New Snowdrops for 2023: Part Two

Galanthus Rosemary BurnhamAlthough the flowers are closed obscuring the full green inner mark, I think this photo gives the best view of the ethereal combination of ‘Rosemary Burnham’s’ emerald green ovary, bluish leaves, and outer segments fully washed in pale green.  

We seem to have survived our flirtation with temperatures usually found in the depths of winter and have returned to more normal November weather.  As expected, the fall-blooming snowdrops were not bothered by the 30 degree days and 20 degree nights—it was the humans who huddled inside 😊.

This is part two of a two-part post on the new snowdrops that will be offered in our 2023 Snowdrop Catalogue.  To read part one, click here.  As usual, the catalogue will be posted on our website in the first half of December.  Meanwhile, this post will give everyone an advance look (sorry, no advance orders) at five more special, new snowdrops that will be available for order in December.  Enjoy!

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 and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  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 Rosemary Burnham-001Although a single flower is lovely, I agree with Anne Repnow (Some Snowdrops, page 80) that a clump of ‘Rosemary Burnham’ is quite impressive—seen here in the Avon Bulbs display at the RHS Show.

‘Rosemary Burnham’, a cultivar of G. elwesii, is considered one of the finest virescent (green-shaded) snowdrops ever selected.  The outer segments are covered in pale green lines from the apex to the base, resulting in a beautiful green wash effect.  They spread wide to display the entirely dark green inner segments.  The effect is very striking when combined with the wide blue-green leaves characteristic of G. elwesii.  It is a rare North American snowdrop found by Rosemary Burnham in the early 1960s in an abandoned garden in Burneby near Vancouver, British Columbia, and named for her by Don Armstrong. 


Galanthus reginae-olgae 'Cambridge' Cresson photoThe substantial flowers of fall-blooming ‘Cambridge’.

‘Cambridge’ is a particularly robust selection of the fall-flowering species G. reginae-olgae subsp. reginae-olgae.  It has thick-textured, pointed, and ridged outer segments.  Its substantial flowers, which are large for a reginae-olgae, bloom a little later than the species—in our area in late October—when its leaves are just emerging.  It was collected on the island of Corfu and given to the Cambridge Botanic Garden in the early 1960s.  It was named and exhibited for the first time in 1989.  Our plants originated from stock given to Charles Cresson in 2000 by John Grimshaw. 


Galanthus 'Colossus' plicatus‘Colossus’ flowering at Colesbourne Park where it was selected.

‘Colossus’ has everything a collector could want in a G. plicatus cultivar.  The large flowers with thick stems tower over the beautiful, broad, arching leaves characteristic of plicatus, making for a statuesque and arresting habit.  The plant is robust and vigorous.   I especially treasure it because it is early blooming, sometimes by Christmas in my garden (photo below).


Galanthus 'Colossus' plicatus‘Colossus’ blooming on 12/23/15 in my garden

‘Colossus’ was selected in 1982 by Lady Carolyn Elwes at Colesbourne Park, which is the source of my stock.  After some initial confusion about its name, it was listed and sold by Phil Cornish in 1999 as ‘Colossus’.  It is a very popular snowdrop in the UK, appearing as #14 on a list put together by Avon Bulbs.


Galanthus Betty Hansell IMG_1028This photo gives a great view of ‘Betty Hansell’s’ unusual boat-shaped, pointed outer segments and prominent dark green mark.

‘Betty Hansell’ is a very distinctive and large double snowdrop, producing a fine regular flower with a neat rosette.  It is set apart by its narrow, boat-shaped, pointed outer segments with green tips.  Because of the long claw (the neck attaching the outer segment to the ovary), the outers stay parted to reveal the heavily dark green-marked inners.  It produces two flower scapes when settled and happy.  ‘Betty Hansell’ was found in 1994 near Hainford in Norfolk by Robert Marshall and named for his aunt.


Galanthus Warwickshire Gemini IMG_8505 ‘Warwickshire Gemini’ displaying its twin flowers

When choosing snowdrops for my own collection, I seek out cultivars with unique and eye-catching qualities like extra large flowers, yellow coloring, or an interesting form.  Of the many traits a snowdrop can have, twin flowers (two flowers and pedicels on the end of each scape) are very rare.  ‘Warwickshire Gemini’ is an exceptionally large form of G. elwesii with bold blue-gray leaves and twin flowers on each scape when settled. 

‘Warwickshire Gemini’ was discovered by plantswoman Noreen Jardine in her garden.  She named it and planted it at Hill Close Gardens in Warwickshire from where it was eventually introduced and distributed (information provided by Neil Munro, Head Gardener, Hill Close Gardens).


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12 Responses to “New Snowdrops for 2023: Part Two”

  1. Alice Baumgart Says:

    I am wanting to place an order as a gift for my nephew who lives in the greater Seattle area. Am I correct in thinking that this location will work for any of the snowdrops in your catalogue?

    Sent from Mail for Windows

  2. Carolyn! I am very much enjoying your posts. Will the catalog specify hardiness zones? I live in Northern Vermont. I don’t think the fall blooming varieties would be hardy here. Snowdrops are so amazingly tough though. Looking forward to the catalogue.

    • No, snowdrops have not really been tested in an organized fashion for hardiness and there is no hardiness list that I know of. If you are outside of zone 6 and 7 where I grow my snowdrops, I suggest you consult local horticultural authorities before ordering. I agree that fall-blooming varieties would probably fair poorly in your area, and if they survived, they wouldn’t bloom in the fall anyway. That being said, I do have repeat customers in northern New England, Georgia/Alabama, the northern Midwest, and California, among other unlikely places.

  3. Is there a resource for figuring out the general galanthus blooming schedule? I know G. r-o is first but which are the November/December-blooming species/cultivars?

    • G. r-o blooms first, but its cultivars bloom at different times in October. Next comes November G. elwesii in the Hiemalis Group like Potter’s Prelude and Barnes. Then December-blooming snowdrops like Standing Tall, Xmas, and Three Ships. Then late December to January blooming cultivars like Colossus, Fly Fishing, Godfrey Owen, Fieldgate Prelude, Faringdon Double, Richard Ayres, Mrs. Macnamara, Deer Slot, Lapwing. After that it’s main season. Of course, these times are all affected by the weather, and there are many other cultivars I could have mentioned. These are just the varieties that I tend to keep track of year to year. There are other species besides r-o that bloom early but they are kind of obscure.

  4. Tunia Hyland Says:

    Hi Carolyn! When in the spring can I bring a couple of friends for a tour of your shade gardens? Thanks

  5. Says:

    Love the different coloring on this cultivar.  Hope the season goes well for you. Corinne ApplegateHainesport, NJ

  6. Hi Carolyn
    We love your photos of the different kinds of snowdrops. We love snowdrops therefore we blogged about snowdrops as well a couple of days ago. We are living not far from Walsingham/North Norfolk. It’s one of the centres of galanthophiles in the UK.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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