Contributed by Ginny Oakes

On April 17, 2018

A fair maid of february

One of the best; a classic all-rounder; the finest snowdrop; unquestionable constitution; admired by everyone. These are just some of the qualities mentioned by writers on this snowdrop, Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’. It is about 20 to 30 cm tall, vigorous and free-flowering. The flowers are large, full and rounded, the stems upright and stout, and the slightly glaucous leaves erect and of good substance. The outer segments of the flower are pure white, the inner ones have a large green, splayed V-shaped mark at the apex. The ovaries are oblong with a slight constriction where they join the segments. A large clump or drift in full flower is a sight to behold. It gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Samuel Arnott (1852 – 1930), after whom this variety is named, was a gardener and writer in Scotland, writing books and articles for a number of publications, including a review of Galanthus entitled ‘Fair Maids of February‘.

There are some famous names in the galanthus world who had a part to play in the history of this snowdrop. It is known that Samuel Arnott sent it to Henry J. Elwes at Colesbourne Park and he distributed it under the name ‘Arnott’s Seedling’. Brigadier Leonard Mathias and his wife Winifrede restored the garden at Hyde Lodge, with help from their gardener Herbert Ransom, uncovering masses of giant snowdrops in the process. Identified by the former owner, Walter Butt, as ‘Arnott’s Seedling’ acquired from Colebourne, it received awards when exhibited at the RHS in 1951 and became the flagship cultivar of the Giant Snowdrop Company, which the couple set up and used to pioneer mail-order sales of snowdrops ‘in the green’. E.A. Bowles thought the suffix ‘seedling’ unsuitable and published the name ‘S. Arnott’, which it is still known as today. There is some speculation as to who was the original raiser of this snowdrop so this will probably remain a mystery.

But there’s no mystery to its place in our ‘can’t do without’ plant list. Our members, whether they’re galanthophiles or just know a jolly good plant when they see one, have voted this into sixth place in our Top 30.



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