Archive for the bulbs for shade Category

Letting Go Part 2: Naturalizing Bulbs

Posted in bulbs for shade, How to, landscape design, my garden, Shade Perennials, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: Our 2014 Miniature Hosta Catalogue is now on line, click here.  It lists all the wonderful little hostas that will be available at the nursery and by mail.  Our 2014 Spring Shrub Offer is on line here and orders are due April 27.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens’ third spring sale featuring native plants and wildflowers is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, from 10 am to 3 pm.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Corydalis solidaWhen I stopped trying to keep all my Corydalis solida separate and let the colors hybridize, this is what I got.

In May of 2011, I wrote a post titled Letting Go Part 1: The Lawn.  It is a well-documented discussion of why gardeners should get rid of their lawns and let what lawn remains go “natural”.  At the time I intended to write another article about letting go of garden beds, but time got away from me.  

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Galanthus nivalis, Crocus tommasinianusCommon snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, and snow crocus, C. tommasinianus, naturalized in Charles Cresson’s meadow—a wonderful combination for late winter.

I was inspired to get back to the topic by reading a gorgeous book on bulbs given to me by one of my customers.  Not to digress, but I have the nicest customers who constantly send me articles, bring homemade food, send beautiful cards and letters sometimes hand drawn (one customer is a professional calligrapher), and write complimentary and encouraging emails.  Thanks to you all.

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Buried Treasures.

This book was no ordinary gift but a 400 page hardcover book with over 300 color plates.  It is called Buried Treasures and was written by Janis Ruksans.  Ruksans is an internationally famous nurseryman and plant explorer with a mail order nursery specializing in unusual bulbs and located in Latvia.  He has introduced hundreds of bulbs and one of his focuses is Corydalis solida (first photo), which happens to be one of my favorite plants.

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Eranthis hyemalis, Corydalis solidaWinter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, naturalized with corydalis and hybrid hellebores.

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Eranthis hyemalisWinter aconite in bloom in February.

As I read his book, I was struck by what he said about naturalizing bulbs:

“There are two different kinds of naturalization.  The first kind occurs when you plant your bulbs so they will look as natural as possible.  The second kind is the real thing, which will happen only if your bulbs start to reproduce by self-sowing.… Some of the most beautiful displays happen in spots where bulbs … have been left to develop naturally.”

As simple as this statement appears, many gardeners have trouble applying this concept to their gardens because it requires letting go.  You are no longer in control of where plants appear and how they combine with each other.  I know because it took me years to embrace it myself.

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Scilla mischtschenkoana, Dicentra cucullariaTubergen squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana, on the left and Dutchman’s breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, spread randomly at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

However, once I let go of deciding where bulbs (and many perennials) could grow, I believe that my garden reached a whole new level of interest and beauty.  Ruksans’s book inspired me to write this post about the bulbs, including tubers, corms, and other bulb allies, that spread well in my garden.  If you feel inclined to let go, here are some of the bulbs that work the best.

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Scilla sibericaSiberian squill, Scilla siberica, provides a splash of early brilliant blue and moves all over the garden, even into the lawn.

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Puschkinia scilloidesStriped-squill, Puschkinia scilloides, is pale blue and spreads beneath my winterhazel.
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Puschkinia scilloidesA close up shot better shows off striped-squill’s elegance. 

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Mertensia virginicaThere are hardly any beds in my garden that do not sport Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, in early spring.  All I planted was the original clump given to me by a good friend many years ago.

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Anemone ranunculoides, Mertensia virginicaWood anemones, including Anemone ranunculoides pictured above with Virginia bluebells, have been allowed to form gigantic patches in my woodland.

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Anemone nemorosa 'Alba Plena'European wood anemones, A. nemorosa, are a favorite, including ‘Alba Plena’.

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Anemone ranunculoides, Anemone nemorosa 'Vestal'My woodland with wood anemones and bluebells.

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Chionodoxa forbesiiGlory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa forbesii, is everywhere even the formal beds by the front door.  It doesn’t take up any “room” because it goes dormant and perennials can be planted right in it.

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Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'‘Pink Giant’ is the pink cultivar of glory-of-the-snow, and it too plants itself wherever it wants.

The most wonderful result of my new relaxed approach came from Corydalis solida, a plant with no real common name.  It is a bulbous corydalis, which comes up very early in spring and dies back shortly after flowering.  Unlike the colorful herbaceous corydalis that never come back due to our hot summers, this corydalis returns year after year without fuss and even self-sows.  Here are a few of its cultivars:

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Corydalis solida 'George P. Baker'‘George P. Baker’

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Corydalis solida subsp. incisaC. solida subsp. incisa

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Corydalis solida 'Blushing Girl'‘Blushing Girl’ selected by Jans Ruksans.

