The 2019 Snowdrop Season Part One

‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ extends her wings.  It has taken me eight years to produce a photo that captures the elegance of this snowdrop.

The heart of the snowdrop season is upon us, and there is nothing I like better than roaming around our garden photographing my collection.  Taking photos forces you to view each snowdrop close up and really focus on the differences that make each one so special.  My snowdrop photographs are frequently praised, and people always ask what camera I use.  But what makes my photos great is not fancy equipment, but knowing the plants intimately and capturing their unique beauty.  One photo here can be preceded by years of attempts to get on film what I know is there.  Here are some of my other recent captures:

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 cell 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.


I took this photo of ‘South Hayes’ at the 2017 Royal Horticultural Society February Spring Show at Vincent Square in London.  It was part of the Avon Bulbs display, which Michael and I helped to set up.  I am very honored that John Morley of North Green Snowdrops in Beccles, England, thought the photo was so good that he used it on the cover of his 2019 Catalogue.  You can view his catalogue here.  When I was profiled in Naomi Slade’s book The Plant Lover’s Guide to Snowdrops, I chose ‘South Hayes’ as my utopia snowdrop.  I highly recommend Naomi’s book for gardeners who want to expand their knowledge of snowdrops beyond the basic forms.  It is available on Amazon here.


‘Xmas’ was named at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens for its vigor, bloom time around Christmas, and prominent X mark.  I have over 60 photos of this snowdrop saved on my computer (and those are the ones I saved!) and think this is one of the best.  Snowdrops look wonderful on sunny days with blue sky in the background, but it is very difficult to photograph their best angle then without casting shadows, capturing glare, or having something distracting in the background.


Another recent shot of ‘Xmas’.  I was thrilled that ‘Xmas’ was included in the newly published second edition of Freda Cox’s book A Gardener’s Guide to Snowdrops and listed as one of only five notable snowdrops selected in the US.  I highly recommend Freda’s book, which is the most up-to-date encyclopedic snowdrop reference work with profiles and beautiful drawings of over 2,000 snowdrops.  It is available on Amazon here.


Yellow snowdrops like ‘Wendy’s Gold are all the rage and rightly so, but it is difficult to capture them looking yellow.  They require sunshine, which has been in short supply this winter, to bring out their yellow color and, in the shade, they look olive.


The simple beauty of ‘Robin Hood’ is enhanced for me by the history of the cultivar.  One of the primary reasons that I am obsessed with snowdrops is that almost every cultivar has a story attached.  ‘Robin Hood’ was selected in the later 1800s by James Allen of Shepton Mallet in England, who also selected the iconic cultivars ‘Magnet’ and ‘Galatea’.  The newly published book The Galanthophiles by Jane Kilpatrick and Jennifer Harmer devotes an entire chapter to Allen whom they call the greatest of all galanthophiles.  This wonderful book is available on Amazon here.


‘Welshway’ is a petite beauty and treasured all-the-more by me for the memories it evokes.  The British snowdrop world is a small and welcoming place.  When Michael and I traveled to England in February 2017 and 2018, we were invited into the homes and gardens of people whom we had never met due to the longstanding English tradition of garden hospitality.  We visited the garden of Hugh and Hilary Purkess called Welshway Cottage for a wonderful tour and delicious tea and cake.  ‘Welshway’ came from the Purkess’s garden.


‘Trymming’ was selected in 2007 by my friend the internationally famous snowdrop expert Alan Street at Avon Bulbs in England.  This photo captures ‘Trymming’s’ bold and bright green splashed outer segments and its ability to produce two scapes when well grown.  I had to move it a few times to get it to do that!


Although I welcome them, snowdrop seedlings are rare in my garden.  However, this big beauty recently appeared right in the middle of a large patch of ‘Straffan’.


‘Standing Tall’ is another notable American snowdrop profiled in the Cox book.  It was selected in 2013 by my friend and snowdrop mentor Charles Cresson after 25 years of evaluation—he just wanted to be sure it was worth naming!!!  ‘Standing Tall’ blooms in mid-December and grows to be one of the tallest snowdrops in my garden.


Galanthus rizehensis is a relatively unknown species snowdrop with a small and perky stature and very dark green leaves.  It will be in our 2020 catalogue.


This photo sent to me by my customer Tim Calkins really captures the petite beauty of Galanthus rizehensis, which he purchased from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.


‘Richard Ayres’ is one of my favorite snowdrops due to its vigor, exquisite beauty, and early bloom time.  To capture the beauty of double snowdrops, you must photograph them at an angle that includes the outside and inside at the same time.  This involves some very awkward camera positions and body contortions.  After many years and dozens of attempts, I am happy with this photo.


‘Richard Ayres’ also looks lovely photographed from the top.


The charms of ‘Lapwing’ also proved hard to get onto film until now, but that doesn’t mean I will not keep trying to do even better.


Another favorite snowdrop, the stately ‘Kite’, featuring extra long and elegant outer segments.


‘Kite’ is also known for producing two flowers on the same scape.  You can see this in the photo above where two flowers are attached by their pedicels (stems) to the same spathe.  They come out wrinkled from being crushed in together but usually straighten out.


‘Anglesey Abbey’ is a unique snowdrop with bright green leaves instead of the usual blue-gray.  Although it is described as being almost poculiform and almost pure white, mine is pretty close if not perfect.  Poculiform means that the inner segments have been replaced by three additional outer segments of equal  length.


The plump, upside down hot air balloon shape of ‘Diggory’ is recognizable anywhere but difficult to capture in a photo.  I am very happy with this one as it’s the fattest I have ever seen it.

If you have snowdrops or other winter-blooming plants, I encourage you to visit them regularly with your camera and expand your enjoyment of your garden into the winter months.


Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to  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.

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.

15 Responses to “The 2019 Snowdrop Season Part One”

  1. Sonja Pettingill Says:

    … and what a lovely photo of the Lady it is!! well done!


  2. Jane Hileman Says:

    Wow! Gorgeous. Stunning. Something to love about each of them. These photos will help with shopping next year.

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. love these. I do need to get myself down to you from up here in Harrisburg.

  4. The photos look wonderful. ‘Diggory’ looks particularly plump and happy, but they all look great. Spring must be close!

    • Frank, That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with snowdrops. At the beginning I had only G. nivalis and when it bloomed I knew I had survived winter no matter what happened between then and actual warm weather. My snowdrop clock is a little off now with plants blooming from October 15th on, but they get me outside every day and that’s a big lift. Carolyn

  5. Joan Short Says:

    What varieties of Snow Drops do you have or sale?

    Joan K Short, M D

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Joan, The 2019 snowdrop catalogue is completely sold out. I have added you to the email list to receive the 2020 catalogue in December 2019. There are still common snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, available in the winter interest catalogue, which I will forward to you again in case you are interested. Carolyn

  6. In general I feel like white flowers are the hardest to photograph well. You have some lovely pictures – and some lovely snowdrops!

  7. Part I?!?! Oh my! This is a long season. Others have been writing about them for a while now.

  8. Jane Hileman Says:

    Time for your Snowdrop (and Companions) book? I am feeling the need for something more helpful on identification.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Jane, Matt Bishop’s book, the “snowdrop bible” is out of print and only covers about 500 cultivars, so the best reference book out there is Freda Cox’s second edition. It is very difficult to cover snowdrops in a book with over 2,500 in existence. It is also very difficult to ID snowdrops from a photo. The most that often can be done is identify the species unless there is something very unique about the looks. Some snowdrops just have a prescence that can only be seen in person and many do look alike. Carolyn

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