Archive for Galanthus ‘Blewbury Tart’

Fine Gardening Feature Article on Snowdrops

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden essay, my garden, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 The 2018 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants, is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

The cover of the February 2016 issue of Fine Gardening

In 2015, I was asked by Fine Gardening magazine to write an article on snowdrops, which appeared as the cover article of the February 2016 issue.   For readers who don’t subscribe to this excellent gardening magazine, I am going to reprint the text of the article here, accompanied by images of the magazine layout and some additional photos of the featured snowdrops.  Look for my article on spring ephemerals, scheduled for inclusion in the April 2018 issue.

Nursery News:  The 2018 Snowdrop Catalogue is posted on the website here.  If you would like to get an email announcing the catalogue, please send your full name and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com. 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.

.  ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

“Passions are born in strange ways, and serendipity often plays a part.  In December of 1983, my husband and I purchased our home, not knowing that a treasure trove of snowdrops lay beneath the snowy landscape.  Our house was the gardener’s cottage for a large estate, and the gardener who lived there had planted thousands of common snowdrops, (Galanthus nivalis, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8), which greeted us that February with their delightful honey-scented fragrance.  Those snowdrops were to become an important part of my personal and professional life.

For me, the original and greatest appeal of snowdrops is their bloom time.  I live on the side of a south-facing hill, where the soil heats up early, and common snowdrops begin to bloom in early February, just when I need some relief from the winter doldrums.  I have since planted snowdrop varieties that bloom from October through March, but it is the bursting into bloom of thousands of snowdrops in early February that thrills me the most.

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As I gained experience as a gardener, I was exposed to less common varieties and realized that their ornamental characteristics were as interesting as their bloom time was uplifting.  Yes, they are small, and you do have to look at individual plants close up; but there are varieties that stand out when viewed from farther away if massed, and many that are worth a closer look.  Besides, most snowdrops are easy to grow in deciduous shade and multiply quickly to form striking swathes.

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‘Viridapice’ and ‘Flore Pleno’

If you don’t currently have snowdrops, then start with the common snowdrop, cultivated in England since the 16th century.  The flowers have pure white outer segments (the correct term for a snowdrop petal), and the inner segments have bright green tips.  The linear leaves are gray-green, and the plant is only about 4” tall.  It is very easy to grow in almost all soil conditions, multiplies rapidly to form satisfying clumps, and is readily available both “in the green” (see sidebar below) and as a dried bulb.  With a very small investment of time and money, you can enjoy masses of honey-scented white flowers in late winter.

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‘Blewbury Tart’, ‘Lady Elphinstone’, and a photo showing how I ship my snowdrops.

If you are already growing the common snowdrop, you may want to expand your palette to include several other easy-to-grow and easy-to-find cultivars.  Of the many cultivars selected from G. nivalis, my favorite is ‘Viridapice’, a vigorous, bold plant with green marks on the outer and inner segments.  It multiplies for me almost as fast as the species and, at 5 to 6” tall, has a distinct presence in the garden.  The double form of G. nivalis, ‘Flore Pleno’, is also lovely, if a bit disheveled.  It is the earliest recorded snowdrop cultivar, with references to its existence in the early 1700s.

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Galanthus elwesii, ‘Magnet’, and a photo showing how I divide snowdrops.

For an even more distinctive look, plant G. nivalis ‘Blewbury Tart’ or ‘Lady Elphinstone’, both double-flowered, vigorous growers.  ‘Blewbury Tart’ points its mostly green, frilly, double segments upward and definitely stands out in a crowd.  It was discovered in a churchyard in Blewbury, England, in 1975 by snowdrop expert Alan Street.  Although a prominent British journalist told him it looked like a squashed fly on a windscreen, Alan introduced it, and it has become a favorite here and abroad.  ‘Lady Elphinstone’ is another venerable snowdrop, dating from 1890, and is one of a kind: its inner segments are a lovely egg yolk yellow.  Sometimes the yellow takes a year or so to settle in, but it is worth the wait.

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‘Diggory’ and ‘Wendy’s Gold’

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There are 19 species of snowdrops in addition to G.nivalis, and many of them have produced cultivars and hybrids, resulting in over 1,000 named varieties.  Most are not available in the US due to treaty restrictions; however, a diligent search yields a nice collection.  Here are five more I recommend for beauty and vigor.

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Galanthus elwesii, the giant snowdrop

Not only is the giant snowdrop (G. elwesii, Zones 3–9) larger than the common snowdrop, but also it blooms earlier, starting in midwinter. This species tolerates hotter and drier conditions, making it great for Southern gardens. Its broad, upright, blue-gray leaves surround large, well-formed flowers with two bold green marks on the inner segments. Lots of natural variation in this species produces powder blue leaves, a variety of marks, and bloom times anywhere from November to February.

