Carolyn’s Shade Gardens Goes International

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.

The BBC News Magazine was hours away from publication when they emailed to request a photo of me with snowdrops.  My husband and I had a quick photo shoot and this is what we came up with.

We interrupt the regularly scheduled flow of posts on this blog with breaking news.  The owner of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is prominently featured in the BBC News Magazine lead article for February 2 entitled “Snowdrop Fanciers and Their Mania”. 

All kidding aside, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I am in the company of Matt Bishop and John Grimshaw, two of the authors of the “snowdrop bible” Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus, and Chris Ireland-Jones, the owner of the famous English snowdrop nursery Avon Bulbs.  You know what a snowdrop fanatic I am so this is the ultimate compliment.  To read the article (I am in the second half), click here.

Second Annual Snowdrops & Other Winter Interest Plant Seminars

Charles Cresson pointing out some of his very unusual snowdrop cultivars to last year’s seminar attendees.

I am very excited that winter interest plant expert and gardener extraordinaire Charles Cresson has agreed once again to give seminars on Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants just for my customers.  The seminars will be limited to 20 people each and will take place in his amazing Swarthmore garden, Hedgleigh Spring.  The brochure telling you the details and how to sign up is here.  If you are a local gardener and interested in attending, I encourage you to email immediately because I expect these seminars to sell out.  For a complete description of the 2011 seminars with many photos, click here.

Since this post is about all things snowdrop, I thought I would show you the first snowdrops to bloom in my garden in 2012:

The very first snowdrop cultivar to open in my garden in 2012: ‘Kite’.  Notice the very long outer segments (petals).

Second to open was Galanthus plicatus ‘Augustus’ with its striking puffy rounded and quilted outer segments.

‘Magnet’ is open and swaying in the breeze on its unusually long and thin flower stems (pedicels).

The double common snowdrop ‘Flore Pleno’ is blooming even though it is usually one of the last snowdrops to open in the middle to end of March.

The aristocratic snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’, said to resemble the pearl drop earrings of Elizabeth I, is also flowering.

The common snowdrop, G. nivalis, is blooming a few weeks early.  I shot this picture to document the date they opened and had a funny feeling that something wasn’t right.  When I uploaded the photos to the computer I realized the plants in the front have four outer segments instead of three—very interesting.

The giant snowdrop, G. elwesii, has been flowering on and off since November, but this patch just opened this week.

I avidly read the Galanthus threads on the Scottish Rock Garden Club forum where galanthophiles from all over the world meet to obsess about snowdrops.  I highly recommend this forum if you are interested in snowdrops and want to learn more.  The forumists are some of the most knowledgeable galanthophiles around but very welcoming and eager to share their passion.  Several of them commented on the varied markings on the giant snowdrops pictured above which got me outside with my camera to record the marks.  Here is what I found:

Every flower in this collage is the same species, G. elwesii, and yet the green marks on the inner segments are all different, from the small single green mark on the middle  right flower to the mark that looks like a mustache and eyes in the middle of the bottom row.  Although I realize this will not excite most gardeners, at least everyone can see the amazing variety.  And variety is the spice of life.

I have recently been honored with the Versatile Blogger Award by four different blogs, and I want to thank them for the accolade.  I try to make my blog posts varied and yes versatile (able or meant to be used in many different ways), and I am glad that my efforts are appreciated.  I am not following the award rules, but instead letting you know who gave me the award in hopes that you will visit their blogs.  Here are the links and some information to entice you to visit them:

Graphicality–UK:  Helene is a very accomplished author.  You might want to check out her recent post on the book she published with her lovely photos of Kew Gardens.  Her current post talks about US grey squirrels invading Britain.

Green Place:  Sheila is in Chapel Hill, NC, and reflects on spirituality, nature and gardening.  She and I also share a love of Maine islands.

The Amateur Weeder:  For a very different perspective, Lyn gardens in Australia and her blog produces “seedlings from the mind of an inconstant gardener.”  I particularly liked her recent post called Designed by Nature.

Women and the Garden:  Patty writes about “the history of the garden and the various roles women played in that history,” and it is  all absolutely fascinating.  She doesn’t post often, but when she does you don’t want to miss it.  Her latest post is on Pomona, the roman goddess of fruiting trees and orchards.


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

Calendar:  If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide, 20% off through 2/5/12.  For details, click here.

Nursery Happenings: To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here. I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.  The Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plant Seminars are also available for registration here.  The Friday seminar has one space left, and there are three spaces on Monday.  Look for an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012. 

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  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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.

