Snowdrops are one of the first flowers to announce the approach of spring in the garden, and the remarkably easy-to-grow plant's delicate white blooms are thought to represent purity and chastity. While the official name for the snowdrop plant is galanthus -- from the Greek words "gala," meaning milk, and "anthos," flower -- it is also referred to by some collectors as the "flower of hope."
Unlike most bulbs, which are planted in the fall for a spring blooming, galanthus should be both bought and planted during early spring months. Here, Jerry Fritz of Linden Hill Gardens (one of only three growers in the country who sell snowdrops in bloom) shares some of his favorite varieties.
The most common and widespread type of snowdrop, galanthus nivalis produces white flowers with green-tipped inner segments and narrow leaves with a gray stripe down the center.
Native to Turkey, the galanthus elwesii blooms so early in the spring that its giant bell-shaped -- and honey-scented -- flowers can often be seen pushing through leftover snow.
Galanthus Nivalis Flore Pleno
The whimsical galanthus nivalis is known for its pale-green, ruffled centers.
A particularly rare type of galanthus, the ikariae has arching, glossy green foliage and a distinctive green horseshoe mark at the base of the inner flower.