by Lyn Edwards
|As the weather is changing
it is almost time to be looking for the first of these
little bulbs to put in an appearance in the garden. G.
reginae olgae from the Meditteranean areas usually sends
up its flowers in May and is followed by a succession
of cultivars and species till late August.
It is possible to have plants flowering
throughout winter. The plants are generally small and the flowers
all look similar at first glance. Looking closely there are
definite differences in size, shape and markings or lack there
Collecting these little bulbs tends to be addictive
and there is a long history of skullduggery associated with
collectors. Unfortunately the R.H.S. garden at Wisley has
found it necessary not to label their collection in the ground
due to the numbers stolen from there, how very sad that such
a delightful little plant engenders such behaviour.
Galanthus are becoming more readily available
now than has been the case. Many are only sold by specialist
growers but there are plenty of good varieties that are easy
to find and at a reasonable price. It is possible to buy bulbs
The conditions necessary to grow them are quite
simple, good drainage is essential, an early morning sun position
or dappled light is also important . Some species will take
a sunnier position but most require shade. These bulbs grow
very well in pots. A small quantity of bulb food after flowering
is beneficial and once died down for the summer the bulbs
should be in a position which gets a light watering on a regular
basis to prevent the death of the bulbs from dessication.
Under a deciduous tree for example.
Once bulbs have been bought or have arrived
by mail they should be planted immediately because of the
risk of drying out, this is critical to success because who
knows how long they have been out of the ground for whatever
reason before they reach you. I certainly mean no disrespect
to bulb suppliers on this score, most dried bulbs aren’t
as sensitive to this as Galanthus.
Other small bulbs and ground covers mix very
well with snowdrops, Cyclamen coum in particular flowers at
the same time and the pink flowered variety looks wonderful
with them as do the cyclamen now sold in punnets at the garden
centres. I hope I have given a few ideas you may care to try
A few species and cultivars I would suggest
are as follows but there are many more.
- the tallest growing species grows to about 25 cm and is
very easy to grow and spreads well by seed and bulb increase.
Many named cultivars are available and their names such as
June July and August indicate when they are likely to flower.
All are worth having in the garden.
G. plicatus and caucasicus
- are other attractive European species fairly readily available
and not difficult to establish.
G. woronii -
comes from the old Soviet block and is the smallest snowdrop
I have as yet grown, about 5cm tall and very delightful it
G. nivalis -
the traditional snowdrop is quite small but lovely and is
the one most prone to dying out in dry conditions. Some larger
cultivars of this include Magnet and Sam Arnott. The double
flore-plena is very attractive.
G. nivalis reginae
olgae - mentioned earlier likes more sun than most
and unlike other snowdrops flowers without its leaves in late
differs in that it has quite twisted leaves, it is also a
species for a sunnier position.
If you end up with the collecting bug
specialist bulb growers are now listing new cultivars to keep
one blissfully happy and empty of pocket….
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