It’s that time of year when we go a leeetle bit snowdrop mad. Granted, we start earlier than most people as we want to get the most out of every moment of snowdrop time for our visitors. The gardens are open 11.00 -4.00 every day from February 14th -22nd for snowdrops, talks, winter walks and hot soup or cake and we need to start the planning early.
For many years, we have been working on extending the drifts of bulbs on the snowdrop banks, bulking up the hellebores in the woodland walk and generally improving access and interpretation for visitors to our snowdrop days. But, excitingly, for the last year or so, we have been able to concentrate on the detail. This means more winter irises, Cyclamen coum, yellow aconites, Crocus tommasinianus, (known as ‘tommies’,) and winter flowering cherries. New to us this year is Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ which I found at RHS Rosemoor by chasing its heavenly scent.
We- the gardening team at Easton- have also been working on building up our stocks of unusual snowdrops to use with other flowers. We don’t consider ourselves galanthophiles in the true sense (we just haven’t got the dedication to tour the country looking at 100s of varieties) but we do love variation when it allows us to try out new planting combinations.
If you are planning your display there is still time to buy bargain crocuses and other small bulbs online. Nearly all the big bulb companies are throwing huge sales. They may flower later from a late planting but they will flower at the right time the following year. Some bulb companies will sell dormant snowdrop bulbs in the Autumn but we still prefer to buy ‘in the green’ in early Spring so we know what we are getting.
One form I am particularly fond of is Galanthus elwesii ‘Fred’s Giant.’ I have been bulking up this beauty from a single bulb given to us by Louth Antiquary Society over 10 years ago. As snowdrops go, this one is a monster. It flowers slightly earlier than the common snowdrops; Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus flore pleno. This helps extend our season and means it will flower with Iris reticulata and similar hybrids. For now, it is nestled under a red dogwood. I will divide it again in late Spring to use with new combinations. You can find a few bulbs for sale in our online shop.
Today it is cold and dark, what Beth Chatto calls a ‘dustbin lid’ day. Brilliant analogy, it does feel like there is a rather unloved metal dustbin lid hovering above. A good day to check on health and safety and maintenance. A walk around the garden shows traces of new snowdrop growth and occasionally there are a few blisteringly lovely autumn colours to lift the scene. Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’ is on fire today.
With best wishes
Ursula Cholmeley and the gardening team at Easton Walled Gardens.