Archive for Galanthus S. Arnott

Drifts of Snowdrops at Colesbourne Park

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, Garden Tour, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

colesbourne-lake-2-10-2017-5-16-18-amA drift of snowdrops covers the hill above the extraordinarily colored lake at Colesbourne Park.  The amazing blue is caused by light reflecting off naturally deposited clay in the water.  It is worth visiting just to see it.

Michael and I just returned from a two week snowdrop trip to England.  For six days we were the guests of Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes at Colesbourne Park in the Cotswolds.   Colesbourne has been called England’s greatest snowdrop garden, and wandering through the grounds for six days I can see why.  First, the 2,500 acre setting is absolutely magnificent, including the lake pictured above, a church dating back to 1067, and a charming village with a delightful pub, the Colesbourne Inn, serving delicious food.

Nursery News:  The 2017 Winter Interest Plant Catalogue still has some plants available.  We are also taking orders for edgeworthias: $69 for the 3 gallon size.  Our first sale featuring hellebores will be Saturday, March 25, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers will get details in an email.  For announcements of spring 2017 events, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to  Let us know if you are local or 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.


Galanthus 'Margaret Owen'This lovely, very large snowdrop ‘Margaret Owen’ is a fitting tribute to its namesake, a renowned galanthophile.


Galanthus 'Rodmarton'The double snowdrop ‘Rodmarton’ originated at the nearby Rodmarton Manor, an arts and crafts house featuring its own wonderful snowdrop collection.

Second, you can see many rare and unusual snowdrops, like ‘Margaret Owen’ and ‘Rodmarton’ above, in large clumps instead of singly or in small groups.  Colesbourne Park has over 250 varieties in its collection, and they work hard to develop each into a large stand. 


Galanthus 'S. Arnott'Sir Henry Elwes stands in a field of  ‘S. Arnott’ as he entertains a guided tour with tales of Colesbourne and its snowdrops.

Third, if you are lucky enough to go on a tour, you will be taken around by Sir Henry Elwes who grew up at Colesbourne and knows all 2,500 acres intimately.  His great-grandfather was Henry John Elwes, the famous Victorian plant explorer who discovered his namesake snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, in Turkey in 1874.  During the tour, Sir Henry will tell you about snowdrops, but he will also regale you with fascinating stories about Colesbourne itself.


Galanthus 'S. Arnott'A close up of ‘S. Arnott’, called the desert island snowdrop because if galanthophiles could have just one, this would be it!

But for me, the most amazing thing about Colesbourne is the huge drifts of some of the more well known cultivars of snowdrops.  As I have said before, I am not interested in having a collection of hundreds of little groups of rare snowdrops.  I want plants with interesting leaves and habits as well as flowers, that are vigorous and will multiply into large clumps fairly quickly.



Galanthus 'Titania'‘Titania’, a Greatorex double snowdrop, which has been intentionally divided and spread out at Colesbourne.

When Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes took over Colesbourne Park, intervening generations had not tended John Henry Elwes’s collections and many had been sold.  However, some snowdrops remained, and Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn developed the current Colesbourne snowdrop display in the last 25 years.  Colesbourne showed me what you could do with a snowdrop collection and why snowdrops like ‘S. Arnott’ and the others pictured below are so widely grown.  It was a revelation.


Galanthus 'Titania'‘Titania’ en masse

Here are some more snowdrops that have been systematically divided to form huge stands at Colesbourne:


Galanthus 'Galatea'‘Galatea’, a large and vigorous single snowdrop, called “one of the foundation stones of many collections” by Matt Bishop’s snowdrop book.


Galanthus 'Galatea'‘Galatea’ quickly turns into a good sized patch.


Galanthus 'Galatea'‘Galatea’ drifts


Galanthus 'Ophelia'‘Ophelia’ is my favorite of the many Greatorex doubles and also the most widely grown.


Galanthus 'Ophelia'‘Ophelia’ as far as the eye can see.


Galanthus 'Mrs. Macnamara'Early-blooming ‘Mrs. Macnamara’, another much admired classic called a “plant of great quality” by the Bishop book.


Galanthus 'Mrs. Macnamara'A stand of ‘Mrs. Macnamara’


Galanthus 'Hippolyta'‘Hippolyta’, also a Greatorex double


Galanthus 'Hippolyta'‘Hippolyta’ spread far and wide.


Galanthus 'Colossus' plicatusGalanthus plicatus ‘Colossus’, an early vigorous snowdrop with a beautiful habit and elegant leaves.


Galanthus 'Colossus' plicatusStands of ‘Colossus’

I visited some other snowdrop venues that had sweeping drifts but none with the variety found at Colesbourne.  Painswick Rococo Garden is the place where the famous snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’ was first selected in the 1860s.  There are amazing drifts of ‘Atkinsii’, Galanthus nivalis, and ‘Flore Pleno’ there:


Galanthus 'Atkinsii' with Galanthus 'Flore PlenoThe very tall and stately ‘Atkinsii’ in the back with ‘Flore Pleno’ in the front at Painswick.


