Exceptional Snowdrops and Gardens, England February 2018

Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.

 The best place to see snowdrops in England is Colesbourne Park in the Cotswolds.

Michael and I traveled to England during snowdrop season again this year.  We stayed with Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes at Colesbourne Park, called the greatest snowdrop destination in England.  From there we visited Evenley Wood Garden, Ronald Mackenzie at Barn Cottage, Olive Mason at Dial Park, John Massey at Ashwood Nurseries, Alan Street at Avon Bulbs, Simon Biddulph at Rodmarton Manor, and Hilary and Hugh Purkess at Welshway Cottage. 

We also helped set up the Avon Bulbs display at the Royal Horticultural Society Early Spring Plant Fair in London.  Each of these visits will eventually be a blog post, but I wanted to give you a few highlights now.

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 within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate whether you are mail order only.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


Glory-of-the-snow on the March Bank at Winterthur.

Before I get to England though, this Saturday, March 10, from 10 am to 3:30 pm, is the annual Winterthur Bank to Bend Event.  It promises to be a great time with a lecture, garden tours, and interesting vendors, including Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  Here are the details:

Celebrate the first flowers of the year at Winterthur on Saturday, March 10, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. At 11 am, Dr. Peter Zale, Curator of Plants at Longwood Gardens,  will explore Intrinsic Beauty: Snowdrops, Choice Bulbs, and How They Enrich Gardens. From 1 to 2 pm, enjoy guided or self-guided garden tours.  Shop at the specialty sale of rare and unusual plants from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, RareFind Nursery, and Edgewood Gardens. Garden tours and plant sale are included with admission.  To purchase tickets please call 800.448.3883.

And now for snowdrop highlights from England:


Leucojum vernum, spring snowflake, on a stream bank at Evenley Wood Garden.  Although snowdrops generally prefer well-drained sites, leucojum thrives in wet areas.

.One of the rarer Greatorex double snowdrops, ‘Desdemona’, at Evenley Wood.


One of my favorite snowdrops of the whole trip, ‘Don Armstrong’ in Ronald Mackenzie’s garden.


This snowdrop, also at Ronald Mackenzie’s, has been at the top of my wish list for a while, although it is supposed to be hard-to-grow, ‘Daglingworth’.


Michael thinks Olive Mason’s long-pediceled snowdrop, apparently a relation of ‘Fly Fishing’, should be introduced as “Deep Sea Fishing”.


As we walked around Dial Park, I pointed out snowdrop after snowdrop with very interesting marks and asked what it was.  Olive Mason’s response: “Oh, it’s just another ‘Trym’ seedling.”  ‘Trym’ seedlings were even growing out of the hedges and between paving stones.


A beautiful use of snowdrops in a stumpery in John Massey’s private garden at Ashwood Nurseries.


The beautiful and eBay record-setting, yellow Galanthus woronowii ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ in John Massey’s garden.  One plant sold for £725 in 2012.


A very pale virescent snowdrop from Andy Byfield, ‘Northern Lights’, seen at Avon Bulbs.


A lovely and rare new snowdrop with yellow on the outer segments to be introduced soon by Avon Bulbs as ‘Bitter Lemons’.


Again this year, we were privileged to be escorted around Rodmarton Manor and gardens by owner Simon Biddulph.  Rodmarton is one of the best surviving examples of the Arts and Crafts Movement with 8 acres of gardens.


Introduced by Simon Biddulph, ‘Rodmarton Arcturus’ is one of the most impressive snowdrops I have ever seen.


Another rare and beautiful snowdrop seen at Rodmarton, ‘Celia’s Double’.

.An enchanting scene from Hilary and Hugh Purkess’s garden, Welshway Cottage.


The best display of ‘Augustus’ I have ever seen, at Welshway Cottage.


Another wonderful snowdrop at Welshway where every scape produces a twin-headed flower, ‘Harewood Twin’.


Drifts of ‘S. Arnott’ at Colesbourne Park, the place to go to see massive quantities of snowdrops!


Snowdrops cover the hillside above a huge, moss-covered English oak on the shore of the naturally, bright blue Colesbourne lake.


‘Under Cherry Plum’ in the Avon Bulbs Royal Horticultural Society Exhibit.


‘Philippe Andre Meyer’ in Avon’s exhibit.


Such a gorgeous snowdrop and so well-named, ‘Puffin’ from Avon Bulbs.

Each of these venues deserves a post of its own, but for now, all I have time for is a sampler!



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14 Responses to “Exceptional Snowdrops and Gardens, England February 2018”

  1. Clara Berger Says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    What a wonderful post. I’d love to have one of each. I have two requests.

    Last year, you mentioned a special marking pen. I bought it and really liked it but eventually lost it and can’t find the name ANYWAY.
    Could you share again, please?

    Also, Dr. Peter Zale is a special friend. Please tell him hello from all his friends back home.

    Clara Berger

  2. Lynn Wolfrom Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your travels to such wonderful gardens. The photos are such an inspiration.

  3. I found the first picture to be the most impressive, not because of the snowdrops, but because of the cyclamen.

  4. Tim Calkins Says:

    Great fun to see and read about, more please.

  5. jez young Says:

    I thought the galanthophiles would like this…..

    “Where are the snowdrops?” said the sun.
    “Dead” said the frost, “Buried and lost, every one.”
    “A foolish answer,” said the sun
    “They did not die, asleep they lie, every one.
    And I will awake them, I the sun,
    Into the light, all clad in white, every one.”
    “It’s rather dark in the earth today”
    said one little bulb to its brother.
    “But I thought that I felt a sunbeam’s ray.
    We must strive and grow ’til we find our way”
    and they nestled close to each other.
    They struggled and strived by day and by night,
    ’til two little snowdrops in green and white
    rose out of the darkness and into the light;

  6. Gayle KLOUDA Says:

    Hello from Iowa Carolyn. I’ve been reading about snowdrops on Carlynsshadegardens.com for quite some time. I am wanting to try some. Wondering if you think interplanting a rather large area of Joe Pye Weed with snowdrops would be a good or disastrous combination. As I am sure you know the JPW arrives on the scene rather late. I have never planted early things in its territory. Just haven’t gotten around to it. Would love your recommendation regarding a good one to start with, and the best time to order and plant. And do you interplant different varieties or are they best when they have their own space?

    I have enjoyed reading your posts for a few years now. Love it. Thank you for what you do!


    • It seems like inter-planting with Joe Pye weed would work as I have snowdrops near my patch. However, I would recommend testing a small amount first and then adding if it works. Galanthus nivalis, common snowdrop is the easiest to grow. I plant all my snowdrops in late winter or early spring in the green (as growing plants). Different varieties look better in separate patches.

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