Mid to late July is the perfect time for us to lift, divide and replant dormant snowdrop bulbs.
We have opened our garden for Scotland’s Gardens at the beginning of the month, so all our energies have gone into getting it ready up to that point, so now the garden is as tidy as it will ever be and it can look after itself for a couple of weeks while we concentrate on the snowdrops.
Lifting dormant bulbs in summer relies on two factors… that you know where they are planted, and you know which ones need to be lifted and divided. All our named varieties of Galanthus are planted in pond baskets which are plunged into the various borders around the garden, and as well as being labelled, we have a map and comprehensive list of where they are. With regard to knowing what needs lifted, during flowering we have made notes on what is doing well, often accompanied by photographs, so by July we have a clear list of what is getting lifted.
Planting in pond baskets makes lifting really easy without damaging the bulbs. Sometimes the basket can be grasped by the rim and pulled up, or sometimes a border fork can be used alongside the basket so it can be levered up gently.
The whole basket is transferred to the greenhouse where it is tipped out onto the potting bench. All bulbs are separated from the planting medium and sorted. We carefully look for damage by pests, choosing only healthy bulbs to replant. The basket is re-filled with fresh planting medium (more of our mixtures another time) and 5-6 of the largest bulbs are planted back into the basket, remembering to replace the labels. The basket is them plunged back into the border from where it came from – usually forking over the soil and adding some grit/compost/leaf-mould to the surrounding area. After a good water to settle the soil, we then move on to sorting the remaining bulbs.
All remaining bulbs are sorted by size and potted up into individual 9cm pots in the same potting mix as the parent stock, and transferred to our nursery area to grow on.