Cold dreary weather is no excuse for ignoring your garden - shake off the winter blues and get busy

PUBLISHED: 16:40 02 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:36 20 February 2013

Winter violas and cyclamens Photograph by Andrew Jones

Winter violas and cyclamens Photograph by Andrew Jones

Cold dreary weather is no excuse for ignoring your garden, writes Jacqui Brocklehurst. Shake off the winter blues and get busy

At this time of year the garden can, quite literally, bring a person to their knees. Its a particularly important time for galanthophiles (snowdrop lovers to you and me) who think nothing of scrabbling around on the cold, wet ground to scrutinise these winter beauties.

I often wonder if snowdrops would be as thrilling if they flowered in summer? Is it the sheer bravado of these delicate creatures that we find so delightful? Whatever the reasons, winter flowering plants are impossible to resist.

Witch hazels are my favourites. Flowers unfurl like tissue paper and fill the air with an intoxicating fragrance. I recently took my family for an invigorating winter walk at Rode Hall in Cheshire where the snowdrops and witch hazels are spectacular (the warm scones in the tea room are pretty good too!). On a clear day the red, orange and yellow witch hazels catch the sun and light up like balls of fire and the air is filled with their powerful aroma.

With the snowdrops its a different story. There is a rumour that some varieties of snowdrop have a honeyed fragrance but this scent has, so far, eluded me. To the untrained eye most snowdrops look the same: delicate white droplets nodding on the end of a slender stem. But dont mention that to a galanthophile who will distinguish each and every one by markings on its petals. A serious collector will spend hundreds of pounds on one single rare bulb.

For the novice the best way to establish a snowdrop collection is to plant them in the green. This means buying the plants when they have flowered but the leaves are still showing. Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus elwesii are good starter plants with the latter being a little more robust.

Snowdrops enjoy winter sunshine and need protecting from summer heat. They will thrive in humus rich soil that is moist, yet well drained. Why not create your own winter magic by planting the pure white Betula jacquemontii with burgundy leaved Heuchera Plum pudding and a carpet of dainty white snowdrops?

Jacquis blog is http/ or visit her website

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