If you don’t have an avenue for a snowdrop walk…
Snowdrops exemplify everything that’s good about blogging, and also its downside. I’ve tried to keep a garden diary in so many ways – but have always either lost the notebook or forgotten to check the diary. This year I was pleased, but surprised, to be reminded that I was inspired by my friend Amicia’s snowdrop avenue at Doddington Place Gardens. There is a splendid avenue of giant Wellingtonia, planted in Victorian times, and the contrast of the white snowdrops and the reddish bark is beautiful.
My middle-sized re-interpretation was to line the path to the potting shed with clumps of snowdrops, especially near the silver birch. They’ve poked their little heads out, but I’ll need to top up for a few years before it becomes a ‘snowdrop walk’ as such. But they’re not helped by the fact that I forget about them for the rest of the year and disturb them by planting other things.
Now, with the blog, I’ll be to check exactly what I did when (and not dig them up by planting other bulbs exactly there in autumn!). However, the downside to blogging about snowdrops is that people are already saying they’ve heard enough about galanthus. And they’re not even properly out yet! To mis-quote Samuel Johnson, if you’re tired of snowdrops, you’re tired of life.
We can see the path to the potting shed from the house, so we can really enjoy our snowdrops, but a better location, from the snowdrop point of view, was the shady and uninviting soil around the roots of a large tree just outside the kitchen window. Nothing else grew there, and, in winter, the first sight out of our kitchen window was of their charming white nodding heads. But the tree got honey fungus and had to go, and the snowdrops didn’t survive the upheaval. I’ve tried to start again, and there is a young tree in its place, but the bed is now essentially a sunny one full of dahlias, gaura and whatever takes my fancy when I’ve forgotten about the snowdrops. So a Snowdrop Strategy is required for the middle-sized garden, and it isn’t quite the same as what you’d do if you had acres of woodland.
I spotted one clever snowdrop idea while walking the dog round the streets. A neighbour has a fuschia hedge, which is cut down in January. Under it there is a line of snowdrops and later bulbs. I think it is important to plant your snowdrops where you will see them regularly, either from the windows of the house, or in the front garden. Otherwise you’ll miss them.
Amicia recommended Cambo snowdrops to me. The Cambo Estate in Scotland hold the National Collection of Snowdrops, and are also leading suppliers of ‘snowdrops in the green’. I asked Lady Erskine, who runs the estate, what her advice for middle-sized gardens would be.
‘Use pond baskets,’ she said, ‘and bury them in the soil. The spade hits the basket before disturbing the snowdrops. Another solution is to lift the whole basket into a shady corner at the end of the season, and replace it in autumn.’ She also advises planting them around deciduous shrubs, like my neighbour’s fuschia hedge. My dahlias, too, would be good surrounded with snowdrops. So there are some exciting ordering possibilities coming up….
Next week: I am going to try the No-Dig approach, but am beginning to realise it’s not quite as easy as just Not Digging. But in the meantime, do you know what’s nibbling the edges of my snowdrop flowers? Some looked a bit chewed….