the most magical of bulbs

With high pressure hanging over us at the start of the month, the first few days of spring feel tangibly close. A few days of sun brings the whole garden to life and suddenly the first flowers of the garden show their charm. Daphne, Winter Sweet and Sarcococca, planted around the entrance of the Manor fill the air with sweet perfume. Outside the restaurant the winter heather is brightening up the landscape with a tapestry of purples and white, studded with elegant snowdrops.

Snowdrops are the most magical bulbs, which when fully open, in the first sunny days that hint of spring, are a sight for sore eyes. At Gravetye we have three main types. Galanthus elwesii, which is one of the earliest, with especially large flowers.  Galanthus plicatus - a tall elegant snowdrop that will hybridise and seed quite freely arising in some interesting forms around the estate and our beautiful and dainty native Galanthus nivalis.

There are hundreds of different types of snowdrop, and once bitten by the bug it is easy to become captivated by their charm.  Many people fall in love with their subtle differences and begin a lifelong fascination of collecting, like precious jewels in the garden.  This is an addiction which I could easily become hooked on, and maybe one day I will dabble.  But for now we are happy with the selection we have and have been working over the years to spread them through the garden.

They are best divided after flowering, and last year we had a project of splitting some big old clumps around the estate.  ‘Operation Snowdrop’ was led by Matt, one of our newest gardeners, and with his energy we managed to spread them in some exciting new parts of the garden.  Even Carol Klein joined in while she was here during filming! 12 months later and we are starting to see the results of our work and every day they seem to look more beautiful.  They prefer to grow under trees and shrubs, but will also perform well in the meadow, bulking up into strong clumps to welcome in the first spring days each year.



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