“Snowdrops are fashionable again”,  Jo Hynes stated, as she started her talk at the Manor House.  Her garden at Higher Cherubeer, near Winkley, North Devon opens regularly for charity in the “Yellow Book” within the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).  She became their Area Representative back in 2004. Jo said “There are over 130 gardens open from February to September in Devon alone, with millions of pounds being raised for charitable causes.

Jo is a real Galanthophile, she has been collecting Snowdrops since 1986 and has amassed over 400 varieties in her one and a half acre garden where they are spreading after being planted under deciduous trees to make a dramatic impact.  Jo shared close up photographs with us to show the individual markings and colours of the different named varieties that make them so interesting.  She then went on to tell us, with the aid of more photos, where Snowdrops occur in the wild – across the mountainous regions of Northern Europe through to Greece and Turkey – where up to 50 million bulbs have been dug up in the past but thankfully, in some areas, they are now protected.  The new threat is road building and bulldozers.  She has been on quite a few specialist Society field trips to enhance her knowledge of these enigmatic plants.

Higher Cherubeer has held the National Collection of Cyclamen since 2005, so Jo is an authority on this species too.  She informed us that “We can have these delightful plants growing and in flower nearly all year round by selecting different varieties“.  Again, with copious photos, she showed us Cyclamen in the wild in Turkey, Georgia and Crete.  Both Snowdrops and Cyclamen require a period of summer dormancy but like damp soil in winter, thriving near a stream in her own garden where Candelabra Primulas make a dazzling show in summer.  Both species of plants are most beneficial to bees, especially in winter when there isn’t much nectar or pollen to be foraged for.  Jo concluded her talk with top tips for germination and seed sowing, advising small grit as a topping for pots.