In readiness for this later experiment, when replanting my special snowdrops in their newly elevated home earlier in the year I kept back a bulb of ‘Maidwell L’, one of the snowdrops I have had the longest and therefore a well established little clump, potting it up and making sure it was watered periodically during the drier months. Freda Cox describes the process of chipping in her book ‘A Gardener’s Guide to Snowdrops’ and there was an article covering it in the July/August ‘Which? Gardening’ magazine and it was the latter I followed as I had read it most recently. The techniques are essentially the same but Freda Cox used vermiculite rather than perlite and took the precaution of using a fungicide.
First of all I unearthed the bulb from the pot, relieved that there WAS still a bulb for me to work on and pleased that it had developed two additional bulblets since I last saw it; the skin was then gently peeled from the bulbs:
The pleasure of finding 3 bulbs instead of one was tempered by discovering that two of them were damaged or infected in some way, but I took the decision to work with these damaged ones as well but to keep them separate. The next step was to slice off the top and the base (with a sterilised sharp knife), retaining a section of the basal plate to which the scales are attached, and then cutting the bulbs vertically into 2, 4, 8, 16 or even 32 sections, each with a tiny section of the basal plate. I cut the larger two into eight sections and the smaller one into 4, but you can see how damaged the two bulbs are so I am not hopeful of any results with these ones:
The sections of bulbs were then placed in plastic bags in a mixture of peat and perlite and moistened before the bags were sealed. They are meant to be placed in an airing cupboard for 6-8 weeks but in the absence of this they are tucked in a dark corner of the kitchen next to the Aga, where I will try and resist the temptation to inspect them too frequently! In time new bulblets should appear between the scales but this could take anything up to 6 months – I will keep you posted!
Not yet in the bag is inclusion of our garden in the NGS Yellow Book, and although a preliminary visit from the Assistant County Organisers today was largely positive there are some issues which need to be addressed, particularly maintaining access round the garden and clearing unnecessary clutter, as well as the inevitable issue of parking. Inevitably a little apprehensive about the visit, I nevertheless recognised that as the garden is a reflection of myself if it was deemed not suitable for inclusion then that was fine by me as I garden essentially for my own pleasure; if on the other hand it was considered of wider appeal then it would a shame to keep it to myself. A further visit has been provisionally arranged for June next year, around the time it would potentially be opened if it was to be included at a later date. Again watch this space – but don’t hold your breath!