Sarah Raven is the queen of flowers, and in the second episode of her recently launched 'Grow, Cook, Eat, Arrange' podcast she gives clever tips for growing snowdrops – one of the first flowers to emerge in our gardens in late winter.
Snowdrops are an invaluable winter-flowering bulb: they are one of the best shade-loving plants that love growing under a garden tree, and they're ideal for adding to pot if you want a pretty flower display on your patio or porch. They are relatively easy to grow too, if you follow a few simple rules.
In conversation with gardener Arthur Parkinson, Sarah Raven advises to buy your snowdrops from your local garden centre as ready-growing plug plants and transplant them into your garden as soon as you get them. Snowdrops hate being away from the soil - they will dry out and not flower the next year. For this reason, they are best divided into clumps and transplanted 'in the green' – that is, with the leaves on, during their growing season, unlike tulips or daffodils.
You can also get some from a friend's garden if you prefer – dividing snowdrops for transplanting will do them no harm. Sarah also explains that snowdrops are perfectly fine for picking as cut flowers for an indoor vase display – picking also doesn't harm them at all.
Trampling on them will kill snowdrops, however, so be careful not to step on them. If you crush the leaf you stop the photosynthesis. Don't pull while picking – always cut them (this also applies to bluebells).
Finally, Sarah gives some top tips for creating a gorgeous display with your snowdrops. As they're one of the best plants for winter pots, her top display idea is to create a snowdrop theatre in terracotta pots of different sizes, a 'tiered wedding cake of snowdrops' as she calls it. Alternatively, plant them in a pot with pink cyclamen for a stunning contrast.
When it comes to choosing the exact species, Sarah and Arthur have different preferences. Arthur most enjoys the exquisite layered petals of double cyclamen, but Sarah reminds that snowdrops and crocuses are essential for early-emerging bumblebees, and single flowers have a higher concentration of pollen. Some flower as early as December, so think of them as being just as good for your wildlife garden ideas as much as a decorative display.
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