Galanthus 'Atkinsii'A hillside of ‘Atkinsii’ at Painswick.
Welford Park is awe-inspiring for sheer numbers of snowdrops, which grow in sheets through out their woods.  All of the plants are Galanthus nivalis:
galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-7-26-017Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, with winter aconite.
galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-6-50-02-amCommon snowdrops at Welford Park
galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-6-40-38-amIt looks like it just snowed in the woods at Welford Park.

Thank you so much to Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes for opening their world, both snowdrop and otherwise, to two very grateful visitors from across the pond.



Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Winter Interest Plants 2014

Posted in bulbs for shade, evergreen, garden to visit, Garden Tour, hellebores, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens’ second sale of the year featuring early spring-blooming shade plants like hellebores, unusual bulbs, and pulmonaria is tentatively scheduled for April 11 and 12.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to

Crocus tommasinianus, Helleborus x hybridusA beautiful winter combination: snow crocus, white hybrid hellebore, and snowdrops in the background.  This was one of the few hellebores that were up and open.

What a winter!  The snow is just melting and the ground is still frozen in places.  Today it is 44 degrees and pouring rain.  I don’t think the weather that we have had in March has reached the average highs for a normal February.  All this has resulted in many problems for Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, and one of them was scheduling Charles Cresson’s 2014 Winter Interest Plant Seminars.  Customers love these seminars during which Charles takes participants around his amazing Swarthmore garden and introduces them to the many plants that thrive in a winter garden.

Cresson winter interest seminarYou can see from the preferred attire of seminar attendees that it was quite cold even on the rescheduled date of March 23.

It became clear that we couldn’t hold the seminars on the “normal” dates of the third week in February as Charles’s garden was under several feet of snow.  The “rain” dates in the first week of March were equally frozen.  We opted for three weeks later, March 23, and 20 of the original 40 participants could actually come that day.  Thanks so much to those 20 people who stuck with us through all the rescheduling.


Cresson winter interest seminarCharles gives the group background on his garden, Hedgleigh Spring.  Plants for sale by Carolyn’s Shade Gardens are in the foreground.

Although we probably saw less plants than we have in the previous three years, I think the group appreciated them more than ever before.  Just the thought that spring might actually be coming was refreshing, and Charles’s enthusiasm for his plants was inspiring.  For background on Hedgleigh Spring and Charles Cresson, see Winter Interest Plants 2011.  For scenes from previous years, see Winter Interest Plants 2012 and Winter Interest Plants 2013.


Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor'This technicolor crocus, C. sieberi ‘Tricolor’, caught everyone’s eye.

What follows are photos of some of the plants that we saw in the order we visited them.  I hope that they will help everyone in the mid-Atlantic think spring.


Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'‘Dawn’ viburnum, V. x bodnantense,  is still tightly in bud though usually done blooming by now.


Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'A close up of the rose-colored buds of ‘Dawn’ viburnum—-the flowers are a lighter pink.

Galanthus 'S. Arnott', Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'The old-fashioned snowdrop ‘S. Arnott’ with ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’, a February blooming daffodil. 


Edgeworthia chrysanthaThe buds of edgeworthia were not damaged by the cold and are just starting to swell while the hardy palm to the left looks great.


Iris reticulata 'T.S. Dijt'The reticulate iris ‘J.S. Dijt’ was in full bloom while others were still to come.


Skimmia japonicaJapanese skimmia was only slightly damaged by our subzero temperatures.


Daphne odoraWinter daphne looked a lot worse than the skimmia but will loose the brown leaves and grow fresh green ones before spring is over.  The buds are fine and still to open.


DSCN3899This tiny early daffodil with recurved petals, the species Narcissus cyclamineus, was much admired.


Cyclamen coumWinter-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum,  was also beautiful.


Galanthus 'Ballerina'‘Ballerina’, an elegant double snowdrop—it’s on my wish list.


Galanthus 'Ballerina'A close up of ‘Ballerina’


DSCN3893Dutch crocus, C. vernus, pushes through old sterbergia leaves.


Galanthus 'Bill Bishop'‘Bill Bishop’ snowdrop with its huge flowers and small stature.


Eranthis hyemalis doubleDouble winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, which Charles grew from seed.


Galanthus 'Magnet'A very healthy clump of ‘Magnet’ hybrid snowdrop drooping from the cold.


Helleborus nigerChristmas rose, Helleborus niger


Galanthus rizehensisThe rare species snowdrop Galanthus rizehensis.


