Friday, 27 February 2009
'Fair Maids of February'
I could not let February slip away without a mention of possibly my favourite plant the snowdrop. At one time I thought that all snowdrops were the same lovely little white flowering spring bulbs. I gradually came to realise that there are a myriad of 'drops out there with different markings and colourings, shapes, sizes and sometimes as in my favourite 'Diggory' variations in the texture of the petals. If you click on the photo of 'Diggory' lower down the page you should be able to see that the petals look like seersucker. As well as 'ordinary' snowdrops, I now have a small number of special named snowdrops or galanthus to give them their Latin name. Snowdrop collecting can be expensive as well as being addictive ! Each year I treat myself to one or two, or himself kindly purchases them for me as a Christmas or birthday present.
If anybody is interested in acquiring any of these delicate little gems you are unlikely unless very fortunate, to find them in your local nursery or garden centre. In the U.K there are a number of specialist suppliers including Avon Bulbs, North Green Snowdrops, Monksilver Nursery and Ivycroft Plants. There are also some individuals who produce ad hoc lists of bulbs for sale,depending on what they have surplus to requirements. Up to a couple of years ago eBay was sometimes a reasonable source but people buying through eBay now seem to be often paying well over the odds. There is also more risk of getting a wrongly named bulb with eBay but there are some reputable sellers. I would love to hear from any any other snowdrop collectors in other parts of the world.
There is some dispute about when the best time is to lift snowdrops for planting. Although a lot of people think that this is best done when the plant is in the green, some experts suggest that it is best done when the bulb is dormant later in the year. A lot of the sellers send out their catalogues or lists early in the new year but there are some that come out in the summer. From my limited experience either time of the year seems suitable to plant newly acquired bulbs. What is important is that the bulbs do not dry out at any stage. Once planted I have found that my 'drops need little attention. At the moment I grow them in pots, mainly to reduce the risk of squirrels munching them for breakfast, but I am hoping to make a couple of hypertufa sinks this year to plant them in.
The 'bible' on all matters snowdrop is ' Snowdrops - A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus' by Matt Bishop,Aaron Davis and John Grimshaw published by Griffin Press. As in most matters galanthus this book is expensive too !
'Judy's Snowdrops' is an excellent web resource with information and photos of different species, list of suppliers, gardens to visit with good snowdrop displays etc.
If any UK readers of this blog are interested I may have a few surplus bulbs later this year which I would be happy to send to you, in exchange for a donation to a charity plus cost of postage or perhaps even for a swap. Please email me if you would like me to send you details in due course. My email address can be found if you go to the section for leaving comments on this post.