If you find yourself lucky enough to be strolling through the High Line gardens in late winter, you may notice the white nodding blooms of Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop. While other spring ephemerals and perennials are still slumbering away, this little bulb seems unaffected by freezing temperatures and undeterred by snow. Native to the Carpathian Mountains of Central and Eastern Europe, this small, unassuming bulb has been introduced and naturalized in gardens throughout the world.
On the High Line we grow the straight species Galanthus nivalis, but there is a plethora of single and double flowered cultivars available in the trade.
Galanthus species, like many spring ephemeral bulbs, are at risk of extirpation in their native habitats because of illegal collection. Therefore, only purchase plant stock that is propagated commercially, and never from wild collectors.
Galanthus look best en masse in drift plantings. They are easily combined with winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, dwarf crested iris, Iris cristata, or species tulips, for an early spring display.
Galanthus nivalis is easy to naturalize in woodland and rock gardens. If being planted in turf, the foliage should be allowed to die back naturally before the grass is cut. Take care to make sure the bulbs don’t dry out prior to planting in the fall. Galanthus nivalis likes medium-moist, well-drained soils, in full to part sun. They grow well under deciduous trees, collecting sun light before they are shaded out by the tree’s leaf emergence. Plant the bulbs approximately two to three inches deep. Spent foliage dies back in late spring as the bulbs enter dormancy.
WHERE TO FIND THIS PLANT:
You can find Galanthus nivalis on the High Line, quietly blooming under the Phillip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover between West 25th and West 27th Streets.
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