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‘Diggory’

‘Diggory’ (G. plicatus ‘Diggory’) is a cultivar whose heavily quilted, pear-shaped, squared-off flowers make it recognizable anywhere. The wide, elegantly pleated leaves are characteristic of G. plicatus. Found in 1993, ‘Diggory’ became an instant, much-sought-after classic.

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‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

A hybrid snowdrop with dignified double flowers, ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ (G. ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’) features a tightly packed inner rosette edged in green and a distinctive mark split into two elegant dots. It is easy to grow and multiplies well.

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‘Magnet’

‘Magnet’ (G. ‘Magnet’) was selected in the 1880s and is still loved by collectors for its classic beauty and vigorous growth. It is instantly identifiable by its long flower stalk that allows the large blooms to sway in the slightest breeze.

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‘Wendy’s Gold’

‘Wendy’s Gold’ (G. plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’) offers beautiful, large yellow markings on the inner segments and the ovary (the little cap above the segments), and wide, elegantly pleated leaves. It is much sought after for its beauty and vigorous growth. Other nice yellows available in the U.S. include ‘Primrose Warburg’ and ‘Spindlestone Surprise’.”

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I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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 carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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.

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Do All Snowdrops Look Alike?

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Galanthus 'Wasp'‘Wasp’ certainly has all the elements of a typical snowdrop, but its long petals and unusual markings make it look just like the flying insect when the wind blows.

The 2018 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants, is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

People often try to tell me that all snowdrops look alike: white with three longer outer petals and three shorter inner petals with a green mark.  They should know better.  I would never admit that as I am a galanthophile who revels in observing the smallest differences.  I can go on at length about bloom time, leaf color and shape, and the intricacies of the inner mark, but I won’t.  Here I want to show you snowdrops that even the skeptical will recognize as different.

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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Galanthus 'Ballerina'The elegant and graceful double snowdrop ‘Ballerina’ certainly stands out from the pack.

Most gardeners are all about the flowers, and it is the blooms that I will focus on here.  The flower variations just within the three inner segments (petals)-three outer segments-single green inner mark theme are amazing, and I will show you a few of those like ‘Wasp’ above.  But then there are yellow snowdrops, regular doubles like ‘Ballerina’ above, virescent (green) snowdrops, crazy doubles, flowers with extra petals, all white snowdrops, the variety is endless.  There is even ‘The Alburgh Claw’.  Let’s start the show.

Galanthus 'Melanie Broughton'Although still single-flowered and green and white, ‘Melanie Broughton’ has a very large solid green inner mark and bright white, puffy and quilted outer segments.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Daphne's Scissors'‘Daphne’s Scissors’ has a very unusual inner mark shaped like scissors.  Thanks to Mark Smyth at the Galanthus Gallery for supplying this excellent photo.

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Galanthus 'Viridapice'‘Viridapice’ has green markings on the outside of the flower.

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Galanthus 'Diggory' ‘Diggory’ is the only snowdrop flower with pear-shaped, squared off outer segments.

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At the top of my personal wish list right now, ‘Rosemary Burnham’ is a virescent snowdrop with a solid green inner mark and elegant green stripes completely covering the outer segments.  For a photo, please click here for a trip to the Galanthus Gallery with hundreds of beautiful snowdrop photos.

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Galanthus 'Spindlestone Surprise'‘Spindlestone Surprise’ is one of a growing number of snowdrops that have a yellow mark and a yellow ovary (the cap on top of the flower).  Others include ‘Wendy’s Gold’ and ‘Primrose Warburg’.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blonde Inge'‘Blonde Inge’ is one of the few galanthus that combine a yellow mark with a green ovary.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Lady Elphinstone' Cadwalader‘Lady Elphinstone’ is the only double yellow.

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Galanthus elewesii 'Godfrey Owen'‘Godfrey Owen’ doubles the number of inner and outer petals to six each and holds its flowers open in a beautiful whorl.

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Galanthus 'Hill Poe'‘Hill Poe’ is a late blooming double with lots of white inside.  Thanks to Mark Smyth of the Galanthus Gallery for supplying this photo too.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'‘Blewbury Tart’ is a vigorous double snowdrop with outward-facing, mostly green flowers.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Anglesey Abbey'‘Anglesey Abbey’ can be solid white and poculiform, meaning that its inner segments are replaced by outer segments.

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Galanthus 'Walrus' Cadwalader‘Walrus’ has mostly green inner segments and long green outer “tusks”.

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And you were wondering about ‘The Alburgh Claw’, well click here for a photo on the Galanthus Gallery of one of the weirdest snowdrop forms, the spikey double.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings:   You can sign up to receive notifications of catalogues, sales, and events at the nursery by sending your full name and phone number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.net.

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.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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.

