March Of Snowdrops

A few years ago, a friend gave me a barely liftable, large trug of snowdrops.  I was very, very grateful and happily began adding them to the Priory’s meagre showing.  Eventually running out of time, I temporarily stuffed the last few into a small bed beneath a standard Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’.

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And there they temporarily sat – for three years; neglected, multiplying, annoying.  Plonked amongst heucheras, they looked out-of-place and then messy as they slowly died back after flowering.

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In April 2014, I finally dug them up.

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And then dug up some more – there were far more than I expected.  A little neglect does wonders for increasing your stock it seems … and produced a second surfeit of snowdrops.  (Now’s the time to dig up, divide and replant snowdrops ‘in the green’ – before, during and after flowering.  You might quake at digging up flowering plants, and normally I wait until they finish, but they won’t mind if you don’t).

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Afterwards, the ‘Eve’ bed looked simpler and neater – especially after a top coat of leaf mould.  (The heucheras fill all this space later in the year).

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Most of this second bonanza of snowdrops went into new planting squares beneath the extended rose tunnel.  I used a bulb planter and filled the bottom of each hole with leaf mould.  If I was over generous with the number I dropped into each hole (and I was) another surfeit in a couple of years wouldn’t be so very terrible.

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I back-filled with a mix of more leaf mould and garden compost, soaked well, stood back, studied the horizon, waited 10 months

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and up they came.

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Some of the original planting pockets are now overspilling but I’ll divide and replant these galanthus soon (there’s only so many times I can use the word snowdrop).

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I put more of last year’s excess beneath a newly planted dogwood hedge and – though freshly transplanted snowdrops don’t look very promising –

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these too are now in flower.

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Whoever planted the beech hedge had the same idea but failed to take into account how long beech leaves hang around.  The under-planting of snowdrops is lost somewhat; the flowers almost invisible.

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But I haven’t the heart to move them – they seem happy and I, at least, know that they are there.

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I’d like the Priory to have large areas of snowdrops in grass and I had enough surplus ‘drops last year to start planting the slope beneath the greenhouses (lots more needed here)

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and a paltry handful for under the big trees on the meadow (more than lots needed here).

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Thankfully, there are several ‘spare’ clumps earmarked for the meadow and the slope.  There’s these in a neglected area.

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There are more skulking, unloved, beneath a rhododendron,

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a venerable cluster in need of division on a lawn

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and a large grouping in one of the borders.  I filch snowdrops from this patch every year but the supply seems to hold constant.

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Increasing the number of snowdrops at the Priory has become an ongoing, long-term duty

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and I hope that when I leave the Priory, I can leave a legacy of widespread, white and green, nodding carpets.

I had best stop daydreaming and get on with it.

27 thoughts on “March Of Snowdrops

    • Hi Lou, I should like to tell you that I especially planned the cornus/snowdrop combo. And I did (a bit) but also, truthfully, I had that big trug-bucket of snowdrops and was rushing around looking for places to plant them. Now why have I just told you that? I should’ve just nodded sagely and said “Hmmm, well I do have great taste!”

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  1. You can never have too many snowdrops. I, unfortunately, have too few. I really like the idea of planting them at the base of the Cornus but I will just wait till the autumn and plant the dry bulbs at the base of mine. I have replanted some in the green this year that seem to have seeded under edging stones but I would love to have some growing through grass. Amelia

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    • Hi Amelia, I do find that they bulk up quickly. Small clumps that I planted four or five years ago can now be split and I’ll use the excess somewhere else. Some of the clumps due for division aren’t even that old. I’m thinking of moving away from Sussex in the next couple of years or so. And that has added an element of urgency in pushing on quickly with the snowdrop expansion. Dave

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  2. A noble industry. What I like best is that we see the snowdrops being moved and then all of a sudden they’ve grown well and are in bloom again! In ten years you may need a visit to a good chiropractor, but once you straighten up again I think you’ll be more than proud of what you’ve accomplished.

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    • Well Frank – I hesitated to write about snowdrops (especially after your post about us crazy Europeans!). They are done to death at this time of year in the blogging world but as you can see, this post was planned a long time ago. Dave

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  3. What I love best about snowdrops is how they are a “marker” in the countryside for habitations that have long since disappeared, they seem to survive like no other plant.

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  4. Gosh – looks like a lot of work replanting all those snowdrops, but well worth it. They look lovely, especially under the rose tunnel. I just have one clump to replant which is now so far under a rhododendron that it hasn’t flowered this year. I guess I can’t put it off much longer.

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    • Hi Brian, I use the bulb planter for transplanting wildflowers too, such as cowslips and even orchids. If the latter pop up on the lawns they’re easily moved with the bulb planter. Useful tool. Dave

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