Every year Altamont Gardens (Carlow, Ireland) hosts ‘Snowdrop Week’. It’s a wonderful event for any gardening enthusiasts or anyone who just fancies learning something new. I am a little bit of both…well more the latter! The tour was guided by head gardener Paul Cutter, who has a wealth of knowledge. He brought us through the different varieties, their origin, identifying markings and optimal growing conditions.
Despite traditionally being a woodland species, the snowdrop does very well on the lawn and rose beds. I was distracted for a moment, as the resident Peacock was strutting his stuff to a Peahen – stunning! Drifts of snowdrops can be seen through out the gardens. Snowdrops are from the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae) and are identified by three out petals and three inner petals (right). Not to be confused with their relative the snowflake (left), this looks like a bell and has six outer petals. The different markings, sizes and foliage are tools to identify the different varieties.
Galanthus Hippolyta – Raised in the 1940’s by H. A. Greatorex of Norwich, England who named each variety after a Shakespearian character!
A drift of common snowdrops! A gentle reminder to respect the gardens
This beautiful tall variety is appropriately named by Paul Cutter – Galanthus Elwesii ‘Skyward’ Snowdrops do not like heavy soil, and are loved by slugs and snails!! They are best moved when completely dormant, in mid-summer. But Paul explained this is not practical as they are very difficult to locate and digging for them can damage the tubers. So if you want to divide a clump, wait until the foliage has died down. He advised against buying dry tubers, best to buy them wet. If you have a year when the snowdrops do not bloom, called going blind, the foliage may be too dense. Dividing the tubers may help this and spread your collection!
Remember, you do not need to visit a formal garden to enjoy snowdrops, they are in the woodlands and hedgerows, enjoy!