Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ AGM

Loddon lily, summer snowflake

pic of louise sims
Louise Sims

It’s a bit of a misnomer this common name. Leucojum aestivumusually flowers in March or April, yet informally, it is called the summer snowflake. Furthermore, this year, which is far from normal climatically, it’s out in February.

This clump forming, bulbous, hardy perennial is very easy going and tolerant of most situations. I wouldn’t plant it in a border because, as with daffodils, I’m not keen on all those leaves flopping about and smothering neighbouring emerging treasures. This is a plant for an informal setting, and preferably one that is cool and damp: pondside would be perfect, as would an orchard or damp meadow, or the dappled shade of deciduous trees and shrubs.

‘Gravetye Giant’ was named after the country house of William Robinson, the Victorian gardening guru. It has earned the Award of Garden Merit from the RHS and has therefore fulfilled all the criteria: ‘outstanding excellence for garden use’ and so on. The elegant, nodding white flowers (each petal tipped with green) are held above strap-shaped, glossy, dark green leaves, to a height of 45-90 cms: they are in effect like very tall snowdrops. 

Good for bog gardens, it will also withstand winter flooding, so one to plant for the future perhaps?

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Great Plants this Month, Winter, ,

2 Comments

  1. I think you have your ‘snowflakes’ mixed up. Leucojum aesiaticum is indeed the summer snowflake and flowers in June/July.
    However, it is Leucojum vernum – the shorter stemmed version that is in full swing now. .A prolific seeder, I am amazed at how few of my gardening friends grow it. Pots of it always go like hot cakes at our annual March NGS lunch!

    1. louise
      louwhitford@gmail.com
      80.189.108.50
      In reply to Susan.
      Dear Susan

      Thank you for commenting and it’s good to know that our readers take such a close and inquiring interest in my plant choices!
      I think perhaps that my photograph does not convey the height of Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ which stands at 80 cms as I write, whereas Leucojum vernum is much smaller, but equally pretty, growing to about 30 cms. L vernum is also earlier flowering (but still flowering today in our neighbour’s garden), often simultaneously with snowdrops.
      As I said in my piece, the weather this winter has been so unlike a normal one, many plants are coming into flower much earlier than usual and this one is no exception! Geographical locations throughout the UK, and locations within individual gardens of course also influence variations in flowering times.

      Louise

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