Archive for Galanthus ‘Mighty Atom’

2013 Winter Interest Plants

Posted in garden to visit, hellebores, Shade Gardening, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 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  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 'Brenda Troyle'Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’ is one of the most robust and fragrant snowdrops in the Cresson garden.

This may be my last post that focuses on snowdrops, and I am sure some readers will rejoice.  I am aware that many gardeners do not share (or understand) my obsession.  However, I want to show photos from the recent Winter Interest Plants Seminars hosted by Charles Cresson for my nursery customers. 

Before I get to that though, I have to tell you about the snowdrop event this weekend at Winterthur, the fabulous garden in Delaware, US.  On Saturday, March 9, at 11 am, Alan Street, the world famous snowdrop expert from Avon Bulbs in England, is presenting the annual Bank to Bend Lecture on snowdrops.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be one of two nurseries selling snowdrops and other winter interest plants at Winterthur.  I hope to see you there.  Here are the details:


Join plantsman and snowdrop expert Alan Street of the renowned nursery Avon Bulbs as he offers insight into these precious flowers, sharing how they have become a worldwide phenomenon and how Avon Bulbs brings them to market. Registration includes tours of the March Bank display and access to specialist nurseries selling snowdrops and other winter interest plants. $20 non-members; $10 members.

Call 800.448.3883 to register or find out more.

Bank to Bend includes free admission to the garden, tours of the March Bank and access to specialist nurseries Black Hog Horticulture and Carolyn’s Shade Garden to purchase rare and unusual bulbs and other winter interest plants.


Cresson Winter Interest SeminarCharles Cresson talks about his witch hazels, winter aconite, and snowdrops with some die hard winter interest gardeners.

This is the third year that nationally known horticulturalist Charles Cresson has hosted my customers in his Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, garden to view and discuss winter interest plants.  Every year we see different plants, depending on the weather, but every year the group is just as enthusiastic despite the weather.  This year, February (and all winter really) has been cold and dismal, and the seminar days were no exception, but the attendees were enthusiastic and full of questions for Charles.

Cresson Winter Interest SeminarsCharles demonstrates how he protects important plants with plastic boxes if the weather is going to be unseasonably cold.

Plants are “late” to come out this year because it has been so cold.  The emergence of winter interest plants like perennials and bulbs is dependent more on the soil temperature than on the date.  If the soil warms up early, as it did in 2012 when we had no winter, many plants will bloom early.  This year it has been cold and gray, and many plants have yet to bloom or emerge.  Yet, such is the magic of Charles’s garden that there was a lot to see.  Here are some of the highlights in the order in which we saw them:

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'After seeing this daffodil for many years blooming in Charles’s garden in February, I finally added it to mine this year.  It is called Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’.


Eratnhis hyemalis (pale yellow form)A rare pale yellow form of winter aconite, Eranthus hyemalis.


Crocus tommasinianusThe snow crocus, C. tommasinianus, is my favorite crocus because it blooms now with the snowdrops and multiplies rapidly.


Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'‘Ruby Giant’ snow crocus is a deeper purple.


Crocus tommasinianus 'Taplow Ruby'‘Taplow Ruby’ snow crocus


Galanthus 'Atkinsii'Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ is an old-fashioned and reliable snowdrop that should be part of any collection.


Galanthus 'Atkinsii' & Arum italicum 'Pictum'One of my favorite combinations, ‘Atkinsii’ with Italian arum, A. italicum ‘Pictum’.


Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost' with Cotoneaster salicifolius 'Henryi'The leaves of ‘Pink Frost’ hellebore, H. x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’, pair beautifully with this rare cotoneaster, C. salicifolius ‘Henryi’.


Helleborus foetidus & Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost'‘Pink Frost’ again with bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, in another winning combination.


Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Winter's Song'‘Winter’s Song’ hellebore, H. x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’ is very early blooming so it was fully out on this cold February day.


Helleborus x 'Ivory Prince'‘Ivory Prince’ hellebore was just starting to open.


Iris unguicularis subsp. cretensisThis subspecies is an especially dark colored version of the winter-blooming Algerian iris, Iris unguicularis subsp. cretensis.


Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'

Galanthus ‘Mighty Atom’ has one of the best presentations of any snowdrop.


Galanthus rizehensisGalanthus rizehensis is a rare and desirable snowdrop species.


