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!

February 2022: end of month review

The weather has definitely hampered quality time in the garden this month. It has been cold, wet and blustery. The UK was hit by several major storms, with Storm Eunice wreaking particular havoc in the south of England.

So, although I’ve been itching to start tidying the borders, they have been best left alone. The winter’s debris has provided a comforting duvet of protection from regular frosts over tender new growth…

The February garden
The February garden: a tangled mess of winter structure

…and a haven for insects and other wildlife, sheltering from the inclement weather.

Protective winter structure in the borders
Protective winter structure in the borders

Pockets of colour

Most of the garden is a brown-beige tangle of dead stems and seedheads, but pockets of colour have begun to shine through.

Pockets of colour in the February garden
Splashes of colour around the garden: crocuses, snowdrops, rose hips, aconites, hellebores and pansies

At the shady end of the garden, a few delightful clumps of snowdrops and aconites were the first of the spring bulbs to emerge.

Snowdrops and aconites

With cheery crocuses soon joining the party.

Crocuses bring colour to shady areas

February jobs

Although I left the borders to their own devices, I still managed to get on with a few jobs. I tidied the shed, cut down the autumn raspberry canes and planted a few more snowdrops.

Planting snowdrops in the green
Planting snowdrops in the green

I unearthed my dahlia tubers from winter storage…

Unearthing dahlia tubers from winter storage

…and potted them up.

Pot up dahlia tubers

I harvested the last of 2021’s potatoes, which had overwintered well outside in the sacks that I grew them in.

Final harvest of last year's potatoes
Final harvest of last year’s potatoes

And started chitting new seed potatoes for this year’s crop.

The right kind of chit: short, knobbly, green sprouts
Chitting seed potatoes on a window sill

I even started a few indoor sowings.

First sowings: tomatoes, aubergines, chillis and lettuce
First indoor sowings: tomatoes, aubergines, chillis and lettuce

Improving areas

It was also gratifying to see some improvement in a couple of the garden’s problem areas.

Autumn-planted hellebores appear to be thriving in a previously problem area under an apple tree.

Hellebores thriving under an apple tree

And the strip of soil next to the curb in the front garden is looking tidier after a bit of weeding and extra planting.

Curbside progress
Curbside progress: snowdrops and primroses

Lunchtime walks

When I haven’t been in the garden, I’ve taken my 15 minutes of green further afield, enjoying some short walks around my Hampshire village and along the Basingstoke canal.

Basingstoke canal in February
Canal walk

In the churchyard, storm Eunice brought down huge clumps of mistletoe from the trees.

Mistletoe brought down from trees during storm Eunice

But early blossoms somehow remained intact.

First blossom in February

And I particularly enjoyed seeing larger swathes of snowdrops than I’ve managed to achieve (yet) in my garden.

Naturalised snowdrops

Patio pots

Back in the garden, the pots on my patio are slowly transforming, from early shoots to first blooms.

First blooms of the year in patio pots
From early to late February, the first layer of bulbs in my pots are starting to emerge

An early sign of wonderful things to come.

First iris of 2022
First iris of 2022

Early bloomers

Something fabulous is happening in the garden this month. Small but exquisite blooms are bursting from the ground, providing much-needed pollen and nectar for early emerging pollinators. A walk around the garden reveals the wonders that have inspired great poets. I’ll let them do the talking …

Winter aconite

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), the very first of the Spring bloomers.

‘Tis the first blossom that the year hath seen,
This little globe of yellow’s brightest shade,
As though upon a nest of scanty green
A fairy bird its magic egg has laid.
Almost the smallest flower the garden grows,
And yet a flower when not another blows.

– ‘Winter Aconit’, Robert Henry Forster, 1867–1923


Snowdrops (Galanthus species) are a clear sign that winter is waning.

LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
– To a snowdrop, William Wordsworth, 1770–1850


Irises are the showiest of blooms at this time of year. Aptly, ‘Iris’ is the Greek word for rainbow.

A wonder! Bow and rainbow as it bent,
Instead of moving with us as we went
(To keep the pots of gold from being found),
It lifted from its dewy pediment
Its two mote-swimming many-colored ends
And gathered them together in a ring.

– Iris by Night, Robert Frost, 1874–1963


The gentle lavender blooms and exotic saffron stigmas of crocuses are a cheery sight on a cold winter’s day. They look fragile, but are remarkably resilient.

Dear child, within each sere dead form
There sleeps a living flower,
And angel-like it shall arise
In spring’s returning hour.

… In blue and yellow from its grave
Springs up the crocus fair,
And God shall raise those bright blue eyes,
Those sunny waves of hair.

– The Crocus, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811–1896

What inspiration awaits in your garden this month?