Create a snowdrop carpet in your garden


What better way to brighten the dark days of January and February than a glimpse of snowdrops? They are a beautiful signal that winter will soon come to an end and make way for the bright colours of spring.


Although not native to England, snowdrops became popular in Elizabethan gardens. They thrive in shady pastures, woods and orchards, but struggle in the shade of evergreens. 

Their proper name, Galanthus, is of Greek origin, signifying ‘milk flower’. Although through history, snowdrops have had many names. In Norfolk they were known as Fair Maids of February. Another name from the past is Candlemas Bells, blossoming as they do at the time of Candlemas on 2 February. In several English counties, it was considered unlucky to bring them into the house, hence the name Death’s Flower.

These captivating little flowers acquired a popularity that hasn’t waned, earning affection for the cheerfulness they bring – and the reminder that spring is on the way. Snowdrops are also very eager to cross-fertilize so there is always the prospect of yet another variety emerging.

These unusual snowdrops have double the amount of petals
A double petaled snowdrop
These unusual snowdrops have double the amount of petals
Top tips for creating your own sea of white

Jack Lindfield, Assistant Head Gardener at Ickworth shares his top tips for creating a carpet of snowdrops in your garden.

At places like Ickworth, we are privileged to witness an abundance of snowdrops in our pleasure grounds each year. Having naturalised over many years, they have created a carpet of crisp white flowers with their fantastic scent. 

But you don’t need a huge amount of space to create a dramatic display like this in your garden. There are just a couple of things to bear in mind:

  • Firstly, always buy your snowdrops in the green. Planting them out in the green ensures they establish better and start to naturalise quickly. Usually available from mid-January to early March. Plant them out sooner rather than later at the same depth that they grew previously, you can see this from the colour change on the leaf stalks from white to green. White was underground and green would have been above ground. If it isn’t clear, plant at around 4 inches deep. 
  • Secondly, keep it simple. Snowdrops are becoming more and more popular, making it ever more desirable to have the rare and unusual cultivars. But if you want to create a carpet of snowdrops in your garden, choose Galanthus nivalis which will naturalise far more quickly and easily than some of the really expensive rare varieties that are on the market.  And the sooner they naturalise, the sooner you can enjoy them. 
Snowdrops in the foreground, with the house behind

Top spots for snowdrops in the East of England 

A cheerful sight on a woodland walk, riverside ramble or garden stroll, snowdrops are a welcome sign that spring will soon be on its way. We’ve chosen some of the best places to see them in the East of England.

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