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Last Month in My Garden, February 2018

February at Brockamin is the month of the snowdrop. Sadly, there have not been as many warm days to open the flowers as I should have liked but cold does make them last longer. I have generally been pleased with the flowering. Non-specialist gardening books usually state that snowdrops like shade but that is too much of a simplification. Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, does flourish in deciduous woodland but will also grow happily in open borders where it is shaded by herbaceous perennials later in the year. (However, snowdrops will not compete with thick mats of roots.) G. elwesii, with broad grey-green leaves, needs a sunnier, well-drained spot, as does G. reginae-olgae (the autumn snowdrop). Heavier soils are tolerated by G. plicatus, which I find most successful. It has broad leaves, curled back at the edges and with a central stripe; G. woronowii has fairly broad leaves but they are bright green; mine grow happily on a bank below an apple tree. Nearby is a clump of G. gracilis, which have narrow twisted leaves.

Galanthus elwesii ‘Kite’

Galanthus woronowii (centre)

Galanthus gracilis

Species snowdrops will increase by seeding, forming the carpets that are so magical. Many named varieties are hybrids and do not seed so form expanding clumps. To achieve a naturalistic look with these, they have to be divided and replanted in random fashion. I do not have time to divide mine frequently and have sometimes found that dividing a clump can cause it to dwindle and die. It may be that division damages the roots or exposes them to disease. This would suggest that they should be divided when dormant but many growers do it after flowering, before the leaves have disappeared. Snowdrops which are known to seed (and do so in my garden) are ‘Trym’ and ‘Wendy’s Gold’, both forms of G. plicatus. The first usually gives seedlings similar to the parent; some distinctly different ones have been named but there are now too many which resemble each other! ‘Wendy’s Gold’ is a prolific parent but the seedlings are usually ordinary green G. plicatus, often with very wide leaves. However, I did have one yellow seedling two years ago, which has formed a healthy clump. The leaves are narrower and the inner petals have a smaller mark.

Galanthus plicatus ‘Trym’

Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy's Gold’

seedling from ‘Wendy's Gold’

The garden does have plants other than snowdrops which have been of interest. Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) have performed well and their colour has been echoed by early daffodils, continuing from January. Many hellebores have been flowering, although a lot are still in bud, and the small iris have opened. I find those bred from Iris histrioides are most persistent and clump up well, although my attempts to grow the species have been unsuccessful. This year I have added the new irises ‘Katherine’s Gold’ and ‘Polar Ice’. The former (centre foreground of border photo) is attractive but pale primrose, rather than gold. The latter is still in bud – something to look forward to.

Eranthis hyemalis ‘Grünling’

Taken 12.2.2018

Iris ‘Sheila Ann Germaney’

Margaret Stone

Posted by Margaret Stone

Vist Margaret's garden on one of the NGS open days.

2 Comments To "Last Month in My Garden, February 2018"

Judi Barton On 17.03.2018
Do you think your Wendy's Gold seedling is a cross between the plicatus and a narrower leaved species such as nivalis? Reply to this comment
Margaret Stone On 18.03.2018
Quite possibly. Galanthus nivalis Sandersii Group grows nearby.
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