DRYAD AUTUMN ARISTOCRAT GROUP
In 2013, while enjoying my autumn flowering snowdrops in the greenhouse, I wondered whether the two species I grew – G. reginae-olgae and G. peshmenii – were fertile if crossed together. On a warm day, when the pollen was running freely from the flowers if tapped, I made the cross between G. reginae-olgae‘Cambridge’ and my favourite small form of G. peshmenii. The ovaries swelled satisfactorily and seeds were duly sown in May of 2014, germinating the following autumn. The first flowers opened in October 2019, and it became clear that we had something very special.
The flowers were of heavy substance, with corrugated outer segments and a nice variation in height and inner markings. The bulbs were healthy and increased over the next two years, often giving more than one scape per bulb. The outstanding feature, though, was the strong, rich, sweet scent common to the seedlings, quite unlike the usual honey scent of the parents.
The leaves were just emerging at the time of flowering, so the flowers were presented well in their pots. Later, as the leaves grew, a complication became apparent: the leaves showed the pale median stripe typical of G. reginae -olgae. Had the intended cross actually taken, or were the seedlings pure G. reginae-olgae?
Considering the unusual texture of the flowers and the distinctive perfume, as well as the vigour of the seedlings, I feel confident of their hybridity.
The DRYAD ARISTOCRATS group are desirable and vigorous new additions to snowdrop collections, offering matchless large flowers of heavy substance and texture, easy to grow under glass with a dry summer rest, which will fill a greenhouse with a rich perfume on sunny autumn days.
I have selected four of the seedlings for naming and registration. These are: DRYAD PRINCESS, DRYAD DUCHESS, DRYAD COUNTESS and DRYAD EMPRESS – together the DRYAD ARISTOCRATS GROUP.
COUNTESS is the middle sister, slightly shorter than PRINCESS, at 13cm in flower, and with leaves barely emerging at flowering time. The spathe is slightly shorter than the pedicel, and the ovary slightly more egg-shaped than spherical. The outer segments are slightly shorter at 20mm, and not so deeply ribbed. The inner segments are slightly narrower at 10mm long by 9mm wide, while the inner mark is usually two small triangular dots either side of the inverted V-shaped sinus, occasionally joined by a faint, narrow bridge, and a white margin. COUNTESS has the same strong sweet scent and vigour characteristic of the group.
Flowering at 12cm high, DUCHESS is slightly shorter than COUNTESS, with leaves just emerging at flowering time. Though smaller in stature, DUCHESS has the largest flowers of the group. The spathe is quite straight, and longer than the pedicel, while the ovary is egg-shaped. The outer segments are 26mm long, with a 4mm long ‘claw’, deeply cupped and longitudinally ribbed, especially in the basal half. The inner segments are 12mm long by 10mm, and wide bear the largest mark of the group, a rich emerald green, fading slightly towards the base with the green running along the corrugations to 60% of the length of the segment. Again, the mark has a crisp white margin around the narrow sinus.
DRYAD DUCHESS was awarded a Preliminary Certificate by the Joint Rock Committee in 2023
EMPRESS is immediately different from her sisters, having green markings on the outer segments. It starts to flower at only 11cm high, at which time the leaves are about half the height of the flower stems. The spathe is strongly curved and more than twice a long as the short pedicel. The lighter green ovary is conical, barely constricted where it meets the outer segments, which do not have a strong ‘claw’. The outer segments are 24mm long, cupped and longitudinally ribbed, with pale green lines following the ‘furrows’ from 50% to 75% of the way from the base. The inner segments are 11mm long by 8mm wide, also ribbed, with a green mark covering the apical half, slightly paler towards the base, and a crisp white apical margin around the short, inverted V-shaped sinus. It shares the wonderful scent of the group.
Flowering at 18cm high, PRINCESS is the tallest of the group so far. The flowers stand clearly on strong stems above the just-emerging leaves. The flowers are attractively rounded, the outer segments joined to the small spherical ovary by a short ‘claw’. The spathe is quite short and curved, approximately twice as long as the pedicel. The outer segments are 22mm long, deeply cupped and strongly longitudinally ribbed.
The inner segments are 11mm long x 10mm wide, with an apple-green mark covering the apical third, except for a crisp, white margin. The sinus is an inverted V shape. They are also markedly longitudinally ribbed. The scent is outstanding, sweet and rich, not honey-like. The bulbs are healthy and vigorous, increasing well.
DRYAD PRINCESS was awarded a Preliminary Certificate by the Joint Rock Committee in 2023