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Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans'‘Beth Evans’

All four cultivars are very beautiful in their own right, and at first I kept them separate so they would stay pure.  However, when I let go and nature took its course, the results were amazing.  Now I have a rainbow of corydalis.

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Corydalis solida seedling 4-3-2011 7-36-54 PMCordalis solida left to its own devices.

Although I have a large garden, this is not a technique limited to big spaces.  Any garden bed full of perennials or any area beneath trees and shrubs is perfect for naturalizing bulbs.  Just give them a free hand after you get them started.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our third sale is Saurday, April 26, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on our list will get an email with all the details.  You can sign up to receive emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Coming soon is a shrub offer.  If you have any shrubs you want, please email me at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Winter Interest Plants 2014

Posted in bulbs for shade, evergreen, garden to visit, Garden Tour, hellebores, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens’ second sale of the year featuring early spring-blooming shade plants like hellebores, unusual bulbs, and pulmonaria is tentatively scheduled for April 11 and 12.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Crocus tommasinianus, Helleborus x hybridusA beautiful winter combination: snow crocus, white hybrid hellebore, and snowdrops in the background.  This was one of the few hellebores that were up and open.

What a winter!  The snow is just melting and the ground is still frozen in places.  Today it is 44 degrees and pouring rain.  I don’t think the weather that we have had in March has reached the average highs for a normal February.  All this has resulted in many problems for Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, and one of them was scheduling Charles Cresson’s 2014 Winter Interest Plant Seminars.  Customers love these seminars during which Charles takes participants around his amazing Swarthmore garden and introduces them to the many plants that thrive in a winter garden.

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Cresson winter interest seminarYou can see from the preferred attire of seminar attendees that it was quite cold even on the rescheduled date of March 23.

It became clear that we couldn’t hold the seminars on the “normal” dates of the third week in February as Charles’s garden was under several feet of snow.  The “rain” dates in the first week of March were equally frozen.  We opted for three weeks later, March 23, and 20 of the original 40 participants could actually come that day.  Thanks so much to those 20 people who stuck with us through all the rescheduling.

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Cresson winter interest seminarCharles gives the group background on his garden, Hedgleigh Spring.  Plants for sale by Carolyn’s Shade Gardens are in the foreground.

Although we probably saw less plants than we have in the previous three years, I think the group appreciated them more than ever before.  Just the thought that spring might actually be coming was refreshing, and Charles’s enthusiasm for his plants was inspiring.  For background on Hedgleigh Spring and Charles Cresson, see Winter Interest Plants 2011.  For scenes from previous years, see Winter Interest Plants 2012 and Winter Interest Plants 2013.

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Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor'This technicolor crocus, C. sieberi ‘Tricolor’, caught everyone’s eye.

What follows are photos of some of the plants that we saw in the order we visited them.  I hope that they will help everyone in the mid-Atlantic think spring.

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Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'‘Dawn’ viburnum, V. x bodnantense,  is still tightly in bud though usually done blooming by now.

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Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'A close up of the rose-colored buds of ‘Dawn’ viburnum—-the flowers are a lighter pink.
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Galanthus 'S. Arnott', Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'The old-fashioned snowdrop ‘S. Arnott’ with ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’, a February blooming daffodil. 

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Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe buds of edgeworthia were not damaged by the cold and are just starting to swell while the hardy palm to the left looks great.

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Iris reticulata 'T.S. Dijt'The reticulate iris ‘J.S. Dijt’ was in full bloom while others were still to come.

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Skimmia japonicaJapanese skimmia was only slightly damaged by our subzero temperatures.

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Daphne odoraWinter daphne looked a lot worse than the skimmia but will loose the brown leaves and grow fresh green ones before spring is over.  The buds are fine and still to open.

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DSCN3899This tiny early daffodil with recurved petals, the species Narcissus cyclamineus, was much admired.

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Cyclamen coumWinter-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum,  was also beautiful.

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Galanthus 'Ballerina'‘Ballerina’, an elegant double snowdrop—it’s on my wish list.

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Galanthus 'Ballerina'A close up of ‘Ballerina’

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DSCN3893Dutch crocus, C. vernus, pushes through old sterbergia leaves.

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Galanthus 'Bill Bishop'‘Bill Bishop’ snowdrop with its huge flowers and small stature.

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Eranthis hyemalis doubleDouble winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, which Charles grew from seed.

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Galanthus 'Magnet'A very healthy clump of ‘Magnet’ hybrid snowdrop drooping from the cold.

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Helleborus nigerChristmas rose, Helleborus niger

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Galanthus rizehensisThe rare species snowdrop Galanthus rizehensis.

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Leucojum vernum var. carpathicumThe variety of spring snowflake with yellow markings, Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum.

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Leucojum vernum var. carpathicumAnother group of Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum.

