Archive for Galanthus elwesii

December GBBD: Past Prime

Posted in Camellias, Fall Color, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 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.

Every year I make a Christmas wreath using all natural materials from my property.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day hosted by May Dreams Gardens where gardeners from all over the world publish photos 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.  I also hope that my customers will get some ideas for plants to add to their own gardens to extend their season well into late fall.

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


I used berries from this native winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’, to make the wreath.  On December 7, the robins came and cleaned off all the berries.

Last month was still prime time in my gardens, but now with hard frosts and generally colder weather, my gardens are past their prime.  The show goes on though with the focus shifted from the garden as a whole to individual plants peaking between November 15 and December 15 (I do not take all my photos on December 15).  This means that they bloom now (or are still blooming), have ornamental fruit, or feature exceptional foliage or fall color during this period.

Let’s start with flowers:

The large and vigorous fall-blooming snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’ is in full bloom through this entire period.  Mine is surrounded by the marbled purple foliage of ‘Frosted Violet’ coralbells, Heuchera villosa ‘Frosted Violet’.  For more on fall-blooming snowdrops, click here.

Over the years, I have planted hundreds of giant snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii, and in the process have acquired plants that bloom in the fall instead of January when this species normally blooms.

I am always raving about the long bloom time of  ‘Shell Pink’ lamium so I thought you might like to see a photo of it in full bloom in December.  For more on lamium as a wintergreen groundcover, click here.

The buds on my paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, have gotten large enough to show their beautiful silvery color and will remain ornamental until they start to open in March.

‘Zebrina’ hollyhock mallow, Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’, does not seem to be bothered by hard frosts.

Hellebores are one of the primary contributors to flowers during the winter months:

The spent flower heads of ‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Josef Lemper’, which has been blooming since early October, seem more ornamental when everything else has gone by.  Buds are forming at the base for the next wave of bloom.

Since November 15, another Helleborus dumetorum (no common name) has put out fresh foliage and covered itself in flowers.

The lighter chartreuse buds are forming on bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, which will remain ornamental through May.

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, is covered with buds just starting to open.

This photo might not look very exciting, but I am thrilled to see buds on my rare double Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Double Fantasy’.  In all my years of collecting hellebores, I have only seen a double Christmas rose once in a garden.  Now I will be offering blooming plants to my customers in my 2012 snowdrop catalogue.

This is what ‘Double Fantasy’ will look like when it’s open.

My fall-blooming camellias are a mainstay of my garden right now.  The first three pictured below are Ackerman hybrids, which I profiled in Fall-Blooming Camellias Part 1:

This is the last flower on Camellia x ‘Winter’s Darling’.

Camellia x ‘Elaine Lee’ still has a few buds left .

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Joy’ has been flowering since October and is still covered with buds.

Fall-blooming Camellia oleifera is no longer covered with flowers but still continues to produce blooms when the weather warms up.

I was very lucky to receive as a gift this fully hardy, red-flowered Camellia japonica from Korea.  It has not yet been introduced for sale.  For more information on and photos of camellias, including this one, click here and here.

If you are just in it for flowers, then you can stop here because the last few plants rely on leaves to make their contribution.  However, foliage is very important for filling out the late fall garden, and I wanted to give you a few ideas:

Although they have dropped now, dwarf fothergilla, F. gardenii, holds its gorgeous fall leaves way beyond November 15.  For more information on this outstanding native shrub, click here.

Another woody with late fall color is ‘Shishigashira’ Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’.

‘Magic Carpet’ spiraea, S. japonica ‘Magic Carpet’, is still displaying some of its gorgeous fall color right now.

‘Albury Purple’ St. John’s wort, Hypericum androsaemum ‘Albury Purple’, remains fully clothed in plum-colored foliage.

This is the first year that I have grown ‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle, Lonicera sessifolia ‘Cool Splash’, but I am amazed to find that it looks like this right now.  For more information on this great native shrub, click here.

I have over 20 kinds of pulmonaria or lungwort in my garden providing me with beautiful flowers from February to April, but I appreciate them almost as much for their pristine foliage through early winter.

‘Diana Clare’ lungwort, Pulmonaria ‘Diana Clare’

Both native ‘Bronze Wave’ coralbells, Heuchera villosa ‘Bronze Wave’, and fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. herifolium, will look like this all winter.

My post, More Flowering Wintergreen Ground Covers of Shade, included several photos of Italian arum cultivars, which are great winter interest plants.  I won’t repeat those plants here but show you a seedling that appeared among my arum.  The leaves are more pointy and narrow than the species and the markings go beyond veining to cover the leaf.

If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide, and free ground shipping with the proper code.  For details, click here.

Enjoy the last few days of fall,  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.


Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed for the year.  Look for the snowdrop catalogue (snowdrops are available mail order) in January 2012 and an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  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.

February GBBD: Add to Your Spring Shopping List

Posted in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, garden to visit, hellebores, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 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.

“Spring-blooming” hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum, sends out its first bud

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the end of winter 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 January and February 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 icy outside, but you never know what you might find to end the winter doldrums like the hardy cyclamen (pictured above), which I discovered during my own chilly inventory.

Snowdrops and winter aconite on Winterthur’s March Bank, photo courtesy of Winterthur

If you need ideas, visit local arboretums and gardens.  I always find a trip to Winterthur, an elegant and intimate public garden in Delaware, highly inspirational and informative.  Starting March 1 when Winterthur opens for spring, the area of the gardens known as the March Bank erupts into bloom with tens of thousands of snowdrops, adonis, winter aconite, snow crocus, early scillas, glory-of-the-snow, spring snowflake, and early daffodils.

