GARDENING:

Viewed individually, snowdrop plants are a mere fifteen centimetres tall at best, and the drooping white flowers little over two centimetres long but put them together in a large group and we gaze in awe at the spectacle.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 12:00 am
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They punch well above their weight and they`re in full bloom right now!

The wild snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) can be found in the local countryside, woodlands, parks, gardens and estates, where it survives in sun or partial shade. If you wish to introduce it to your garden the best time to buy is just after flowering when groups of bulbs are offered `in the green.` The bulbs form offsets as they grow so clumps form over time. These can also be dug,

divided up and replanted when blooms fade, to increase your garden display.

A typical purchase of 25 bulbs with foliage attached need not leave you penniless, costing somewhere in the region of £5 to £10 according to the variety. However, if you are a serious collector (galanthophile) of snowdrop cultivars the sky`s the limit in terms of cost it seems. The current world record price for a single bulb stands at an eye watering £1,390, paid in auction for

`Golden Fleece,` a cultivar of Galanthus plicatus. Where will this all end, I wonder! Whereas you and I probably stand and stare in admiration at a great swathe of white blooms so spectacular in the depths of winter, a breeder or devoted galanthophile will get to ground level and inspect their collection in a search for minor differences in the blooms. They`re looking for small splashes of green, occasionally gold, on the white petals. It is these that can make all

the difference, turning a simple harbinger of spring into a megastar overnight.Whether you`re blessed with a garden or not, and simply love being amongst plants, the good news is that two of our local venues are just re- opening for visitors after the winter break. The Alnwick Garden did so last weekend on February 1st and is open daily. Howick Hall Garden opens this Saturday (8th ) for the Annual Snowdrop Festival which runs through February and March, from Wednesday to Sunday. Imagine, a bracing walk in the fresh air, well wrapped, followed by the refreshments available at both establishments. what better winter pick-me-up is there?