nivalis 'Flore Pleno''
This is the double form of the common snowdrop and is widely found in
many cottage gardens around the country. The ones in my Belfast garden
came from the family garden in Newcastle County Down. Although they grew
in the front garden there, these particular ones were found about twenty
years ago growing at the edge of a compost heap under a large sycamore
tree at the end of the garden behind the house. This was probably due
to an over enthusiastic spring clear up in the garden many years ago which
resulted in some bulbs accidentally ending up on the compost heap. They
survived that short journey, however, and I repatriated them to the front
lawn in the early eighties. It was after subdividing these mature clumps
about five years ago that I took some plants "in the green"
to my Belfast garden where they have spread in the small lawn area under
the old pear tree.
The flower, like that of all snowdrops, is pendulous in form and hangs
from a slender six inch high stalk that rises from narrow strap like leaves
that are a grey-green lichen colour. The flower is double. The three white
outer petals, which have a pearly white iridescent sheen on the inner
surface, stretch over three inner petals with a green stripe. These inner
petals in turn enclose a fat arrangement of numerous underskirts edged
Like many pendulous flowers the flower is best appreciated by looking
up into it. Fortunately this means picking some of the flowers thereby
discovering a hidden treat. The flowers are scented with a delicate sweet
honey perfume. In cold weather this is best appreciated by breathing on
the flowers to warm them up before smelling them. The flower is sterile
and spreads instead by offsets. You need not feel guilty therefore about
picking a bunch of the flowers to enjoy the delicate scent in a small
vase or shot glass in a warm indoor room.
Planting snowdrops "in the green" is the most successful way
of ensuring a quick build up of new colonies in a new area. Mature clumps
are subdivided immediately after flowering and while the leaves are still
green. Dig up the mature clump and divide it up into smaller clumps of
two or three bulbs each. Replant these smaller clumps as soon as possible
and about six to eight inches apart in your chosen area. They do best
in light shade and are particularly successful in moist heavy soil.