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Borough Green: Great Comp Garden's Snowdrop Sensation with snowdrops, hellebores and plenty for galanthophiles

By Angela Cole

They're the first signs of spring - and they're springing up across the county. One special day this weekend will be devoted to the simple snowdrop - and promises to be a sensation.

You may not have heard of a galanthophile, but you'll have heard of what it is they're particularly enthusiastic about.

Snowdrops are their passion - and whether you're a galanthophile or not, you can indulge a love of the tiny white flowers this weekend, at Great Comp Garden's Snowdrop Sensation.
The plant fair at the Borough Green garden is put together by Joe Sharman, and will feature talks, advice from experts, plus plants to brighten your February.

Snowdrops in the woods at Great Comp Garden near Borough Green
Snowdrops in the woods at Great Comp Garden near Borough Green

Great Comp is usually closed this month, but the fair is a rare chance to see the displays of snowdrops and hellebores at their peak.

Garden writer Val Bourne will host a lecture on the day, focussing on spring bulbs, and giving practical green-fingered information.

Also on hand to talk plants will be Great Comp Garden curator William Dyson, who will be showing off his prize hellebores.


"The first of our hellebores began to bloom in mid January, providing much welcome colour and interest after the darker days. These elegant flowers are a must-have - providing a bright spot in the shady areas of the garden during the winter. They are easy to grow and reward the gardener year after year."

They like to establish their roots in rich, well-drained soil and enjoy dappled shade, but can suffer from leaf spot disease, which can be minimised by pruning away the plant’s old foliage in November then this will prevent the disease from spreading to the flower. They can also suffer from black death which is, unfortunately, terminal for the plant, and is caused by a new virus Helleborus net necrosis, which includes black streaking patterns on the leaves.

But, William said, it's not always bad news when the plants look like they're suffering. "On particularly cold mornings you may find the flower stems arched over with their heads virtually touching the ground and it’s tempting to believe that they won’t stand again but don’t panic, you’ll often find the very same plants standing to attention by lunchtime."

Great Comp Garden snowdrops
Great Comp Garden snowdrops


Award-winning garden writer Val Bourne will give a lecture on spring bulbs with lots of practical information learned over a lifetime of gardening.

The hands-on gardener and committed plantaholic gardens at Spring Cottage in the Cotswolds, high above Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, where she has a third of an acre.

She said of her lecture: "I’m going to talk about some of the bulbs I love growing in my Spring Cottage garden. I’ll definitely be mentioning snowdrops, because I’m obsessive, but I’ll be talking about the really easy ones that bulk up well for everyone. Most of them have hybrid vigour so they’re easier than our native species Galanthus nivalis. They’ll be lots of pictures of my garden and tips on how to grow."

Also on the agenda will be bulbs, including tulips, and bulbs in the lawn.

As a self-confessed galanthophile, she has favourites, but says: "It changes all the time, but Mrs Macnamara makes a real show in January. She was Dylan Thomas’s mother-in- law and her father had estates in Ireland. They didn’t get on and it’s said that she burnt his notebooks after his death. I also love Augustus because the petals have a seersucker texture. The trouble is I love them all!"

Garden writer and self-confessed galanthophile Val Bourne will be at Great Comp Garden
Garden writer and self-confessed galanthophile Val Bourne will be at Great Comp Garden

So, will she be buying any while at Great Comp? "I always say that I won’t buy any more, but I always do. I would love to find Moya’s Green, which I’m having terrible trouble getting going. It’s virescent, with lime-green colour-washing, and it’s associated with a lovely galanthophile called Michael Baron and his garden - Brandy Mount."

She'll also mention her latest book, The Living Jigsaw, which is about Spring Cottage and the way it is managed organically. "I’m very proud of it," she said.

The lecture will be hosted in the intimate indoor theatre at Great Comp Garden. There is limited seating so the tickets are being sold online in advance via greatcompgarden.co.uk


Great Comp Garden’s Snowdrop Sensation will be on Sunday, February 18. Entry is £8, £3 for six to 17-year-olds. Val Bourne's lecture will be held in the indoor theatre at the garden, with limited seating. To book and for more details go to greatcompgarden.co.uk

The snowdrops should be sensational this weekend
The snowdrops should be sensational this weekend

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