Plants in the Garden: Galanthus
Started by: John Humphries
Members favourite SnowdropsGo to latest contribution by Ben Probert, 25 February 2007, 13:41. Go to bottom of this page.
Images on this page are shown as thumbnails. Click on an image to enlarge it.
Starting to show before Christmas this plant is now at its peak in mid January. It is vigerous, increasing from 5 flowers (8 bulbs) in Feb 2005 when I last disturbed it, to 11 flowers today.
It was found by Carolyn Elwes on the 'Byzantinus Bank' at Colesbourne Park in 1982. Phil Cornish first distributed it in 1996 as G.p.'Colesbourne' and subsequently as 'Colossus' from 1999.
If you want to spend a fortune on a bulb, look no further than G. 'Wendy's Gold'!
At least this variety with it's yellow markings is reasonably easy- just grow it as you grow your other snowdrops. Just make sure you protect them from digging pests!
I was hoping that many more would join in and show off some of their snowdrops which I know exist in profusion in many members gardens.
Here then is a slightly earlier Atkinsii, found by Lyn Sales in 1981 at Perrot's Brook in Gloucestershire.
I don't know if I misheard a biblical quote- thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's snowdrops! This large, double flowering variety is called 'Titania', and whilst I don't grow it myself (yet) it's one I'm going to look for! I saw this particular beauty when at Rosemoor, although I have been told it can be fussy. More Galanthus to follow (hopefully).
I would agree with Ben about Wendy's Gold being an easy plant; it seems to be a much stronger grower than some of the yellows. Mine have a much more noticeably paler stem than Bens photo indicates, assuming this shows when I have loaded it. This pot has been in full sun for most of the time since the buds emerged from the soil.
The strong lean to the left is not etoliation but the recent gales.
There's one snowdrop which seems to be following me around- it's everywhere I go!! I'm not convinced that Galanthus atkinsii is something from a horror movie, instead it's a rightly popular garden plant!
I took this picture at RHS Rosemoor and I think it shows Galanthus in their ideal garden situation- in between shrubs. Here the pure white snowdrops glisten beneath the stems of Cornus alba 'Sibirica'.
This is a photo of my own potful. I assume the flowers will open a little more in the next few days, but to be honest I like them like this! The pearl drop effect is really beautiful at this time of the year...
Before I found this 'string' I had featured G. x atkinsii 'James Backhouse' in 'Northumberland Diary'. Here is another favourite snowdrop, 'Straffan' which I have only had since 2003 (Jim Almond) but is a fine robust plant and a good doer. It has a very similar inner segment mark to G. 'Colossus' figured above; 1/3 the length of the segment, with some 'bleeding' of the green upwartds and a heavy ridged segment, but the very robust blueish applanate base is distinctive.
How could we not figure this most vigorous of snowdrops, named for a former Provost of Dumfries? These clumps really need spiltting up, but they give some indication as to how this robust variety thrives.
Yellow snowdrops are especially associated with Northumberland, as they occur at low frequency in most 'wild' populations in the north-east of the county. Here, 50 miles to the south they prefer cool wodsy conditions in a leafy soil and are not very robust, but they persist as this photo in my garden shows.
How do you protect your small bulbs in the rock garden. I am successful in my regular perennial gardens with tulips by using chicken wire but have not been successful with galanthus or other small bulbs. Shirley Friberg, Minnesota
By the way, your pictures of Galanthus are lovely. Shirley Friberg
Shirley - do you have a cat? I am not being facetious! Here in England, bulbs are eaten voraciously in the autumn and winter by mice and voles. Until now, we have always had a cat (sadly deceased last week) or two and have never suffered that way. Or there are mouse-traps, and if you are upset by the idea, you should be able to buy live-traps.
Hi Shirley, as an addition to John's sound advice- animal droppings can be effective in discouraging rodents (or a cat to eat the little blighters!). In the UK we have a product called 'Zoo Poo' which is essentially the scrapings from Lion enclosures at zoos. Anything stupid enough to dig where there's the scent of a large carnivore has no hope!
But 'Zoo Poo' can be quite expensive. Look on the internet for Ferret keeping clubs in your area. If you are able to take on a pet ferret (they do make excellent pets if their appetite for play and affection can be accomadated!) then that is great, but failing that try to find someone who can provide you with fresh ferret droppings. Put about a tea cup's worth into the bottom of your outdoor watering can, fill up with water and then water your plants with it. The manure acts as a feed while the fresh scent discourages rodents! Don't worry though, once it has soaked in the scent is no longer noticable! Just remember to use the mix reasonably frequently to keep the scent fresh.