not deadheading snowdrops
Wed, 05 May 2004 05:49:12 PDT
In reply to Ernie O'Byrne's question about deadheading snowdrops here at
Colesbourne Park. The answer is No, we don't attempt to deadhead anything.
A) it's impossible and B) we want them to seed!

Some clones are sterile, especially the hybrids, which helps. Among these
are the triploids 'S. Arnott' and 'Magnet'. Of others, some are fertile,
some are not. In many springs very few seeds are set anyway, which is
disappointing - it all depends on how warm it is and how active the bees
are. But there are pods on some most seasons and we do get lots of self-sown

In the wild garden this does not really matter, and there are masses of
seed-grown G. plicatus ssp. plicatus and ssp. byzantinus. Most of others,
especially G. nivalis, while forming big patches, have all actually been
planted and give very little seed, sadly.  In the new Spring Garden, where
the majority of the collection of specials is now grown, the patches are
quite discrete and seedlings appearing between them can be observed and
removed as appropriate. The thing that makes it quite easy to recognize a
seedling is that the established clones nearby will have formed clumps,while
a seedling will be on its own as a small bulb. Danger comes when the
seedling occurs in the middle of the established patch. Here one can only
tell that it is different when it flowers. It is not difficult to spot such
interlopers in most clumps, once one's eye is in. They are very seldom
closely similar. Once again, it will need removing and again, the single
bulb will give the game away. Vigilance is certainly necessary - if in
doubt, remove it.

The good thing about seeding snowdrops is that it gives the opportunity for
interesting seedlings to arise, giving occasionally a nice one, or perhaps
even something really special. But if I did see pods floating about
dangerously I would be tempted to remove them to somewhere else; there is no
point letting clumps be contaminated when the seed can be deployed

For excitement in seedling snowdrops I suggest using G. plicatus 'Trym' as a
parent; the strangely shaped and marked flowers are transmitted to its
offspring with several other species. I know several galanthphiles are going
for a yellow 'Trym'!

John Grimshaw


Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Gardens Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567
Mobile 07 919 840 063
Fax (Estate Office) 01242 870541

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ernie O'Byrne" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 3:47 AM
Subject: RE: [pbs] TOW N.H.Do in May - Garden

> John, I am rather surprised to hear you say that you are not a proponent
> deadheading. You were probably out of town when I asked, some time ago,
> you handle the potential problem of seeding among the large drifts of one
> cultivar of snowdrop at Colesbourne. I never saw a reply to that inquiry,
> unless, for some reason, I missed it (always possible). I would think that
> that would be a potential for genetic drift in an established stand.
> you would never save seed intentionally, sow it, and then sell it as the
> cultivar. So, what do you do? Surely, most of the cultivars not sterile,
> they?
> I imagined that you must deadhead, but having seen the extensive drifts at
> Colesbourne, I also couldn't imagine a more daunting task, especially
> snowdrops don't hold their seed heads conveniently upright ready for
> snipping, but flop over to better spread their seed about. So, if you
> deadhead, how do the clumps remain pure. Is it by constant rogueing? That
> would presume that whoever is doing the rogueing (over the many years at
> Colesbourne) has an idea of the "perfect" form for that cultivar. Please
> assuage my curiosity.
> Ernie O'Byrne

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