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Leucojum vernum 'Gertrude Wister'Very rare semi-double spring snowflake ‘Gertrude Wister’, which originated in Swarthmore.  Ten happy customers ordered one in my snowdrop catalogue.

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Galanthus nivalis, Crocus tommasinianusCommon snowdrops and snow crocus, the essence of late winter in Charles’s meadow.

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Trillium underwoodiiThe only sign of spring in the whole garden, longbract wakerobin, Trillium underwoodii, emerging.

The forecast going forward shows no nights below freezing and daytime temperatures in the 50s and even the 60s.  Now I just have to get caught up somehow!  It has been hard to find time to keep up with the blog and to read other blogs so I apologize to my readers and fellow bloggers.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our second sale is scheduled for the weekend of April 12, but the details are tentative.  Customers on our list should look for an email or you can sign up for emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Coming up after that is a shrub offer.  If you have any shrubs you want, please email me at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Snowdrops at Winterthur and Here

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Seminar has been rescheduled to March 23, to register click hereThe 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores, is posted here, and we are taking orders now for mail order and pick up at the nursery in March.  We will be selling snowdrops and hellebores at Winterthur on March 8, details below and here.  Customers with questions should email me at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn's Shade GardensA beautiful sunset over a snowy landscape at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Before I get to current events at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, I want to encourage you to come to this year’s Bank to Bend lecture at Winterthur on Saturday, March 8.  The featured speaker is Matt Bishop, one of the foremost snowdrop experts in the U.K. and the principal author of Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus, commonly referred to as the snowdrop bible.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be selling a nice selection of snowdrops, cyclamen, hellebores, and other spring flowers.  The official details are below.

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bank to bend 2014

 Celebrate the winter garden at Winterthur at our annual Bank to Bend event! This year’s featured speaker is Matt Bishop, famous snowdrop enthusiast and author of Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus. Snowdrops, winter interest plants, and plants propagated from the Winterthur Garden will be on sale. Lecture at 11:00 am; plant sale from 10:00 am-3:30 pm; garden open 10:00 am to dusk, with a special tour of the March Bank beginning at 1:00 pm. $10 per Member, $20 per nonmember. Free for WGLS and Garden Associate Members. Registration includes admission to the garden. To register, call 800.448.3883.

Not a Winterthur Member? Join now!

For more information, visit winterthur.org or call 800.448.3883.
WINTERTHUR MUSEUM, GARDEN & LIBRARY
WINTERTHUR, DE 19735
.Carolyn's Shade GardensFor those of you who visit in the spring, this is the front walk right now.

You may be wondering what is going on at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens—-I know I am :-).  Last year at this time (and every recent year that I remember), snowdrops, cyclamen, hellebores, and lots of other plants were up and blooming in my garden.  I was almost done potting all the snowdrops for mail order and pick up and had started thinking about hellebores.  This year most of my garden is still under at least a foot of snow.  The snowdrops are frozen into the ground, which is as hard as a rock despite a few recent days in the mid-50s.

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Carolyn's Shade GardensI excavated about three feet of snow off the top of pots of snowdrops.  And here is what I found….

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Galanthus elwesiiA lone giant snowdrop trying to break through to the surface.

Nevertheless, despite our frigid weather and constant deep snow cover, the minute a patch of snowdrops melts through it springs up and into bloom seemingly overnight.  This never fails to lift my flagging spirits, and I thought you might like to see these brave little snowdrops in action.

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Galanthus elwesii ex U.S. National ArboretumThis patch of snowdrops started blooming a few days before Christmas.  Because it was so big and beautiful, I covered it with a plastic box before all the snow and ice started (you can see the outline in the photo), and this is what I found when I removed it.

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Galanthus elwesii ex U.S. National ArboretumThe snowdrops under the box were in perfect shape despite repeated snow and ice and single digit temperatures.

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Galanthus elwesii ex U.S. National ArboretumHere is a close up of this beautiful snowdrop, which is a selection from a patch at the U.S. National Arboretum with a large flower and lovely green X mark.
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Galanthus 'Faringdon Double'Another snowdrop that started blooming in December and didn’t seem fazed by the weather even without a cover, the early-flowering ‘Faringdon Double’. 

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Galanthus 'Faringdon Double'The inside of ‘Faringdon Double’ showing its extra petals.

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Galanthus 'Kite'‘Kite’ usually starts blooming in mid-January, and when I moved the snow away today, there it was ready to open.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Standing Tall'Some varieties don’t even need my help like the very robust giant snowdrop ‘Standing Tall’.

