Well I all most feel I have to apologise for choosing the plant of the week this week, where ever you look, these beautiful tiny spring bulbs are taking over the current horticultural world at the moment and I kinda feel that’s rightly deserved. These simple bulbs to many are the real first sign that spring is on the horizon. Their tiny nodding heads, cover woodlands, roadsides, cemeteries and of course our own gardens in their white carpet, all around the country, resulting in setting galanthifiles into a short lived frenzy of enjoyment. I have to be honest and say I am also bitten by the bug and enjoy growing them in pots at home and searching for new and delightful ones, I almost feel like I am back in my childhood collecting stamps, each one cherished and lovingly enjoyed, each one checked twice a day to see if the flowers have opened.
The form we commonly see growing everywhere is G.nivalis, it first appeared in this country in around about the 16th century, which will surprise many as it is thought of being a british native flower. It’s natural home is thought to be Europe in to Asia and maybe was brought here by the monks. It was recorded in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire in 1770. There are 19 sp of Galanthus and from these species there have been many hundreds, indeed thousands of forms found and bred. Some can command a high price because of their rarity. Most love to be grown in a rich woodland soil either alkerline or acid, they are happy in both! some speices however like more of a specialised enviroment and are best grown in a pot. Pretty easy to look after and dont suffer too many pests and diseases. like many wooodland bulbs, they are mainly spring flowering with a few autumn flowering forms. their leaves disappear quickly and are normally died back by early summer. The best way to bulk up your collection is to lift and divide the clumps just after flowering while the leaves are still green, this is called lifting in the green. They settle down very well after this and is also the best way to buy them to add to the garden. the dried bulbs can be rather hit and miss.
From the huge awray of forms on offer, how can I just choose one as my plant of the week? Well its a personal choice from me. I was lucky enough to spend nearly 5 years working at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens many years ago under the Head Gardener, Bill George. I can remeber him talking about a lovely form of snowdrop he had found as a self sown seedling in his alpine house at home in Winchester. He named it in honour of his lovely wife Winnie, who sadly passed away after a long fight with cancer a few years ago, I couldnt think of a better way to honor such a lovely lady than to name this snowdrop after her. It is a much taller form than many others, reaching about 300mm (1ft in old money) in height, showing off its large flowers, borne about midway though the snowdrop season. it sadly is pretty rare but can be found in large drifts near the winter garden at The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire and also I am told at RHS Wisley. It is certainly one to look out for in the future.