SMILE! Snowdrops are here…aconites & native primroses too!

Dainty little symbols of hope and purity, named by Carl Linnaeus in 1754 as Galanthus nivalis, meaning “milk flower of the snow”. Although not considered a British native snowdrops have naturalised extensively throughout Britain in woodland and hedgerows, and large swathes are often found in churchyards and abbey grounds such as Walsingham Abbey in Norfolk (18 acres of snowdrop-carpeted woodland open to the public).

The snowdrop walk at Walsingham Abbey. Picture: Matthew Usher

Snowdrops are hardy bulbs which prefer light shade and moist, well-drained soil that doesn’t dry out. Incorporate leafmould or compost when planting if possible. Good to plant under deciduous trees or shrubs, at the base of deciduous hedges or with herbaceous perennials so they’re shaded from hot sun during summer. If you wish to naturalise them in grass then make sure you let the leaves die back before the grass is cut in spring. If you’ve had trouble cultivating snowdrops from bulbs in the past (they’re very prone to drying out) then try planting them now – “in the green” – the traditional and easiest way to get them established. We currently have both single and double forms available (prices below). Snowdrop flowers are full of pollen – perfect for any bees which emerge on sunny winter days (single flowered forms are best for bees).

Double snowdrop

Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis AGM), with bright yellow blooms in mid-late winter/early spring, combine well with snowdrops. The pollen-rich flowers are very attractive to bees. Perfect for planting under deciduous trees/shrubs where they will naturalise and form a cheerful carpet. Suited to partial or full shade, like snowdrops they prefer moist, well-drained soil that doesn’t dry out in summer. They can also be difficult to grow from the dry tubers bought in autumn – planting them ‘in the green’ is the easiest way to get them established.

Winter aconites

Primula vulgaris, the native primrose, is another hedgerow, woodland and cottage garden delight and a familiar sign of spring. Ideal for cool, shady sites, it will gradually self-seed and naturalise. The flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

Primula vulgaris

Galanthus nivalis (single flowers) £2.40 a pot, 5 for £11

Galanthus nivalis “Flore Pleno” (double flowers) £2.80 a pot, 5 for £13.50

Primula vulgaris £2.40 a pot, 5 for £11

Multibuy prices apply to ANY 5 perennial plants in the same offer at the same price.

Remember – all these winter/spring-flowering plants are a valuable, early source of food for hungry bumblebees and other pollinating insects!

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