Snowdrops Are Early This Year

Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen' elwesii

‘Godfrey Owen’ has a very unusual form with six outer and inner petals (segments) instead of the usual three.

As I mentioned in the last post, southeastern Pennsylvania, US, zone 6 to 7, has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather for months.  There has been no snow and the ground was not frozen.  That all came to an end yesterday when the daytime high was 22 degrees F, and it went down to 14 degrees last night.  Significant snow is expected on Saturday.

Nursery News:  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.


Galanthus 'Atkinsii'

‘Atkinsii’ is an old-fashioned and vigorous cultivar, looking great here with hardy cyclamen.


I have to admit that I was worried about how this very unusual weather pattern would affect the snowdrops.  Most of my varieties are blooming a month early, and many are two months ahead of what I am used to.  How would they fare when they are shoved into the deep freeze after being coaxed out so early by temperatures reaching as high as 72 degrees F?  I am happy to say that it didn’t faze them.  They all look perfectly happy though droopy and frozen.  To celebrate, I am going to show you some of the highlights of the snowdrop season so far.  In alphabetical order…


Galanthus 'Colossus' plicatus

‘Colossus’ has the beautiful pleated leaves of a Galanthus plicatus cultivar.


Galanthus 'Daphne's Scissors' elwesii

‘Daphne’s Scissors’ has produced very pronounced green tips in honor of the weather.


Galanthus 'Ding Dong'

‘Ding Dong’ was selected by Alan Street at Avon Bulbs, ding-dong Avon calling.


Galanthus 'Faringdon Double'

‘Faringdon Double’ is the earliest blooming double snowdrop.


Galanthus 'Fly Fishing'

‘Fly Fishing’ throwing out its lure.  It has produced green tips when it is usually pure white.


Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen' elwesii

Another shot of ‘Godfrey Owen’s’ beautiful habit.


Galanthus 'Grumpy' elwesii

I can sympathize with ‘Grumpy ‘ who looks afraid to come out in this weather.


Galanthus 'Kite' elwesii

‘Kite’ sporting its huge, finely formed flowers.


Galanthus 'Kite' elwesii

I couldn’t resist another shot of ‘Kite’ as it’s one of my favorites—note the extra long outer petals and the distinct X mark inside.


Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'

‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’, a vigorous and elegant double.


Galanthus 'Magnet'

‘Magnet’ another old-fashioned and reliable cultivar.  It hasn’t released its distinguishing extra long flower stem yet.


Galanthus 'Standing Tall' elwesii

‘Standing Tall’ combines fine markings, a beautiful habit, and indestructibility.


Galanthus 'Three Ships' plicatus

‘Three Ships’ with its distinct sail-like petals always blooms by Christmas but was a few weeks early this year.


Galanthus 'Wasp'

‘Wasp’ displaying its insect-like wings and “thorax”.


Galanthus 'Xmas' elwesii

‘Xmas’ is a giant snowdrop cultivar selected and named by me for its Christmas bloom and X-like marking.  It is quite tall with a very upright habit and bulks up more quickly than any giant snowdrop I grow, even the species.


That’s a complete record of all the snowdrops in my garden that are up and fully out.  Many more have buds starting to open so the fun is just beginning.



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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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42 Responses to “Snowdrops Are Early This Year”

  1. Catherine Payling Says:

    Didn’t buy any snowdrops this year – but please keep me on your list! Thanks. Catherine.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Mine are up early in southern NJ, too. They always bloom for my Dad’s birthday on February 1st, but this year even earlier. Always such a lovely sight in winter.

  3. Annetta H. Kushner Says:


    Quite an array of early bloomers. Says a lot for galanthuses that they can withstand the cold and winds that we are experiencing now.

    Sent you another article from the RHS’ The Garden today along with a copy of a letter that appeared several issues later correcting the source of a particular G. reginae-olgae

    Delighted to read that you have sold out. The publication of the FG article certainly paid off. A

    Sent from my iPad


  4. so sorry you are sold out- have yet to get an order in on time. My Three Ships also bloomed early! Will you take orders for next year?

