Snowdrops from Horticus


Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,

Chaste snowdrop,a. venturous harbinger 

Of spring and pensive monitor of fleeting years

William Wordsworth

As I write these words spring seems a long time arriving but the cooler moist weather has meant the carpets of snowdrops at the entrance to Cuddesdon House, in the churchyard, on Denton Green, and along the brook are in full flower. At Denton the original bulbs were planted many years ago by a local inhabitant, Mr John Reid. They have multiplied by natural division and seed although pollination is difficult due to the lack of insects at flowering time. I and others used to speed up the spread by digging up clumps and dividing them before replanting about four inches deep. The right time to do this is just after the flowers have died.

There are over 300 varieties, but I think the best one for naturalising is the common one, Galanthus nivalis. In some parts of the country it is known as the Candlemas bulb and is associated with the Feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary.

There is a clump of snowdrops halfway up the bridleway from Denton to the Garsington road. I was intrigued how it got to such an isolated spot and I happened to meet Mr Steve Lockey near the spot and I mentioned it to him. He told me that his father who lived in Brookside used to go and sit there to admire the view along the Chiltern ridge. When his father died he buried his ashes there with some snowdrops to mark the spot.

There is a colony of Wild daffodils under the horse chestnut tree on Cuddesdon green. These again were planted as single bulbs after flowering. I am surprised they thrived as they prefer most condition but they are protected from being cut prematurely. There is a lovely walk in Farndale in the rugged north with hundreds of Wild daffodils revelling in the moist conditions provided by the woodland and the river.

John Paxton