A Basket Case or Two (or Three)

For over 10 years I have been planting my ‘special’ snowdrops in pond baskets and sinking them into the soil, partly for ease of knowing exactly where they were planted but also because I felt it gave them some degree of protection from encroachment by other plants or accidental slicing by a spade. Some of those reasons may well have been justified but certainly not protection from encroachement, as I showed in a recent post, and containment also put them at risk from the medium they were planted in, as I found to my cost when I lifted the pots of some of the less successful snowdrops and discovered rather too much in the way of gravel and not enough soil.

Although I can see the snowdrop bed from the kitchen windows and have paused to admire the preciouses as I rambled, the weather has been cold and damp recently and not at all conducive to working in the garden or squatting down to admire individual snowdrops at close quarters. However, temperatures lifted a little in the last couple of days and the sun was out so this afternoon I took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with their individuality and also release them from the confines of their baskets. For the first couple of seasons I still intend to keep them in the tall snowdrop pots that Avon Bulbs sell, but all the others are now planted directly in the ground, competition from pulmonaria, geranium, campanula and cyclamen having been removed to other quarters.

This has made it possible to divide a number of established clumps, splitting the individual bulbs away from their neighbours and hopefully encouraging further  expansion. In the meantime, earlier division of clumps has provided a few spares this year of Magnet, James Backhouse and Mrs Macnamara, so if any of my UK blogging friends would like any of these, just let me know and I can share them round. I have benefited many times from other bloggers’ generosity and I am pleased to be able to reciprocate this time.

See Magnet below, with Imbolc to the right, and then (clockwise from left) Walrus, Starling, Blewbury Tart and Wendy’s Gold, all bobbing about prettily on this sunny afternoon. Despite several snowdrops flowering in late November or December, their season seems to have slowed down to  a normal pace since Christmas as the majority are now in their prime whilst, as the bottom picture shows, the natives are all through but mostly not yet opening – so we have many more weeks of snowdrops to delight us, especially on milder days!

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30 Responses to A Basket Case or Two (or Three)

  1. Oooo Cathy! I would absolutely love a spare snowdrop bulb – to have a named variety from your garden would feel very special indeed! Happy to offer a crafty goody as a swap – I’ll send a personal message. ❤

  2. Pauline says:

    I’m so glad your snowdrops have been released into your garden, I’m sure they will be much happier and will go forth and multiply!

    • Cathy says:

      It has taken a few years for me to come to this decision, Pauline, but hopefully it is the right one. Many have still thrived in the baskets but then of course they get overcrowded

  3. Cathy, I’m glad you’ve improved the time to come face to face with your beautiful winter bells. When he pulled out a pond basket with one of his bells, he discovered why they did not grow. I think they felt drowned inside the baskets. They are much better on the ground – inexpert opinion – once the competition has been removed. There are tall pots of winter bells in Avon Bulbs, I have visited your website several times, and will try with them the next two seasons: very good idea. I am glad that I was able to divide bell bulbs of various varieties. You have a big heart by giving other bloggers bulbs of their bells. By the way, you have a beautiful view from the window of your kitchen of your winter bells. Have a good weekend . Greetings from Margarita.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What luck having enough to share with a lucky recipient. The bed looks so neat and tidy.

    • Cathy says:

      I added some compost from my 2016 heap, partly to fill gaps where snowdrops had been removed, and of course a top dressing like this always makes a bed look neater, which I didn’t notice until you mentioned it!

  5. Anna says:

    As you know Cathy I’ve considered using baskets for my specials but never took the plunge. That must have been a bit of a fiddly job but at least the weather has played fair, especially today when there was almost a hint of spring in the air 🙂 Funnily enough I was planting snowdrops too this afternoon. I hope that your liberated snowdrops are soon settled and romping away.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh me too, Anna. I now have to nurture those touch and go ones, and perhaps I will treat myself to some dormant bulbs from Avon this year – will email soon, and thanks for yours

  6. JaHeath says:

    Thank you for the great snowdrop photos. Mine have mostly disappeared in the last couple of years & I know realize the epimedium have pushed them out

    • Cathy says:

      Oh that’s a shame, losing most of yours. Interestingly, the natives have to compete with geranium, epimedium and pulmonaria in the woodland edge border, not to mention the hellebores and rhododendrons – but they thrive and multiply 😐 But they haven’t cost several pounds each, as my named ones do…

  7. Anca Tirca says:

    Well done! I am also working to expand my snowdrops collection.

  8. tonytomeo says:

    Yes, they will be happier.

  9. Christina says:

    You are brave moving them while they are in full. flower

  10. Great post and photos as always!

  11. Brian Skeys says:

    Weather permitting we are intending to visit a ‘snowdrop’ garden tomorrow. We have a good show of the navalis here, I hope to get my ‘specials’ fix then.

  12. rusty duck says:

    Cathy, where do you keep the snowdrops while still in their pots? Greenhouse, cold frame or out in the open? I’m thinking this is the best way to get them established. A more robust clump will surely cope better with all my challenges!

    • Cathy says:

      I actually sink my pots into my snowdrop border, but speak to Anna of Green Tapestry who has a large collection in pots which she keeps in the greenhouse/coldframe/outside depending on the time of year. Having just ditched all my lattice pots, I aim to keep my newest ones in Avon Bulb’s deep pots for a couple of years, in the bed, before planting them directly. Yours, I think, will be better kept out of the ground till they establish because of your mice issue

  13. Chloris says:

    I haven’t tried baskets, perhaps I should, maybe it would solve the problem of disappearing snowdrops. (always expensive ones.) Lovely to see your snowdrops.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, it’s always the expensive ones – the natives have to compete with all sorts of things in the woodland edge border and they spread at a rate of knots…

  14. Well only just got round to reading this Cathy. I like your idea of baskets to protect the special snowdrops. I am going to look at a garden open for NGS this weekend as she has snowdrops. I should love a spare bulb should you have any. I think perhaps the rodents ate some of mine.

    • Cathy says:

      The baskets are a good idea in principle, Dorris and generally are effective – definitely good for locating exactly where a particular variety is though. I will be sorting the spare bulbs out at the w/e and will be posting on Tuesday – and do let me know if you would like some baskets too as they will be going to a charity shop soon. We haven’t managed a snowdrop garden visit for a few years – hope you enjoy the one you get to

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