Today we’re in Margot Navarre’s garden in Washington State, where snowdrops are doing their annual late winter–early spring display. These classic bulbs bloom earlier than just about anything else. Moreover, they are easy to grow and resistant to damage by deer, squirrels, and most other pests.
The most common of the 20 species of snowdrops is Galanthus nivalis (Zones 3–7). I have many G. nivalis along with G. elwesii (Zones 4–7) in my garden.
Here they are growing on the edges of the path next to clumps of epimedium. The epimedium will ensure that this site is green and full long after the snowdrops have faded.
I am inspired by the snowdrop drifts in English gardens, but I have a long way to go to establish the snowdrop snowstorm. When clumps get big, I dig and divide when the snowdrops have finished blooming but while they still have their green leaves. This is the best time to divide snowdrops and is called digging them “in the green.” I add flags to mark the places I want to dig and plant them.
Snowdrops pair nicely with winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis, Zones 4–9) and Cyclamen hederifolium (Zones 4–9), as shown in this picture. They also look nice in combinations with Cyclamen coum (Zones 6–8), hellebores (Helleborus hybrids, Zones 4–9), primroses (Primula species and hybrids), and ferns. I also like to grow them underneath deciduous trees such as Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) and our native vine maple (Acer circinatum, Zones 5–9).
This snowdrop is called ‘Primrose Warburg’ and is noteworthy because the base of the flower is yellow rather than the typical green. I purchased this rare one in 2015 from Mr. Lynn at Temple Nursery, New York. I put the special ones close to the house so I can watch them grow.
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