ESTONIAN SPIRIT SNOWDROPS
The Estonian Spirit Group of snowdrops were discovered by renowned Estonian plantsman Taavi Tuulik in abandoned gardens and woods in Estonia and named as part of the Spirit family due to their pale, ghostly coloration and residual presence in abandoned or secluded areas.
As a group they are distinct by their generally compact stature, very pale leaves and ethereal colouring of ovary and inner mark – a very pale creamy yellow. A distinctive and outstanding diminutive form of G. nivalis, and a very different treasure for your collection.
Taavi named Estonian Spirit ‘Kullake’ to mark the beauty of the series he had discovered. Taavi has very strict naming guidelines and only opted to name two others in the series so far – ‘Hõbevalge’, an albino, and ‘Kudrus’ which has a distinctively shaped flower.
To assist those few collectors who may already own any of the group, we retain Taavi’s original numbering to identify the clones offered.
Although appearing delicate, they are tough customers used to harsh Estonian winters.
Taavi’s own notes are given in italics.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP 'KULLAKE'
Photo - Taavi Tuulik
The most desirable snowdrops for the collector are those varieties whose uniqueness and distinctiveness ensure they stand out from the crowd. Such a snowdrop is ‘Kullake’. Exceptionally rare - an outstanding, compact nivalis, very pale and spectral throughout with a narrow, pale yellow mark on inner segments and pale yellow ovary. Even the leaves are pale and silvery. The stunning ghostly appearance makes this a very beautiful and striking addition to the yellow snowdrop group and a real eye catcher.
Found in 2006 in an abandoned garden in Allika village by Taavi Tuulik, Hiiumaa Island, Estonia as a clump of 5-6 bulbs. ‘Kullake’ ( pronounced 'Kooll-ah-kay' ) means, in Estonian, 'sweetheart', but it is also a diminutive form of kuld (gold).
Frequent dividing is recommended for this variety. Kullake means, in Estonian, 'sweetheart' (or something like that), but it is also a diminutive form from kuld (gold).
You can hear the pronunciation in youtube (in the very first phrase) and enjoy some Estonian music!
The first named variety of the Estonian Spirit Group, and the smallest of the group found so far, usually flowering at only 5cm high. As you would expect from a miniature variety, ‘Kullake’ has naturally very small bulbs, but it increases rapidly.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP 2009/CS1 - 'KUDRUS'
This is a gorgeous clone - a group in flower give the appearance of a clump of tiny lampshades. Possibly my favourite! As it is so distinct, Taavi has agreed to name it as 'Kudrus' which means 'Tiny Pearl'.
The ovary and flowers are both distinctly rounded, the cupped outer segments having a distinct shoulder after the claw. The short pedicel holds the voluptuous little flower close to the straight spathe. The colour of the ovary and inner mark are a pale pistachio when grown under glass. The silvery leaves are erect and about half the height of the flowers. Mid height, flowering at about 10cm.
Found on the Island of Hiiumaa, Jõe village, in an abandoned garden in 2007
Height (scape + spathe) 10 cm, outer segments 18 mm, ovary globose.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP - 'HÕBEVALGE'
The outstanding feature of 'Hõbevalge' is the inner mark which, if present, is very pale, and is often absent altogether making the flower albino.
A mid height clone at 10cm in flower. The flower hangs gracefully from an arching pedicel, and the spathe is slightly curved. The yellow ovary is narrowed where it meets the flower, which has a long claw from which the outer segments flare to give a shape reminiscent of a Tiffany lampshade.
Found on the Island of Kassari, Esiküla village, abandoned garden, 2007
Height 13 cm, outer segments 18 mm, leaves glaucous, inner segment marks very pale.
‘Hõbevalge’ means “Silver White” (The nearest I can get is hoo-ber-valga!)
Try for yourself - It sounds in 1.25 :
‘Hõbevalge is sacrificed silver chips in springs or wells (even in the 19th century), scraped from silver jewelry. (In the UK, we might translate as silver offering.)
"Hõbevalge" is also a book of Estonian writer and president Lennart Meri.
