A Snowdrop Myth Exploded

March 5th, 2010

by Tom Fischer

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. John Grimshaw, a charming and erudite “gardening botanist and author,” as well as co-author (with Matt Bishop and Aaron Davis) of Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus (Griffin Press, 2006). This handsome volume–which is difficult to come by in this country but can be found on sites like alibris.com–is generally acknowledged to be the definitive work on the genus, for both galanthophiles (snowdrop fanatics) and more wide-ranging bulb enthusiasts.

During a brief, informal talk about snowdrops, Dr. Grimshaw dismissed the widespread belief that snowdrops should be moved only while “in the green”–that is, while still in active growth. Doing so, he said, can easily damage the plants’ roots and set them back for an entire season. Dormant bulbs that have been carefully dug and stored (and, most importantly, not allowed to become desiccated) can in fact yield excellent results.

So there you have it, OverPlanters. Feel free to correct, rudely if necessary, any self-styled experts who blather on about all that “in the green” business.

And if you have a moment, check out Dr. Grimshaw’s online Garden Diary and take a look at his latest book, New Trees: Recent Introductions to Cultivation.

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