Galanthus: A Flower Carpet for the Early Spring Garden Leave a comment

Today we’re in Margot Navarre’s garden in Washington State, where snowdrops are doing their annual late winter–early spring display. These classic bulbs bloom earlier than just about anything else. Moreover, they are easy to grow and resistant to damage by deer, squirrels, and most other pests.

close up of classic Galanthus flowersThe most common of the 20 species of snowdrops is Galanthus nivalis (Zones 3–7). I have many G. nivalis along with G. elwesii (Zones 4–7) in my garden.

close up of Rosemarie Burnham snowdropsI have purchased a few special varieties of snowdrops throughout the years. Pictured is ‘Rosemarie Burnham’, a beautiful form with green-tinted petals.

snowdrops growing around the base of a treeLocation for snowdrops is important so they can viewed despite their small size. I like to plant the bulbs in the woodlands along the edges of the trails.

a small clump of snowdrops next to a larger swatch of epimedium foliageHere they are growing on the edges of the path next to clumps of epimedium. The epimedium will ensure that this site is green and full long after the snowdrops have faded.

drifts of snowdrops planted on a slopeI am inspired by the snowdrop drifts in English gardens, but I have a long way to go to establish the snowdrop snowstorm. When clumps get big, I dig and divide when the snowdrops have finished blooming but while they still have their green leaves. This is the best time to divide snowdrops and is called digging them “in the green.” I add flags to mark the places I want to dig and plant them.

close up of small yellow flowersSnowdrops pair nicely with winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis, Zones 4–9) and Cyclamen hederifolium (Zones 4–9), as shown in this picture. They also look nice in combinations with Cyclamen coum (Zones 6–8), hellebores (Helleborus hybrids, Zones 4–9), primroses (Primula species and hybrids), and ferns. I also like to grow them underneath deciduous trees such as Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) and our native vine maple (Acer circinatum, Zones 5–9).

close up of singular Primrose Warburg snowdropThis snowdrop is called ‘Primrose Warburg’ and is noteworthy because the base of the flower is yellow rather than the typical green. I purchased this rare one in 2015 from Mr. Lynn at Temple Nursery, New York. I put the special ones close to the house so I can watch them grow.


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