The Un-Common Snowdrop

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

Hybrid hellebore & G. 'Brenda Troyle'All snowdrops are great companions for hellebores.

The 2018 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants, is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

I have written a lot of articles about snowdrops, covering among other topics their ornamental characteristics, fascinating history, the importance of provenance, and profiling many cultivars.  For links to all my previous snowdrop posts, click here.  I have never, however, talked in detail about any of the snowdrop species from which cultivated snowdrops, now numbering over 1,000, have been selected.  I hope this post will be the first in a series discussing each of the more important snowdrop species.

Much of the information in this post comes from Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop et al. (Griffin Press 2006) which is absolutely indispensable if you are researching or collecting snowdrops.

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Galanthus nivalis & Arum italicum 'Pictum'Common snowdrops pair well with snow crocus (just visible in the background) and really bring out the silver patterning on the leaves of Italian arum, which look fresh all winter.

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G. nivalis and C. coum 'Rose'Common snowdrops are a wonderful companion for the leaves and flowers of winter-blooming hardy cyclamen.

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Galanthus nivalis & Heuchera 'Creme Brulee'Common snowdrops look great paired with native coral bells, many of which keep their bright leaf colors all winter.

Brian Capon in his very handy book Botany for Gardeners defines a species as a “group of individuals sharing many characteristics and interbreeding freely.”  Generally these individuals are growing in the wild and have a defined native range.  There are 20 types of snowdrops that meet this definition and constitute the genus Galanthus, but only three of them have given rise to most of the named snowdrops: G. nivalis, G. elwesii, and G. plicatus

Here I want to discuss Galanthus nivalis otherwise known as the common snowdrop although it is by no means common in any sense of the word and would be one of the first snowdrops I would add to my collection if I had to start over.  In fact, it has received a coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

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G. nivalis CressonCommon snowdrops naturalize quickly in the mid-Atlantic U.S. generally by producing bulb offsets.

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The common snowdrop has the largest native range of any snowdrop species and is the species most widely grown by gardeners.  It is native to western, central, and southern Europe from France to the part of Turkey in Europe.  It was first mentioned in print in the 16th century when it was already being grown as an ornamental plant. 

Linnaeus named it Galanthus nivalis in 1753.  According to another fascinating book, Plant Names Explained (Horticulture 2005), gala means milk, -anthus means -flowered, and nivalis means snowy or snow-like.  Common snowdrops fill our gardens here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, which is part of an old estate called Wayside dating back to the 1600s (we live in Wayside Cottage which formerly housed the gardener).

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Galanthus nivalis/Common SnowdropGalanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop

Common snowdrops are generally 4 to 6 inches tall.  The narrow, straplike leaves are green with a glaucous center stripe giving an overall gray-blue appearance.  The flowers have three outer petal-like segments and three smaller inner segments.  They are pure white with a bright green v-shaped mark around the notch (called a sinus) on the apex of the inner segments. 

Common snowdrops flower here in February and March no matter what the weather and prefer moist deciduous woods with deep organic soil.  However, they are not picky about cultural conditions and will naturalize freely in a wide range of garden settings, including the dry woods of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  They pair beautifully with native coral bells, snow crocus, Italian arum, hardy cyclamen, and hellebores.

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Galanthus nivalisA natural mutation at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, if you look closely these flowers have four outer segments (petals).

Because common snowdrops generally spread through bulb offsets rather than seed, the flowers in colonies are theoretically identical.  However, natural variations occur as you can see from the photo above where the flowers have four outer segments.  Often these mutations are not stable and do not persist as was the case with the flowers pictured.  However, sometimes ornamentally interesting and stable changes occur, and, if they are noticed by a sharp-eyed galanthophile, they enter cultivated gardens and even become a named cultivar available for sale.

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G. 'Flore Pleno'A clump of double common snowdrops

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Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'double common snowdrop

I want to highlight three cultivars of the common snowdrop to give you an idea of the range available.  The double common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ (or sometimes G. n. f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’), is the oldest known snowdrop cultivar, first illustrated in 1703 and described in a prominent gardener’s dictionary in 1731.  Although it is sterile, it spreads vigorously from bulb offsets and is tolerant of a wide range of cultural conditions.  I have been told that in England it is often more abundant than the straight species. 

‘Flore Pleno’ has a lovely flower and has the advantage of being less expensive than the rest of the double snowdrops available so it is great for naturalizing.  It is the parent with G. plicatus of the Greatorex double series of snowdrops to which ‘Dionysus’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Ophelia’, and several other double snowdrops belong.  ‘Flore Pleno’ was also given an Award of Garden Merit by the RHS.

