There is a divide among snowdrop growers, a contrast in styles between those who collect snowdrops and those who garden with them. For some, there is nothing more attractive than a new variety, another snowdrop a little different to their eyes, another flower of exquisite beauty to be appreciated in its individuality. For others, snowdrops are simply snowdrops to be enjoyed in mass rather than individually, aiming at developing good spreads of snowdrops which make an impact in the garden. I’m sure most of us find ourselves somewhere in between. Our gardens may be small and only allow small spots of snowdrops sprinkled about, a beautiful winter interest, with those which are especially good sturdy growers giving that impression of the drifts of white we admire so very much.
There is a special joy in visiting a garden where the snowdrops are simply snowdrops, individually nothing particularly special about them but planted in such number that they create that perfect winter snowdrop scene with drifts of white beneath deciduous trees. It is, in a sense, a very pure form of gardening with snowdrops for it takes the essence of snowdrops, their whiteness, and features that quality alone, strength in numbers rather than featuring individuals.
A walk around the grounds at Burtown House in Co. Kildare with Lesley Fennell last week brought us to a snowdrop display I have described above – simple plantings in big drifts of good strong growing snowdrops which make a wonderful visual impact by their numbers. Of course, there is room for those special snowdrops also and Lesley keeps these in a bed close to the house to be enjoyed without the need to walk any distance, a great advantage in poor weather.