Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Glory of the snow in spring


Yet another surprise at Kew Gardens, the blue Chionodoxa in a narrow lawn stretching from White Peaks to The Orangery. Glory of the Snow as it is commonly called, was planted there in 2001 and has become one of Kew's seasonal attractions. We even have a sign for it!


Lynda and I have been at Kew since the middle of April last year so we we have another month of surprises in stall. And then of course all the ones we missed in the first year...

According the aforementioned and photographed sign, this Glory of the Snow in Chionodoxa siehei from Turkey. This seems to be the most popular name for the species grown most commonly in the UK. In Tom Cope's checklist of native and naturalised plants of Kew he calls it Chionodoxa forbesii, which is the name of not unsimilar species. If the two species are considered the same, as they are by some scientists, forbesii becomes the correct name (it was the first one described). What ever you do, don't use the name Chionodoxa luciliae - even Wikipedia knows this has been applied to the wrong plant.


Seeing as we are talking taxonomy, Chionodoxa as a genus is close to Scilla, and in modern classifications they both huddle together in their own subfamily (Scilloideae) of the Asparagaceae. In the same subfamily you'll find hyacinths and bluebells.

I have to confess here that when a hyacinth flower raised it's blue petals above the ivy in our back garden I announced to the world I had Kew's first bluebell. So much for my reputation. Anyway, let's just say the bluebell and hyacinth has something in common - it's no reason the bluebell's scientific name is Hyacinthoides you know. This is, then, one of Kew's first Scilloideae (a Hyacinth), from a few week's back.


But today is all about Glory of the Snow. Whatever it's scientific name there are records from Kew back to at least 1884. In 1969, according to Tom Cope, it was 'said to be appearing everywhere, even in newly dug ground'. However I can confirm there is none in my backyard. Well, I think not. Let's stick with what is well signposted and clearly there.




3 comments:

agarwood investments said...

That Glory of the Snow is just stunning, wow. Definitely one of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen.

Daniel Mount said...

I had a brief lay over in London a few years back and decided to do a quick run through of Kew. It was late March and I knew the conservatories would be showy at least. But what I didn't expect was the Chionodoxa lawns. I was dazzled and floored, literally, I was on the ground trying to capture the splendor of it all with my point and shoot camera. Whan I got back to the states I made note and last fall planted a few hundred in the orchard of our small farm outside Seattle. I'm still waiting in this rather cold spring for them to bloom..
Thanks for the reminder of the their splendor at Kew.

Tim Entwisle said...

Yes aren't they great. They are absolutely at their peak today in some glorious spring sunshine. After them we have fritillarias, bluebells and a few other mass planted bulbs throughout Kew Gardens. Something new every day! Thanks for feedback.