Gardens Snowdrops in spring
One of the best-loved spring flowers has to be the snowdrop. It’s one of those flowers guaranteed to bring a smile, especially on a cold winter’s morning. Snowdrops aren’t difficult to grow and if you have an overcrowded group, divide and transplant immediately after flowers have finished. This method is known as moving them ‘in the green’. Just prepare a spot for planting by adding some well-rotted homemade compost or leaf mould. Snowdrops appreciate a position in sunlight but they will also grow in semi-shade. Good drainage is essential – if they’re left in soil that retains too much water the bulbs may rot. There are many hundreds of snowdrop varieties and avid collectors are are known as ‘galanthophiles’ – derived from the scientific name Galanthus. Galanthophiles have for many years attended the annual Carlow Snowdrop Festival, which this year has been extended to run through the entire month of February. The festival gives visitors a chance to see the extensive collection of snowdrops held in the beautiful Altamont Gardens near Tullow in Co Carlow. This unique collection was started by the garden’s original owner Corona North and now has over 100 named varieties. An evening of talks during the festival will take place on February 1 at Ballykealy Manor Hotel, with contributions from head gardener at Altamont, Paul Cutler and gardener and galanthophile, Assumpta Broomfield.
The annual Snowdrop Gala, organised by Robetrt Miller of Altamont Plant Sales and Hester Forde of Coosheen Gardens, takes place at Ballykealy Manor Hotel on Saturday, February 2. It showcases snowdrops and other spring plants with talks by experts and a chance to buy some rare and unusual spring flowering gems – the perfect way to emerge from winter hibernation. Pre-booking is essential at [email protected]tamontplants.com or hester[email protected]
Altamont Gardens are open daily with free admission from 9am to 4.30pm. The Old Yard Café at the Walled Garden is open for hot drinks and homemade cakes throughout the month. Paul Cutler will conduct tours of the garden’s snowdrop collection each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout February at 2pm, costing just €3 per person.
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