Snowdrop 'Grumpy' -

There are 20 species of wild snowdrops in the world, with more than 2,000 cultivated varieties. However there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest, a selected form of Galanthus elwesii known as the 'Grumpy'.

Snowdrop 'Grumpy'-
Recently, rare and unusual snowdrops have been experiencing something of a resurgence.

In fact, record prices are being paid for single bulbs and a lucrative industry is developing to satisfy the demand of the growing number of snowdrop fanciers, otherwise known as galanthophiles.

Such high prices are reminiscent of 'tulipmania', a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed.

Most recently, a single Scottish Elizabeth Harrison snowdrop bulb was sold for a record £725.

History of the Grumpy

Jo Sharman - image credit
The Grumpy was discovered by Joe Sharman in the garden of British explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs in Cambridge 20 years ago.

Sir Vivian became a national hero when he made the first surface crossing of the Antarctic in 1957-1958.

The flower shows a face in the form of two green eyes and a mouth turned down at the corners. This naturally appears on one of its petals, making it a very sought after variety in the gardening world.

Mr Sharman grows the flowers in a secret location near the city which he will not reveal for fear of theft of the valuable plants – which can fetch up to £400 for a single bulb.

Galanthus elwesii 'Grumpy' does not multiply as quickly as other snowdrops. This is a major contributing factor as to why the price of this particular specimen has rocketed.

Unfortunately these high prices has brought some unwanted attention as there have been a number of reports of snowdrop thefts. This is taken so seriously that at certain events security guards are hired to protect them!

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