I love snowdrops… I mean really love snowdrops – and not just from a gardening point of view, for me they symbolise the coming of spring, the near end of Winter.
I love their toughness, I love their resilience, and I love that it’s the first flower of the season that gets people excited about the outdoors!
Here in Donegal we have a number of great gardens you can appreciate these carpet of flowers, Glenveagh has some great shows on offer, Dunmore House in Carrigans (Dunmoregardens.ie) has a wonderful display (check out their Local food fair on Valentines Weekend and you can visit the snowdrops then too!), Culdaff House has a good show, and St Muras Church in Fahan has a glorious naturalised display which is just wonderful.
Although thought of as an Irish native Snowdrops are an alien to these shores. Originally from the Caucuses, Snowdrops have spread throughout Europe and were described as being ‘growing in the wild’ as early as the mid 1700s, so we talk about them as being ‘near-natives’.
Snowdrops adore our Donegal climate, largely due to the fact they dislike drying out during the summer months, so they like soil which is moisture retentive and non-puddling and soil which is rich in organic matter such as leaves.
So if you’re planting some Snowdrops in your garden remember to include some broken down leaves or some multi-purpose compost into the planting hole.
When left alone Snowdrops will flower, set seed and spread out across an area of the garden (ants helping to disperse their seed to a wider area).
You can also speed things up here by lifting and splitting clumps of snowdrops with your fork just as they go out of flower.
This splitting and replanting clumps is the most successive way to introduce new snowdrops in your garden, indeed this ‘in the green’ method is the best way to buy snowdrops.
Traditionally you buy bulbs in bags, think of Daffodils and Tulips, but Snowdrop bulbs hate being dry so unless the bulbs are really fresh your best not bothering! There are many mail-order firms that offer fresh snowdrop bulbs, and in-the- green bulbs.
Also garden centres will have potted snowdrop bulbs ideal for planting straight away in your garden.
Snowdrops, like most bulbs, are pretty foolproof and once planted will need next to no care, but work best when planting in good clumps, so don’t scrimp with these chaps… plant lots for a great effect!
Feel free to tag me @GardenerGareth with some of your Snowdrop pics!