Gunby snowdrops galore
You know spring is around the corner when swathes of snowdrops start to appear in the Gunby gardens and grounds. What's not to love about these pretty white flowers?
Snowdrops at Gunby are mostly the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis and the double form Flore Pleno. These snowdrops are often thought to be native to Britain, but actually come from southern Europe. They can be found at many locations around the gardens and grounds, as they are strong survivors that readily take in their stride any changes in a garden. This survival instinct also means that there can sometimes be surprise unrecorded variations in a garden where snowdrops have been grown long-term. Look out too for the relatively recent addition, during Gunby's tenanted times, of the green leaf snowdrop Galanthus ikariae.
On the move
The bulk of the common snowdrops have been at Gunby for years, especially those in and around the spring flower walk. Along that walk, with the shade of the old horse chestnut, beech and prunus trees, they are in their element enjoying the natural soil improvement from fallen leaves and moist but free draining ground. Here it is clear that over the last twenty-five years snowdrops have moved into an area where a large beech tree once stood. This was a fully natural movement; some may travelled via seeding, but perhaps also moved through bulb disturbance by animal activity along with mowing and raking by the garden team.
Early signs of spring
By early December snowdrops at Gunby are often just peeping through the ground, protected by a layer of leaf litter. They wait their time to flower depending on how the winter progresses. And whilst some flowers appear during January to accompany the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, the peak of flowering is usually mid-February.
Ten years ago the Gunby garden team split and replanted snowdrops in a corner of the Gunby orchard, making use of the preferred movement of the bulbs whilst they are in growth 'in the green'. Existing large clumps were split and handfuls of bulbs replanted in an area shaded by the pigeon house and the beech hedge. They now brighten this darker, cooler corner which is often a fraction later to flower than those in the south of the gardens.
On your way to the Gunby parish church, St Peter’s, snowdrops can be seen in the hazel copse. This view changes year on year as the team coppice different areas of the hazel trees for use as pea sticks and bean poles. When you're in the churchyard, there is a good collection of double snowdrops to spot.