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G. 'Viridapice'the green-tipped snowdrop ‘Viridapice

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G. 'Viridiapice'‘Viridiapice’

One of my favorite snowdrops is the green-tipped common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Viridapice’.  It was originally found near an old farmhouse in northern Holland by a member of the Hoog family, owners of the venerable but now defunct Dutch bulb nursery Van Tubergen.  It is a vigorous and large-flowered snowdrop characterized by a beautiful and strikingly prominent green marking on the apex of the outer segments and a large single mark on the inner segments. 

Unfortunately,  the name ‘Viridapice’ was applied over the years to a number of different green-tipped common snowdrops, some of which are quite inferior.  I acquired my strain from the old Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, Washington, and I am happy to report that it is a superior strain and one of the best naturalizers in my garden.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'the double common snowdrop ‘Blewbury Tart’

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'‘Blewbury Tart’

Finally, I want to highlight a newer cultivar of the common snowdrop, because I love it and because it was discovered by the only person I know who is more excited about snowdrops than me, Alan Street of Avon Bulbs in England.  In 1975, Alan noticed ‘Blewbury Tart’ in a churchyard in the village of Blewbury in Oxfordshire, England, where he grew up, and collected it with the permission of  Vicar Hugh Pickles. The famous galanthophile Primrose Warburg helped to name it because she called it Blewbury Muffin when Alan gave it to her, thus inspiring the name ‘Blewbury Tart’.  

I asked Alan if there was a special anecdote that I could relate here.  He told me that when he first exhibited it in 1985, a prominent British journalist said it looked like a “squashed fly on a windscreen”.   Nevertheless Avon offered it for sale in 1992.  It is an unruly double with an outward-facing dark green inner rosette encircled by three narrow outer segments.  It looks like it is having a bad hair day and always makes me smile when I see it.  Alan relates that another prominent British galanthophile, Ruby Baker, considers it a favorite.

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Although I don’t expect most gardeners to share my obsession, whenever I write about snowdrops I hope to communicate some of the enthusiasm that snowdrops arouse.  Maybe you will add them to your garden this year!  All four snowdrops profiled are available from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Carolyn

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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.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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.

February GBBD: Hellebores and Snowdrops

Posted in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

Helleborus x 'Warbler'This is just one of the many gorgeous hellebores that will be for sale at my nursery this spring.  ‘Warber’ is a lovely creamy yellow and is blooming in a pot for me right now.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on February 15) where gardeners from all over the world publish photos each month of what’s blooming in their gardens.  I participate because it is fun and educational for me to identify what plants make my gardens shine at different times of the year.  Several nursery customers have mentioned wanting to have color in late winter so I hope they will get some ideas for plants to add to their own gardens to extend their season.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 6B.


Helleborus x 'First Cuckoo'
‘First Cuckoo’ is a double  hellebore with white petals shading to pink with deep raspberry edges.  It is also blooming in a pot and will be for sale this year.

Things really change from year to year.  In February 2011, my hellebores and other winter interest plants were barely emerging from under the ice and snow (to see photos click here).  In February 2012 when we had an extremely warm winter, all my hellebores were in full bloom (to see photos click here). 

This year, my early plants are up and blooming, but most of my hellebores are just starting to send up flowers.  That makes me appreciate the early-blooming varieties even more.  But it is the snowdrops that really steal the show right now.  They give me a reason to walk through the garden every day.  So enjoy the photos and keep warm until spring.  Note: For the benefit of my customers, I will indicate which hellebores will be for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (CSG) this spring.

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost'

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost'‘Pink Frost, pictured here with common snowdrops,’ is an early blooming hellebore coveted for its flowers and blue leaves with burgundy highlights.   I can’t decide if the front or the back of the flowers is prettier (for sale at CSG).

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow'‘Cinnamon Snow’ is a close relative of ‘Pink Frost’—they both resulted from crosses between Christmas rose and a hellebore species from Majorca.  ‘Cinnamon Snow’s’ creamy flowers flushed with cinnamon pink are very elegant (for sale at CSG).

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Helleborus dumetorum subsp. atrorubensThis hellebore is so rare it has no common name but its botanical name is Helleborus dumetorum subsp. atrorubens (for sale at CSG).

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Helleborus niger 'Praecox'

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Helleborus niger 'Praecox'Christmas roses bloom continually in my garden from October through April.  ‘Praecox’ is the showiest right now but I also love ‘Jacob’, ‘Josef Lemper’, and ‘Potter’s Wheel’ (for sale at CSG).  

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Helleborus x 'Old Early Purple'‘Old Early Purple’ is always one of the first hybrid hellebores to burst into bloom.

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Helleborus x 'Snow White'This flower on ‘Snow White’ opened so long ago that it is already fading to green from its original pristine white color.

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'‘Painted Bunting’ is always one of the first hybrid hellebores to bloom in my garden.  The bold burgundy red central central star spreads outward along the veins and edges the delicate petals.  Again the back of the flower is quite beautiful (for sale at CSG).

I managed to limit myself to eight snowdrops, all of which I think are very special. 

