Soggy Sunday Snowdrops

img_8728After a mixed week of weather which brought a touch of snow on Friday morning and a wet Saturday morning followed by glorious blue skies and sunshine on both days, Sunday looks set to be grey and wet all day.

Potting on seedlings in the greenhouse was quickly thwarted because I ran out of compost, and a simple vase for Monday quickly prepared and photographed. Each ramble past the special snowdrop border whilst carrying out these tasks took in a cursory inspection of any new emergees – but sadly there are still varieties unticked on my checklist. In full bloom (and therefore no cause for concern) and also readily visible from the kitchen windows since the bed was raised are Mrs Macnamara:

img_8729Godfrey Owen:

img_8730Lady Beatrix Stanley:


and the large and jovial fellow with the name Reverend Hailstone:

img_8732However, there are still 9 or 10 that haven’t yet re-emerged this season which is more than a little disappointing but unfortunately seems to be an occupational hazard when establishing named varieties. My checklist still includes varieties not seen for a few years and which will finally be taken off the list as I don’t intend to replace them – most of them were not fully established clumps but as well as some fairly recent acquisitions this year’s non-showers include G Atkinsii and Wendy’s Gold both of which I have had for a number of years, although admittedly the latter was not a large clump and had been diminished one year when it was split to sell 2 or 3 bulbs to appease a guilty conscience after paying too much for another snowdrop πŸ˜‰

All these snowdrops are grown in lattice pots originally designed to contain pond plants and which ensure the bulbs are easier to find and lift when they need splitting. There is a slight danger of air pockets being left in the basket or drainage being affected by pebblesΒ  or other detritus, and I am beginning to wonder whether it would increase chances of survival if bulbs were grown in the open ground. I feel confident that the larger clumps would be fine with this, but newer purchases of single bulbs would be more vulnerable and yet these are the ones most likely to fail – around 10 of the snowdrops acquired within the last two years have failed. Sometimes when these pots have been lifted there has been evidence of damage by narcissus fly, but mostly the bulbs have just disappeared without trace. What is a snowdrop loving girl to do…?


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27 Responses to Soggy Sunday Snowdrops

  1. Brian Skeys says:

    I have no experience with special snowdrops, would mice eat them. I have seen them growing in pots in a greenhouse at John Massey’s nursery, wether that would be any good long term for the expensive ones.

  2. Pauline says:

    How frustrating Cathy, for bulbs not to show when they have cost a pretty penny. This has happened to me a couple of times but not recently, thank goodness. I never plant mine in pots and so far have resisted the temptation to split them, some will need it soon though. I always give mine a lovely helping of leaf mould when I plant them, then stand back, hope and pray that they will emerge next January!

    • Cathy says:

      It’s always a testing time of year, isn’t it?! I certainly don’t intend to split mine to sell any again, as I did a few years ago but will continue to share with blogging friends. I feel more confident with a larger clump!

  3. Christina says:

    That’s sad Cathy; I’m pleased that my very ordinary snowdrops, planted last autumn are flowering but the test will be whether they survive the hot summer and flower next winter. Maybe the pot in the greenhouse idea might be a better prospect.

    • Cathy says:

      Will you keep the area they are in well watered, Christina, or take any other precautions? I will probably go down the pot in the greenhouse option for the first few years but need to work out the logistics first

  4. [D] Your pictures remind me how modestly beautiful snowdrops are – and so welcome. We have bulb leaves emerging in the woodland areas of the walled garden. I don’t think we’ve got any snowdrops, so will have to look into that for next year. Despite the severe conditions, bulbs do well here: there are three strategies for surviving the winter – (a) grass! (b) shed leaves, bend with the wind (rosa rugosa) ; or (b) retreat underground (bulbs).

  5. What a shame to hear about the choice ones that seem to gone AWOL, I always thought snowdrops were fairly pest free, if not poisonous to mice, squirrels etc.. If you suspect the conditions aren’t quite right, could it be a nasty fungus/bacterium? Hate to think it, but might it have come in with the bulbs?