That is about all that is going on at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens right now.  If you have ordered snowdrops, I am hoping to start shipping in about two weeks (it was February 25 last year).  Eventually, the snow will melt, the ground will unfreeze, and the plants will “catch up”.  Meanwhile the ten-day forecast predicts highs 15 to 20 degrees lower than our normal average and five nights with lows in the teens, brrrrr.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: We will be selling snowdrops and hellebores at Winterthur on March 8, details hereTo register for Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Plants Seminar click hereWe are now taking orders, for mail order or pick up in March, from the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores.  To access the catalogue, please click here.  Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase beautiful photo note cards suitable for all occasions, including a new set of snowdrop cards, by clicking here.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Top 25 Snowdrop Plants Part Two

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Plants Seminar is available for registration here.  The Friday February 21 session has a few spaces left and the Monday Februaury 24 session has plenty of room.  The 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores, is posted here, and we are taking orders now for mail order and pick up at the nursery in late February or early March.    Customers with questions should email the nursery at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Galanthus 'Walrus' CadwaladerNumber 12: ‘Walrus’, a very striking double common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) with narrow green outer segments arching like the tusks of a walrus and very green and regular inner segments forming a rosette, selected in the 1960s.

In Part One of this post, I explained that although the basic ornamental characteristics making up snowdrop plants may seem limited, over 1,000 cultivars (some say as many as 1,500) have been selected.  For gardeners who are just starting to add snowdrops to their collection, the choices can seem daunting.  However, a recent survey conducted by Avon Bulbs, the well-respected British snowdrop nursery, can help with the process.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Walrus'‘Walrus’ looks very pretty from the top, and it is easy to see the ‘tusks’ that give it its name.

During the 2012 and 2013 snowdrop season, Avon Bulbs asked its customers from all over the European Union to choose their three favorite snowdrops.  Avon then produced a ranking of its customers’ 25 favorite snowdrop plants.   In Part One of this post, which you can read here, I profiled Numbers 13 through 25 and provided a photo or  link to a photo for each plant.  In this post, I will show you the top 12 snowdrops.

Note: When I don’t have my own photo, I have linked to photos provided on the wonderful website Judy’s Snowdrops, which I highly recommend as a source for snowdrop information.

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Number 11:  ‘South Hayes’, first seen in 1992 in Primrose Warburg’s garden and probably a seedling of ‘Trym’ (number 3), one of the most sought after snowdrop bulbs for its distinctive pagoda-like shape and very unusual dark green markings, for photos click here.

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Number 10:  ‘John Gray’, a beautifully marked, full and perfect flower hung on a graceful, long arching pedicel (flower stem), first offered for sale in 1967, for photos click here.   It is interesting to note that the snowdrop “bible”, Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop et al., first published in 2001, says the following about ‘John Gray':

There can be no doubt that a survey of galanthophiles’ favourite snowdrops would place ‘John Gray’ in the top ten, a position it would maintain among the current wide range of cultivars despite its age.

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Galanthus 'Atkinsii'Number 9: ‘Atkinsii’, an early-blooming and quite vigorous hybrid with large, robust flowers sporting a heart-shaped marking on the inner segment, originated in the 1860s.  Available CSG.

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Galanthus 'Atkinsii'A close up of ‘Atkinsii’, which Snowdrops says has “elegant elongated flowers that suggest the drop-pearl earrings of Elizabeth I.”

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Number 8: ‘Three Ships’, an early flowering Crimean snowdrop (Galanthus plicatus) with lovely rounded, well-proportioned flowers displaying a wonderful puckered texture on the outer segments, found in 1984, for photos click here.

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Galanthus 'Augustus' CadwaladerNumber 7:  ‘Augustus’, the plump, well-rounded flowers with great texture are set off perfectly by the lovely pleated leaves of a Crimean snowdrop for an overall great presentation, named prior to 1976. 

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Galanthus plicatus 'Augustus'A close up of ‘Augustus’ showing its elegant textured petals and large inner mark.

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Number 6: ‘Mrs. Macnamara’, an early-flowering giant snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii) combining all the fine characteristics of a classic snowdrop, frequently mentioned as a favorite on garden blogs, for photos click here.

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Galanhtus 'Wendy's Gold' 1 entranceNumber 5: ‘Wendy’s Gold’, a Crimean snowdrop (G. plicatus) cultivar with beautiful yellow markings on the ovary and inner segments.  Available CSG 2013.

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Galanthus plicatus 'Wendy's Gold'Alan Street from Avon Bulbs sent me this photo of a clump of ‘Wendy’s Gold’, saying that mine would look like this some day!

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Galanthus 'Diggory' Number 4: ‘Diggory’, a snowdrop I would recognize anywhere for its squared-off pear-shaped flowers, heavily quilted texture, and large green inner mark. 

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Galanthus  plicatus 'Diggory'This clump of ‘Diggory’ shows its unique look and the pleated leaves characteristic of a Crimean snowdrop.

