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21 Jan 2020

Scottish Snowdrop Festival

Written by Chris Wardle
Snowdrops in a woodland setting
Snowdrops in a woodland setting
As the days start to draw out and the gardens start to wake from their winter slumber, look out for the first stirrings of spring.

When you’re searching for signs that the brighter days of spring are on their way, look no further than snowdrops (Galanthus). They’re surprisingly varied in height, flower size, shape and even colouring. Given a moist soil, they’ll multiply into drifts and provide plenty of plants to share with fellow gardeners.

Become a Galanthophile (lover of snowdrops) and look for something a little bit special, such as the named varieties grown at Branklyn Garden near Perth with their little heart markings.

Quote
“The snowdrop and primrose our woodlands adorn, and violets bathe in the wet o’ the morn”
Robert Burns
‘My Nanie’s Awa’

Grow your own

If you’d like to see those beautiful plants in your own garden, check out our top Galanthus growing tips below:

Cultivation

Any garden can accommodate snowdrops!

  • Plant freshly lifted snowdrops when the foliage is just dying back in late spring.
  • If it’s not possible to plant in late spring, buying plants just after flowering when the leaves are still green (‘in the green’) is the next best way of establishing snowdrops. These are available from nurseries by mail order in bundles or in individual pots.
  • Snowdrop bulbs are very prone to drying out, so if sourcing bulbs from a nursery or garden centre is the only option, buy them as soon as they’re available and plant immediately.
  • Plant snowdrops in a partly shaded position in a moist but well-drained soil with leaf mould or garden compost incorporated. It’s important that the soil does not dry out in summer.

Pruning and training

There are no requirements to prune or train snowdrops! Simply allow the foliage to die back naturally.

Propagation

There are four methods that can be used to propagate snowdrops. Here are two of the most effective ways to produce more bulbs for your garden:

  • Division – Lift and divide clumps as the foliage turns yellow. Split the clumps into smaller pieces with as little disturbance as possible. Bulbs can also be planted singly at the same depth as they were in the soil.
  • Seed – Collect and sow seed as soon as they ripen. Germination should take place as the temperatures start to rise after winter.
Snowdrops at Branklyn Garden
Snowdrops at Branklyn Garden

Where to see them

Each year many Trust places around Scotland take part in the Scottish Snowdrop festival. Look out for swathes of the plants in late winter and early spring at places such as Branklyn Garden, Crathes Castle, Culzean Castle, Fyvie Castle, House of Dun, Newhailes and Threave Garden.