March GBBD: The Philadelphia International Flower Show

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the beginning of spring an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more early-blooming hellebores, to give you a reason to go outside?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in early March like hardy cyclamen, snow crocus, or snowdrops to relieve the gray?

Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping this spring you know what you need and where it should go.  I know it’s still pretty cold outside, but you never know what you might find to end the winter doldrums like the beautiful double-flowered hellebore (pictured above), which I discovered during my own  inventory.  More photos of my blooming plants are included at the end.

As you entered the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show, you walked under a very large replica of the lower half of the Eiffel Tower

If you need ideas, there is no better place to go in the mid-Atlantic this time of year than the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show.  It is the largest indoor flower show in the world.  This year’s theme was “Springtime in Paris”, and the designers went all out.  I sent photos of some of the weirder stuff to Cheri at Along Life’s Highway The Yard Art Game, and you can see them by clicking here.  But I found the following displays and entries inspirational for my own garden:

There is nothing more beautiful than an individual well grown plant

A new idea for my sedum displays, which are fantastic in containers

Inspiration to upgrade my troughs

I need an elegant metal gate for my walled compost area

Simple can be very beautiful

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for March when gardeners around the world show photos of what’s blooming in their gardens (follow the link to see  photographs from other garden bloggers assembled by Carol at May Dreams Gardens).  Here are  some more highlights from my mid-March stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens:

Eranthis hyemalisWinter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

Scilla mischtschenkoanaVery early-blooming Tubergen squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana

My original snow crocus, Crocus tommasinianus, which is rodent resistant, has multiplied into thousands of plants

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, has no scent but makes up for it by blooming so early

Winter-blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum ‘Rose’

I want to include hundreds of hellebore photos but am limiting myself to some really special plants:

The rare species Helleborus purpurascens

The flower of Helleborus purpurascens

Another even rarer species Helleborus viridis: inspired by Laura at PatioPatch, I am dedicating this flower to the people of Japan because green is the color for hope

A cross between Corsican hellebore and Christmas rose, Helleborus x nigercors ‘Honeyhill Joy’

A very beautiful anemone-centered hybrid hellebore where the nectaries have become petal-like (petaloid)

Another petaloid hybrid hellebore

‘Blue Lady’ hybrid hellebore

Hybrid hellebore with picotee markings (darker edges, veins, and nectaries)

A very good yellow hybrid hellebore with maroon nectaries

Some of the thousands of common snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, which have multiplied on my property since the 1800s:

Common snowdrop with Italian arum, Arum italicum ‘Pictum’

Common snowdrop with Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’ displaying its winter color

Some of my very special snowdrop cultivars:

Galanthus 'Ophelia'Double-flowered Galanthus ‘Ophelia’

The unusual species with pleated leaves, Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus

Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe crazy upward facing double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Blewbury Tart’

Galanthus 'Flore Pleno' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe double-flowered common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’

The only yellow-flowered double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Lady Elphinstone’

A beautiful yellow snowdrop, Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

Please let me know in a comment/reply what flowers are blooming in your early spring garden.  If you participated in GBBD, please provide a link so my nursery customers can read your post.


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.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: I have five spaces left for my March 19 Hellebore Seminar (March 18 is sold out).  For the brochure and registration information, click here.  My first open house sale is Saturday, March 26, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring hellebores and other winter-blooming plants.

87 Responses to “March GBBD: The Philadelphia International Flower Show”

  1. The show was phenomenal by your images. I wish I could have driven down. Here is my link. I just posted.

  2. If I could, I’d award you some blue ribbons of my own for your garden–That’s the real garden show this month! Happy Bloomday!

  3. Beautiful photos! I didn’t realize there were so many different varieties of snowdrops. Also, thanks for identifying my Hellebore in an earlier post.
    Have a great GBBD! Here’s my link, but the cold and the snow didn’t cooperate with Bloom Day!

  4. This is a very beautiful post. Is the container part of a tree trunk? I like the combination in the collage.

  5. Hello Carolyn,
    Another lovely , inspiring post. We currently have many of the flowers you mention still blooming, though coming to an end here in Wales, but at last Narcissus ‘February Gold’, and N.obvallaris are blooming, to join Tete a tete, as well as Pulmonaria longifolia , which we love,and is great for bumblebees, and Daphne laureola philippi, which is the magnet in the garden just now for our native moths. I found Blotanical after your suggestion, but being a technophobe, don’t find it as easy for me to navigate as wordpress which is very simple for me to get around. You might be interested in my latest post, which includes a photo of the first moth I’ve ever seen on/inside a Galanthus nivalis…..synchronicity after your post on thermogenesis,
    Thanks again for getting me blogging! this is the blog link

