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Small, but perfectly formed, snowdrops are one of the delights to be seen on a winter walk at the RHS Gardens
It's always exciting to see the first snowdrops (Galanthus) peeping through the earth on a walk around the garden in winter. There are plenty of snowdrops to be found at the RHS Gardens...
In autumn 2017 nearly 50,000 bulbs were planted to create impact throughout the 1.3 acre Winter Garden, and 15,000 were snowdrops, planted in large drifts along the slopes. For this initial planting Galanthus elwesii was used as this large classic looking snowdrop is very robust and useful for making a big impact.
Its large white flowers have been planted under shrubs including Viburnum ‘Charles Lamont’ where they pair well with the pale pink flowers or among the Cyclamen coum. Two smaller groups of snowdrops, Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ (above) and ‘Magnet’ have been planted as generous gifts of Richard Todd, former Head Gardener of Anglesey Abbey, an RHS Partner Garden that is famed for its winter walk. Both are elegant cultivars with large, well presented flowers.
Early spring-flowering bulbs from some of the country’s top growers and nurseries will also be on sale at the RHS Early Spring Show at Hyde Hall on 8–9 February.
Plantings in the Woodland at our Yorkshire garden mean there should be around 90,000 snowdrops to be enjoyed! We added around 80 different varieties to the Sandstone area last year, which are intended for the new RHS Garden Bridgewater when it is ready for them in the future.
Look out for Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs McNamara’, which is a lovely tall snowdrop, and Galanthus ‘Castlegar’, a large flowering snowdrop of Irish origin, introduced by Dr Keith Lamb who spotted it on the Mahon Estate at Castlegar, Co. Galway. It flowers reliably in early December each year.
Also not to be missed is the Winter Walk, which offers a feast of brightly coloured barks, stems and berries. Here we are growing some more unusual snowdrops, including one that flowers as early as November.
There are clumps of snowdrops to be spotted around the entire garden. In particular in Oakwood (above) and across Battleston Hill where generous drifts can be enjoyed, while in the Alpine House, unusual cultivars can be found in pots.
There are more stars of the colder season to be found as you make your way around Wisley’s Winter Walk too – enjoy the sweetly scented, small white flowers of Lonicera fragrantissima, and the vibrant stems of Cornus in fiery shades of red, orange and yellow.
Snowdrops are a major feature of the Winter Garden, and can be found among the red stems of Salix alba ‘Britzensis’ and Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ AGM. Other planting partners for the snowdrops include Carex morrowii ‘Fisher's Form’ and Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’.
Also look out for Narcissus ‘Rijnveld's Early Sensation’, an early daffodil that is flowering away in our Cottage Garden orchard, with others likely to appear in late January.
Join us for Rosemoor’s Snowdrop Weekend (1–2 February) to celebrate these early harbingers of spring. Discover specialist nurseries selling unusual snowdrops and enjoy free guided walks with Rosemoor staff and illustrated talks on ‘Snowdrops in Context’ by Dr Julian Sutton.
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Mrs Giddings, RHS member
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.