February means just one thing for me, lots and lots of snowdrops flowering in the garden. This is the month when the wild ones, Galanthus nivalis, join in with the specials which are already flowering. Usually by the middle of the month, in the UK, the snowdrops reach their climax, depending on the weather of course.
In my own garden, I have found that last year I planted some special new snowdrops and new hellebores in the bed which leads round to the bog garden. What I failed to remember was that the grass gets so sodden in the winter that we don’t like to walk on it at that time of year. I have made a mental note that they must all be moved to the woodland as soon as they finish flowering so that I will be able to enjoy them in future, the bark chipping path there is an all weather path so that our feet, or rather our shoes stay clean and dry!
If by any chance you are visiting your local garden centre and they have small pots of snowdrops for sale, do look at them closely. They might be labelled as Galanthus nivalis, as these were, but when you look more closely, if you are lucky, they might be something different.
I think these might be Galanthus elwesii var. elwesii, which has a variety of markings on the inner petals and the growth is variable too, some small, some tall. This photograph has been taken from the snowdrop bible “Snowdrops” by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis & John Grimshaw, showing the variety of markings.
As you can see, the markings on the inner petals are all different, the last one looks as if it is going to take off, but it was just the sunshine in the kitchen that made the petals sweep back so far. They have all now been planted in the woodland and labelled as G. elwesii var elwesii, so I hope that is correct , if anyone knows differently, please let me know!
Angelique is a really lovely variety with just two tiny green dots on the inner petals. This one is increasing nicely and is almost ready for splitting.
G. Robin Hood is another that is increasing, having just started with just one bulb. The named bulbs can be rather expensive, it depends which varieties you choose.
Galanthus woronowii is a species which likes to grow in moist woodland, it must have been very happy last year when we had our non stop rain! This one spreads by seeding around, rather than the bulbs doubling up. My original bulb is spreading nicely in this area so is obviously happy with the moisture levels. The leaves are such a bright emerald green, so different from most other snowdrops which have a grey/green colour to them.
G. Atkinsii is a strong grower, bulking up very well. Most gardens which are open to the public have a good number of this one as the backbone of their collection.
I must split this clump of G. Magnet as soon as the flowers are over, they are getting so congested. When bulbs double up in number, the bulbs in the centre of the clump get pushed down further and further each year and simply can’t flower. You can see the extra long pedicel on the very front snowdrop which gave this variety it’s name, calling it after the children’s game of fishing with a magnet for metal fish!
Starting to form a nice little clump is G. Wendy’s Gold. Last year we had 5 flowers, this year it will be 6. The inner markings and the ovary at the top of the flower are yellow in this variety and not the usual green. Most yellow snowdrops are not as tough as the green ones but Wendy’s Gold seems to be the exception.
G. Modern Art was new just two years ago and shows great promise already.
This is a snowdrop where the leaves are the important part. Their name G.plicatus indicates that the edge of the leaves are folded back when they emerge from the soil, they soon straighten out as they grow.
Another species snowdrop, like the last one, this time G. gracilis which has the twisted leaves. Here it is showing the marks on the inner petals.
One of my doubles, this one is G. Desdemona. I find the doubles very similar to each other so haven’t bought many.
Where has G. John Gray gone? This is one of the early ones to flower, but no sign of it at all. John Gray was my first special snowdrop and it is so sad to see the label without any flowers beside it.
A close up of G. Merlin which has all green petals in the centre. This is an old variety but I think still one of the best.
G. Cedric’s Prolific, is doing really well, time to split and spread around in this area to make more.
Soon Crocus tommasinianus will be joining in with all the other flowers on the woodland floor, they are seeding about between the snowdrops
In this view of the woodland floor, there are just the double wild snowdrop, the singles are still coming up and will probably be flowering in another weeks time, weather permitting! When the singles join in, the drifts will get larger and larger and of course by splitting these clumps about every 3 years, if you start off with just 50 bulbs as I did, you will soon have lovely drifts of white in the shade.