Galanthus 'Standing Tall'Charles’s newly introduced snowdrop ‘Standing Tall’ continues to stand up to whatever the weather throws at it.  If you didn’t know better you would think it was a daffodil.


Galanthus elwesii 'Standing Tall' Cresson photo-001‘Standing Tall’ in full bloom in early January.


Galanthus 'Beth Chatto' ‘Beth Chatto’


Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen'Charles and I both acquired six-petaled ‘Godfrey Owen’ last year but his was not felled by snow and ice.


Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen'‘Godfrey Owen’


Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen'The inner segments of ‘Godfrey Owen’ are extraordinary too.  This photo represents to me what galanthophiles are all about.


I know the participants enjoyed themselves because even after an hour and a half in the cold, they were still asking Charles questions.  I hope my readers have gotten some vicarious enjoyment.

I you would like to see what was featured during the 2011 and 2012 seminars, follow these links:

2011 Winter Interest Plants

2012 Winter Interest Plants



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  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings:  We are now accepting reservations for our very popular Hellebore Seminars .  The Friday session is full but the session on Monday, March 18, at 10:00 am has nine spaces left.  For details, click here.  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.

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 2013

Posted in New Plants, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 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 to the US only.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to and indicate whether you are mail order only.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Snowdrops O through Z-001Some of the snowdrops available from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in 2013.


Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.


This post includes photographs and colorful descriptions of the 4 new snowdrops I am offering for sale in my 2013 Snowdrop Catalogue.  There were three more new cultivars offered, but they sold out within two days of the catalogue being posted on my website.  For entertaining descriptions of most of the remaining 13 varieties offered, click here.

Galanthus 'Hippolyta' photo Paddy TobinThe Greatorex double snowdrop ‘Hippolyta’ was new in 2012.  For background on the Greatorex doubles, a discussion of snowdrop provenance,  and information about ‘Hippolyta’, click here.  Photo by Paddy Tobin.  We are also offering the early flowering Greatorex double ‘Ophelia’.

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 'Potter's Prelude'Potter’s Prelude’ is a vigorous and beautiful snowdrop that blooms in the fall.  This year it started in mid-November and still has some fresh flowers today (1/6/13).  For more information on fall-blooming snowdrops, click here.

Whenever I obtain a new snowdrop or offer one in my catalogue, I always research it thoroughly both for fun and to make sure that what I am offering is the genuine article.  The first place that I go is to the “snowdrop bible” to review the detailed description and history of the species or cultivar in question.  This year I was also able to consult a new snowdrop book, Snowdrops by Gunter Waldorf (Frances Lincoln Limited 2012).  What it lacks in detail, it makes up for with 300 photographs accompanied by short descriptions highlighting the salient characteristics of the snowdrops profiled.  It also contains no nonsense advice about growing and collecting snowdrops.

Although the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, pictured above with Italian arum and snow crocus, is the most prevalent snowdrop in gardens, it is by no means common in the ordinary sense of the word.  In fact, it is the best choice for gardeners who want to naturalize snowdrops in masses.

After hitting the books, I search the internet and read everything that has been written about the new snowdrop.  The available material is mostly the catalogues of all the big UK snowdrop sellers like Avon Bulbs, Harveys Garden Plants, and Monksilver Nursery, among others, but sometimes I come across fun historical or informational articles.  I also consult the Scottish Rock Garden Club Forum Galanthus thread where galanthophiles from all over the world meet to obsess.  After that, I look at photo galleries of snowdrops, particularly the Galanthus Gallery  and the new snowdrop photos on the Dryad Nursery website.

Galanthus elwesiiThe giant snowdrop, G. elwesii, is also a vigorous spreader.  This is the species massed at Winterthur.

Finally, as much as possible, I research the provenance of the snowdrop I am adding to my catalogue or collection.  Provenance is the history of a snowdrop’s ownership, documenting the authenticity of the actual bulbs being sold.  It is important that snowdrops come from a reputable source and be carefully tracked by subsequent owners.  With over 500, and some say 1,000, snowdrop cultivars circulating among collectors, it is easy to make mistakes.  For more information on provenance, click here.  With that background, on to the new snowdrops.

Galanthus plicatus 'Wendy's Gold' The very rare yellow snowdrop ‘Wendy’s Gold’.

