07 February 2010


My RHS magazine arrived today with a picture of snowdrops on the front cover.

A year last autumn I planted ten little snowdrop bulbs, bought from a UK supermarket, as an experiment, in four different places in the garden. It is not, you might think, a plant that you would expect to see in this part of the world, but I love them so much that I thought it was worth a try. I put masses of leaf mould around them in the hope that they wouldn’t dessicate during our blistering summers. They’re planted in our ‘dingly dell’ – a mix of white and evergreen oaks and the ubiqitous pines, that almost grow like weeds here, creating a shady area – a perfect cool spot in the summer.

There are apparently 19 species of Galanthus – and I think mine are possibly G elwesii var. elwesii, as the green marks appear to merge to form an‘X’ and bloom from January to March – and “are native to central and southern Europe and parts of western Asia, where they flourish in cool woodlands and other shady habitats from sea level to around 2,000m (6,500ft). Snowdrops like deep, fertile, well-drained soil, moist in the growing season, but not waterlogged during their summer dormancy.” No chance of that here !

Last spring, all ten bulbs flowered. I searched and searched for signs of them and suddenly spotted them in two of the four locations – and they have obviously multiplied. A gardening friend who belongs to the MGS said that she had helped someone plant a thousand Spanish bluebells. I wonder …


Michele Chantal said...

Like you I love snowdrops and while clearing some dead leaves in french garden I was so excited to find one! Maybe it will see fit to multiply. At this time of year in the village I live in in UK the banks at the sides of the road are literally carpeted with them and they are such a welcome sight after the dreariness of January. I had no idea you could grown them here in Provence but will have a go for next year and of course nurture the solitary one I have already.

Esther Montgomery said...

I bought some little snowdrops in a pot this year too. Usually, I would think it cheating but planting them as bulbs has been a complete failure so I thought this way, they'd have a head start over the slugs. They are still there - with extra ones coming up - but they are nowhere, absolutely nowhere, near flowering. Crocuses haven't come up very far either yet. Wouldn't it be brilliant if you ended up with a snowdrop carpet?

Isn't that cover lovely too!


bare-faced gardener said...

Michèle Chantal – I had no idea either. It is important, however, that they are kept as moist as possible during summer in Provence. I seem to remember that I poured water on the spots where I thought they were planted, when I had some left over from my washing-up bowl (not greasy water).

If you plant any more, I heard on the new Gardeners’ World that they should be planted a good six inches deep and I’d surround them with leaf mould and probably a handful of water granules for good measure !

Esther – I also heard on GW that there are some very early flowering ones : elwesii, like the ones I have, flower in January. You must have some later flowering ones but planting them ‘in the green’ is obviously a more reliable way of planting.

I meant to reply to these comments the other day. I went out in a balmy 16°C (25°C in the sun) to see if there were any flowers left – on one clump there wasn’t, but on the other, a dried flower with a very FAT seedpod ! Snowdrop carpet only in my dreams and memories of Dorset …
Today, it’s cold again and tomorrow the maximum temperature will supposedly be only 1°C !

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