As soon as we enter the new year, we quickly begin to think ahead to the coming seasons in the garden, and I can’t wait to spot the first snowdrops at RHS Garden Rosemoor.
Snowdrops are an essential part of any winter garden and are perfect companions for hellebores and winter-flowering deciduous shrubs such as Lonicera × purpusii (left, and pictured on the cover of February's The Garden magazine).
Snowdrops can be planted in drifts in the border around shrubs, preferring a humus-rich soil that is not waterlogged, but they do not like to dry out in the summer months and they need to be kept cool and undisturbed.
Over time, clumps can get congested, which can affect flowering, so we tend to divide larger clumps every five years after they have finished flowering when they are ‘in the green’. There are different thoughts on the benefits of planting ‘in the green’ but it has always proved successful for us as demonstrated by the clumps gradually expanding into drifts.
Two cultivars that are particularly excellent at Rosemoor are Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ (right) and G. ‘S. Arnott’. They are both early-flowering selections (both are in full bloom in late January) and vigorous clumpers. G.‘Atkinsii’ is the taller, with pendant-shaped flowers, whereas G. ‘S. Arnott’ is slightly shorter with more rounded petals, which open wide to release its honey-like scent. We have found that these cultivars do not establish well in grass due to competition and they much prefer being in borders. Both have bulked up quickly and have been divided to increase the display - this is important as they are expensive to buy.
The common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, naturalises well and is less expensive to buy. See the back of The Garden magazine for nurseries selling them in the green. I’m going to buy some in the next few weeks to plant in my garden at home and will be looking out eagerly for them this time next year.