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A Quick Guide to Snowdrops

About Snowdrops

Snowdrop is the common name for a group of plants that botantists call Galanthus (from the Greek meaning 'Milk Flower'). Consisting of nineteen species, these delightful bulbs occur naturally from the Pyrenees to Iran and as far south as Sicily and the Lebanon. Their northern range is difficult to establish due to introduction and cultivation by humans; they have been popular for quite a while! In nature, they flower as early as late autumn through to August. In Britain flowering occurs from late autumn but generally only through to march depending on species.
Whilst in the UK, there are records of snowdrops being grown since the 16th Century, the explosion of interest in snowdrops, however, didn't begin until the latter part of the 1900's.  This was part of the golden age of plant hunters and coupled with the increased exploration of the western end of the Mediterranean following the Crimean War (1853-1857).

How to Grow Snowdrops

Most snowdrops that grown in the UK are from deciduous woodland or cool, shady places with well drained soils which do not dry out completely in the summer. So try to plant in places in your garden that minic that - underneath decidious trees, shrubs or in partial shaded spots and avoid very dry or very wet soils.  Do not plant underneath evergreens.

Plant 'in the green' in April/May when bulbs are supplied with leaves as opposed to dormant bulbs.  Simiply replant the bulbs appoximately three times their height.  Only buy dormant bulbs from reliable suppliers (they are prone to drying out if stored incorrectly) and plant in autumn.

Snowdrops required very little care once planted other than being kept weed free when they begin into growth The simplest solution to this is to mulch with either garden compost or leaf mould before the bulbs begin growing (despite what you see at Ness avoid shredded bark). After that avoid the urge to tidy up leaves and left them alone to their own devices!

Snowdrops at Ness

Here at Ness, we grow over eighty different species and cultivars. The best represented is the familiar common snowdrop G. nivalis which can be seen at several locations throughout the gardens.  These came from original plantings by the Garden's Founder Arthur K. Bulley (although not all in their current locations) but certainly in the Azalea border running next to the herbaceous border.

The Pinewoods and Azalea Walk play host to bigger populations including robust and larger varieties such as G.'Robin Hood', and G.'Magnet'. The Rock Garden plays host to smaller populations of snowdrops such as the delightful double Galanthus nivalis 'Blewsbury Tart'.