Snowdrops for Galanthophiles
January and Spring not far off the first Snowdrops or Galanthus have sprung up and are well in flower. Snowdrops are a perennial favourite in Ireland and justifiably so. Galanthus and Leucojum ( Snowflake a large Snowdrop) are closely related and allied to Narcissus. It is believed that there are approx fifteen species of Galanthus . Galanthus nivalis is now naturalized in Ireland and the famous ‘Straffan Snowdrop’ was discovered in around 1875 by head gardener Frederick Bedford. It produces two flowering stems and is quite robust and does well in rich loamy soil. The beauty of this Galanthus is that the flowering is spread between the two stems thus extending the time of flowering.
The Snowdrop is now naturalized in Ireland, it like many of the garden favourites is not a plant that was indigenous to Ireland or even Britain coming from as far away as Spain and the Caucuses.
Growing Galanthus or snowdrops is not as easy as people might imagine as the tiny bulbs dry out and are often taken from wild plants thus endangering the naturalized colonies.
When is best to plant Snowdrops
The very best time to increase your Snowdrops is in January to March while they are in growth. If you spot a flower you like take a garden fork and with great care digging fully down open up the clumps ensuring you have plant and bulbs exposed remove a few of the outer plants and bulbs very carefully potting them into the same garden soil.
Allow them to settle in a pot or plunge the pot into garden soil watering well. There is a nice video available on the web from the RHS showing how to move Snowdrops.
Another of the Irish Galanthus is ‘Hill Poe’ an attractive plant more robust than Straffan but single stemmed with a beautiful double flower.
Finally on Bulbs, a very attractive Irish Narcissus is ‘Cantatrice’ a white slender and very elegant flower in April or thereabouts. I am not sure on availability of this beauty. Suffice to say it’s well worth investigating.
January and February in your garden and outdoor space.
January and February are perfect months to garden with beautiful occasional sunny days everyone should spend time in the outdoors clearing the last of the leaves and tidying the edges of lawns or just enjoying the wonderful aromas from winter flowering shrubs and flowers.
Watering of window boxes in Winter sounds like an oxymoron but it’s an issue increasingly with climate change and dry winters.
So spare some time to check your outdoor potted plants and window boxes for water. An occasional water and feed especially for flowering plants in pots or boxes won’t be wasted.
Between the months of November and late March is also the time to plant Trees, Shrubs and
hedges. These are all available bare rooted and can save you money and are more likely to thrive & survive when planted in these months. Remember garden landscaping is best done from late Autumn to late Spring. Apart from the obvious it is also a good time to improve and augment trees and shrubs that may need pruning or change. Pruning at this time of year allows you to see the issues that leaves cover up in Summer. Lawns can be scarified in late February and an occasional mowing won’t go amiss.
Hamamelis mollis another intense and fabulous winter scented shrub.
Vegetables and fruit
Pruning of Raspberries and cane fruits. Cut out old stems and tie in last years stems.
A mulch of compost or leaf mould can be spread on the root area.( Sounds hard but easy and enjoyable too)
Apples and Pears can be tidied up now although as a student many years ago we were taught to prune between December and January these days it’s suggested the main pruning can be done in early Summer after the fruit have set. For me it’s still a Winter task!
Start off Spring lettuce and chit Potatoes for those who have the space and the inclination.
Plan your rotation of crops to avoid pest and diseases. Lime can be spread on ground where brassicas were grown before. Your Autumn sown Garlic should now be growing well.
Plants that flower in January and February often produce a fabulous all pervading aroma
The fabulous intense ‘Daphne Bholua’
Viburnum xbodnantense is another of the Viburnums with heady Winter scent.
And so many more including the Winter Heather ‘Erica Veitchii’ a white heather with a great fragrance.
Enjoy the late Winter in your garden or balcony.Working outdoors has far more to offer if you are outside looking in rather than inside looking out. Enjoy the glinting January Sun and long shadows the beauty of frost and snow.
Remember to plan and any ideas consigned to paper by you is a worthwhile investment in the long run it may not be a plan by a professional but it’s your feeling your emotion on paper; and as such it is very valuable.
The Autumn in Ireland is perhaps my favourite time of year. Autumn is really the Spring in horticulture terms it’s the time to get going to prepare, devise, reap and sow