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Snowdrop bulb sold for world record £357 ($576)

The recent sale of a single snowdrop - Galanthus plicatus 'E. A. Bowles' - for a world record £357 ($576) on eBay has collapsed into confusion. Apart from the madness of paying that much for an admittedly lovely variety, in just a few days all sorts of mistakes about this simple story have appeared in Britain’s newspapers and on blogs. Its origins, the grower, the seller, its price, the destination of the funds - all have been wrongly reported.

John Grimshaw, one of the world’s leading snowdrop experts, gave the news of the sale on his blog a week ago. Then yesterday he was forced to post again correcting all the mistakes that had arisen as a result of journalists not checking their facts. One paper even managed to get the world record price wrong. Then today he posted again, making clear (not for the first time) that he had not “bred” this variety himself.

You’d think it was a simple story.

What is definitely true - says he deftly changing the subject - is that the gardens at Colesbourne Park in Gloucestershire (managed by John Grimshaw) will be open for visitors to see the superb display of snowdrops every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in February 2011, plus 5th & 6th March, from 1 pm. So the first open day is this coming Saturday, 5 February. Guided tours for groups are available on weekdays by prior appointment. For more info check out the Colesbourne Park website. And don’t be digging up any of their snowdrops in the hope that you can make a fortune. Just don’t.

As I write, the same vendor still has other special snowdrops on sale on eBay.


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Phil Voice

Well done super sleuth ;-0)

Nigel Colborn

Yeah, but you know the press as well as I do. And some journalism seems lazier than ever, these days, especially when it's non-horticultural.

I agree, it looks a lovely variety. But I mean, really - for that money you could buy a whole collection of ones that are just as good, if you chose carefully.

And while we're on the galanthic subject, and being quite unemotional and objective, I'd just like to say that all varieties of snowdrops with yellow parts, instead of green, are absolutely, utterly and unequivocally hideously disgusting. They should be introduced to the glyphosate NOW! So there!

Graham Rice

So speaks the thoughtful and reflective moderation of the former Vice Chair of the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society. Thanks, Nigel. I'm with you 100%!


Hurray! I'm home, on a civilised Mac, and I can finally read your post. But I don't think I ever want to hear the word snowdrop again...

Graham Rice

Yes, Victoria, I know what you mean... And anyway, what kind of a person pays that much money for just one, ONE, snowdrop bulb?! Let's hope he outs himself to you (gotta be a him) so you can interview him for The Independent.

If I had that much money to throw around I'd buy half a dozen bulbs of 'John Gray' and half a dozen bulbs of the double 'Hippolyta' and give the rest to a good cause. Actually, I seem to have completed part one of that, but not part two... Hmmm...

Nigel Colborn

Graham, you can have as many Hyppolyta as you want from me, for nowt, on condition you don't sell 'em on. Then we can have a row over whether it really is Hyppolyta.

Graham Rice

Thanks, Nigel, sound like a great deal to me!

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