The snowdrops are early this year. So early that the Chelsea Physic Garden had to rearrange its snowdrop days to take place sooner than usual, which explains why Yannick and I found ourself venturing out in the middle of last week’s cold snap to see them. And nearly freezing our fingers off taking photos for you. You’re welcome.
The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for its apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants. Over the years it’s become one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world and nowadays is run as an independent charity.
Its annual snowdrop days showcase seventy different varieties of snowdrops – I never realised there were so many. This year the snowdrop days, normally in February, ran from 17th to 24th January as the unusually warm weather we had in December brought the snowdrops out early.
These snowdrops are Galanthus John Gray, originally discovered in John Gray’s garden in Suffolk. (Galanthus, the Latin name for snowdrops, means milk flower).
And these, in a colourful mixed planting at the base of Sir Hans Sloane’s statue, are Galanthus Plicarus Warham.
These look like unusually tall snowdrops, but actually they’re not. They’re Leucojums (meaning snowflake). They belong to the same family as snowdrops but they’re in a different branch.
They have rather pretty green dots at the end of their petals.
Besides the snowdrops planted around the garden there’s a ‘snowdrop theatre’ where special blooms are shown off in a proscenium arch setting.
Best of all, they sell an incredible selection of snowdrop varieties, so if you’re a snowdrop fan this is the place to go to stock up.
They don’t confine themselves to snowdrops, either – look at these colourful hyacinths.
Although the snowdrop days are over the garden is still open (winter opening hours are Monday to Friday 10 am to dusk) so you can still get a glimpse of the snowdrops. Entry is £10:50 for an adult and the garden is a ten minute walk from Sloane Square tube station.