Galanthus 'S. Arnott'‘S. Arnott’, a classic early snowdrop.

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Galanthus 'Ophelia'The fat, rounded flowers and heart-shaped markings of ‘Ophelia’, a double snowdrop in the Greatorex group.

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Galanthus plicatus 'Wendy's Gold'Even non-galanthophiles admire ‘Wendy’s Gold’, a rare yellow snowdrop.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Kite'I fell in love with the extra long petals of ‘Kite’ when I saw it in a fellow galanthophile’s garden in 2010, and she kindly gave me a plant.  Now there are five with four flowers.

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Galanthus 'Blewbury Tart'‘Blewbury Tart’ is just waiting for a warm sunny day to explode into bloom.  You can feel the pent up energy.  Unfortunately sunny days are few and far between right now.

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Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'The refined elegance of the double snowdrop ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ makes her one of my favorites.

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Galanthus elwesii with X markI got this unnamed giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, in trade from a customer.  It has very large flowers with a distinctive X marking and starts blooming before Christmas, a very desirable trait.  It is still blooming now.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Godfrey Owen'‘Godfrey Owen’ is the snowdrop that I was most looking forward to this year.  It is very unusual for having 6 outer segments instead of the usual three.  When it opens, the petals form a completely symmetrical whorl.  Unfortunately, the flower was flattened by ice immediately upon opening, bending the stem, and then an insect ate away parts of the petals, ruining the whorl.  Isn’t that always the way?  I tried to prop it up unsuccessfully but then bit the bullet and brought it inside.

There are many other plants blooming right now, but it has been so hard to get photos.   The flowers are always closed because the sun refuses to shine, or waterlogged with the never ending rain and snow.  In fact, three of these photos are from previous years, but I decided to use them because they depict the plants as they look today:

Whenever the weather warms up winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, opens some flowers.

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Arum italicum 'Pictum'Italian arum always looks great.

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Crocus tommasinianusSnow crocus, C. tommasinianus, is the earliest crocus in my garden and is a great companion plant for hellebores and snowdrops.

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Eranthis hyemalisI am always surprised by how quickly winter aconite appears in the garden.  Monday there was no sign of it and Tuesday it was carpeting my woods.

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Aucuba japonica 'Gold Dust'‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba is one of the best shrubs for lighting up full shade.  If you can find male and female plants, it produces these large berries which ripen now.

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Cyclamen coumThe first winter-blooming cyclamen, C. coum, peak through the leaves.  Hardy cyclamen is another great companion for snowdrops and hellebores.

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Cyclamen at Carolyn's Shade GardensPots of hardy cyclamen waiting to find homes with my nursery customers.

Enjoy, Carolyn

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

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings:  The 2013 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar of the website and orders are being accepted now.  To view the catalogue, click here.  The 2013 General Catalogue is available here.  Look for a brochure for my very popular hellebore seminars very soon.

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.

New Snowdrops for 2012

Posted in New Plants, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

Who said all snowdrops look alike?  Some of my favorites: top row, L to R, ‘Wendy’s Gold’, ‘Blewbury Tart’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Flore Pleno’; middle, ‘Jaquenetta’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Lady Elphinstone’, ‘Augustus’; bottom, unknown, ‘Ophelia’, G. plicatus subsp. byzantinus, ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’.

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The 2018 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants, is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

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This article includes photographs and colorful descriptions of the 5 new snowdrops I am offering for sale in my 2012 Snowdrop CatalogueFor entertaining descriptions of most of the remaining 13 varieties offered in the 2012 catalogue, click here.

The hundreds of snowdrop cultivars out there range from a classic like ‘Atkinsii’ pictured above to…(see next photo)

In Snowdrops or The Confessions of a Galanthophile, I described my transition from someone who grows snowdrops to someone who is obsessed with them.  In Snowdrops: Further Confessions of a Galanthophile, I explained that most snowdrop cultivars can be appreciated as much for their colorful history as for their ornamental characteristics.  That history is contained in Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis, and John Grimshaw (Griffin Press 2006), commonly called the “snowdrop bible”.

Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart' at Carolyn's Shade Gardens…this crazy, modern double cultivar, ‘Blewbury Tart’, which looks like it’s having a bad hair day (I love it!).

The information in Snowdrops is not only interesting but also crucial to keeping straight all the available snowdrops.  Snowdrops describes over 500 cultivars, and the authors admit that it is now out-of-date, and a second volume is required (for details on Snowdrops 2, click here).  Snowdrops description of the cultivar along with the actual origin of the snowdrop plant in question both contribute to its provenance: the history of its ownership documenting its authenticity.  If a collector is purchasing an expensive plant, provenance is very important.

