Persevering with snowdrops: planting in the green

A few years ago there weren’t any snowdrops in my garden. I started by planting some dry bulbs in autumn, but when they failed to emerge the following year I did my research and began to plant snowdrops ‘in the green’ in the hope that one day I would have a dazzling display, the envy of every galanthophile.

I’ve planted a few clumps every year for about 5 years now and, to be honest, it’s still a battle to get them to grow. They certainly haven’t spread into the carpets of snowdrops that I long for.

Carpet of snowdrops in churchyard
The vision: a carpet of snowdrops (but without the headstones)

Although the individual clumps have got bigger.

A decent-sized clump of snowdrops
A decent-sized clump of snowdrops

Drying out

I expect this is because the foundation of my soil is clay. Despite all the organic material I add, it has a tendency to dry out in dry summers – and we’ve certainly had a few dry summers! Unlike daffodils and tulips, snowdrop bulbs do not have a water-retaining skin, so they dry out very quickly. And a dry snowdrop bulb is a dead snowdrop bulb. So, thinking about, I should just be grateful I’ve got any snowdrops after last summer’s soaring temperatures.

But I keep persevering, as nothing else in the garden puts a smile on my face in January and February quite like a bunch of snowdrops does. And I have a few decent clumps dotted around the garden now.

I'll keep planting snowdrops in the green, because every clump that surfaces the following year is so worth it
I’ll keep planting snowdrops in the green, because every clump that surfaces the following year is so worth it

Curbside snowdrops

This week, I handed over another tenner at my local garden centre for 3 more bunches of snowdrops in the green.

You can buy snowdrops in the green from garden centres, or order them online
You can buy snowdrops in the green from garden centres, or order them online

I split each clump down into three smaller clumps…

Planting snowdrops in the green

And dotted them under the hedge along the curbside in the front garden.

Plant snowdrops in the green and water well
Plant snowdrops in the green and water well

They’ve got quite a few buds on them, so I might even get a few flowers this year.

So, I will keep persevering with snowdrops. How can I resist?!

Clump of snowdrops
Guaranteed to put a smile on my face

Are you having success with snowdrops? If so, I’d welcome any tips!

30 bulbs in 15 minutes

Starting back at work this week, albeit at home, was a bit of a shock to the system after a relaxing Christmas break. It’s been full on, but I’ve still managed to get away from my desk for several bursts of #15greenmins.

I was particularly chuffed to get some Tulip bulbs planted in a new trough overlooking my patio. They are Tulipa ‘Purissima’ (White Emperor), an elegant cultivar with large creamy white petals and a short (35 cm) sturdy stem – ideal for pots.

First, I positioned the bulbs where I wanted to plant them.

30 Tulip bulbs planted in 15 minutes
30 Tulipa ‘Purissima’ bulbs, ready to plant

Right tool for the job

Then, rather than dig out a trench or holes with a trowel, I used a bulb planter to make 30 individual holes. I highly recommend getting a bulb planter, as they make the job a lot easier. They come in different sizes, depending on what bulbs you are planting. I have found that this one works well for daffodils, tulips and alliums.

Bulb planter
A bulb planter is a very handy gadget

The sharp metal head of the planter cuts through the soil to just the right depth (4 inches) and extracts a large neat plug of earth.

Bulb planter in action
Bulb planter in action

Then, all I had to do was pop the bulbs into the base of the holes, pointy end up, and cover them with soil.

Planting tulip bulbs
Pop the bulb in the base of the hole, pointy end up

If the soil is heavy, it’s a good idea to add some grit or compost to the base of the hole before planting the bulb.

It really did only take 15 minutes to plant 30 bulbs, so I was able to get back to my desk before my toes went numb with the cold!