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In the Green – Growing Snowdrops

It’s one of the first bulbs to show itself early in the year; this along with its pure white simplicity makes the snowdrop precious in the garden. As a child, I was fascinated by the tiny blooms and I remember happily digging up the bulbs (poor things!) blissfully unaware that they were poisonous!

I still love them, especially when they are planted en masse, but I am no Galanthophile – the name given to avid collectors (taken from the botanical name for snowdrop Galanthus).

The vast majority of snowdrops in my garden are the common Galanthus Nivalis. They sit alongside their slightly showier relative Galanthis Nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ which literally means double flowered. There are, however, many, many more varieties in all manner of shapes and sizes. Some of these bulbs command a handsome price tag too – it might not be the Tulip mania of the 17th century when some bulbs went for more than 10 times annual incomes but if you have a look at online auction sites you will see single bulbs going for several hundred pounds. In 2012 a single bulb sold for £725.

Whether you spend a few pence or hundreds on your bulbs you’ll want to make sure they get off to a good start. The time to plant them is just after flowering. The bulbs will be supplied ‘in the green’ (that just means still in active growth) in late February/March and should be planted straight away. The common snowdrop will multiply happily and once clumps are established they can be divided and spread around the garden for a wonderful winter display.

They like a moist soil and a partly-shaded position and it’s important the soil doesn’t completely dry out in summer…a chance would be a fine thing!