Waterford, south-east Ireland, 20th February 2021
The snowdrop season is in full swing, indeed settling into the downswing as the weeks move along. The common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis – both the single and the double form – has been in full flower for the past ten days or so here and is now beginning to go past its best. There is still a good selection to come into flower, the late-season cultivars, so the snowdrop year hasn’t reached its end as of yet.
It has been a most awful week here and there seems to be a sheet of water constantly sliding down the garden and gathering at the bottom which is gradually turning to a quagmire. There hasn’t been much opportunity for gardening with the ground so soft and wet but we did pot up the dahlia tubers which were overwintered in the garage. All have been potted up and put into the glasshouses. At times, we wonder if it is worth the bother – 50 pots of dahlias to be minded until the last frosts have passed, then planted out and lifted again in autumn. Would it be easier to have less, to buy a few each year rather than storing more and more, or even to stop growing them altogether. We used leave them in the ground until we lost all in the very hard winter of 2010/11. We could go back to that way of growing and simply take our chances.
Before moving on to the complete white out, there is the story of the walkers on the road. People walking the road will often salute/pass the time of day, maybe chat about the garden or what is in flower at the moment. Two ladies told me of a very exciting find, one of huge interest to me: they had found bee orchids, Orchis apifera, on what was previously an industrial site within a kilometre of our house and I look forward to visiting and photographing these when in flower as I have a strong interest in our native orchids. Another lady stopped and commented that the snowdrops were lasting very well for me. The chat went on from there, leading to her asking if I was the man who wrote the blog on the garden on Saturdays. She recounted that she had been on the road about a fortnight ago, when I was power-washing the drive, and while chatting to me she began to think that my face looked familiar. She said that it was only some days later that it came to her where she had seen me – on the blog! It has happened previously that I have met people who have told me they had read the blog and it always comes as a surprise, even a shock, which is rather silly, I suppose. When I write, I don’t think who might read it and it regularly comes as a surprise that anybody at all reads it but it is very gratifying when somebody comments. A bonus!
Now, to the white-out, the snowdrops! These photographs are all from this past week, with one exception, and I have organised them in a capricious way, an impulsive arrangement of six groups as much to spare the reader as anything else – if you tire after one batch you can click “Close” and move along elsewhere for all that is to follow are more snowdrops. I am mindful of what Bertram Anderson wrote in Seven Gardens or Sixty Years of Gardening:
“Of snowdrops, apart from the species…there are many seedling varieties and hybrids that delight the enthusiast but leave the ordinary person with that defensive look that one acquires when confronted by a madman… but he did continue: …but let me say here that in the early cold and frosty or wet months of the year no other group of lowly plants can give so much interest and pleasure.”
So, let me begin with a run around the garden, views of the garden this past week, where each view has snowdrops:
There are some snowdrops which I feel equate to good choral singers. They may never be great solo performers, never have characteristics individually to warrant any great admiration but when viewed in a group they make a pleasing contribution to the garden; the choir rather than the solo artists!
Snowdrops with double flowers are valuable garden plants. They don’t set seed and because of this they last longer in flower. The flower is, generally, also larger, chunkier than the single-flowered varieties and this gives these snowdrops more impact in the garden.
The yellow snowdrops always catch the eye; that brightness and freshness is very appealing bringing light to the dull days of winter and spring. I notice that one in this group is also a double flower – dual purpose, two reasons to appeal!
Those snowdrops which have green markings or a greenish flush to the outer segments are very popular at the moment. Galanthus ‘Trym’ is the parent of many of these green-marked cultivars while ‘Rosemary Burnham’ was one of the earliest of the virescent types.
Finally, a grouping of what is left: those single-flowered cultivars which are not green on the outside, nor yellow – just ordinary snowdrops! Are they all the same?
No doubt, I won’t be able to resist including a few snowdrops in coming blogs as there are some nice ones still to flower but they will be in smaller numbers, certainly there will not be another total white out! Aren’t you relieved by that news!
I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator” on his blog site. To read more contributions to the Six on Saturday theme go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!