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Number 3: ‘Trym’, the first snowdrop selected for the combination of its unique pagoda-like shape and large marks on the outer segments, it is obviously still very popular even though other snowdrops like its descendant ‘South Hayes’ now exhibit this form, for photos click here.

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Galanthus 'Magnet'Number 2:  ‘Magnet’, a very vigorous classic snowdrop selected in the 1880s with a long and slender pedicel allowing the flower to sway in the slightest breeze.  Available CSG. 

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Galanthus 'Magnet'A close up of ‘Magnet’ showing its arching pedicel.

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Galanthus 'S. Arnott'Number 1:  ‘S. Arnott’, large rounded, sweetly scented flowers with a heart-shaped green marking on the inner segment.  Available CSG.  The book Snowdrops has this to say about ‘S. Arnott':

In fifty years time it will be interesting to see which of the newer snowdrops described in these pages will still be going strong, having established a reputation as a first-class garden plant with an unquestionable constitution, admired by everyone.  Such is this classic snowdrop.

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Galanthus 'S. Arnott'‘S. Arnott’ displays its “unquestionable constitution”.

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It is interesting to note that six of the twelve top ranked snowdrops are descended from the Crimean snowdrop, G. plicatus.  And seven of the top twelve display what I would call a traditional snowdrop look with nothing “newfangled” about them.  As with numbers 13 through 25, the top twelve ranked snowdrop bulbs show that, in the long run, classic and vigorous garden plants are more highly valued by knowledgeable collectors than the latest hot snowdrop off eBay.  I find this refreshing in a horticultural world that often seems to discount the tried and true in favor of the latest fad.

Carolyn

If you are looking for more information on snowdrops, I highly recommend the Scottish Rock Garden Club forum galanthus thread where galanthophiles from all over the world meet to obsess about snowdrops, click here.

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Nursery Happenings: To register for Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Plants Seminar click hereWe are now taking orders, for mail order or pick up in late February or March, from the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores.  To access the catalogue, please click here.  Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase beautiful photo note cards suitable for all occasions, including a new set of snowdrop cards, by clicking here.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Top 25 Snowdrop Plants Part One

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: The 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores, is posted here, and we are taking orders now for mail order and pick up at the nursery in late February or early March.  Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Plants Seminar is available for registration here.  Customers with questions should email the nursery at carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'Number 25: ‘Blewbury Tart’, for a profile of this wonderful double snowdrop selected by Alan Street at Avon Bulbs, click here.  Available CSG.

Snowdrops plants generally feature a little white flower with green marks on the inner segments (petals).  Sometimes the marks are yellow or nonexistent or on the outside and inside, sometimes the flower is mostly green, and sometimes the flower is double or spiky or otherwise aberrant.  The leaves can be gray-green or bright green or pleated.  Although that is definitely an oversimplification, from those few characteristics, sharp eyed galanthophiles have selected and named over 1,000 cultivars of snowdrop plants, some say as many as 1,500.

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Galanthus 'Brenda Troyle' Cresson gardenNumber 24: ‘Brenda Troyle’, a vigorous older variety from the 1930s grown for its cupped outer segments and strong honey fragrance, profiled here.  Available CSG.

Many people believe, myself included, that there are way too many named snowdrop cultivars, and a lot of them are virtually indistinguishable.  But ‘it is what it is’ as the saying goes, and collectors just have to deal with the plethora of choices.  However, making choices just became a whole lot easier for me when I discovered that the well-respected British snowdrop nursery Avon Bulbs conducted a survey among its customers to rank their 25 favorite snowdrops.  Alan Street from Avon has graciously allowed me to use the survey.  I want to thank Julian Wormald at the Welsh blog thegardenimpressionists for giving me the idea for this post.

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Number 23:  ‘Mrs. Thompson’, selected in the 1950s, produces desirable mutations often with 5 outer segments, for photos click here.

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Galanthus nivalis & Arum italicum 'Pictum'Number 22:  Galanthus nivalis, a straight species, the common snowdrop is a great naturalizer, profiled here.  Available CSG.

Snowdrop plants are covered by CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.  CITES prevents shipment of snowdrop bulbs over international borders without expensive and time-consuming permitting.  CITES has curtailed the availability of a wide range of snowdrop plants in the U.S.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is working to increase the choices, and I have added “available CSG” to indicate which plants from the Avon ranking we sell or have sold (although many are sold out).  Unlike U.S. galanthophiles, Avon’s customers throughout the European Union have access to the full range of snowdrop bulbs available, both through purchase from bulb companies and by trading with fellow enthusiasts.

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Galanthus 'Straffan' by Jonathan ShawNumber 21: ‘Straffan’, an indestructible Irish snowdrop selected in the late 1800s and the third oldest snowdrop still being sold, photo Jonathan Shaw.  Available CSG.

