Although spring is still a way off, a sunny day in February can give the first suggestion. Already daffodils and leucojum are flowering in the wild garden and in the little garden our snowdrops have been putting on a show since the middle of January.
Most of these are Galanthus elwesii, a lovely large flowered early species, native to the Caucases mountains. Over the years, we have been dividing these clumps and spreading them around the feet of shrubs and amongst our perennials. We try to fit them into any part of the border that isn’t going to be too disturbed for the next few years and now that our divisions are starting to establish they are beginning to make a good display. We only split clumps which are beginning to get congested and do it as soon as they finish flowering. This is a delicate job as it is very important not to damage the roots during this disturbance. Once the bulbs are separated out they can be replanted in their new locations in groups of 3 or 5. Every year we divide our largest clumps of snowdrops and in time we should be able to fill the garden with this beautiful early flower.
As the days lengthen we are also busy in the glasshouses, and this year I am trying to force some Dahlia to get early cuttings. Usually we pot up the tubers in April and start them in the cold frame. But by doing it this way I’m hoping we might get some larger earlier flowering plants. In the warmth of the glasshouse the freshly potted tubers should soon burst into growth so that we can harvest our basal cuttings. Each mother plant can give us a dozen or so cuttings, which are quite easy to root with a little bottom heat. I’m hoping that these cuttings should be in 5L pots by May and ready to plant out as the evening temperatures rise.