  6. What a glorious celebration of the Spring garden Carolyn – your cyclamen, aconites and snowdrops are all wonderful, but no surprise that the real stars are the hellebores. All beautiful though this time I was struck by the hybrid with the picotee markings. Though that could just be that the word is lovely 😉

  7. A gobstoppingly gorgeous walk through the show but especially your own garden. Hellebore and Snowdrop strains that I’ve never seen before, in all their various glories. Petalloid, picatee and nectaries – words that roll around like poetry. Love your cycamen among the rocks, the heuchera and snowdrop and especially the lovely Lady Beatrix Stanley.
    As for H.viridis a most beautiful flower of hope for Japan

    • Laura, My husband read my post before I published it, and he commented on ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ too. She does have an incredibly refined elegance about her. It is 20 degrees (-7 C) here today, and all the hellebores are lying on the ground. I have my first hellebore seminar on Thursday so hopefully they will stand up and behave. Carolyn

  8. I could look at your hellebore photos all day! I am really impressed with all the snowdrops too. Their green and white color are so lovely!

  9. Garden Shows are so inspiring and get the creative juices flowing. 🙂 I love all the different Hellebores you have in your garden, so pretty.

  10. I never get tired of viewing your lovely hellebore. I love the purple hues.

    I want that garden gate, I want it so much I am wondering how hard it would be to drive to PA.

  11. Carolyn, your spring blooms are so precious! Lovely to see so many March blooms looking like innocent, little babies. The snowdrops are so fresh and pure. Love the purple crocus, the hellebore …all of them!

  12. I love all your hellebores and snowdrops. I particularly like the combination of the snowdrops and Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’–stunning and inspirational. Here is my GBBD post:

  13. This is my first time visiting you. Pretty overwhelming. I’ll be back to read through more posts.

    Your garden looks to be spectacular.


  14. I wanted to let you know your post was
    so beautiful that it is featured on
    WebGarden today. Our readers enjoy
    getting ideas and inspiration. I hope
    many will follow your blog after visiting.
    Thanks for sharing your gardening talents!
    ~Brooke (CreativeCountryMom)
    Here is the link to see your post….

    • Brooke, Thank you so much for featuring my post on WebGarden. I tried to visit your site but it kept telling me that Quick Time wouldn’t initialize and then it wouldn’t let me post my comment. I liked the little dragonflies flying around. Carolyn

  15. Beautiful as always. I love the sedum displays-thanks for sharing your pics from the flower show. My GBBD post is here:

  16. Dear Carolyn, What a feast! Your crocus, winter aconite and hellebores are breathtakingly beautiful!! Truly stunning photographs!

  17. Hi Carolyn,
    Great show pictures. I agree that the entrance was just spectacular. Our hellebores are coming up through the leaf mulch too. What and when do you feed all the spring bloomers?

  18. I’m still drooling over the fantastic garden gate. That could really dress up the compost area.

  19. Thank you for sharing your Garden Show pics along with your own lovely gardens. I’m reminded that I want to try cyclamen coum.

  20. sadly nothing is blooming since we are just losing our 174 inch snow cover…I have got to get to the Philly Flower show at some point…how gorgeous and the ideas…all your early blooming bulbs will be blooming in my garden too I hope this coming week…we are a couple weeks behind because of the snow pack that would not melt….I did do some imagining for GBBD so here is the link and I linked with Carol too

  21. I love your winter aconite, one of my favourite spring bulbs. Good tip on looking around and making planting lists now for later in the year. A great way to make sure you get blooms at different points in the year.

  22. Your spring garden must be stunning to see in person! Love that metal gate…I love art in the garden!!

  23. Cynthia Kardon Says:


    Thanks for sharing the photos of the Flower Show. I too love the chest of succulents.

    Blooming right now in my garden? Winter Jasmine, variety of crocuses, narcissus, weeping pussy willows, snowdrops (You have converted me. I spent an hour yesterday comparing the snowdrops in my garden to try and really notice the differences), hellebores (a red one blooming since December), cyclamen. Many other things budding out. And, hooray for the time change. Now it is light when I get home from work.

    • Cynthia, I think that the day the time changes is the happiest day of the year. I get so much more done in the garden. You have a lot going on in your garden and will have more in the years to come as you collect snowdrops. I hope you are enjoying your ‘Ophelia’. Carolyn

      • Cynthia Kardon Says:


        Are there lots of cyclamen cultivars (is that the correct word) as well?) I have 2 fall blooming and 2 spring blooming (most from you) and the leaves are so pretty

      • Cynthia, Yes, there are cultivars of both available, some with white flowers, darker flowers, better patterned leaves. There are also more species of hardy cyclamen that will grow here. Look on the Arrowhead Alpines website. Carolyn

  24. What lovely hellebores, and yours have names! Mine of mostly hybrids and have long since cross-pollinated each other (is that sex in the garden? I wonder.) and I don’t know their proper names. You have a lovely early spring garden.