Leucojum vernum var. carpathicumThe variety of spring snowflake with yellow markings, Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum.


Leucojum vernum var. carpathicumAnother group of Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum.


Leucojum vernum 'Gertrude Wister'Very rare semi-double spring snowflake ‘Gertrude Wister’, which originated in Swarthmore.  Ten happy customers ordered one in my snowdrop catalogue.


Galanthus nivalis, Crocus tommasinianusCommon snowdrops and snow crocus, the essence of late winter in Charles’s meadow.


Trillium underwoodiiThe only sign of spring in the whole garden, longbract wakerobin, Trillium underwoodii, emerging.

The forecast going forward shows no nights below freezing and daytime temperatures in the 50s and even the 60s.  Now I just have to get caught up somehow!  It has been hard to find time to keep up with the blog and to read other blogs so I apologize to my readers and fellow bloggers.


Nursery Happenings: Our second sale is scheduled for the weekend of April 12, but the details are tentative.  Customers on our list should look for an email or you can sign up for emails by sending your full name and phone number to  Coming up after that is a shrub offer.  If you have any shrubs you want, please email me at

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 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 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

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.


Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost'


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).


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).


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).


Helleborus niger 'Praecox'


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).  


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


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.


Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'


Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Arum italicum 'Pictum'Italian arum always looks great.


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


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.


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.


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


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

Enjoy, Carolyn


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:  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.

2012 Winter Interest Plants

Posted in bulbs for shade, Camellias, evergreen, garden to visit, hellebores, landscape design, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Camellia japonica ‘Berenice Boddy’ in full bloom in February in the Cresson garden.

On Friday, February 24, and Monday, February 27, Charles Cresson presented the second annual Winter Interest Plant Seminars for my customers in his beautiful garden located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US.  I did a post on the seminars last year (to read it click here) and thought I had covered the topic.  However, our very warm winter meant that many different plants were in bloom so I want to show you what we saw.

The weather was cold and rainy on Friday, but participants didn’t let it stop them from enjoying Charles’s presentation.

Monday was warm and sunny which allowed more time for dawdling in the garden.  The snowdrops were a big hit.

The attention to detail in Charles’s garden is amazing.  I thought I would show you some of the “hardscape” features, many of which Charles built himself:

The rock garden with hellebores, Algerian iris, and spring-blooming hardy cyclamen.

Garden shed with the original green roof.

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, photo by seminar participant Lucretia Robbins.

Charles has a spectacular collection of winter-blooming shrubs, many of which are fragrant.  We were all surprised by which one was the most fragrant at that time of year:

Chinese holly, Ilex cornuta, retains its berries through the winter.

Sweetbox, Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna ‘Purple Stem’, adds the additional feature of ornamental stems to sweetbox’s many desirable attributes.

Bodnant viburnum, V. bodnantense ‘Dawn’, is very fragrant.

Flower of Bodnant viburnum

The adult form of English ivy, Hedera helix ‘Poetica Arborea’, produces beautiful berries but is also considered very invasive.

Camellia x ‘April Tryst’ is blooming early.

I like the male flowers of Japanese skimmia, S. japonica, as much as the berries on the female plants.

Winter daphne, D. odora, is one of my favorite shrubs because of its wonderful fragrance, excellent habit, evergreen leaves, and lovely flowers.

And the winner is….  Yes, Japanese mahonia, M. japonica, was the most fragrant plant in Charles’s garden even with all the excellent competition above.

Winter-blooming herbaceous perennials were also well represented:

The pink flowers and evergreen leaves of heath, Erica x darleyensis ‘Furzey’.

Evergreen heart leaf ginger, Asarum virginicum

Fragrant Algerian iris, I. unguicularis, was a big hit.

Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, photo Lucretia Robbins

A gorgeous anemone-flowered (ruffle around the center of the flower) hybrid hellebore—my favorite type of hellebore flower.

The most evergreen hellebore of them all, bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus.

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’

Hybrid hellebore with the very robust and extremely fragrant snowdrop ‘Brenda Troyle’.

The tour included a wonderful selection of winter-blooming bulbs, including choice snowdrop cultivars.  Here are just a few:

Seeing this large patch of the very fragrant snowdop ‘S. Arnott’ sent participants back to add it to their purchases for the day.

Spring-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum

The common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, multiplies quickly and looks great when massed.

Evergreen leaves of fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium

A single bulb of a rare yellow-flowered cultivar of the species snowdrop, G. woronowii, just sold for $1,145 on UK eBay.

A silver-leafed form of spring-blooming hardy cyclamen.

The species snowdrop Galanthus plicatus has been in cultivation since the 16th century and comes from Russia and Turkey.  It has beautiful leaves with a unique folded (explicative) pattern.

For all of you who couldn’t actually attend Charles’s seminars, I hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour.


Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now 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.

