the last days of winter – snowdrops

More snow has fallen in my garden this winter than I’ve seen for many years. The undulating forms of hidden pots and containers are a most beautiful sight but I do worry about my plants. It is incredible to think that hidden beneath this perfect white carpet the tiny bulbs of snowdrops, bluebells, grape hyacinths and early crocus are preparing to surprise us with colour just when we can’t bear the winter days anymore. The winter flowering pansies in my pots and containers are looking a little worse for wear. The weight of snow has crushed them somewhat. I’ve been deadheading them for the past few days in the hope that when the sun comes out they will spring back to life and give me a few more weeks of life.

Snowdrops are the earliest to pierce the earth. They are notoriously fussy, and will sulk a little if moved. Often disguised among the messy winter undergrowth beneath hedges and trees where they are difficult to admire until the flash of white catches the light. Ideally snowdrops should be planted in free draining soil beneath deciduous trees. The bare branches allow for dappled light and rain to reach the snowdrops until they go over, as the leaves appear on the trees the soils dries out preventing the bulbs from rotting during their dormant period in the summer. The time for planting bulbs may have long since passed but now is a good time to split existing clumps. Lift them carefully with a fork and divide into two clumps. Replant one half back into the original place and carefully divide the remaining half into groups of two to three bulbs. Replant these small groups and all going well you should start to have new clumps next year. At the end of the winter some smaller garden centres and florists have flowering snowdrops in pots. Once the flowers have gone over replant the spent bulbs in clumps beneath trees, now you just have to wait until next winter for their light to surprise you.

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