Plant of the month: an easy yet elegant snowdrop

If you'd like to get going with snowdrops and you're not sure where to start, look no further

Click to enlarge: Galanthus 'Atkinsii'Galanthus 'Atkinsii' AGM is one of our favourite snowdrops as it is so easy to cultivate. We have found that it multiplies without much effort in our heavy clay soil and we just keep on dividing and spreading it around the garden.

Originating in the garden of the 19th century plantsman James Atkins, it is one of the best known crosses between Galanthus nivalis AGM (wild snowdrop) and Galanthus plicatus AGM (pleated snowdrop). One of the first to flower and taller than the common snowdrop, it has slender, pure white flowers with outer tepals almost covering the heart shaped green marks on the inners.

Here at Rosemoor we have most success with planting them in the green, so after they have finished flowering, we divide the largest clumps every two to three years and use them to fill in any gaps under deciduous shrubs and trees in the borders. They like a rich, moist, but well-drained soil that does not dry out in summer. If you have very heavy soil, add some grit to help with the drainage, and organic matter such as leaf mould or garden compost will give them an extra boost.

As you would expect, they feature heavily in the Winter Garden, planted amongst the red stems of Salix alba 'Britzensis' and Cornus alba 'Sibirica' AGM (a combination also used next to the lake). Carex morrowii 'Fisher's Form' and Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus' are planted in association with their cream and green variegations setting off the white flowers of the Galanthus.

Galanthus 'Atkinsii'Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ can be used to good effect planted around the base of trees with ornamental bark such as Prunus rufa and Prunus serrula, both with peeling red bark; white and pink barked Betula; Acer griseum AGM (paperbark maple) and the snakebark maples.

We also plant this snowdrop with an evergreen backdrop such as Ilex, Camellia and Mahonia. They are perfect companions for hellebores, cyclamen, winter-flowering shrubs such as Viburnum × bodnantense 'Dawn' AGM and heathers. Although they are usually thought of as shade lovers, they are also very effective naturalised on a grassy bank in sun.

Galanthus 'Atkinsii' AGM is a first-class snowdrop and perfect for a beginner wanting relatively fast-forming drifts of this iconic flower.

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