GALANTHUS NIVALIS TILLUKE'
Although not strictly an Estonian Spirit group, I have put 'Tilluke' in here as it very much matches the size and habit of the Spirits.
GALANTHUS NIVALIS 'TILLUKE' Kassari-2009
From that great plantsman Taavi Tuulik in Estonia, Tilluke is the smallest green-tip we grow - maybe the smallest known?
‘Tilluke’ means ‘tiny’ in Estonian, which is the perfect name - flowering at only 5cm high, it has tiny flowers less than 2cm long including the ovary. The fresh green tips on the outer segments cover the apical third of the segment.
In common with many of the other Estonian nivalis, it multiplies very quickly, but is not easy to flower in pots, and will benefit from being planted out on a raised bed where it can be appreciated and protected from slugs.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP Käina 2007/3
Charming tiny variety with very pale yellow mark on inners and matching ovary. The outer segments more rounded and cupped than Kullake. Leaves are very pale glaucous. Flowering height approximately 6cm. The flower hangs on a long pedicel from a curved spathe. Rapid increase.
Collected in Käina village, 2007
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP 2009/CS4
This clone is distinctive for its darker, more olive yellow mark, with a very narrow bridge, contrasting with a clear yellow, more rounded ovary. The flower hangs free of the spathe on a fairly long pedicel, the thicker textured outer segments being fairly strongly cupped, with a short claw. Flowers at 7cm high here. Leaves short at flowering.
Found on the Island of Kassari, Esiküla village, in an abandoned garden in 2007 (= Esiküla 2007)
Height 14 cm, outer segments 20 mm, leaves glaucous.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP 2009/CS5
One of the tallest clones here so far, at 12cm in flower, when the upright foliage only reaches half the height of the flowers. Both ovary and inner mark are pale yellow. The well-proportioned flowers are held close to the spathe on a pedicel straight for most of its length. The outer segments are fairly flat in comparison to some of the other clones.
Found on the Island of Hiiumaa, Jõe village, abandoned garden, 2007.
Height 16 cm, outer segments 20 mm, leaves yellowish-green, inner segment marks pale.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP 2009/CS6
Height and foliage similar to CS4, but the flower hangs clear of the spathe which is longer than the pedicel. In addition the colour of the ovary and especially the inner mark are a slightly stronger olive, the inner mark being the darkest of the clones I grow here. The outer segments are also more rounded lengthwise and more concave laterally. Vigorous and flowers freely.
2009/CS6 Found on the Island of Hiiumaa, Luidja village, naturalized population in alder forest, 2007.
Height 16 cm, outer segments 24 mm.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP 2009/CS9
One of the taller clones at 12 cm in flower, the foliage more spreading than CS5 and CS6. Having the largest flowers of the group, the flower has a distinctive pale olive ovary which is often square shouldered or flat where it meets the pedicel. The outer segments are strongly cupped laterally. The inner segments are long relative to the outers and have a very pale olive mark that usually turns up at the ends in a ‘smile’. It is free flowering.
Found on the Island of Hiiumaa, Luidja village, naturalized population in alder forest, 2006.
Height 14 cm, outer segments 23 mm, inner segment marks very pale.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP 2009/CS10
The long ovary and markings are very pale. Flowering height approximately 6cm. The flower has a streamlined, elongated appearance, which along with the stiffly upright silvery foliage makes the whole plant look very narrow.
Collected on the Island of Kassari, Esiküla village, in an abandoned garden in 2007. Height 10 cm (only grows to 6cm here) , outer segments 17 mm, leaves glaucous, inner segment marks very pale.
ESTONIAN SPIRIT GROUP Taavi’s garden seedling
This clone is one that arose in Taavi’s own garden in 2008. Flowering at 7-8 cm high under glass, the short, pale, glaucous leaves compliment the elongated flower with pale yellow ovary and inner mark which is a narrow ‘bridge’, grading to a deeper olive-gold at the apex. The mark sometimes will break at the top of the arc to produce a double spot. It increases rapidly.