    • Len, I am so sorry that you didn’t get an order in. I checked and you are on the snowdrop early notification email list. Most of the special cultivars sell out in 24 to 48 hours after the notification email goes out so you have to act fast. I wish it were not such a scramble but my supplies are very limited. I do not take pre-orders. Carolyn

  5. Cathy Hilliard Says:

    I looked for my Snowdrops to be blooming, but mine haven’t. My Helleborus and Aconite both are though. At least they were a couple days ago.

    • Cathy, The snowdrops that are blooming here are mostly early blooming anyway—they are just blooming earlier than ever. I am also on the side of a south-facing hill which means it is warmer than most places. If you have other varieties of snowdrops or they are shaded or north-facing, I would not expect them to be blooming yet. Carolyn

  6. Carolyn,
    Thanks for those lovely photos. LOVE those new snowdrops! Especially Standing Tall, Godfrey Owen and Kite.

    Here in Michigan our snowdrops and other bulbs, like early crocus, have sent up green leaf spikes but no flowers. They often do this in January and then sit there for a few weeks. They are in a long bed under large oaks and hickories. In fall I remove the fallen whole leaves, then mulch with shredded ones, about 2″ thick, so that the bulbs don’t send up shoots which turn yellow under the thicker mulch.

    We are zone 5 and it has gotten very cold, finally, in the past few weeks; this week is as low as 8 degrees at night and in the teens, sometimes 20s, during the day, with a few warm 3os for a day or two. I have never had a hardiness problem with any I purchased from you and have found snowdrops to be the toughest plants in my garden.

    I enjoyed reading your excellent article in Fine Gardening this month. I look forward to seeing your snowdrop catalog next fall.

    • Starr, Thanks for the information about your zone 5 Michigan garden and the feedback on my snowdrops. It would be helpful for readers to know which species and cultivars you have been successful with as I can only give advice for zone 6/7 and the mid-Atlantic. The next snowdrop catalogue will come out in mid-December 2016. Carolyn

  7. Instead of having snowdrops come up through the snow, it seems as though you are going to have snowdrops that get buried under snow. It will be interesting to see if they will then poke their heads back up through the snow.
    It has finally gotten to feel like January here, too, with overnight lows close to 0 and daytime highs today in the teens. Current indications are that the weekend storm, as is typical of El Nino storms, will hammer the mid-Atlantic and go out to sea south of Maine.

    • Jean, Sounds cold up there. When I lived in Maine I remember two week stretches where the high never got above -10 degrees! Snowdrops do well with snow. They just sit under it bidding their time and actually keep growing and developing. I wish we had snow the last three days to protect my hellebores. Many were so far out that the buds and flowers were frozen by the cold. The snowdrops are fine though. Carolyn

  8. Carolyn,
    The snowdrop varieties I have are in my zone 5 garden are: nivalis, elwesii, atkinsii, Standing Tall, S. Arnot, Magnet, and, I think, Blewberry Tart and Wendy’s Gold. They are thriving along with hellebores, scilla,, eranthus hyemalis, winter aconite, crocus tommasinianus, and leucojum aestivum.

    I also grow arum italicum, which wishes it were in a zone 6 or 7 garden and just hangs on but doesn’t spread. Sure wish it did, I love it.

    I have many big clumps of hellebores, which grow carpets of seedlings under last year’s old foliage. Don’t have many cultivars, just easy ones, which are still beautiful.

    We have lived thru over 25 crazy and extreme Michigan winters here, and all of these plants thrive in spite of me and the weather.
    This is my favorite garden of all and a joy to see each spring after our long cold winters.

    Someday I hope to see your March garden!!

  9. Beautiful! I still have a few inches of snow on the garden, and we’re just coming out of a trough of subzero weather. I hope that’s the last of it for this winter. Now 20s and 30s seem like spring! I hope you won’t get hit by the eastern snowstorm this weekend! Or maybe that’s the snow you’ve already experienced? If so, I hope it melts fast for you!