89 Responses to “Carolyn’s Shade Gardens Goes International”

  1. Carolyn you are a popular girl as I am to award you for the Versatile Blogger as well ! Congrats!

  2. Congratulations, Carolyn;-) I will be sure to click on the link and read the article! I enjoy the snowdrops I got from you…but mine are still so ‘young’ that it is going to take many seasons for them to ‘fill out’ and be real ‘noticeable’ in my gardens;-) I have 3 ‘giant’ snowdrops, all of which have bloomed, with a couple still ‘hanging’ on but starting to look ‘worn & torn’. The ‘common’ variety have their greens poking, just barely, through the ground (all 3 of them) but have not risen up high enough to think about blooming as yet. As I told you earlier, ‘Potter’s Prelude’ did come up in Nov. but for some reason it didn’t produce a flower. But I am sure that next season it will do so. All that is needed is time and patience:-) I wish I could afford to add more but these 7 plants will have to suffice and hopefully, after many seasons, they will begin to spread out and become thicker and more substantial specimens in my garden.

  3. joanne hanna Says:

    Wow Carolyn – I can just imagine how excited you were to get that phone call…Kudos to you – we’re very proud to call you our own supplier!!

  4. Well congratulations Carolyn! That is just wonderful news and it looks like a lot of fun in the process.

  5. Congratulations on your inclusion in the BBC News Magazine. Just read the article. Those are stunning photos of your first snowdrops to bloom this year. We won’t be having any displays like that in the UK at the moment, with freezing temperatures and heavy snow forecast.

  6. You’re a star! Congratulations on the BBC article – that’s quite a distinction, indeed! What an honor! It’s nice to see a photo of you, put a face with your name. You’re as lovely as your snowdrops, Carolyn! Also nice to see such a variety of snowdrops, up close. They are all so delicate and ethereal! I’m looking forward to checking out your article.

  7. Congratulations indeed Carolyn, absolutely fantastic they they wanted to include you. Our snowdrops are holding up inspite of the frosts that we are having, the wild ones seem happier than the hybrids and usually thaw out by mid-day. Love your beautiful photographs.

  8. nwphillygardner Says:

    Congratulations! That your passionate interest gets int’l “cred” must be truly satisfying.
    But I also am fascinated by your “Four-Petal” mutant. It’s got to be as lucky as a four leaf clover, no? Have you gone out there and extracted those bulbs in an attempt to produce a marketable galanthus known to the world as “Carolyn’s Luck”?

    • Eric, In the snowdrop book, one of the subgroups for G. nivalis, the common snowdrop, is “more than three outer segments” but then only two cultivars are listed. I am not sure how many of these exist and whether they are stable year to year. I certainly haven’t seen one here in the US. I will be extracting the bulbs and testing them out. Carolyn

  9. British recognition; you’ve officially arrived! No pressure.

    • Susan, It does feel like an arrival. But to truly know everything there is to know about snowdrops, I really need to go there, attend the Galanthus Gala, visit some of the great snowdrop estates, and go to the RHS show. Unfortunately not in the budget for the foreseeable future. Carolyn

  10. May I add my congratulations as well… how very neat! Larry

  11. […] species, but I have been sorely tempted over the last few days by a fancier sort: Carolyn of Carolyn’s Shade Garden has been posting about rare snowdrops and the galanthophiles that prize them. The differences are […]

  12. Congratulations!! How exciting and what an honor! And I’m also happy to see a face behind the name. Your husband took a very nice picture. I’m off now to read the article. Congrats again!

  13. Mary Clare Wareham Says:

    Absolutely lovely website! And so good to know of this US source for Snowdrops!

  14. Susan Zemel Says:

    Congratulations Carolyn. The photo is wonderful. I’m happy with my plain old snowdrops, but always love the photos in your blog. On the gray days, they brighten my world. I look forward to reading the article.

  15. Nan Ondra Says:

    How exciting, Carolyn! The recognition is well deserved. And what a lovely tour through your snowdrops, too – thanks!

  16. Congratulations Carolyn – I still remember your post about snowdrops producing heat.

  17. congratulations on the publication Carolyn, Frances

  18. Congrats on the article and photo shoot! Now I’ll know what you look like at the spring fling and will be able to find you easily. I hate not know what other bloggers look like if we ever meet up in such situations as real meet ups.

  19. Karin Schaller Says:

    To state the obvious, your photos are wonderful. What kind of camera do you use? (If you’ve mentioned this elsewhere, please forgive, I missed it.) I’m in the market for a new one.

