Most snowdrops flower in spring, as the snow recedes from their natural habitats. A few, however, are adapted to flower in late autumn, before winter closes in, often before they have produced leaves. The best known of these is Galanthus reginae-olgae but G. pershmenii, a recently described species, apparently closely related to G. elwesii, flowers earlier and ushers in the snowdrop season for me. However long I grow it, the first flowers, appearing in October, always cause a double take until I remember what Iâ€™m looking at.
Considering that it is native to coastal southern Turkey and the adjacent islands, youâ€™d have been forgiven for guessing that it isnâ€™t hardy but thatâ€™s not the case. It has survived -10Â°C (14F) here and worse than that in friendsâ€™ gardens. In the wild it grows in pockets of soil in limestone and enjoys perfect drainage. The key to growing it well outdoors is to mimic those conditions. It does well in a pot – much better than most Galanthus species – and, cultivated in a cold glasshouse, its flowers can be appreciated more easily at an often bleak time of year.
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