I am thrilled to offer a yellow snowdrop for the first time, and not just any yellow, but ‘Wendy’s Gold’, the cream of the crop. Not only is this snowdrop much sought after even in England, but it easily refutes the oft made claim that all snowdrops look alike.  It was discovered in 1974 by Bill Clark, the Warden of the UK National Trust property Wandlebury Ring near Cambridge.  Ten years later, with some prodding, he realized how rare it was and decided to name it after his wife Wendy.  All the bulbs except three were then sold to a Dutch bulb company where they subsequently died,  Luckily, the remaining bulbs proved robust, and we have ‘Wendy’s Gold’ today.

Galanthus 'Wendy's Gold'

‘Wendy’s Gold’ is a superb and vigorous snowdrop with a yellow ovary (the “cap” above the petal-like segments) and a large and vivid yellow mark on the inner segments.  Its G. plicatus parentage gives it beautiful wide pleated leaves with folded margins, serving as a gorgeous backdrop for the striking flowers.  These plants come from galanthophile Barbara Tiffany, who recently traveled to the Republic of Georgia to view wild snowdrops.  Barbara got her stock from Gwen Black, an avid UK collector.  Gwen confirmed their provenance to me and stated that her ‘Wendy’s Gold’ came from the famous plantswoman Kath Dryden, former president of the UK Alpine Garden Society.  A little bit of history in each bulb!


Galanthus elwesii 'Standing Tall' Cresson photo-001‘Standing Tall’ is a very impressive snowdrop.

In 1988, regional horticulturist Charles Cresson began evaluating a G. elwesii snowdrop known until this year as 88-1.  Over the years of testing it in various conditions in his garden, he discovered that 88-1 is a remarkable snowdrop.  Its 12″ height, about as tall as snowdrops get, and very upright habit give it a commanding presence in the garden.  However, as it turns out, 88-1 doesn’t have much competition from other snowdrops because it starts blooming right before Christmas and continues through the month of January, a time period when few other snowdrops bloom.

Galanthus elwesii 'Standing Tall' Cresson photo-005A close up of ‘Standing Tall’s’ flower.

Luckily, I was able to convince Charles that 25 years was long enough to evaluate a snowdrop, and he should introduce this absolutely outstanding new selection.  Charles decided to name it ‘Standing Tall’ to reflect its height, very upright habit, and ability to stand up to whatever the season brings, lying down in very cold weather and popping right back up as if nothing had happened.  Charles is in the process of registering it with the KAVB, the international registration authority for bulb cultivars in the Netherlands.  In the meantime, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is thrilled to be chosen to introduce it for sale.


Galanthus 'Mighty Atom' Cresson GardenThe large and elegant flowers of ‘Mighty Atom’.

‘Mighty Atom’ is a beautiful snowdrop with very large, rounded, bright white flowers—the biggest flowers in the catalogue—with a bold, deep green mark on the inner segments.  Its habit is short, compact, and even making an exceptional overall presentation.  I have admired it for years and urged Charles to offer it, but he was reluctant due to its somewhat confused history. 

British snowdrop legend EB Anderson inherited the original ‘Mighty Atom’ from John Gray in 1952 and subsequently named it.  However, in later years, Snowdrops states that Anderson distributed a group of distinct but excellent clones, now known as the ‘Mighty Atom’ complex, under this name.  Charles’s stock came from plantsman Don Hackenberry who can trace its lineage directly back to EB Anderson, although it is not an offset of what is believed to be Gray’s “original” clone.  This member of the ‘Mighty Atom’ complex has proven to be reliable, vigorous, and trouble-free.


Galanthus nivalis 'Scharlockii' Cresson‘Scharlockii’ is characterized by the “rabbit ear’s” formed by its spathe (flower covering).

The final member of the four new snowdrops in my 2013 Snowdrop Catalogue is ‘Scharlockii’, a cultivar of the common snowdrop, G. nivalisIt is a charming and distinctive snowdrop with boldly marked green tips on its outer segments but most notable for the rabbit ears (see photo) formed when its spathe splits into two prominently upright, leaf-like halves.  It was discovered in 1818 by Herr Julius Scharlock of Grandenz, Germany, and named in 1868.  Charles got his stock from Winterthur, known for its amazing snowdrop display, when he worked there in the early 1990s.


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.


Note: 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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