Best snowdrops to grow

There are 1,000s of varieties of snowdrops out there. Some with differences so tiny they need an expert to point them out and it can be hard to determine from the enormous choice which will be the most reliable snowdrop varieties for your garden.
To help you, here is our guide to our favourite snowdrops based on their ability to spread and thrive.

Galanthus nivalis

The common snowdrop. Pure white with the famous little green bridge on the inside petals; this beautiful, simple flower is the harbinger of Spring. Flowering in mid February and continuing until early March, it is the best snowdrop to naturalise under shrubs and in thin grass. When grown in drifts, the flowers will release a powerful scent of honey on sunny days. Grow on a west facing bank to appreciate the sunshine and scent together.

 The common snowdrop Galanthus nivalis is the best snowdrop for naturalising in drifts

Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’

The blowsy cousin of Galanthus nivalis with almost as many petals as it has letters in its name. Botanically you might say that the perianth of this beautiful snowdrop is stuffed with tepals. This is the double form of Galanthus nivalis and like the single form, releases its scent throughout late February. Slightly later to flower and excellent for picking for early posies.

The Double snowdrop Galanthus flore pleno

Galanthus ‘Wendy’s Gold’ AGM

A lot less demanding than some yellow snowdrops (Galanthus Lady Elphinstone, we are thinking of you:  when she is moved the flowers will have green markings instead of yellow until she has settled down) ‘Wendy’s Gold’ is a vigorous yellow form of Galanthus plicatus from the Black Sea. Her obviously different flowers that dance in the breeze make her a stand out ‘best snowdrop’ for any collection.

Snowdrop Wendys Gold, one of the best yellow snowdrops

Galanthus elwesii

The first to flower in the Spring batch of snowdrops – there are some snowdrops that flower in late winter and even autumn – Galanthus elwesii is out in January in mild years. Our favourite named variety is ‘Fred’s Giant’ which is a whopper with bulbs the size of small alliums. Big leaves and big flowers makes this variety perfect for naturalising near the back of the herbaceous border.

Galanthus Freds Giant one of the best snowdrops for early colour

Galanthus ‘Titania’

Titania is part of the stable of tall, double snowdrops known as Greatorex Doubles. To my mind she has the neatest flower with a tall upright habit. If you preferred a plant with looser morals, you could try Galanthus ‘Jacquenetta’ which has a fuller flower, is inclined to throw petals out to the side and lurch about a bit. Both of these snowdrops will multiply reliably without any help.

Galanthus Titania (3)

 

 

October stories

 

It’s been a busy start to Autumn.

Marie Curie talkLast week, Chris Young and I were at the Stamford Arts Centre to give a talk in aid of Marie Curie. I talked about the gardens and its 400 year old history and he talked about being the editor of the world’s largest garden magazine (RHS The Garden.) As you can see he knows how to hold an audience.

Strange, there were plenty of people there when I spoke….:)

Actually, it was a lovely evening, with lots of questions and the dedicated committee raised nearly £2,000 for Marie Curie. We were delighted to have been a part of it.

 

 

 

Then on to Burghley House.

Alexandra, our florist, created a stunning display in the Black and Yellow Room as part of their Shakespearean flower festival.  We represented the Hidden England Group with a floral extravaganza based on Othello. What initially seemed like a tall order became a great play to interpret and Alexandra wove meaning and pathos into her beautiful design. As the weather has been so mild, most of the flowers came from our gardens. To be working in natural materials, in an Elizabethan palace next to this extraordinary bed with its intricate embroidery, was deeply life enhancing.

Easton Walled Gardens flowers at Burghley HouseIMG_3743

flower festival at Burghley House

With all my attention focused outside the gardens this week, it was lucky the boys were still hard at it.

meadow maintenance

The meadows are now cut and are being cleared. The old season is passing and a new one arriving. The hay is bundled into a huge pile to rot down before returning to the gardens as mulch.

In the flower beds, the continuing mild weather has given our late bloomers the chance to show us what they can really do.

Perilla  The Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens

Particularly, TITHONIA!  When I posted on twitter that we had finally had success with this tender annual there was a certain amount of bemusement. ‘What’s taken you so long?’ asked @UltingWick.

Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’  (see below) likes a sheltered spot, good soil and a mild spring – none of which we could supply when we first started on the garden restoration. Building up the beds by lining them with boards to allow a greater depth of soil has had an impact throughout the gardens. We added large amounts of organic matter, repositioned our late summer plants and here is our reward.

Tithonia and Ricinus

Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch'If these fresh colours in the borders and pickery make us feel that the season will go on forever, there are other reminders of change. This creeper (below) needs to be cut to the ground every two years or it will swamp the building. We grow it for the ephemeral display of deep red it gives us now.

Nearer to the ground, Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is making its annual appearance in fine grass. This double flowered variety is particularly good as it tends to flop more elegantly than its single relations.

Colchicum Waterlily

The ultimate symbol of an Autumn walled garden has to be ripening pears. It’s a waiting game. One misty day they will give off that golden sweetness that tells us, and the late wasps, that they are finally ready. I will probably eat far too many and feel a bit ill. (I hope the wasps do too.)

Ripening Pears at Easton Walled Gardens