Summoning the Spring with Snowdrops

Written by NDA tutor, Gill Lotter

In the dark of Winter, there are few more delightful sights than snowdrops nodding their delicate heads to summon up the Spring. These delightful little bulbs are available in several hundred cultivars but the one we know best is the wild snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis. Mostly Snowdrops are white and green with single flowers but others have yellow ovaries and markings (the Sandersii Group) or double flowers (Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’, Double Snowdrop).


The intricate detail of the Double Snowdrop


Fact or Fiction

Snowdrops are poisonous so squirrels and rabbits generally have the sense to avoid them. However, slugs and snails will feast on the flowers, leaves and stems. In fact, the most common reason for snowdrop failure is due to planting as dry, rootless bulbs that are notoriously difficult to establish.



Happy Companions

Snowdrops are best planted with ‘gentle’ neighbours who thrive in similar conditions, e.g. Cyclamen coum (Eastern Cyclamen), Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite), or Helleborus x hybridus. If taking the trouble to use a more intricate bloom, such as Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’ (Double Snowdrop) then consider potting and placing on top of a wall, where you can peer into their cheerful little faces. Most certainly, you should avoid planting with anything that blocks out too much sun or dries out the soil, such as large evergreens or conifers. Ivy is far too vigorous, as are rhizomatous herbaceous plants such as Pulmonarias, and some Geraniums and Epimediums.


Plant in pots and place on a wall where you can see their detail


With Cyclamen coum (Persian Violet)


With Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite)


With Helleborus x hybridus


Where to see snowdrops in the UK

Gatton Gardens, Surrey

Snowdrop Valley, Somerset

Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (National Trust)

Hodsock Priory, Nottinghamshire

Rode Hall, Congleton

Cambo Estate, Scotland


Will you be planting any Snowdrops this winter?


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