With 2024 now underway snowdrop enthusiasts across the UK will be excitedly gearing up for the start of the much anticipated ‘Glorious 27th’; the last weekend in January when many of the nations most popular gardens open their doors to a marauding influx of passionate galanthophiles. (Want to visit a garden? Click here for a garden in your area). Cameras in hand, dentists mirrors, and knee pads at the ready this enthusiastic horticultural subgroup of proud monomaniacs will rush around to spot the rarest, the most appealing, and the most desirable varieties of snowdrop, inspecting the subtle variations in perianth markings, colour, length of pedicel, and leaf form. At home, as they wander their own gardens, thoughts of early 2022 will be in the forefront of their minds - will one of their snowdrops display the same rare, unique, and desirable attributes that persuaded someone to pay £1,850 for a single bulb. Thats what happened early in 2022 to professional nursery owner Joe Sharman who owns the Monksilver snowdrop-'stud-farm' near Cambridge, UK. Listing a single bulb of Galanthus plicatus 'Golden Tears' on eBay resulted in a flurry of bidding culminating in the 55th bidder winning the auction for the colossal sum. Joe is no stranger to snowdrops from his stable reaching these dizzy heights - in 2015 his snowdrop 'Golden Fleece' achieved the then record price of £1,390. Previous records were set in 2011 with 'Flocon de Neige' at £265 quickly followedby  ‘EA Bowles’ at £357 in 2012. The online market has  generally remained strong, with prices in 2019 reaching £860 for a single ‘Dryad Gold Ingot’. With several years of propagation behind it ‘Golden Fleece’ has now fallen from its previous heady heights and was selling in 2023 for £321. That’s not to say interest has waned; 44 bids took it to that level! Will the cost of living crisis have an effect on the 2024 season? We'll have to wait and see. It might depend on what Jeremy Hunt has up his sleeve for this year!!


The term ‘galanthophile’ has been in use for well over half a century now and was thought to have been coined by the great plantsman and horticulturist EA Bowles(1865-1954) who had a large collection at Myddelton House, his Essex home. Several snowdrops have been named after him, notably ‘EA Bowles’ and ‘Augustus’. Interestingly, he purchased a lifetime membership to the RHS in 1897 for £26 the equivalent of £3,400 pounds today. A lifetime membership now (2023) will cost you £1,495. Put that in your next pub quiz!!



Unfortunately rising prices and open days at gardens with valuable collections combine to create an attraction that can become just too tempting for some. Thefts started being reported as far back as 1997 when a large clump of the rare yellow form of Glanthus elwesii ‘Carolyn Elwes’ was stolen from a private collection in Gloucestershire and last year 13,00 bulbs were taken overnight from The Walsingham Estate in Norfolk. Jail sentences were handed out to the two men involved but garden owners are fighting back and extreme measures are being taken to protect valuable collections from thieves. Clumps are being buried in steel cages that are pinned in place underground while security cameras with infrared lights and  powerful halogen lamps with motion detectors are secreted around the garden. Some varieties are often not labelled to avoid theft of the more valuable forms or are grown nearer to the owners property where a close watch can be kept on them. Extra staff are brought in to act as wardens with private security firms also employed when required. It feels more like The A team than The Good Life!!


Bad practices have entered the online auction arena too. With high prices of genuine individual bulbs listed throughout the auction sites unscrupulous dealers are presenting common or garden varieties at hugely inflated prices trying to catch out the unaware. Fifty of the common snowdrop Galanthus nivalis from a genuine vendor would normally sell for  £10-12  but a number of dealers are advertising the same quantity at £150 hoping that whilst mingled in amongst the heavyweights the infiltrators will go unnoticed and be purchased by an inexperienced buyer. They are however offering free postage. Aren’t they kind!!


If you want to start a collection most online sellers are passionate nurserymen and a quick look at their websites will confirm their reliability and honesty. Here’s a pick of the best. Don't see your nursery here. Let me know.

Monksilver Nursery


Want to try and identify your snowdrops? This is a good start from the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

The 2023 Season

The 2023 auction season of Galanthus lacked any of the huge prices achieved in previous years. Nonetheless, there still appears to be a healthy appetite for rare, new, and unusual varieties.  With increases of up to 171% (Dryad Gold Standard) there were plenty of winners and only a few losers illustrated in the pop chart below. 

(Prices have been checked for accuracy but mistakes can occur)

Price Index for 2022