Galanthus ‘Merlin’

 In Bulbous plants, Bulbs, Gardening, Hardy perennials, Plant Focus, Winter colour

Galanthus ‘Merlin’, an old snowdrop, is just beginning to bloom [mid January] in my garden now.

Of all the hundreds of varieties of snowdrop you might wonder why I’ve chosen to write about this one! The answer is that this one has a very interesting back story and is also a great early flowering bulb.

Snowdrop Merlin, Galanthus

‘Merlin’ closeup


Merlin’s history

This variety is one of well over 100 that was bred by James Allen in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Snowdrop, Galanthus Magnet

Galanthus Magnet

But regrettably it is probably one of only two varieties that remain in cultivation today. The other variety that I know of is called ‘Magnet’.

James Allen lived in nearby Shepton Mallet which is also in Somerset.

In recent years Shepton Mallet celebrates Allen’s life and work with an annual snowdrop festival in February. I’ve written about this snowdrop festival and a little about James Allen in this blog here.

In 2024 the Festival in Shepton Mallet runs from the 12th to 18th February.

A good doer!

Snowdrop, Galanthus Merlin

Galanthus ‘Merlin’ in bloom

12 years ago I bought a single small pot containing Galanthus ‘Merlin’ largely because I owned a flatcoated retriever dog called Merlin!

Little did I know that one day that bulb would become over 500.

Yes that’s right, I had until recently over 500 bulbs of this variety from that little pot!

This variety is a very good doer and has bulked up well in spite of spending a year in little pots whilst we moved home.

You’ll notice that Merlin has solid green central petals which are fully revealed on a warm sunny day.

Most snowdrops lack that solid green inner colour.







Payback time

You’ll also notice that I’ve written ‘I had over 500 bulbs’ and that is because I have sold 100 bulbs to Avon Bulbs who had them on sale. I recently spoke to the nursery owner and he tells me that he has already sold them all. But it’s well worth taking a look at all the other great bulbs they offer!

I am also planning to supply a further 50 bulbs to the organisers of Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival so that they may increase the number that they have in their town.

Having sold 150 I will then let the numbers build up again.

I recall having spent about £8 on that first single bulb and I notice that this variety is being sold now at £10 per bulb. So for me it has been a great investment but also it has given me great pleasure to grow such a good variety.

The sale of these plants will enable me -okay I’ll use it as justification- to buy other plants for the garden!

snowdrop, Galanthus Merlin

Spring 2023 – all from one small pot!


Further Reading

There’s a great collection of snowdrops to see at East Lambrook Cottage Garden. Read about my visit here.

And another great collection can be seen at Elworthy Cottage near to Exmoor.

If you don’t live in the West Country then I can recommend a visit to the National Trust Anglesey Abbey Gardens where there are also many other winter plants to see. My blog on this visit is here.



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