Tuesday, 15 February 2011

How much is too much?

Galanthus nivalis in my  garden 2011

This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot of late especially when considering buying new plants and bulbs.

I’ve been through many an expensive plant buying spree and following on from my terrestrial orchid phase and my Arisaema obsession it now appears that I’m in the market for a particular snowdrop.  In fact, this is not a new “want”.  I’ve actually been looking for this particular snowdrop cultivar for over two years now and despite a few near misses I am yet to actually purchase it.   This is partly down to a possible novelty appeal and, of course, the main problem of price.  As you may already know snowdrops are well known for their collectible status and often fetch extortionate amounts of money when pursued by hardcore galanthophiles.  The case in point being illustrated beautifully with the recent sale of a single bulb of Galanthus ‘Green Tear’.  This bulb sold on Ebay for the grand sum of £320.  Could you justify this?  I know that at this point in time I couldn’t.  It seems like such a high price for such a small and fleeting plant.  After all, for £320 I would want it to hold year round interest and have the ability to make me breakfast in bed!

The bulb I’m searching for is Galanthus ‘Grumpy’.  It’s a lot less expensive than ‘Green Tear’ but can sell for anywhere between £30 - £70 for a single bulb.  The unique markings of this snowdrop flower gave rise to its more than appropriate name and sparked my initial interest, albeit a rather novelty appeal as opposed to a serious interest.   I’m waiting for this novelty to wear off but each time I see the flower my interest grows and once again I’m on the hunt.  I just love the idea of having a clump of grumpy little snowdrops in a corner of my garden, something to cheer me up on a cold winter’s day.

The price still sparks the question – how much is too much?  Such a sum of money could go a long way in the garden, helping to plant a herbaceous border for example, buy a large tree or even have potential to pay for a years worth of seed for the allotment.

For now, I guess I will just ponder for another year, unless of course someone out there has a bulb for me?  Hmmm . . .


  1. I can feel the pain of wanting a particular flower for a tidy sum but I have always talked myself out of it by simply coming into reality with "but what if it doesn't bloom or live or heaven forbid it gets eaten"....no I will have to do without since it cannot be a certainty...

  2. But the point about 'Green Tear' is that it's ugly. It looks dirty and distinctly un-snowdroppy. I wouldn't give 32 pence for it. The price is because demand massively outstrips supply - and the demand is based on a ridiculous mania for a new, unsual form. This is not about gardening, this is about whose collection is better and who's got the mostest.

    Fancy snowdrops have become the phallocarps of the planstman's world and I want no part of the nonsense. It's even spoilt my enjoyment of the few good varieties that I grow at home.

  3. Grumpy was for sale at the Chelsea Physic Garden - £25 I think. S Arnott was a much better garden plant and still overpriced at £3 each.

  4. Amazing, isn't it, that we covet and collect...but these little beauties are definitely a prize! Good luck!!

  5. I couldnt spend that much on a bulb as I would worry myself silly that it would be eaten by squirrels etc

  6. I've been noticing the higher prices of plants lately. Many times it's a deterrent to my purchasing something I want. After all, it's hard to say "I NEED this" when everyone knows we just *want* it. I hope you find someone that will have a bulb to share with you.

  7. As usual you raise an interesting point.
    At the end of the day only you can decide what is too much for you to spend and whether you want it enough! Tastes are very individual. Its your tastes not ours that is important here.
    I guess I have grown plants so long now that I get pleasure from most plants and wouldn't be too specific about what I have to have. I give away many plants to keep a flow going through my garden. I wouldn't pay that much money for a bulb. Its a tough world now and when I don't need that much money I give it away where I think its best used!

  8. Ive got a few different snowdrops, both species and named nivalis or x varieties. Most I ever paid for a bulb was £8, and that was at an RHS show a couple of years ago, for Lady Elphinstone (yellow double markings, but tends to revert some years). If you can propagate them and sell a few on, they the habit becomes self substaining, if not, seems ever so extravagant. I agree Sam Arnott is a great plant too, and lobe Atkinsii too. From the species. I like the height and elegance of G. elwesii.

    I think one of the reasons people get so bonkers about them, is they stand out so much as there is so little else around at the time. Recall getting into a discussion about, if Snowdrops flowered later in the Spring or early Summer, would we even notice them? I think it's because they are often the only flower to be seen, in an otherwise barren looking landscape that they attract us; hope of the Spring to come?

    Hope you find them at reasonable prices, I certainly wouldnt be forking out £70 a bulb!

  9. Hey Ryan. Its been a long time! (a year even! wow!). I'm back on the block and I thought I would drop you a line! Nice to see you're stuff still going!

    much love


  10. Good grief- This is quite suprising!

  11. I want to take this opportunity to say that I really love this blog. It has been a good resource of information for me in my research.I like these kind blogs.

  12. I prefer a cheap and plenty approach.


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