Geoff Stonebanks: Snowdrops offer us the first signs of spring

As we approach Christmas, it won’t be long before we start thinking about opening the gardens for the National Garden Scheme in 2023.

The program recently launched its promotion of the annual Snowdrop Festival. We’re all likely to be eating more than we should over the coming holiday season, so the New Year is the perfect time to get out and exercise in the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful, faithful first harbingers of spring that are inevitably embodied through drifts of glorious snowdrops.

They are indeed a reminder of the changing seasons and the promise of what is to come. So, what better way to shake off winter and celebrate the upcoming year of gardening than with the National Garden Scheme’s 2023 Snowdrop Festival.

These glorious harbingers of wonderful garden life can be visited in over 100 National Garden Scheme gardens across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in January, February and March. Here in Sussex we have about ten gardens where you can see these beautiful flowers, notably Pembury House in Clayton and 5 Whitemans Close in Cuckfield.

On a winter’s day, there’s nothing quite like visiting a garden resplendent with one of the earliest flowering plants of the year. Whether you enjoy carpets of naturalized whites in woodlands, carefully bred rare varieties of snowdrops, or gardens filled with a colorful mix of snowdrops, hellebore and other early spring flowers, there is something for galanthophiles and garden lovers alike.

Snowdrops at 5 Whitemans Close

Snowdrops at 5 Whitemans Close

The scheme just released some fun facts about this delicate little flower. Here are a few to whet your appetite.

It’s a Greek name – ‘Galanthus’ translates to ‘milk flower’, but could you have imagined a single Galanthus plicatus ‘Golden Fleece’ selling on eBay for £1,390 in 2015?

Snowdrops are tough little plants adapted to cut through snow and survive the cold. The tips of their leaves are specially hardened to break through frozen ground, and their sap contains a type of antifreeze that prevents ice crystals from forming. A naturally occurring substance in the plant called galantamine is used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, although the onions themselves are poisonous.

There are more than 2,500 species of snowdrops and they are a symbol of spring, purity and religion. Collecting snowdrops in the wild is illegal in many countries. For many, you need a license to sell snowdrop bulbs as they are subject to CITES regulations – the Convention Concerning International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. It is illegal to bring them across borders, even without a CITES permit.

The snowdrop is not native to Britain. They became fashionable in the Victorian era, but as they are known by different names, no one knows exactly when they were first introduced to Britain. Plants in the wild were first recorded in 1778 – but botanist John Gerard is said to have described the snowdrop in his writings of 1597.

So now you know, why not visit a National Garden Scheme garden as part of its Snowdrop Festival to see hundreds of different species of snowdrops? For more information see www.ngs.org.uk

Meanwhile in my own garden I gave you the facts about the redesign of the area next to the shed last week and when the weather was fine I was outside trying to reposition much of the sculpture in the garden to Making room for the new design and, more importantly, trying to create a different look overall for visitors to see next summer.

When my garden closes in late summer I always think about what small changes can be made to give visitors a slightly different feel to the property the following year. Sometimes it’s small, cosmetic changes and sometimes larger projects, depending on how my imagination plays.

The same rule of thumb would apply to me whether or not I open the garden to others because I think it’s important that the garden looks as good as possible, be it for friends and family or paying visitors.

In preparation for the 2023 season, regular readers will remember that I also made some changes to the beach garden as the old wooden boat had been rotting away for over ten years.

Many people wonder how much can be achieved in the garden with little effort. It’s something I’ve tried every time for the past 15 years. My garden has always consisted of many small components, whether they be sculptural pieces that need to be moved around the property to create a different feel, or new ideas or themes to change a corner or view across the garden. I always describe my garden to visitors as an eclectic junk mix with a few plants!

Read more about Geoff’s garden HERE and at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23197889.geoff-stonebanks-snowdrops-will-offer-us-first-signs-spring/?ref=rss Geoff Stonebanks: Snowdrops offer us the first signs of spring

Fry Electronics Team

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