Gardening is an act of faith. Most of what you are doing is going to take a while to come to fruition. Whether it is sowing seeds, planting bulbs, taking a cutting, even pruning…you have to have faith that your actions are going to lead to something good.
At the beginning of February, about halfway along our lane is a little bank of snowdrops.
These are generous clumps, so they must have been planted some time ago: I would guess more than twenty years.
These snowdrops are Galanthus nivalis. This is the classic snowdrop, and the easiest to naturalise if you want to grow it yourself. Having said that, some patience and planning is needed. Snowdrops are best planted ‘in the green’. That means once the flower has finished. This will be in a few weeks. If you order snowdrops ‘in the green’, you will get a little package of uprooted snowdrops with limp foliage. They will not look promising.
You plant them out. Ideally somewhere in your garden that mimics a dampish woodland. Not too much direct sun in summer.
These little snowdrops will keel over immediately, and you will wring your hands and think ‘that’s that, then’.
Next January, when gardeners start posting their lush snowdrop pictures on Instagram, you will go out and look for your snowdrops. You will forget exactly where you planted them, so you will be looking in the wrong place. You will not find them, and you will weep a little, and think you have failed.
Then, a week later, when you are pruning your roses, you will spot a single snowdrop peeping through the leaf litter. You will have nearly just trodden on it, so you will yelp, and, and your heart will skip a beat at the thought of your near-miss.
Next year, you might have two snowdrops.
Five years later, a handful.
But then eventually, where you planted twenty single, lonely, limp snowdrops, you might just have something that looks like this:
That is an Act of Faith.
I am truly grateful to the person who planted out a few little snowdrops half-way along our lane. They have well and truly naturalised, and spread a distance of about 10 metres along both ditches at the side of the road.
I can only hope that the fifty ‘in the green’ snowdrops I planted two years ago along my hedge will one day look like this.
Churchyards can be a good place to admire snowdrops. Near us, Leeds Village has a graveyard that is spilling over with a sea of snowdrops. You can check the NGS (National Gardens Scheme) website here for open gardens specialising in snowdrops.
If you have an established clump of snowdrops, and would like to establish new clumps, or even give some away to a (very good) friend, wait until they have finished flowering. Then dig up the whole clump. Tease the bulbs apart. You can re-plant single bulbs, but I would keep little clumps of about five bulbs together. Snowdrops look best in company, so this way you will have instant gratification in snowdrop terms, with a mini-clump next year. If you are taking them to a (very good) friend, wrap them in wet kitchen paper, then put them in a plastic bag or bubble-wrap, and transport them as soon as possible, organ-donation style, to your (very good) friend.
This is such a special present that your very good friend will present you with tea and cake. Win-win.
Apologies if you received an empty email on Saturday, dear Followers! I had a publishing accident whilst eating a poppadum! I will learn from this mistake, and not hastily pack my laptop away at the dinner table whilst scoffling a poppadum and pickles.
These accidents are happily rare. I have carried out an investigation and risk assessment, and agreed with myself to calmly pack away my laptop at least ten minutes before dinner.
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