Growing Flowers

Astrantia bavarica and Snowdrop

Astrantia bavarica

I have been looking for an Astrantia for a while now. I’m not the type of gardener who is after the latest cultivar or the Chelsea favourite. I prefer species types or plants that are not widely available.

I found my Astrantia at a favourite haunt of mine, although slightly unconventional in gardening terms. An art gallery in Carmarthen. The two ladies who run the art and craft supplies floor of the gallery propagate their own plants and they always have a different selection available.

I had never heard of Astrantia bavarica before and although superficially it is the same as Astrantia major I have been informed that it is in fact a separate species and as the name suggests originating from Bavaria.

The small plant cost me 75p which, when talking Astantia’s, is a steal to say the least. I think every Astrantia I’ve seen recently is around the £5 mark and as I’m a complete cheapskate I couldn’t possibly justify that! I snapped it up rather quickly and I’m rather chuffed to have it in my collection.

I’ve placed the Astrantia next to my half barrel pond where it has room to grow and plenty of wildlife to enjoy it.

Astrantia enjoy full to part sun with moist rich soil. They are great in woodland or riverbank settings and are pretty tolerant of all conditions when established. As the half barrel garden has a wildlife area feel to it, I thought that this Astrantia would benefit from the dappled light that the Viburnum casts and the cool, moist soil.

The Snowdrop: A cure for disease?

The Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is the archetypal stalwart of the Winter/Spring Garden. A small and delicate looking plant, with its fine foliage and nodding snow white heads tipped with green, which is truly deceptive in terms of its hardiness and sheer resilience against the elements. This plant is always one of the first to emerge in my garden; a true sign that things are set to change. I love the way that, unlike many other plants, a thick layer of snow does nothing to damage emerging shoots and flowers of the Snowdrop and as soon as snow has thawed the Snowdrop remains completely unaffected. Totally unaware of the chaos and hardship the snow created.
Snowdrops are best planted in the green. This means planting them after flowering when only the leaves are visible. I have always read that this is the preferred technique, however, I planted mine as bulbs and they’ve taken off quite nicely. I tend to prefer to plant these in drifts and let them to naturalise. The outcome of this is a blanket of white that can brighten up the darkest of gardens.

What you may not know about the Snowdrop is that it contains many compounds that may prove useful to science and medicine. In a recent study a team of researchers from the University of Barcelona discovered that Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus elwesii, contain seventeen bioactive compounds including three alkaloids that are brand new to science. The new discoveries may prove useful in treating Malaria and Alzheimer’s.

The delicate Snowdrop appears to be not only beautiful but also potentially important in creating breakthroughs in the treatment of hard to treat medical conditions and a whole raft of other things. After all, the most inconspicuous of new discoveries can produce groundbreaking outcomes.

Read More