Snowdrop prices range from the very affordable (but no less desirable) common snowdrop, G. nivalis, pictured above with Italian arum and snow crocus, to…(see next photo)

…the highly collectible (with a price to match) ‘Wendy’s Gold’.

‘Brenda Troyle’, a new snowdrop from Charles Cresson in my 2012 catalogue, is a perfect example of how this works.  True ‘Brenda Troyle’ is a vigorous snowdrop admired for its well-proportioned, rounded flowers with flared and cupped outer petals (segments) and a strong fragrance of honey.  It received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1960 for “outstanding excellence for ordinary garden decoration or use.”  Customers who attended Charles Cresson’s snowdrop seminars last year loved it.

Charles Cresson’s authenticated ‘Brenda Troyle’

But Snowdrops explains that ‘Brenda Troyle’ is very mixed up in the trade.  In fact, it is even unclear whether it was named after a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Pirate or a staff member at an Irish nursery.  In cases like this, it is very important that the snowdrop display the desirable characteristics of the cultivar as Cresson’s stock does.  It is equally as important that the original stock was purchased from a reputable source and kept labeled since its purchase.  Charles got his plants from a bulb company started by the venerable Hoog family of Van Tubergen fame and conserves his whole snowdrop collection with the utmost care.

Galanthus ‘Tiny’

‘Tiny’ is a snowdrop that does not suffer from an identity crisis as Snowdrops states that almost every galanthophile in the U.K. grows it.  It is a diminutive form of the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, easily distinguished by its narrow leaves and elfin stature.  It is quite charming in a clump, which develops rapidly with this vigorous cultivar.  It also flowers later, extending the snowdrop season into late spring.

The subspecies byzantinus of G. plicatus is easily distinguished from subspecies plicatus by the two marks on its inner segments.


Unique provenance adds significantly to the desirability of a snowdrop as is the case with the Turkish snowdrop, Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus.  This subspecies has beautiful wide pleated leaves and lovely plump flowers joined in an elegant overall habit.  It comes from a small area in northwestern Turkey, but is uncommon even there.  Subspecies byzantinus is an exceptionally good form of G. plicatus, hard to come by even in the U.K.

The elegant habit of G. plicatus subsp. byzantinus.

But the part of its provenance that is really exciting is that these plants originated from one of the most celebrated and important American snowdrop collections, the gardens at Winterthur.  As Henry Francis du Pont added plants to Winterthur, snowdrops became a focus.  In the 1930s, he purchased the parents of these very bulbs from Barr & Sons, a renowned bulb house that operated in Covent Gardens, London, from 1882 to 1956.  When Charles Cresson worked at Winterthur in the early 1990s, he was given plants of this unique snowdrop, and we are offering the offspring of those plants in the 2012 catalogue.  Now that’s provenance!

The Greatorex double ‘Hippolyta’ (photo by and used with the permission of Paddy Tobin).

The final two new snowdrops were both hybridized in the mid-twentieth century by the legendary but enigmatic snowdrop breeder Heyrick Greatorex and are known as Greatorex doubles.  Snowdrops makes an unflattering reference to a story that he spent World War II in a local pub.  However, further research reveals that, in addition to serving in WWII, he fought in World War I, was wounded at Lagincourt, and received the Victory and British Medals—a very distinguished record indeed.  If you would like to read more about him, click here.

Galanthus 'Hippolyta' photo Paddy Tobin‘Hippolyta’ (photo by and used with the permission of Paddy Tobin)

‘Hippolyta’ is the shortest of the many Greatorex double snowdrops, which Heyrick Greatorex developed by crossing the double common snowdrop, G. nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’, with the species G. plicatus to create large and vigorous plants.  He named them after characters in Shakespeare’s plays, Hippolyta appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Although some of the Greatorex doubles are confused, ‘Hippolyta’ consistently produces neatly doubled, rounded flowers, combining a tightly compact inner rosette with cupped and flaring outer petals (segments)—a charming arrangement.  It received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1970.


The Greatorex double ‘Dionysus’

The final member of the five new snowdrops in my 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue is ‘Dionysus’, also a member of the acclaimed series of double snowdrops developed by Heyrick Greatorex (although not a Shakespeare character).  ‘Dionysus’ is one of the taller and earlier flowering doubles in this series.  It has fewer inner segments  than other Greatorex doubles, and  they feature a large, deep green, inverted heart-shaped mark.  Evidently Heyrick Greatorex described ‘Dionysus’ as one of the best of his doubles for cultivation in the open garden.  Charles got his bulbs from the well known Oregon bulb authority Jane McGary.

Obviously, I find everything about snowdrops fascinating and hope I have communicated some of my infatuation to you.  If you are in the U.S. and want to order from the catalogue, just follow the directions for mail order.

Carolyn

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.


If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

March GBBD: The Philadelphia International Flower Show

Posted in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the beginning of spring an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more early-blooming hellebores, to give you a reason to go outside?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in early March like hardy cyclamen, snow crocus, or snowdrops to relieve the gray?

Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping this spring you know what you need and where it should go.  I know it’s still pretty cold outside, but you never know what you might find to end the winter doldrums like the beautiful double-flowered hellebore (pictured above), which I discovered during my own  inventory.  More photos of my blooming plants are included at the end.

As you entered the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show, you walked under a very large replica of the lower half of the Eiffel Tower

If you need ideas, there is no better place to go in the mid-Atlantic this time of year than the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show.  It is the largest indoor flower show in the world.  This year’s theme was “Springtime in Paris”, and the designers went all out.  I sent photos of some of the weirder stuff to Cheri at Along Life’s Highway The Yard Art Game, and you can see them by clicking here.  But I found the following displays and entries inspirational for my own garden:

There is nothing more beautiful than an individual well grown plant

A new idea for my sedum displays, which are fantastic in containers

Inspiration to upgrade my troughs

I need an elegant metal gate for my walled compost area

Simple can be very beautiful

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for March when gardeners around the world show photos of what’s blooming in their gardens (follow the link to see  photographs from other garden bloggers assembled by Carol at May Dreams Gardens).  Here are  some more highlights from my mid-March stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens:

Eranthis hyemalisWinter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

Scilla mischtschenkoanaVery early-blooming Tubergen squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana

My original snow crocus, Crocus tommasinianus, which is rodent resistant, has multiplied into thousands of plants

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, has no scent but makes up for it by blooming so early

Winter-blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum ‘Rose’

I want to include hundreds of hellebore photos but am limiting myself to some really special plants:

The rare species Helleborus purpurascens

The flower of Helleborus purpurascens

Another even rarer species Helleborus viridis: inspired by Laura at PatioPatch, I am dedicating this flower to the people of Japan because green is the color for hope

A cross between Corsican hellebore and Christmas rose, Helleborus x nigercors ‘Honeyhill Joy’

A very beautiful anemone-centered hybrid hellebore where the nectaries have become petal-like (petaloid)

Another petaloid hybrid hellebore

‘Blue Lady’ hybrid hellebore

Hybrid hellebore with picotee markings (darker edges, veins, and nectaries)

A very good yellow hybrid hellebore with maroon nectaries

Some of the thousands of common snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, which have multiplied on my property since the 1800s:

Common snowdrop with Italian arum, Arum italicum ‘Pictum’

Common snowdrop with Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’ displaying its winter color

Some of my very special snowdrop cultivars:

Galanthus 'Ophelia'Double-flowered Galanthus ‘Ophelia’

The unusual species with pleated leaves, Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus

Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe crazy upward facing double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Blewbury Tart’

Galanthus 'Flore Pleno' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe double-flowered common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’

The only yellow-flowered double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Lady Elphinstone’

A beautiful yellow snowdrop, Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

Please let me know in a comment/reply what flowers are blooming in your early spring garden.  If you participated in GBBD, please provide a link so my nursery customers can read your post.

Carolyn


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.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: I have five spaces left for my March 19 Hellebore Seminar (March 18 is sold out).  For the brochure and registration information, click here.  My first open house sale is Saturday, March 26, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring hellebores and other winter-blooming plants.

Snowdrops: Further Confessions of a Galanthophile

Posted in bulbs for shade, New Plants, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ described in Snowdrops as having “elegant elongated flowers that suggest the drop-pearl earrings of Elizabeth I,”  I can’t improve on that

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The 2018 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants, is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

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This article includes photographs and colorful descriptions of the 15 snowdrops I am offering for sale in my 2011 Snowdrop Catalogue.


In my garden, I have many forms of Galanthus elwesii, which was named for Henry John Elwes (1846-1922), described as a “true energetic Victorian” combing the world for big game, fine trees, insects, birds, and snowdrops


In my article Snowdrops or the Confessions of a Galanthophile, I revealed that I am obsessed with snowdrops.  I described my evolution from a gardener growing a few distinct varieties to a galanthophile collecting every cultivated snowdrop I could get my hands on.  I explained that I could now see the often subtle differences between flowers that others might unknowingly (shall we say ignorantly) dismiss as ridiculous.  To understand how far I have gone down this road, know that I recently found myself describing a snowdrop as having “a bold inner marking with a basal blotch narrowly joined to an apical round-armed V.”  There is no turning back.


Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’, probably the oldest snowdrop cultivar  in existence with records as early as 1703


But I didn’t talk about one of the things I find most fascinating about snowdrops.  They are the only plant that I would purchase as much for their colorful history as for their ornamental characteristics.  And how do I find out about their captivating  lineage: I consult Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis, and John Grimshaw (Griffin Press 2006).  This book, always referred to as the snowdrop bible, has all the information anyone could want about the 500 “commonly” cultivated snowdrops.


