An Act of Faith

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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29 Comments Add yours

  1. adminedno says:

    No stray blogs arrive this weekend but I love your style whilst lusting after a drift of snowdrops!

    1. Oh good, that’s a relief! Thank you for letting me know!

  2. You described me to a T when writing about one’s first planting of sad looking Snowdrops in the green and searching for them in the Spring! Now we have some quite creditable clumps and they are spreading every year – very pleasing. 🙂

    1. That’s good to know. I was convinced this year and last that mine had disappeared, but they hadn’t. Each ‘clump’ is three or four, so they will get there!

  3. Thank you for sharing your cheerful photos of snowdrops. They certainly cheer my Monday morning back to work. We are having snow in the other form again today mixed with rain. It’s been a back and forth kind or winter. Your sweet photos have made my day!

    1. That’s lovely to know, Cindy!

  4. Such beautiful pictures. I have especially enjoyed since we are knee deep in snow here. Cannot wait to see these again in the spring.

  5. bcparkison says:

    What a wonderful surprise to come up on. I’ve never seen real snowdrops but once while living in North Alabama I had Lily-of-the -Valley popup under a tree. Oh what a wonderful smell.

    1. Lily of the valley is equally gorgeous!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Pretty…Pure….Petite ! Love these Dewdrops!!

  7. What a charming way to begin my Monday, after Morning Prayer! Everyone is talking about snowdrops! I love these dainty little ladies! Thank you for your timely instructions on planting! I’m hoping to find potted bulbs at the grocer’s plant section, to enjoy indoors while we’re blanketed under a foot of snow.

    1. That’s lovely to hear, thank you!

  8. Gillian says:

    There were plenty of snowdrops here when we moved in 15 years ago, just the common Galanthus nivalis but lovely all the same. They self seed nicely and I try to remember to dig up a clump and relocate a few bulbs exactly where I want them each year after flowering, usually under established deciduous shrubs in the borders. I agree that it’s better to plant a few together for a more immediate well established look. To me there’s nothing sadder than a single flowering snowdrop!

    1. Yes. I learnt that the sad way! 😂

  9. Cathy says:

    Yes, they definitely do clump up well, as you will see on my most recent post. Next year I will be one of those gardens opening for snowdrops (and witch hazels too) too…

    1. Oh that is exciting, Cathy! I know the NGS are desperate to have more February gardens, as am I!

      1. Cathy says:

        It is scarey too, as the number of Feb visitors will be a big unknown, as our first June openings were… 😐

      2. Yes, that must be very difficult! I am just starting out on the process with the NGS, in that I have spoken to our local coordinator to get on the books, but haven’t had the initial visit yet. I think I will be asking you a few questions along the way!

      3. Cathy says:

        Oh I am SO excited to hear you have begun the process, Ali – what time of year would you hope to open? Is that when they will visit? It can seem a slow process, getting started, but once you are there the years between go in a flash (or at least they do for me!). And yes, please ask as many questions as you like – I feel strongly that new openers need support and mentoring, which should come from the County Organisers but doesn’t always. Ours are very good.

      4. I would like to open in June for roses, but I know that time is very busy. Also maybe for tulips or for late summer.

      5. Cathy says:

        I think it’s inevitable that June will be busy month for NGS gardens. Is that when your Organiser will come to inspect?

      6. She has asked me to email when I think it is a good time to visit, which I am thinking is in a few weeks to coincide with the tulips, and then again in June.

      7. Cathy says:

        Let’s hope she is supportive and helpful as sadly not all county organisers are. Staffordshire’s certainly are though. Don’t forget to email if you want to ask anything. She will ask about parking and suggest ways of improving access around the garden if needed, or at least she should

      8. Parking will be a real problem, actually. There is space for about 3 cars and that’s it. Our neighbours help out if we have a party, but that’s a big ask if you don’t know how many people to expect.

      9. Cathy says:

        Parking could be difficult here as none of us have garages, but one of our neighbours lives in a converted school house and allow us to use the ‘playground’ where we might get perhaps 15 cars. We have been at capacity but not beyond. We arrange for our helpers to park elsewhere, as we do. Is there a village hall, or other function room, or school even? Longer opening hours will spread the visitors out. As you say, it is the not knowing how many will come which is a concern

      10. The nearest parking would be about a 10-15 min walk away in a new housing development or at the train station, so I guess that will need to be clearly stated.

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