“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”
– Barbara Winkler
Having missed making my Monday vase last week, I had every intention of making one this week but have found myself running out of time again – there is just too much going on right now. As I had intended to show you my snowdrops, I decided to have a look back at some of the snowdrop vases I have made in previous years. My snowdrops have been rather late in arriving this year and have only just got into their stride, so I have plenty of time to take some new photos before their season is over.
Yesterday saw our first fall of snow. Although it was lovely to wake up to a white landscape the day proved to be dank and grey, with a bitterly cold drizzle falling all afternoon – most certainly a day for the fire and not one to be out cutting flowers in. Today the sun shone and the garden looked very tempting. I had other commitments however, which was just as well as a biting wind was blowing when I took the dogs out. The weathermen are talking of higher temperatures later this week and I am keeping my fingers crossed as I am anxious to get out and start tidying the borders.
I am very privileged to have a garden that is home to sheets of snowdrops. The tallest of the snowdrops – the ones that are best for arranging – are also the earliest to flower. I think these are G. Atkinsii, although I call them G. Abbotts Hall as these are snowdrops that I introduced here from my previous garden. I lift them every few years and divide the clumps to increase their presence in the garden. The shorter snowdrops (G. elwesii I think) grow under deciduous trees in a few locations around the garden. Although much shorter than G. Atkinsii they look spectacular when they carpet the ground in mid to late February. I have both singles and doubles and love them all equally. I would not yet call myself a galanthophile – I do not have the detailed knowledge of individual varieties necessary to earn such a title – but every year my interest deepens and I have now identified a lovely bank that would be a splendid place to find homes for a small collection of named varieties. That, however, is for years to come – I still have plenty to be getting on with for the time being!
Snowdrops are extremely hardy flowers in the garden – as they are often flowering in the snow they need to be tough little things. Once I bring them inside the flowers open quickly in the warmth and only last a couple of days. When my snowdrops first start to flower I am loath to cut them, wanting to make the most of the first blooms of the year in the garden. As the season progresses and increasing numbers flower however, I am happy to have a constant small vase of these lovelies inside to admire when the weather is too dreary to tempt me outside.
If you would like your own patch of snowdrops they really are very easy to establish. I would suggest finding a little spare ground under a deciduous tree. Weed the soil well and improve it with some garden compost or whatever you have available. Order your snowdrops ‘in the green’ – these are snowdrops that are lifted just after they have flowered and are delivered to you in February with all their leaves intact ready to be planted straight out in your prepared plot. Bulbs ‘in the green’ are available to order now so do not delay if you would like snowdrops in your garden next winter! I plant in small clumps of about 10 bulbs. Once your clumps have established and are starting to increase in size (in 2/3 years time) you can lift them and divide up the bulbs again – you will be surprised by the number of bulbs now in each clump. Pull the bulbs gently apart and replant in small clumps. Lifting and dividing may be a hard job when the weather is cold, but it is the cheapest and easiest way to develop swathes of snowdrops to fill your winter garden.
This patch of ground under some very large trees outside the greenhouse is alive with bulbs from late January when the first snowdrops flower to early May when the last narcissi ‘Silver Chimes’ goes over. After that I leave the grass to grow long so that the bulbs can die back undisturbed. The area is cut and raked over in mid August and then the grass is kept short until the bulbs begin to show.
February of course is the month of romance, with Valentine’s Day falling right in the middle. Whilst the shops are filling up with a surfeit of red roses, I am lucky to have not just my lovely snowdrops in flower but also quite a few hellebores and even a couple of camellias that have opened in the last week. I am planning to decorate my table and mantel with these lovelies for a seasonal celebration dinner this weekend – the beauty of a well stocked garden, like a well stocked larder, is that you are never caught without a few pickings!
As ever on a Monday I am linking to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden – Cathy is a marvel who always finds something new to share so do pop over there to see what she has found this week.