    • Karin, I am glad you enjoy the photos, but I think what makes them good is my knowledge of the subject matter not my technical abilities. There are garden blogs with some very skilled photographers behind them, and my photos don’t compare in quality. I use a point and shoot camera: a Nikon Coolpix P5000. I love the camera and vacillate from wanting to move to the next level to wanting to stay with the comfortable. I also use Picasa to manage and manipulate photos, and I think that helps with the quality. Carolyn

      • Karin Schaller Says:

        Carolyn, thanks. It was the camera’s technical abilities that I was curious about (your knowledge of the subject matter is obvious). So I will take a closer look at the specs for the Nikon Coolpix P5000, and investigate Picasa—that’s a great tip for me. Karin

      • What I was tying to say was that I don’t use a very technical camera (and don’t even take advantage of the features it offers) but manage to muddle through with the help of Picasa, which is a free downloadable program from Goggle.

  20. Yay! Congratulations to you! You’ve always been a star to us but now the world will know your gardening charm!

  21. Hi Carolyn, thanks for linking to me and your kind words – and congratulations on appearing in The BBC News Magazine!!

  22. Congratulations Carolyn! My family is addicted to BBC News. What an honor. It’s like tulip mania back when tulips were a commodity!

    • Cat, Helene, and GS, Thanks for your kind words. It means a lot to me that it was the BBC, which I listen to every day for news—I never thought I would be there in any capacity. Galanthomania in Europe is like tulip mania of old what with individual snowdrop bulbs going for 360 pounds each. Carolyn

  23. Congrats and so well deserved…I love the picture of you with your snowdrops…I do love snowdrops just no the price tag…

  24. Congrats on the article and award!

    And I hope that your four-petaled snowdrop persists for you. Very exciting! I am looking forward to my visit.

  25. Carolyn, I enjoy your articles and it seems you are achieving some good recognition for all your work. 🙂 However, I have to admit that it is hard for me to distinguish the difference between many of the snowdrops “out there.” I’ve had a couple different varieties… and they aren’t doing very well. Certainly not propagating. Oh, well. One can’t have it all! lol. Best wishes!

  26. SG, The more you look at snowdrops, the more you see—it is like any kind of collecting. But I admit that at least for now I wouldn’t want 150 different single white snowdrops with green inner marks. At the very least, I wouldn’t want to have to keep them all separate and identified. I don’t know anything about growing snowdrops in Austin, different snowdrops do suit different climates. The species that originate in Turkey are better for hot and dry. Carolyn

  27. Absolutely wonderful!!!! You are quite deserving and BBC News Magazine should be great for your business too. I was away on business and just got back to the hotel to see your wonderful news. Many congratulations, Carolyn.

  28. Congratulations! It is always nice to get some recognition. And not only is BBC international, but they are very well known and respected. You must be so proud. And also congrats on the VBA…you have long deserved it. I really like the photo by the snowdrops. You seem so at home sitting by them….so relaxed and content.

    • SB, So funny—relaxed and content. I freaked out completely when they sent the email with such short notice asking for a photo. I have no good photos of me, I hate being photographed—I am the one who takes the photos in our family. The request that the shot be with snowdrops made it doubly hard. Snowdrops are, as lecturer Stephanie Cohen would say, vertically challenged. I am not a giant but how to get me in the same shot with these short plants? On top of that it was glaringly sunny outside—bad for photography—and most of my larger patches of snowdrops were not in bloom yet. The location I chose was literally the only place out of the sun with a large enough patch of blooming snowdrops to be noticeable in a photo that had me in it too. The whole thing was hysterical in retrospect. Carolyn

  29. Myrna Snider Says: are exceptional and we are lucky to have you so close to us. You have always been exceptionally helpful!

  30. Belated congratulations Carolyn! Absolutly well deserved.

    I’m in ‘BBC-land’ right now taking care of family so am rather out of touch with everyone.

  31. that’s so cool the BBC has discovered you! Congratulations! And thanks for the shout-out. I’ve never tried to grow snowdrops. Something to add to the list for next year.

  32. Janine Avis Says:

    Carolyn, a very nice article…and a great picture of you !!!

  33. Wow Carolyn, that is fantastic. I read the article and love the photo of you!! Fabulous!

  34. Congratulations, Carolyn! Great photo of you with the snowdrops. These flowers really do invite study, don’t they? The difference are subtle but striking. Great collage at the end.

    BTW, you asked if I was going to the Ashville fling. I wish! I can’t think of anything I would rather do, except visit my son in Oregon, which is what I will be doing about that time this year.

