It seems appropriate that we should be talking about a bulb with snowflake in its name. The snow’s been flying since before Halloween and I’m behind on most everything garden related. Including replanting A LOT of displaced summer snowflake bulbs (Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’). I’m always looking for something a little different. With plenty of daffodils already, although I can never seem to have enough of them, I wanted a new spring flower and one that rabbits wouldn’t come from miles around to devour. I thought I was winning the battle a few weeks ago only to find their droppings and tell-tale footprints in the snow. It’s a struggle. But I lucked out with Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant,’ a variety of summer snowflake, and it’s been going gangbusters for four years. Fifteen bulbs have multiplied into about 50.
Their look is deceiving. While they aren’t show stoppers like a bed of yellow daffodils or purple tulips would be, they are eye-catching in their delicate simplicity and movement. Summer snowflake is especially effective planted in mass. Fifteen bulbs wasn’t all that special at first but now that they’ve had time to multiply, it’s an area to behold. Planted beneath a rose of Sharon started from a cutting from my mom’s shrub 16 years ago, the bed is lovely in May when the snowflakes pop and dance above slender stems. Each petal is punctuated with a green dot at its tip. Dark green strappy leaves remain intact for much of the summer until they yellow and are cut back.
Unfortunately, the rose of Sharon died this past winter, but I was able to salvage a small cutting, root it and replant it in another area. Saddened at first by the loss, it was an opportunity to try something new. I coveted a Vanilla Strawberry tree hydrangea for at least a year. It took some time to remove the dead shrub and dig up all those Summer Snowflake bulbs in preparation for the new member of my garden. The tree went in in July and the bulbs went into a bucket for replanting. I was certain they’d be in the ground in a matter of days, but life happened as it does with kids, summertime and a vacation to take and there they stayed. It’s been four months. I’m so ashamed.
Winter came early this year, like two months early. We generally don’t get much snow until after Christmas. Before the snow flew, I was certain I’d get these bulbs in the ground in time for Thanksgiving. I’ve planted later than that with success. Now I’m not so confident. Battling the ground to get these to the proper planting depth isn’t something I’m looking forward to tackling now that it’s so cold. Night time temperatures have been in the single digits so I’m expecting a battle royale getting the summer snowflakes replanted in their original home. It’s worth the attempt. So I will and like all things in my garden, I’ll wait and see.
I’ll plant half of them in the original spot where it gets full sun and the rest in an area of the shade garden where they’ll add a pop of white to a mostly green palette. Hardy in zone 4-8, Summer Snowflake is tolerant of many conditions, including clay soil and when planted beneath black walnut trees. I suggest planting in mass, as I think all bulbs look better this way. Even if your budget doesn’t allow for hundreds of bulbs at once, it’s nice knowing summer snowflake multiplies pretty fast, perfect for naturalizing.
Looking for more spring-blooming bulbs? Go here…