Avon asked all their customers ordering in 2012 and 2013 to pick their top three snowdrops.  From their answers, Avon compiled a weighted ranking of the top 25 choices.  The snowdrop plants that made the list all have beautiful and sometimes unusual flowers.  However, it is clear from the list that Avon’s customers valued vigorous garden plants, no matter how long they have been around, over the newest and most sought after cultivars.  In this post I will profile Numbers 13 through 25, providing a short description and a photo (or a link to a photo on the wonderful website Judy’s Snowdrops).  In the next post, I will cover 1 through 12.

.Galanthus 'Hippolyta' photo Paddy TobinNumber 20: ‘Hippolyta’, a lovely Greatorex double snowdrop selected in the first half of the 20th century.  Available CSG.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Anglesey Abbey'Number 19:  ‘Anglesey Abbey’, a highly variable form, sometimes almost pure white with the inner and outer segments the same length (poculiform).

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Number 18: ‘Robin Hood’, first mentioned in 1891, large flowers with an X-shaped mark, for a photo click here.

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Galanthus gracilisNumber 17: Galanthus gracilis, a species snowdrop with unusual twisted leaves and elegant markings on the flower.  Available CSG 2013.

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Galanthus 'Merlin' in Cresson gardenNumber 16: ‘Merlin’, an old variety from the 1890s with a solid green inner mark.

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Number 15: ‘Cowhouse Green’, lovely virescent (greenish) snowdrop with a pale green wash on the outer segments, for photos click here.

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Number 14: ‘Colossus’, a very early flowering form of the Crimean snowdrop, G. plicatus, with large flowers and beautiful dark green, pleated, glaucous leaves, for photos click here.

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Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'Number 13:  ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’, an elegant double snowdrop that multiplies quickly, named in the 1980s but distributed since the 1950s.  Available CSG.

Although it is entertaining to read about single snowdrop bulbs selling for almost $1,200 on eBay, it is nice to know that when it comes right down to it, gardeners value the tried and true plants that have withstood the test of time.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: We are now taking orders, for mail order or pick up in late February or March, from the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores.  To access the catalogue, please click here.  To register for Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Plants Seminar click here.  Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase beautiful photo note cards suitable for all occasions, including a new set of snowdrop cards, by clicking here.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

The Sochi Snowdrop

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: The 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores, is posted here, and we are taking orders now for mail order and pick up at the nursery in late February or early March.  Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Plants Seminar is available for registration here.

Galanthus woronowii Cresson GardenGalanthus woronowii

The over 1,000 types of cultivated snowdrops all originated from just 20 snowdrop species found in the wild and making up the genus Galanthus. This post is the second in a series of posts profiling the important  snowdrop species, which are all great garden plants in their own right. 

In the first post I discussed the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, and you can read that post by clicking here.  I have written a lot of other articles about snowdrops, covering among other topics their ornamental characteristics, fascinating history, the importance of provenance, and profiling many cultivars.  For links to all my previous snowdrop posts, click here.  In this post, I will discuss G. woronowii.

Much of the information in this post comes from Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop et al. (Griffin Press 2006) which is absolutely indispensable if you are researching or collecting snowdrops.  I have also used documents produced by Kew Gardens and the Tbilisi Botanical Garden in the Country of Georgia.

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Galanthus woronowii Cresson GardenGalanthus woronowii

Although a few sources have randomly assigned the common names green snowdrop, Russian snowdrop, and Woronow’s snowdrop to G. woronowii, it really has no regularly used common name.  So why am I calling it the Sochi snowdrop?  Because in the early 20th century, Russian botanist A.S. Losina-Losinskaya collected a new species of snowdrop in southern Russia around Sochi on the eastern shore of the Black Sea.  In 1935, he named these snowdrops Galanthus woronowii in honor of Georg Jurii Nikolaewitch Woronow (1874-1931).  Several sources confirm that G. woronowii is still abundant in the mountains and forests above Sochi, the resort town on the Black Sea where Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics beginning February 7.

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G. woronowii CressonG. woronwii‘s glossy, bright green leaves sparkle in the rain.

G. woronowii is found in northeastern Turkey, Georgia, and southern Russia mainly around the eastern part of the Black Sea.  For a map of its range, click here for a report by Georgia’s Tbilisi Botanical Garden.  It grows in an extraordinary variety of habitats from deciduous and even evergreen woods to rocky slopes, cliff ledges, and river banks.  It thrives in both shallow rocky soil and deep organic loam in areas with cold winters and abundant precipitation.  According to Kew Gardens, Georgia harvests 15 million G. woronowii bulbs every year for export to the western European horticultural trade.  Kew along with Tbilisi and the CITES* authorities have been monitoring this harvest from wild populations and cultivated sites, click here.

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which covers snowdrops.

