How to get a carpet of snowdrops

… or indeed, a mini-carpet in a pot

Snowdrops. Photo by Jill Mead

Do you have a carpet of snowdrops luring you outside right now?

I say this explicitly, because one or two snowdrops just aren’t going to do it are they? So while it’s very easy to get caught up in galanthophilia, spending precious hours and money on special varieties, none of that obsessiveness is going to get you a carpet without plenty of planting, lifting and dividing at this end of the year, and that carpet is going to look glorious, no matter how expensive the variety. With that in mind, make sure you have the essential conditions (shade and damp) – if you don’t have trees then between shrubs in the border is good, and volume is the important thing here, so buy as if you were a Russian oligarch on a binge. To this end (and because I’m presuming you’re no such thing) go for ordinary good old favourites that are large and sumptuous. G. ‘Magnet’ is my number one choice, followed closely by G. ‘S. Arnott’ and G. ‘Atkinsii’, and begin with just a few… Or a simple, much cheaper job lot of nivalis (you can see these three types in my shopping list post here). They’ll arrive by the beginning of March, looking worse for wear; this is what’s called ‘in the green’ and it’s the best time to plant. Add lots of humus-rich compost or soil improver and plant six inches deep. Existing large clumps that are looking congested can be lifted out of the ground and gently teased apart once the flowers begin to go over. Replant as before and keep things random by putting some closer together than others.

This is certainly a labour of love rather than a five minute fling, but I’ll tell you what… I’ve been growing snowdrops in containers since my balcony days and I think they are JUST as heart-stopping. You just need good multi-purpose compost, and the addition of some lovely leaf mould every year.

I’ll be planting the beauties I’ve ordered in my lawn (will they love it? I don’t know!) as soon as they arrive, in the knowledge that I’ll have to be patient and let them take their own sweet time to spread.

x Laetitia

ps if you want a much more personal run-down of all my five minute forays, I write a newsletter every week which drops on a Saturday or Sunday. It’s full of the rather messier, more real, and, let’s face it, rather less pin-worthy stuff that life throws at me, and it’s the thing I enjoy writing most of all. Hit the button below if you want to have a go…and know that you can unsubscribe any time if it’s not for you!