Gardening with James Vaughan: The first snowdrop

James Vaughan


James Vaughan


Gardening with James Vaughan: The first snowdrop

Snowdrops are usually the first bulb to flower in January

The weather really was exceptional between the periods of Christmas up until New Years Day. With the weather so mild it was an ideal opportunity for me to get out into the garden and get some fresh air while getting some jobs done. One promising sign that I did see was our first Snowdrop of the year. This week we will talk about what flowers you can expect to see in your garden over the coming weeks.

The first bulbs usually to flower are Snowdrops. These flower, generally, starting in the third week of January. Snowdrops are an important source of food for early emerging pollinating insects. The nodding cups of flowers are small but really beautiful and intricate when viewed close up. Snowdrops are actually quite tough plants. They will do well even if planted underneath mature trees. Over time they will form clumps which eventually will create a carpet effect.

The Snowdrop flowers are closely followed by Crocus flowers, especially the smaller species varieties. The species varieties flower earlier in the year but have smaller flowers. Not many people know but it is from a species variety of Crocus (Crocus sativus) that the spice Saffron is gathered. The Saffron itself is gathered by hand from the stamen or ‘inner-part’ of the flower. This laborious task is well worth it as Saffron commands a price per weight greater than Gold ! If you want larger flowers from spring bulbs you will have to wait a few months for the likes of Hyacinths to flower.

Another bulb that flowers this time of year are the woodland Anemones. These appear in shades of white, pink and purple. These flowers only grow about 2 inches high but they do add a little colour when there is not much else about. Because they are so low flowering, they are tough and will still flower even if the weather turns wet and windy. I have noticed in my garden that bulbs that were planted only three years ago have set seed and spread. There are also larger flowering Anemones. These flower later in the year and have flowers up to ten inches tall. These larger flowering varieties, including ‘De Caen Mix’. I have seen these variety become popular in wedding bouquets.
One key point that I always remind people with regard to many aspects of gardening is to plan ahead. Ideally, the time frame of at least 6 months in advance is required. So, if you would like spring flowers in the garden now then you would be well advised to have planted them last Autumn. Likewise, if you would like bulbs to provide summer colour this year then you would need to be purchasing them soon. In a future article we will talk more about what type of bulbs can be purchased for summer colour.

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