Plant of the Week: Galanthus nivalis

The humble snowdrop is loved by every gardener. It heralds the end of winter, and grows in places which are hidden later in the growing season. It clumps up nicely but never threatens to take over the entire garden, like the rampant bluebell. If you have a rough bank, split your snowdrops every year as the leaves are wilting, and you will have covered it within a few years. Don’t ever buy in dried snowdrop bulbs, which are usually dead, but freshly dug moist snowdrop bulbs can be transferred successfully at any time of the year.

The classic companion for the snowdrop is the winter aconite, and although white and yellow might not be considered an ideal combination all the year round, it is always delightful in winter sunshine. In shade, a better combination can be achieved with early-flowering red pulmonarias. Blue chionodoxas sometimes come out with snowdrops, but are often too late. This year, snowdrops and dark oriental hellebores are flowering in synchrony – quite wonderful.

To most of us, a snowdrop is a snowdrop, but there are said to be 500 varieties, which are exchanged amongst galanthophiles for extravagant sums. What folly. This money should be spent on collecting all the recordings of Wilhelm Furtwängler.