Nursery Happenings: The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are sold out.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  Snowdrops are still available for pick  up at the nursery, but mail order is closed.

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.

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.

2011 Winter Interest Plants

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, landscape design, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Japanese flowering apricot, Prunus mume

On March 3, 7, and 13, my customers and I attended seminars on Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants given by Charles Cresson at his garden, Hedgleigh Spring in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania (US).  Charles is the instructor for the Longwood Gardens certificate course “Hardy Spring and Fall Bulbs” as well as the author of several gardening books.  He is also a frequent lecturer, most recently at the Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island and Rare Find Nursery in New Jersey for presentations on “Choosing Hardy Camellias for Spring and Fall”.

Charles Cresson, kneeling to point out plicate leaves on a snowdrop, to seminar attendees.

Charles trained at the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, in England and the Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium, best known for its witch hazel introductions.    He has worked at Meadowbrook Farm, Winterthur, Nemours, and Chanticleer.  His grandfather built the house at Hedgleigh Spring in 1911 and created the garden over the course of 50 years.  Charles has gardened there for  more than 40 years.

Every time we viewed a new snowdrop, no matter how rare, Charles picked two flowers and passed them around so that we could closely examine the markings and experience the fragrance.  He then collected the flowers in a little vase for later comparison.

What a treat Charles’s seminars were.  Even though I attended all three sessions, I learned something new each time and came away with a deep admiration for Charles’s encyclopedic knowledge of plants and the depth of his plant collection, not to mention a wish list of plants for my own gardens.  I also appreciated how each plant was not just deposited in the garden but was carefully incorporated into the overall design.

The seminars began in the front garden viewing the hybrid witch hazel cultivars Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ (dark orange) and ‘Moonlight’ (pale yellow) underplanted with snowdrops, winter aconite, and various perennials. Charles does not recommend ‘Moonlight’ because it holds its dead leaves.

It would be hard to name another garden with the wealth of unusual plants that Charles has found and nurtured to perfection over the years.  That being said I thought my customers who were unable to attend the seminars and my worldwide blog readers might like to see what we saw.  I have organized the plants by category below with commentary in the caption where relevant.

We crossed a stone bridge to view the meadow where snow crocus and common and giant snowdrops were massed to be succeeded by daffodils, camassia, and then summer and fall blooming flowers.

A narrow path skirts the pond, which is surrounded on all sides by rock gardens full of unusual plants.

The Bulbs

We saw so many rare and unusual bulbs that I can only include a sampling here.

A rare pale yellow form of winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

The exquisite buds of the species crocus C. imperati ‘De Jager’

Masses of the rodent resistant and very early blooming snow crocus, Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’, shadowed by a magnificent Japanese maple.

The very early blooming daffodil Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’

A very good form of winter blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum

The reticulate iris I. histrioides ‘George’

There were large patches of spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum, throughout the garden.

The flower of spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum

We were privileged to see this semi-double form of spring snowflake,  which Charles has named  Leucojum vernum ‘Gertrude Wister’ and registered with the Dutch bulb authority.

The Snowdrops

If you read my blog, you know what a galanthophile I am so with supreme effort I have limited myself to just a few of the many snowdrops we saw.

Clockwise from upper left: G. elwesii var. monostichus, G. ikariae, ‘Jaquenetta’, ‘Straffan’, G. plicatus subsp. byzantinus, ‘Dionysus’

Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’, confused in the trade but still quite lovely

Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus Cresson GardenThe elegant pleated leaves and plump flowers of Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus

The beautiful shiny green leaves of Galanthus woronowii

There were drifts of Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’, called the ‘desert island snowdrop’ because it is the one cultivar many galanthophiles would choose if they were limited to one.

The Perennials

A very rare perennial for shade Amur adonis, A. amurensis ‘Fukuju Kai’

Helleborus niger double form Cresson gardenA semi-double form of Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, which I have only seen at Hedgleigh Spring

The Algerian iris, I. unguicularis, blooming in early March with a beautiful fragrance

The Shrubs

Koehne holly, Ilex x koehneana, looking as fresh and beautiful as it did in the fall

Camellia japonica ‘Spring’s Promise’ was one of several very early spring-blooming camellias that we saw.

Grape holly, Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies’

A highlight for me were the buds on this paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Snow Cream’, which look like the tassels on Victorian cushions

Hybrid witch hazels, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ and ‘Moonlight’

I hope you have enjoyed your virtual seminar.  Please let me know in a comment/reply what your favorite winter interest plant is.


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: My first open house sale is Saturday, March 26, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring hellebores and other winter and early spring blooming plants for shade (checks and cash only).  For directions and parking information, 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

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


The 2017 Snowdrop Catalogue, featuring snowdrops and other winter interest plants like cyclamen and hellebores, is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.


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


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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