Various Cultivars, The Natural Habitat And The Cultivation Of Snowdrops by Fran Clifton

The speaker at the January meeting of the Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club was Fran Clifton, head gardener at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, her topic “Various Cultivars, The Natural Habitat And The Cultivation Of Snowdrops”

The genus name “galanthus”means milk flower in Greek and they are found throughout Europe and Asia Minor. They appear when daytime temperatures rise above freezing, do not need fertilizer but do require moisture. After flowering they can be lifted, split and replanted,and Fran demonstrated this, showing how a clump of bulbs can be separated then each bulb sliced with a sharp knife to produce more plants. They can be planted as bulbs, or in the green, in flower, when they are however more expensive. It is best to plant them randomly, (not overshadowed by other plants), and to be patient; if left they will increase and become a colony. Hilliers do not mow their meadows until May when the snowdrops are truly over.

Showing some actual specimen plants, and slides Fran demonstrated the three different forms of foliage, – applanate, plicate and volute or super volute and some named galanthus – Ophelia (early) “Elwessii” ( from Turkey), “Magnet” (taller), “Nivalis” and “Woranowii”. We also saw how well they can look against other plants and shrubs; one slide showed Gal.reginae- algae pushing through purple scree.

An exhibition at the Arboretum in mid-February for two weeks will show fifty cultivars.

This was an informative, enjoyable and humorous talk by an experienced and knowledgeable gardener given to an appreciative audience.