  35. Congratulations on the BBC News Magazine lead article. Great photo of you with your snowdrops Carolyn!

  36. Well done Carolyn. It’s no mean feat to get invited to appear in a BBC publication. You and the snowdrops look lovely. Out of interest have you ever met John Grimshaw? I keep getting his name wrong and wanting to call him John Grisham… what a faux pas!

    • Janet, The BBC contacted me out of the blue so I was very lucky. I have not met John Grimshaw although we have emailed back and forth and he has given me very valuable advice about snowdrops. He lectured here in September but I had a sale at my nursery that day. Carolyn

  37. Congratulations, Carolyn! What a lovely photo of you with the Snowdrops! That is fantastic news! I’m so happy for you!

  38. Congratulations Carolyn, The BBC well, well, I am not surprised as far as I am concerned think Snowdrops, think Carolyn. And now I have an image, hmm, young too, I see. (fantastic)

    • Alistair, That is the nicest comment—think snowdrops, think Carolyn—especially coming from someone in the UK where there seem to be hundreds of snowdrop experts, a bunch right there in Aberdeen. But the part that really made my day was “young too”–best not delve into that other than to say thank you. Carolyn

  39. The cream always rises to the top. It’s nice to see how appreciated you are.

  40. I just read your post and want you to congratulate you, I cannot be surprised that BBC has chosen you. well deserve so enjoy!!!
    Thanks for the updates in snowdrops, we’ve had very few so far, but we had snow past days, let’s what is covering

  41. And we can say we knew you when. Congratulations on your international exposure!

  42. PP, Allan, Lula, and Les,

    Your good wishes are most appreciated, but I think you all still know me when as Les said. It was a lot of fun though.


  43. Carolyn your blog is so packed full that my computer has had trouble loading it for a while. Glad to be able to get on today and share the fame (and fortune I trust!) of your Galanthus knowledge. Lovely photo by the way . I think of you often with your calendar as reminder. and currently enjoying Hellebores and heart. Well done – proud for you.

  44. Hello Carolyn,
    Congratulations on both the award and the feature on the BBC. It was enlightening for me…I had no idea that getting snowdrops into the U.S.A. was a big problem. Is there a steady influx/native U.S.A. breeding ? I wonder if you have a favourite 5 snowdrop cultivars for garden worthiness? Extremely cold here in Wales, and the snowdrops have flopped, but they all bounce back when the sun comes out. Aren’t they wonderful.
    Looking forward to more of your informative posts,
    BW Julian

    • Julian, I only know of one snowdrop, ‘Potter’s Prelude’, that has been selected in the U.S. I am encouraging Charles Cresson to introduce some of the snowdrops he has selected though. All the snowdrops listed in my catalogue grow well here and so are garden worthy. From my limited collection (by UK standards) though and setting aside the straight species, I have to say that ‘Viridapice’, ‘Magnet’, ‘Ophelia’, ‘Blewbury Tart’, and ‘Potter’s Prelude’ are the most garden worthy, i.e., they are all unique in some way, beautiful, very healthy, and multiply quickly. Carolyn

  45. Hooray for you!! You deserve it!! 🙂

  46. Congratulations, Carolyn! You look beautiful with the snowdrops. I wish I could come attend the seminars, how nice of you to offer them.

  47. CM and Masha, Thanks for your kind words. I am looking forward to the seminars because I always learn so much. Carolyn

  48. Congratulations Carolyn! Great article. I had no idea there was more than one kind of snowdrop before I met you and continue to learn more. People steal them? shocking and amazing. How wonderful to see a photo of you and put a face to the name 🙂

    • Marguerite, Thanks. I needed a chance to clear up the reference to stealing. What I said was that some private collectors in the US do not want their collections publicized because they are worried about theft. However, the thefts that have occurred happened in the UK not the US. I have never heard of a snowdrop being stolen in the US, although someone did steal my clump of yellow lady’s slippers. Carolyn

  49. Hi Carolyn, I do not know how I missed this post, although I did see your new photo on the SRGS forum, and read the article. Congrats! One day, when I have returned to North America, I hope to take the Snowdrop seminar if they are still being offered, it sounds wonderful.

  50. Carolyn, I’m very late to the party, but just wanted to say Congratulations! This is great news! (and Michael did a great job with the photo). Gosh, now I can say I know an international galanthophile celebrity. 🙂

  51. Fab to see us Brits recognising that we do not have all the expertise on snowdrops! Many congrats on the BBC article – I can only imagine how exciting it was to get the request for quotes and a photo. The first of many such international appearances, no doubt…

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