The first bulbs to bloom in my garden are snowdrops. They started blooming earlier this year than I can ever remember – February 10th in my garden – as a result of several unseasonably warm days. Unlike Puxsutawney Phil who prognosticated six more weeks of winter and went back to sleep, snowdrops took a leap of faith and popped up from the soil.
Bees, also coaxed into action by warm, sunny days, buzz in and out of their blooms.
Snowdrops get their botanical name, Galanthus nivalis, from the Greek words gala that means milk, anthos that means flower and nivalis that means snowy. It is an apt name for these sweet, nodding, snowy white flowers that grow 4 inches tall and naturalize into delightful colonies.
Snowdrops are easy to grow. They prefer a spot with well-drained soil rich with organic matter under deciduous trees where they can soak up the sun’s rays in early spring. But they are as adaptable as they are eager and grow happily in average, well-drained soils in full sun or part shade.
Plant the bulbs of Galanthus nivalis 2 to 3 inches deep in the fall. I think they look best when they are planted in large drifts in the landscape or at the bases of deciduous shrubs in a mixed border. Plants multiply by both bulb ‘babies’ and by reseeding themselves.
Large clumps can also be divided and transplanted. After flowering, but before the foliage yellows, dig up an entire clump and separate it into smaller sections. Replant them and let the leaves yellow and die back.
Now that the snowdrops have made their garden debut, it won’t be long before winter aconite and crocuses follow with their own spring show. Even though we are well aware these record-breaking temperatures won’t last and winter may rear its ugly head once again before spring has truly sprung, the snowdrops say it won’t be long before you can garden with me!