The first sign that spring is on its way has to be the mass of bright white snowdrops
beginning to carpet the garden
Floral accents are to be savoured as the garden stirs from winter to the promise of spring. As the days begin to lengthen, stimulating the plant hormones, another season begins to slowly stir. By late winter a large variety of bulbs, shrubs and trees are ready to burst into a succession of blooms.
Throughout February, dainty white galanthus (snowdrops) are celebrated in the National Garden Scheme’s Snowdrop Festival across the country. Here in Kent we have some wonderful gardens to visit where you can join in the admiration, whether you are a true galanthophile, keen collector, or would just like to get outside and enjoy the start of the open garden season.
Even after being frozen solid overnight these hardy little blooms pick up as soon as the ice melts in their stems. Whether
in drifts under trees, in beds or containers, snowdrops make an impact in the garden.
Snowdrops are hardy and it’s lovely to mix them with hellebores and aconites; plant in naturalised drifts on lawns, against contrasting coloured winter stems or in troughs.
They are best bought and planted ‘in the green’ as dried bulbs are more difficult to establish. Dappled shade and soil improved with leaf mould or compost are ideal and keep them watered until established.
Here are some suggestions for gardens to inspire: have been planted over the past few years, including mixes of singles, doubles and more unusual varieties such as the yellow-tipped ‘Wendy’s Gold’, green-tipped ‘Viridapice’, giant ‘Colossus’ and ‘Warham’ which was originally grown from a bulb brought back from the Crimean trenches, hevercastle.co.uk
and love of plants, developed on 1.5 acres and set out in informal island beds.
The wide collection includes many rare plants grown from seed, along with a special interest in spring flowering trees, woodland flowers, hellebores and snowdrops.
Tim thinks there are around 100 to 150 snowdrop varieties, including the aptly named G. ‘Hunton Giant’, G. elwesii ‘Comet’ with grey-green leaves and award-winning G. ‘Atkinsii’.
As well as great advice there will be many affordable ones for sale at your visit. Open for the National Garden Scheme festival on Sundays 10 and 17 February.
Knowle Hill Farm, Ulcombe ME17 1ES is another treat not to be missed, with two acres spread over a sloping site and spectacular views of the North Downs. The seasons ebb and flow beautifully, from early spring bulbs through roses, lavender humming with bees, to salvias
Sunlight sets them aglow