Snowdrops and winter aconite on Winterthur’s March Bank in early March, photo courtesy of Winterthur

Later in March, glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa, takes over, photo courtesy of Winterthur

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for February 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 a few more highlights from my mid-February stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens:

Very early-blooming double white hellebore, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’

Bearsfoot hellebore, Helleborus foetidus, was waiting under the ice

Sweetbox, Sarcococca hookeriena var. humilis, prepares to perfume the garden

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, began blooming in October and has waited patiently under the snow and ice for a chance to show its flowers again

The lowly Japanese pachysandra, P. terminalis, forms its flowers the previous season adding winter interest to its evergreen leaves

The flower buds of hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus, wait for the hard-packed snow to melt, in warmer years they would be in bloom now

Some hybrid hellebores are farther along than others

Giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, was the first flower through the snow in 2011 (see Are Snowdrops Thermogenic?) and was also blooming in December

With our near record-breaking snowfall accompanied by generous doses of ice (see The Joys and Sorrows of Snow), I wasn’t planning on participating in February’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  But when I grabbed my camera and walked around, there was much to be seen.   In addition to the flowers, there was more than enough views of the destruction of the winter by nature and otherwise.

Remnants of the white pine and coral bark maple branches lost this winter

The signs marking my epimedium collection after the ravages of my three snowboarding teenage sons.

Please let me know in a comment/reply what flowers are blooming in your winter 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 am currently accepting orders for snowdrops, including  mail orders.  For the catalogue and order information, click here.  I am also taking reservations for Charles Cresson’s Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants Seminar.  For the brochure and registration information, click here.

Are Snowdrops Thermogenic?

Posted in bulbs for shade, snowdrops, winter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 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 cell 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 ‘Dionysus’, a Greatorex double

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Our 2020 Snowdrop Catalogue is on line here, and we are currently taking orders.

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Snowdrops are some of the earliest blooming flowers in my garden, often popping up through the snow, hence their name.  We all love them for that, but how do they do it?  I have been told several times that they are thermogenic, that is,  that they produce their own heat, and decided to do some scientific research to find out (it can’t all be about pretty photos).

Common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, and “spring-blooming” hardy cyclamen ‘Rose’, Cyclamen coum ‘Rose’, in my rock garden

Over 200 years ago, French biologist, Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, noticed that some flowers produce their own heat.  Since then, scientists have confirmed that some plants can, in fact, generate their own heat, a process known as thermogenesis, previously thought to be limited to mammals, birds, and some flying insects.  These plants are “warm-blooded”.

Holes in the snow produced by eastern skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, performing thermogenesis, photo Robert Klips

The poster child for thermogenesis is the eastern skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, which is native to most of eastern North America.  Its flower, pictured below (courtesy of Robert Klips, Ohioense: Bob’s Brain on Botany, March 8, 2010), heats up to melt the snow producing little circles all over the woods in late winter.  It does this primarily to generate and disperse its floral scent to attract pollinators.  In this case, the scent is rotten meat and the pollinators are flies and beetles.  Secondarily, it rewards the insects by providing them with energy directly as heat rather than indirectly as nectar and pollen.

Eastern skunk cabbage blooming through the snow, photo Robert Klips

This is no small feat.  Skunk cabbage flowers can heat up to 59 degrees F (15 degrees C) when the ambient temperature is 5 degrees F (-15 degrees C).  They can also thermoregulate, adjust their temperature, to maintain a constant setting as the ambient temperature changes.  If the outside temperature gets too low, they will switch off their heat entirely until things warm up.  They also switch off the heat once they have been pollinated.

Eastern skunk cabbage peeking out of its snow cave, photo Robert Klips

To perform thermogenesis, skunk cabbage uses as much metabolic energy as a small rodent or a hummingbird and employs a unique respiratory process, which is more similar to animal metabolism than plant metabolism though biochemical rather than nervous system based.   The exact nature of this process is unknown.  For those of you with a scientific bent, I have included a graph below taken from  a scholarly treatise on the subject, Temperature Regulation by Thermogenic Flowers (Plant Physiology Online, Sept. 2006).

Graph of oxygen consumption and heat production by skunk cabbage in various ambient temperatures

But, now that you understand thermogenesis, back to the question at hand: are snowdrops thermogenic?  The short answer is I don’t know.  Various sources say that they are, but the statements seem to be based on hearsay.  I could find no scientific studies backing them up.  I posted the question on the Pacific Bulb Society forum, the Scottish Rock Garden Club forum, and to friends at Longwood Gardens, and no one could confirm that snowdrops are thermogenic.  So I present my own “scientific study” of the process.

February 21, 2010, at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, three tiny islands are appearing in the snow

As you know from my previous post, The Joys and Sorrows of Snow, we had record snowfall during the winter of 2009-2010.  By February, my whole garden was covered by a deep, thick, hard layer of snow.  Looking out on the landscape in the photo above, there was absolutely no melting going on except in three small areas.  What is happening in those little circles?  Let’s look closer:

Giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, melting through the snow

 

And even closer:

Giant snowdrop blooming in February after melting through the snow pack

My observations prove nothing scientific, but they do indicate that something is going on.  And I like to think that one of my favorite plants, snowdrops, which inspire such intense interest in many gardeners, also produce their own internal excitement.

For my previous articles on snowdrops, click here and here.

 

Please let me know in a comment/reply if you have any knowledge or personal experience with snowdrops being thermogenic.

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.

 

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 cell 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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Our 2020 Snowdrop Catalogue is on line here, and we are currently taking orders.

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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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