    • Cathy says:

      Almost all have come from Avon Bulbs in recent years (didn’t allow myself to buy any last year, of course!) although there were a few from eBay two years ago, but both were regular snowdrop sellers. I have checked my list and there is no particular pattern to those that have failed so it may well be a combination of things – and it is mostly the more recent purchases that fail whch it is why it is particularly upsetting when long established clumps disappear, although it may well be that the clumps have not established as easily as some. I have to be philosophical and accept it comes with the territory – and the larger the collection, the more chances there are of losing some!

  6. i have only one snowdrop variety. I like them much better than that but I always forget to order them when one is supposed to. Your garden looks good for winter. I hope more snowdrops show up for you.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Lisa – having plants that flower in winter adds another dimension and I can heartily really recommend making the effort to include some. Snowdrops can be planted either as dry bulbs or ‘in the green’ so you have two chances to plant some!

  7. Anna says:

    Oh isn’t it an exciting time of year Cathy! Your snowdrop border looks fabulous. Just how many varieties have you got planted there? I like the dragonfly perched on the stone. This is my first year of acquaintance with ‘Godfrey Owen’ whom I most taken with. Sorry to hear about the no shows but they still may emerge. I think that Kate has a point worth considering. Did your new ones come from the same source? I made it to the greenhouse this morning and will email you a list of my spares before the day is ended.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, exciting and all sorts of other emotions too! I have a little over 50 now, if I don’t include the ones that haven’t shown themselves this year – my ‘list’ has more than that, but I am going to take off the ones that I haven’t seen for years, so 50 is a more realistic number and way way behind yours! Thanks for your long email which I shall be replying to soon – and asking for advice on keeping my newer snowdrops in pots!!

  8. Chloris says:

    What a welcome sight! How exciting it is when they start emerging. I have had vanishing snowdrops too, often expensive ones. Lady BS and the Rev are early, mine are only just showing through.

    • Cathy says:

      Lady BS was one of the first ones I ever had so this clump is about 12 years old; the Rev is a mere youngster but I already like him a lot. The books certainly don’t include them as some of the earlier ones, but I am just pleased to see them anyway πŸ™‚ Sorry you are losing some of yours too, although there is always that touch of reassuranace when you know it’s not just yourself…

  9. croftgarden says:

    There is still time for some of the laggards to appear. You will be pleased to know that Lady BS has ben well cared for and is flowering beautifully in the greenhouse. I have some snowdrops in the garden (nivalis, elwesii and a few woronii) but although they tend to get a bit wind blasted they survive and flower.
    I also have some snowdrops in pots and have no problems at all, they flower, set seed and multiply which is all that is required. I use a well drained, hunous rich compost, dropped dressed with shredded bark. A pinch of bonemeal is added to the compost and a sprinkle of general purpose fertiliser added when they start to grow each year. They live outdoors in a mesh covered cold frame and move into the greenhouse when the flower buds appear. After flowering they go back into the cold frame, get another pinch of fertiliser. I repot only when necessary. I don’t grow anything too special apart from G. reginae-olgae and G.ikariae (and the two Ladys from you), but compared to some bulbs it appears to be fairly easy to grow them in pots.

    • Cathy says:

      Good to know that the ladies are at ease and comfortable in your company. Thanks for letting me know about about your planting regime too – I have virtually decided to keep my newer ones in pots for a a couple of years but I need to sort out the mechanics of space, etc (and resist the temptation to add them to the existing bed)

  10. Gorgeous Snowdrops! At least you’re braving the wintery days. I have got beautiful Helebores flowering. I’ll blog them! Enjoy your garden!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks – and oh yes, I still have to have my regular rambles round the garden although admittedly today’s was a little delayed because of the weather πŸ˜‰

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