Snowdrops at the Royal Horticultural Society Spring Show

The Royal Horticultural Society February Show at Vincent Square in London.

In February, Michael and I went on a two week snowdrop trip to England.  My first two posts on the trip featured cutting edge snowdrops, click here to read it, and our six day stay at Colesbourne Park, click here.  After touring the countryside, we journeyed to London to help Alan Street of Avon Bulbs, one of the most respected snowdrop sellers in the world, “moss up” for the RHS Show at Vincent Square.  When Alan invited us, we weren’t really sure what mossing up involved, but everyone said that it was quite an honor to be asked to participate.  We enjoyed every minute!

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 carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Unfortunately, it was impossible to get one photo of the entire Avon exhibit, but this picture shows about a third of the presentation from one corner.

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This is what we started with at about 10 am on Monday morning.

“Mossing up” is how Alan refers to setting up the Avon exhibit for the RHS Show.  Starting with the bare boards above, layer upon layer was slowly and carefully added to achieve the finished look of snowdrops displayed in a natural looking, mossy garden.  Although the snowdrops and the materials, including name tags, pieces of styrofoam, newspaper, used net bulb bags, potted plants, rustic wood, dried leaves, and the centerpiece of crystal glasses hand-etched with snowdrops, couldn’t have been better organized, it still took all day to create the masterpiece that was the display.  Here’s how we did it:

.The process started with the careful placement of the largest elements: the shelf for the crystal, the carex and mondo grass, and the metal buckets wrapped in wreaths of rustic woven vines, using thick styrofoam to elevate them.

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Next Alan Street, Avon’s Nursery Manager and the creative genius behind the exhibit, placed each pot of snowdrops.

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After the snowdrop pots were placed, Micky Little, Nurseryman at Avon, and my husband Michael, elevated the center of the exhibit by stuffing the spaces between the pots with balls of net bulb bags.  Next we all carefully inserted balled up newspaper between the pots along the edges to serve as a base for the moss.

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True “mossing up” happened next as Maxine Grice, the Office Administrator at Avon, and all the rest of us surrounded the snowdrops on all four sides of the exhibit with bags and bags of moss very carefully inserted between the pots.

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Dried leaves covered the area around the center and then lichen covered sticks were carefully added.  Only then did every pot get a label, after which the whole exhibit was reviewed for exposed edges and missing labels.  We finished around 4 pm with Michael using a pump sprayer to slowly moisten all the moss.

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Another view of the finished exhibit.

When we were done, we had created Alan’s vision of snowdrops naturalized in a woodland setting.  It was gorgeous to behold and deservedly won a gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society.  Here are some of the individual snowdrops that I thought were especially beautiful in the exhibit:

I have it in my collection now, but for years ‘South Hayes’ was at the top of my list.

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‘Grave Concern’ has now migrated to the top of my must have snowdrops.

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A classic snowdrop, ‘Mighty Atom’, with gorgeous rounded petals, my favorite look.

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‘Trumps’, a vigorous and eye-catching flower.

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‘Phantom’ is aptly named.

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A new must-have, ‘Jonathan’, look at those beautiful leaves and large striking flowers.

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‘Diggory’ is recognizable anywhere.

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‘Alan’s Treat’ selected by Alan Street and a play on his name.

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‘Philippe Andre Meyer’ is gorgeous.

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Another for the acquisition list, ‘Walker Canada’, so elegant.

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Alan sent me this photo yesterday of his newest and probably his most exciting snowdrop selection ‘Midas’, a yellow-marked snowdrop with a green ovary (the little cap) and extremely rare yellow markings on the outers.   Keep your eyes open for a record-breaking price!

Next year’s RHS Spring Show is scheduled for February 13 and 14, 2018, and we hope to be there to moss up once again.  Thank you so much to Alan, Maxine, and Micky for allowing us to participate in an unforgettable experience.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

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.

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.

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14 Responses to “Snowdrops at the Royal Horticultural Society Spring Show”

  1. How wonderful to be able to help set up for Avon bulbs, my favourite snowdrop supplier! The stand looks wonderful and well deserves its gold medal.

    • Pauline, The experience was very special with some very special people. When Avon got the award, Alan wrote: “just a quick note to say many thanks for all the help on Monday, and of course we got GOLD thanks to you ! Really.” So funny. Alan’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for snowdrops is amazing. We are all very lucky to have him in the snowdrop world. Carolyn

  2. Sallie Jones Says:

    So interesting to see how the display was created step by step. Thanks so much.

  3. corky2935@aol.com Says:

    Thanks for the tours. They were all wonderful. Loved the “golden” ones especially.

    Corinne Applegate

  4. LAURITA M. Hack Says:

    Sounds like quite a working vacation! And a great experience. Laurie

    Laurita M. Hack

    • Laurie, It was a lot of fun, but I bet you couldn’t get Michael to agree that it was a vacation—freezing cold and raining is not his preferred weather pattern. Meeting the fellow snowdrop lovers and seeing all the plants in person made up for it. Carolyn

  5. What a great opportunity. The display is wonderful and nice it won. I did enjoy London, but I would maybe thought differently if it was cold and wet.

  6. What a memorable opportunity for you! I had seen photos of this on a British blogger’s site and was blown away at the beauty of it. It really made me think about what I could grow near my snowdrops that would complement them in a Z5 garden. Don’t have a good answer yet but I’m working on it.

  7. What a fun look behind the scenes of a flower show.

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