.Galanthus woronowiiG. woronowii flower showing the small mark on the inner segment

G. woronowii is grown for its beautiful, glossy green leaves and lovely white flowers.  It is the only commonly available snowdrop to have bright green leaves as opposed to the blue-gray leaves of the other common species.  The leaves persist longer than other snowdrop foliage and form a lovely but temporary, thick and attractive groundcover.  The flowers, which have a small green mark covering one third or less of the inner segments, are the last snowdrops to bloom in my garden in late March and early April.  I really appreciate the way they extend the end of the snowdrop season. 

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Galanthus woronowiiThe fold in the center of the leaf is clearly visible in this photo.

The identification of G. woronowii is confused in the horticultural trade where it is often called G. ikariae, a much less common snowdrop from the Aegean Islands of Greece.  However, while G. woronowii has light, glossy green leaves folded in the center and a small green mark on the flower, G. ikariae has dark, matt green leaves and a mark covering more than half the inner segment.  I have been told that all the G. ikariae sold in the U.S. is actually G. woronowii.

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Galanthus woronowiiClose up of G. woronowii flower.  I always recognize G. woronowii by the pollen glowing through the top half of the translucent white inner segments, although I don’t know if this is unique.

Unlike the other three more common snowdrop species, G. nivalis, G. elwesii, and G. plicatus, not many cultivated plants have been selected from G. woronowii, possibly because it only became available in large numbers in the 1990s.  Snowdrops lists only ‘Green Flash’ selected for its green marks on its outer as well as its inner segments.  Other sources add ‘Cider with Rosie’, ‘Green Woodpecker’, and ‘Boschhoeve’, all with green marks on their outers. 

Nevertheless, a cultivar of G. woronowii has caused more excitement than any other snowdrop when, on February 16, 2012, one bulb sold for 725 pounds ($1,185) on eBay, surpassing the previous record of around 360 pounds ($508).  G. woronowii ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ appeared as a seedling in a Scottish garden and is named after the owner.  It is considered so special because instead of the usual green ovary (the “cap” to which the petals are attached) and segment marks, ‘Elizabeth Harrison’s’ are an intense yellow, looking beautiful with the bright green leaves.  For the U.K. Telegraph story on ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ and a photo, click here; for today’s story in the Telegraph about another snowdrop, ‘Humpty Dumpty’, reaching 195 pounds, click here

I won’t be adding ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ to my collection anytime soon, but I do treasure the patch of G. woronowii in my garden.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: We are now taking orders, for mail order or pick up in late February or March, from the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores.  To access the catalogue, please click here.  To register for Charles Cresson’s Winter Interest Plants Seminar click here.  Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase beautiful photo note cards suitable for all occasions, including a new set of snowdrop cards, by clicking here.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

The Un-Common Snowdrop

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: The 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores, is posted here, and we are taking orders.

Hybrid hellebore & G. 'Brenda Troyle'All snowdrops are great companions for hellebores.

I have written a lot of articles about snowdrops, covering among other topics their ornamental characteristics, fascinating history, the importance of provenance, and profiling many cultivars.  For links to all my previous snowdrop posts, click here.  I have never, however, talked in detail about any of the snowdrop species from which cultivated snowdrops, now numbering over 1,000, have been selected.  I hope this post will be the first in a series discussing each of the more important snowdrop species.

Much of the information in this post comes from Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop et al. (Griffin Press 2006) which is absolutely indispensable if you are researching or collecting snowdrops.

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Galanthus nivalis & Arum italicum 'Pictum'Common snowdrops pair well with snow crocus (just visible in the background) and really bring out the silver patterning on the leaves of Italian arum, which look fresh all winter.

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G. nivalis and C. coum 'Rose'Common snowdrops are a wonderful companion for the leaves and flowers of winter-blooming hardy cyclamen.

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Galanthus nivalis & Heuchera 'Creme Brulee'Common snowdrops look great paired with native coral bells, many of which keep their bright leaf colors all winter.

Brian Capon in his very handy book Botany for Gardeners defines a species as a “group of individuals sharing many characteristics and interbreeding freely.”  Generally these individuals are growing in the wild and have a defined native range.  There are 20 types of snowdrops that meet this definition and constitute the genus Galanthus, but only three of them have given rise to most of the named snowdrops: G. nivalis, G. elwesii, and G. plicatus

Here I want to discuss Galanthus nivalis otherwise known as the common snowdrop although it is by no means common in any sense of the word and would be one of the first snowdrops I would add to my collection if I had to start over.  In fact, it has received a coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

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G. nivalis CressonCommon snowdrops naturalize quickly in the mid-Atlantic U.S. generally by producing bulb offsets.

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The common snowdrop has the largest native range of any snowdrop species and is the species most widely grown by gardeners.  It is native to western, central, and southern Europe from France to the part of Turkey in Europe.  It was first mentioned in print in the 16th century when it was already being grown as an ornamental plant. 

