Monday, 8 February 2010

Snowdrops, Galanthophiles, and Dinner Parties

Well, the weather has turned colder here in the Cotswolds,  and flurries of snow have been witnessed yet again, so I regret to report that I have still not been out in the garden to do all those jobs that I know I should have completed ages ago. So in view of that it seemed a good idea to discuss what I might be doing in a week or two if I ever get round to it.
And that is splitting snowdrops.
Snowdrops, unlike me, are completely undeterred by bad weather, and are in full flower both in my garden and all around the village. They don't seem to mind about situation, climate, or anything else, and will happily grow under trees where summer subjects would languish and fade away. This is  because, obviously, they do pretty well all their growing before the tree canopy has appeared and blocked out the sunlight. And unlike most bulbs, they are best increased "in the green" as it is called, rather than by planting as dry bulbs in the autumn, when we would generally think about planting for a spring display.
So if you have a few clumps and would like to increase your display to a vast carpet, like the one at Colesbourne Park in Gloucestershire, all you have to do is wait until the flowers start to fade, then dig up the clump, break it into groups of say, half a dozen or so bulbs, and replant in little groups all over your designated area. In a couple of years you will have twenty ot thirty clumps where you had just one. And remember that there are different varieties besides the wild Galanthus Nivalis native one, lovely though that is. In my own garden I have a number of different sorts, some early and some late, Galanthus Elwesii, the so called giant snowdrop, and a double flowered one, Flore Plena which I think is a bit weird. I always intend to identify all of the different varieties that I have but never get round to it, - in fact there are loads of  different varieties, and there is even a special name for afficionados of snowdrops,- Galanthophiles - people who collect and appreciate the many different varieties of this lovely harbinger of spring and who are said to gather together in smoke filled rooms to exchange seed of rare varieties in dark corners. Just the kind of thing to captivate people at dinner parties - I can see it at the next village Wine Evening, "Camilla, have you met Charles, he's a galanthophile you know...but don't worry he's having therapy."

Colesbourne Park, the ancestral home of Henry Elwes, after whom the large form was named, is quite close to here and well worth a visit at this time of year.

8 comments:

  1. The pictures of snowdrops are much more lovely to look at than the "snow-flakes" we are having here in Virginia! :-)

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  2. just given you a big up re artichokes!!! on my blog

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  3. Kim - I was rather hoping we had seen the last of our own "snowflakes" over here, but I see from the weather forecast that I spoke too soon...thanks for commenting

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  4. thanks John, I never would have thought I'd be an advert for the benefits of growing jerusalem artichokes, just goes to show you've got to keep an open mind!!

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  5. I haven't been out in my little garden either. This year I am definitely going to plan some snowdrops.

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  6. Beautiful blog!! Love it..! I cannot wait till Spring!!
    Julie

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  7. Good luck with the snowdrops Callie!

    Thanks farmerjulie - and roll on those Spring days!

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  8. Hi Kathy, I just noticed that you are following my blog, so popped over to yours to say thank you, it's always an honour when someone likes the blog enough to follow it.
    I will be back at some point to read some more of your blog. I'm a bit busy today and the week-end, so I will catch up with my blog reading next week.
    Have a good week-end
    Maureen :)

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