Back to School adverts on the radio, corn being cut in the field and the end of summer has begun. But with that brings the next stage in the gardeners next. The quiet after the storm – Autumn. Autumn is a wonderful time in the garden. The warm weather can stretch right up until the Middle of October and the changing colours of the trees provide a new experience in both gardens and the countryside. Spring bulbs begin filling shelves in garden centres and one such bulb is the snowdrop
Snowdrop bulbs, or Galanthus are a wonderful spring bulbs for the early splash of colour and life they bring to the garden when all else is still wrapped up in hibernation. Snowdrops come into bloom in January or February each year and are the first sign for gardeners that winter is coming to an end
Snowdrops are suited to shaded and semi shaded locations. They love moist earthy soil high in organic matter. They are most commonly planted at the base of deciduous trees or in lawns for a natural effect. Planted along side woodland species such as Ivies, Hellebores, Arums & Evergreen Ferns has snowdrops in their most familiar setting. Other good companion plants for snowdrops include Cyclamen, Hellebores and Skimmia
You can buy snowdrops from late August from garden centres. The bulbs are best planted immediately but can be stored in a cool dry place for a number of weeks until you are ready to sow. When sowing choose a sheltered spot. Prepare the soil by digging it over and adding a good amount of compost or humus to each hole. At this point you can also add the Root Grow, Bulb Starter growing medium to your snowdrops.
Bulb Starter from Root Grow helps encourage better bulb establishment and growth in its first year. The mix includes vermiculite, fertiliser and mycorrhizal fungi giving an ideal blend of nutrition, drainage and symbiotic organisms.
Snowdrops can be found growing in the wild in Ireland, but this is a very rare sight. The snowdrop; Galanthus Nivalis has been spotted growing in Wicklow and in Baltimore in Cork. Galanthus nivalis is a little different from the more commonly sold Galanthus elwesii as nivalis has a light drop for green found in the ends of each of it’s 3 petals.
All snowdrops are low growing and clump forming. They can grow 15cm in height and spread out about the same. They’re clumps can naturalise small patches in gardens in Ireland. If you grow snowdrops in your garden after 2 or 3 years you will notice new clumps forming around the original planting.
Its best to divide your snowdrop bulb clumps regularly, every 2 or 3 years is most ideal. By dividing your snowdrops you are ensuring that they are not completing with each other and that they flower better and are less prone to disease.
The best time to divide your snowdrop bulbs is in early spring – just as their flowers are beginning to fade. To divide simply lift each clump with a garden fork, loosen the clump of soil gently with your hands and then slowly pick out the individual plants. Transplant the plants to their new location as soon as possible.
One great thing about dividing is that now you will have tonnes of new snowdrops so you can really create and plan a mass of snowdrop blooms for the next spring. For best results plant individual plants about 15cm apart