Linnaeus named it Galanthus nivalis in 1753.  According to another fascinating book, Plant Names Explained (Horticulture 2005), gala means milk, -anthus means -flowered, and nivalis means snowy or snow-like.  Common snowdrops fill our gardens here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, which is part of an old estate called Wayside dating back to the 1600s (we live in Wayside Cottage which formerly housed the gardener).

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Galanthus nivalis/Common SnowdropGalanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop

Common snowdrops are generally 4 to 6 inches tall.  The narrow, straplike leaves are green with a glaucous center stripe giving an overall gray-blue appearance.  The flowers have three outer petal-like segments and three smaller inner segments.  They are pure white with a bright green v-shaped mark around the notch (called a sinus) on the apex of the inner segments. 

Common snowdrops flower here in February and March no matter what the weather and prefer moist deciduous woods with deep organic soil.  However, they are not picky about cultural conditions and will naturalize freely in a wide range of garden settings, including the dry woods of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  They pair beautifully with native coral bells, snow crocus, Italian arum, hardy cyclamen, and hellebores.

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Galanthus nivalisA natural mutation at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, if you look closely these flowers have four outer segments (petals).

Because common snowdrops generally spread through bulb offsets rather than seed, the flowers in colonies are theoretically identical.  However, natural variations occur as you can see from the photo above where the flowers have four outer segments.  Often these mutations are not stable and do not persist as was the case with the flowers pictured.  However, sometimes ornamentally interesting and stable changes occur, and, if they are noticed by a sharp-eyed galanthophile, they enter cultivated gardens and even become a named cultivar available for sale.

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G. 'Flore Pleno'A clump of double common snowdrops

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Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'double common snowdrop

I want to highlight three cultivars of the common snowdrop to give you an idea of the range available.  The double common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ (or sometimes G. n. f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’), is the oldest known snowdrop cultivar, first illustrated in 1703 and described in a prominent gardener’s dictionary in 1731.  Although it is sterile, it spreads vigorously from bulb offsets and is tolerant of a wide range of cultural conditions.  I have been told that in England it is often more abundant than the straight species. 

‘Flore Pleno’ has a lovely flower and has the advantage of being less expensive than the rest of the double snowdrops available so it is great for naturalizing.  It is the parent with G. plicatus of the Greatorex double series of snowdrops to which ‘Dionysus’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Ophelia’, and several other double snowdrops belong.  ‘Flore Pleno’ was also given an Award of Garden Merit by the RHS.

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G. 'Viridapice'the green-tipped snowdrop ‘Viridapice

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G. 'Viridiapice'‘Viridiapice’

One of my favorite snowdrops is the green-tipped common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Viridapice’.  It was originally found near an old farmhouse in northern Holland by a member of the Hoog family, owners of the venerable but now defunct Dutch bulb nursery Van Tubergen.  It is a vigorous and large-flowered snowdrop characterized by a beautiful and strikingly prominent green marking on the apex of the outer segments and a large single mark on the inner segments. 

Unfortunately,  the name ‘Viridapice’ was applied over the years to a number of different green-tipped common snowdrops, some of which are quite inferior.  I acquired my strain from the old Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, Washington, and I am happy to report that it is a superior strain and one of the best naturalizers in my garden.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'the double common snowdrop ‘Blewbury Tart’

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'‘Blewbury Tart’

Finally, I want to highlight a newer cultivar of the common snowdrop, because I love it and because it was discovered by the only person I know who is more excited about snowdrops than me, Alan Street of Avon Bulbs in England.  In 1975, Alan noticed ‘Blewbury Tart’ in a churchyard in the village of Blewbury in Oxfordshire, England, where he grew up, and collected it with the permission of  Vicar Hugh Pickles. The famous galanthophile Primrose Warburg helped to name it because she called it Blewbury Muffin when Alan gave it to her, thus inspiring the name ‘Blewbury Tart’.  

I asked Alan if there was a special anecdote that I could relate here.  He told me that when he first exhibited it in 1985, a prominent British journalist said it looked like a “squashed fly on a windscreen”.   Nevertheless Avon offered it for sale in 1992.  It is an unruly double with an outward-facing dark green inner rosette encircled by three narrow outer segments.  It looks like it is having a bad hair day and always makes me smile when I see it.  Alan relates that another prominent British galanthophile, Ruby Baker, considers it a favorite.

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Although I don’t expect most gardeners to share my obsession, whenever I write about snowdrops I hope to communicate some of the enthusiasm that snowdrops arouse.  Maybe you will add them to your garden this year!  All four snowdrops profiled are available from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: We are now taking orders from the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores.  To access the catalogue, please click here.  Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase beautiful photo note cards suitable for all occasions, including a new set of snowdrop cards, by clicking here.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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