Snowflakes come to life in Northumberland
These delightful little white Leucojum bulbs look like Snowdrops at first glance but on closer inspection are more like dainty white Tiffany type lampshades with frilly edges. They flower at the same time as Snowdrops and they are perfect partners in a woodland or shady garden.
Ena Gatenby’s comprehensive collection of them won recognition as a National Plant Collection, and now Ena’s work in researching and documenting Leucojums has won her the rare accolade of Scientific Status, an honour only granted to individuals who reach the highest standards of recording accurate data about their collections.
The Award comes from Plant Heritage, the official body which oversees the National Plant Collections scheme.
Ena’s collection of more than 9 different Leucojums was first recognised in February 2005 and since then she has carried out extensive research, noting every detail of these delicate and beautiful plants. She has also contributed to expert articles showing that a specific group of plants included in the list of Leucojums were in fact very different. They are smaller, flower in Summer instead of Spring and are not frost hardy and now have a different name of Acis. Ena holds that National Collection separately.
Ena says she became interested in her snowflakes when in 2002 she learned that Richard Nutt, a botanist, who had held the National Plant Collection of Leucojums, had died. There has only been one book published about them and that was in 1956 so she felt that any information which she could gather for Plant Heritage would help to prevent any of them from dying out.
There are only 35 National Plant Collection holders in the British Isles with Scientific status, three of which are in the North East.
Sue Bennett, 2009