the only game in town at this time of year, flower-wise

I may never collect them or be able to easily tell one type from the next, but – sure – snowdrops? I’ll take them.