  25. Lisa at Greenbow Says:

    You have some fine hellebores here. I just bought some hardy cyclamen bulbs. I hope to get them into the ground soon. Lucky you getting to go to the Philidelphia Garden show.

  26. Your pictures are just breathtaking. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  27. Hello Carolyn,
    Thanks for the visit at PFS.
    You have so many lovely hellebores !
    Greetings from Belgium !

  28. Very nice hellebore & snowdrop collections – two varieties I need to try try more in my garden.

  29. Wow! Such a fantastic show of your blooms Carolyn. Gorgeous hellebores, jasmine display, crocuse, fact all of them! Stunning photos!

  30. Thank you for a glimpse to the Philly show. I have always wanted to go, but this is such a crazy time of year for me with work, that I have a hard time taking off. One day I will be there. Your parade of Helleborus is wonderful, and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.

    • Les, I thought the flower show was especially good this year maybe because I was looking at it as I wanted to portray it on my blog rather than for ideas for my own garden. You really should try to get there next year. Friday night was fairly empty, and I think a good time to go. I was a volunteer “babysitter” for the exhibit of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. Carolyn

  31. What beautiful spring blooms! I just love the special hellebores and the unusual snow drops. I am so envious. My garden is still very young and I’m still adding basic bulbs but looking very forward to the crocus and daffodils that are just beginning to sprout. This year I should see some snow drops! I so enjoyed seeing your collection (as well as the flower show)!

  32. Beautiful post Carolyn!

    I especially loved Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ and the petaloid hybrid hellebore. Your garden must be a peaceful retreat to be in.

  33. All of those wonderful hellebores make my gardening heart beat faster. I love them all! Garden shows are certainly inspirational, and so are the blogs of other gardeners! By the way, I am sure I need a metal gate like that, too.

  34. So much eye candy, it’s almost overwhelming! I take that back — one can never have too many Hellebore photos! I have resolved to add more to my garden this year for next year’s early blooms. And I must find a place for Hardy Cyclamen, too. Thanks for this amazing post!

    • Hey, I slimmed the number of hellebore photos down to just some very extraordinary ones. You should try the fall-blooming cyclamen too, Cyclamen hederifolium. It is much easier to grow and has amazingly beautiful leaves, which make a great groundcover. Carolyn

  35. Hi Carolyn, even if the garden show is spectacular, your blooms in your own garden are more appealing for me especially those snowdrop cultivars, as they are my favorite. Your garden is already a tour area in spring! How beautiful they all are. Thankyou.

  36. Lydia Plunk Says:

    Absolutely divine!

  37. The post is fantastic, and I the images of last part with so many beautiful flowers make me think to edit them as a post, after months of grey is so rewarding color! Crocus are amazing and the hybrid helleborus with picotee markings is glorious, not that the others are less amazing! Lula

  38. My 2 hybrid hellebores (dark pink, from Carolyn’s shade Gardens) are blooming, this is their first spring in my garden. My older hellebores, which are in much shadier spots, are still asleep but they usually bloom later. There is a delightful small patch of common dark purple crocus and a second patch of gold ones, that have somehow avoided the squirrels. And my Italian Arum is lovely, not blooming but looking fresh

  39. Carolyn, your Snowdrops are indeed very beautiful but the Hellebores steal the show for me, especially the yellow hybrid.

  40. Carolyn,
    I’m with you. I need a spectacular gate in my garden.

  41. I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show too (just posted on my blog about it). I took the same photo of the sedums and the trough/rock garden that you did. Great minds think alike! So many wonderful things on display there.
    You have a lot blooming! Love all the different snowdrops, the green helleborus viridis and the winter jasmine! My neighbor has that in his yard and he’s shaped the shrub unnaturally. I like how yours is cascading much better.

  42. Carolyn, my early spring garden needs to be more exciting since I don’t really have anything blooming yet. Thanks for the tip to explore my garden with a notepad and make a shopping list of plants to incorporate in my garden to make spring more exciting. Your photos are gorgeous!

    • Ramona, I wanted to make my GBBD post relevant for my customers and not just a string of photos so each month I recommend some place to go for inspiration and a walk around the garden. The photos then give an idea of what people might add if they want more blooms that month. I am also finding it very helpful to focus on my own garden intensely once a month. Carolyn

  43. I was given three Helliboros six years ago for my 60th b’day. They are gorgeous. I am selling my house and want to take them with me to my new home. Can I move them to new soil now middle of March without loosing them? Thank you.

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