  10. Nice to see them anytime. Snow up here, so if they came up, they are now buried.

  11. Here, too! In Raleigh, North Carolina they are blooming because of the unusual weather.

  12. So Lovely, and I love your close up photos- The snow drops bloomed in central park about 2 week ago.

  13. Hello Carolyn,
    Thinking of you and the storm which has hit by now I guess. Hope that you’ve escaped the worst – lovely photos of the snowdrops open and in sun…even if they’re now buried under snow. Ours are just constantly drenched in rain this year, but as with you the earliest they’ve ever been.
    I noticed in the latest (and rather late) Avon bulbs catalogue, that their annual rainfall was only 550 mm, compared with over 2,000 mm here. I wondered what you get Carolyn? Am embarking on a Welsh snowdrops project, which I’ll talk about a bit more on my next blog.
    Wrap up well and stay safe. I’m sure the ‘drops will be fine…
    Best wishes

    • So nice to hear from you, Julian. Sorry that I haven’t been keeping up with reading blogs lately—you know I love yours. We have survived the Blizzard of 2016, although it has broken records. 30 inches (76 cm) of snow measured near us and I am sure that’s what we had. We didn’t lose power, which is amazing considering the ultra-high winds, but had to shovel and use our tractor over and over again to remove huge amounts of snow drifting everywhere. A gorgeous sunny day today but as you said no snowdrops in sight. I am not sure when they will reappear or what the plants that were fully out will look like. I covered some prize clumps! Exploring Welsh snowdrops will be fun.

      According to the Philadelphia website, the city gets 42 inches of rain and 23 inches of snow per year on average. however, we are west of the city and usually get more snow. In 2013 to 2014, the city got 125 inches of snow but that was record-breaking by a lot.


      • Hello Carolyn, Great to hear that you’ve survived what seems like another one of those once in a century’ weather events, which just seem to keep on happening….more frequently than once in a century. Its difficult to comprehend all that snow falling in such a short space of time, and guess it will take an awfully long time to melt and reveal the snowdrops again. Thanks for the rainfall data, which is actually a bit higher than I might have expected, and certainly higher than the Avon bulbs figure,
        Best wishes

      • Our rainfall number is high, I think I read that it is more rain than they get in the Pacific Northwest which is known for rain. The difference is we get deluges of 3 and 4 inches in a storm so the number is high but the number of days it rains is low. One of my snowdrop customers in Portland, Oregon, told me a few days ago that it has rained there every day since Thanksgiving, which is around the third week in November. I much prefer our method of getting rain :-). C.

      • I reckon I’d agree with that Carolyn – seems like Oregon is pretty similar to here – at least this year,

      • I see from reading your excellent blog that your area of Wales rivals Oregon for continuous days of rain, not a contest giving much glory to the winner.

  14. debsgarden Says:

    What a marvelous selection. Grumpy made me smile when I recognized his unhappy face! I was thinking about you during the storm and was interested to read your reply above. No snow here except for flurries, but we had enough rain that if the temps had been cold enough, we would have been buried. I hope your lovely snowdrops come through OK.

  15. You have a fine collection of snowdrops Carolyn, I love coming back here – haven’t been here for a while as I have been so busy with moving house and garden in May last year. I lifted most of my plants and all the bulbs I could find – around 700 pots in total, but getting them in the ground here in my new garden has been a huge undertaking and I have barely started. Here in Britain we have unseasonably warm weather too and some of my snowdrops flowered in November and December and have been in seed for ages.
    We followed the snowstorm on the news over here, the tail end of the storm is hitting us today and tomorrow with very mild weather and LOTS of rain and wind. We are bracing ourselves, flooding is an issue on the west coast, but here in the south-east where I live we are much more protected against the rough weather.
    Stay warm!

    • Helene, It is so nice to hear from you after all this time, thanks for checking in. I am so amazed that you moved. Taking the plants must have been a Herculean effort. I have been hearing about all the rain in England. I have to say that I prefer snow. Carolyn

  16. I do wonder how good it is for the plants, but it must be nice to see some blooms in January! Interesting how the cold is creating more of a green tip on some. The snowdrops are so beautiful, and I love your new cultivar! Grumpy makes me laugh – what a cute name for that little snowdrop face!

  17. How fabulous. I had a few in December flowering, and a clump also halfway up then too…now all buried in snow…but soon they and others will be back.

  18. Gail Herd Says:

    Hi Carolyn, Just checking to see when the mini hostas will be available. Thanks, Gail Herd On Jan 19, 2016 3:35 PM,

  19. hello Carolyn

    do you have still snowdrop!?

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