Snowdrop time!

Posted by editor on Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Snowdrops usually nod their delightful heads at the earliest around mid-February; however the unprecedented earliness of snowdrops these past few years has inspired us to remind you that now is the time to increase your collection of these lovely early spring plants.

One of our favourite Sussex nurseries is Marchants Hardy Plants, which at this time of year offers a fine collection of ‘snowies’ or Galanthus if we’re being formal (Greek gála “milk”, ánthos “flower”).



Marchants is a thriving perennial /grasses nursery where renowned plantsman Graham Gough says: “I have grown snowdrops affectionately for over 35 years, 18 of them here at Marchants. We are not ‘twin scalers’, more hobbyists and our principal concern has been to add good garden worthy snowdrops to our collection. As bystanders we have looked upon the Snowdrop revolution with amusement as well as bemusement. With irony too – have you noticed how over the years, the more unlike a snowdrop a plant becomes the greater its price tag increases. At its most serious level this has become a hobby for very deep pockets!”

Marchants do not offer a mail order service, so pre-ordering is essential.  Visit the nursery on 26th January (10am – 4pm) . CLICK HERE for mail-order list and more information.

Graham writes about the cultivation of snowdrops:

“Snowdrops are not difficult to grow but it is worth observing a few rules of thumb. They do not enjoy dense shade, nor do they like stagnant, badly drained soil. Good drainage is therefore a must. Acid or lime soils seem to make little difference – they can flourish on both. That said, they prosper on thin chalk soils, encouraging for those of you who garden on this hungry type of soil. Dappled shade can also be advantageous though many Snowdrops will also prosper in full sun. The fact is they are very amenable and associate well with virtually all late winter and early spring flowering plants.

When your bulbs begin to clump (3/4 years), you can then increase your stock by dividing them. Clumps left to their own devises can  ‘go back’ or worse still, die out altogether. Division usually takes place when plants are ‘In the green’, during or after flowering  (though most books will tell you to do it after). We have noticed little difference. Having gently teased a clump apart, it is important to plant at the same depth or deeper if the bulbs have risen to the surface, adding a little bone meal /seaweed meal to help give your snowdrops a good re-start. On heavy soils the addition of sharp grit is efficacious. Any remaining nurture should be left to Mother nature. Lastly, always label your snowdrops well. Push labels into the soil in front of and behind your clumps. You then have two reference points.”



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