The Greatorex Double, Galanthus ‘Ophelia’

After reading Snowdrops, who would not want Galanthus ‘Ophelia’, a beautiful double snowdrop, when it was originated by Heyrick Greatorex of Brundall, Norfolk, England, a man who lived “an unconventional lifestyle” in a wooden garden shed that might have been a railway carriage?  Or a snowdrop like Galanthus ‘Magnet’ that has reached its centenary [a word not used commonly in the US so I had to look it up] and was probably named for “the old-fashioned child’s game in which magnets are attached to miniature fishing rods for the purpose of picking up painted metal fish, the point being to win the game by catching the most?”  I played that game.


Galanthus ‘Magnet’, can you can see the miniature fishing rod?

Galanthus ‘Straffan’, Baron Clarina of Ireland’s souvenir of the Crimean War

Who can resist the indestructible Galanthus ‘Straffan’, the third oldest snowdrop cultivar still in existence, discovered in the later 1800s by the head gardener for Straffan House in County Kildare, Ireland, in a clump of G. plicatus brought back from the Crimean War by the owner, the fourth Baron Clarina?  Or October-flowering Galanthus reginae-olgae, named in 1876 in honor of Queen Olga of Greece, the grandmother of  the current Duke of Edinburgh?  [In the US, we would say grandmother of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband.]


The October-flowering Galanthus reginae-olgae, named for Prince Philip’s grandmother, photo Charles Cresson

Galanthus nivalis/Common SnowdropGalanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, has a 500-year lineage to brag about


Even the plain old common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, an imminently garden-worthy plant, has been cultivated as an ornamental in England since the 16th century.  There are written records.  The species snowdrop, Galanthus woronowii, was collected on the eastern shores of the Black Sea and named by a Russian botanist for Russian plant collector Georg Jurii Nikolaewitch Woronow (1874-1931).

The shiny green leaves of Galanthus woronowii named for plant collector Georg Jurii Nikolaewitch Woronow, photo Charles Cresson


Galanthus ‘Blewbury Tart’ found by Alan Street in Blewbury, Oxfordshire, England

Even more modern snowdrops have name-dropping heritages.  Snowdrops tells us that when noted horticulturist Alan Street of the well known English bulb house, Avon Bulbs, and the discoverer of Galanthus ‘Blewbury Tart’, gave three bulbs instead of one to quirky English gardener, Primrose Warburg (1920-1996), she “characteristically complained” and called it ‘Blewbury Muffin’.  This is the same Primrose Warburg who we are told cautioned visitors navigating her treacherous garden slope to be careful, not because they might hurt themselves, but because the snowdrops were irreplaceable. Galanthus ‘Beth Chatto’ was, of course, discovered in the gardens of the internationally famous gardener and writer, Beth Chatto, OBE [Order of the British Empire].


Galanthus ‘Beth Chatto’ from the internationally famous Beth Chatto Gardens


Snowdrops describes Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ as the “classic snowdrop….a first-class garden plant with an unquestionable constitution, admired by everyone,” photo Charles Cresson

Other cultivars have discussions of their origins so complicated as to rival the US Tax Code, something I am familiar with from my former career. Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ is in danger of losing its name to ‘Arnott’s Seedling’, the name under which it was given the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, but a name deemed unsuitable because E.A. Bowles, “one of the most revered plantsman of all times,” later called it ‘S. Arnott’.  The  International Cultivar Registration Society in the Netherlands has been so advised. Galanthus nivalis ‘Viridapice’ has evidently had many imitators since it was discovered prior to 1922 near an old farmhouse in northern Holland, and confusion is rampant.


Galanthus nivalis ‘Viridapice’, hopefully not an impostor

Please do not think I am in any way making fun of this book.  I love it, and I wish all plant genera had books this information-packed and well written dedicated to them.  I list Snowdrops on my Blotanical profile as the garden book I am currently reading because I am always reading it.  Rumor has it that a new edition is in the works (for an update from John Grimshaw, click here), and I will buy it.  If you like snowdrops, you should own it too.

Well, based on the tales found in the snowdrop bible, what cultivars are in my future?  I am intrigued by ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’, a vigorous double, whose namesake (1877-1944) struggled to create an English garden in India when her husband was Governor of Madras.  I have my eye on ‘Merlin’ with its solid green blotch, whose stock was maintained by Amy Doncaster (1894-1995), “a greatly admired, no-nonsense plantswoman” who collected my favorite plants, snowdrops, hellebores and epimediums, in her woodland garden.  Finally, I would like to grow ‘Primrose Warburg’, a rare yellow snowdrop, because I think I might be just like her when I grow up.

Galanthus ‘Merlin’ whose stock was maintained by no-nonsense plantswoman Amy Doncaster


Carolyn

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.), click here.

The view from my office this morning:

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