Archive for Galanthus ‘Scharlockii

Classic Snowdrops

Posted in bulbs for shade, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The classic snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’ glowing on a sunny day in February at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.

Highlighted in this post are five classic snowdrops that will be available in our 2020 Snowdrop Catalogue. These snowdrops are still treasured by snowdrop enthusiasts everywhere even though they are more than 100 years old, and they all embody what attracts me to snowdrops.

People often ask me why I love snowdrops.  There are many reasons.  Originally, it was their bloom time: who can resist a flower looking like ‘Atkinsii’ in the above photograph in early February, my least favorite time of year?

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Snowdrops are also quite beautiful and elegant, especially when they are tall and stately with large flowers like ‘Atkinsii’ and several of the other classic snowdrops shown below.

. Snowdrops describes ‘Atkinsii’ as having “elegant elongated flowers that suggest the drop-pearl earrings of Elizabeth I”—a true English classic.  The reference is to Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis, and John Grimshaw (Griffin Press 2006), which contains a lot of the information in this post.


This photo illustrates the size difference between ‘Atkinsii’ in the back and the double common snowdrop in the front.

Third, snowdrops are also the most reliable winter-blooming plants in my garden and are very easy to grow.  And, among the many forms I grow, the tried-and-true classics multiply the fastest to form eye-catching swathes of blooms, which is what I am after.  I am not a collector who wants to have one of everything!  It would be impossible now anyway as experts estimate that there are over 2,500 snowdrop cultivars in existence.


‘Atkinsii’ is a great multiplier.  Here it fills a hillside at Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire, England.  For more on ‘Atkinsii’ at Painswick, read my blog post here.  It has received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society (“RHS AGM) as one of the most suitable snowdrops for the garden.  ‘Atkinsii’ was selected in the 1860s by a prominent 19th century plantsman, James Atkins, who retired to the village of Painswick.  It was named after him in 1889 by James Allen, one of the most important snowdrop experts of all time.

Fourth, snowdrops are plants with colorful histories, which I find fascinating.  The stories of the horticulturists who selected the earliest snowdrop cultivars like ‘Atkinsii’ are well-documented in The Galanthophiles: 100 Years of Snowdrop Devotees by Jane Kilpatrick and Jennifer Harmer (Orphans Publishing 2018) from which I extracted many of the historical facts in this post.  Snowdrops are also found in historic places like Colesbourne Park, (in the photo below) the estate of the famous Victorian plant explorer and snowdrop lover Henry John Elwes (1846-1922), who received his original stock of ‘S. Arnott’ from Samuel Arnott.


Thousands of another classic snowdrop ‘S. Arnott’ bloom every year at Colesbourne Park, the premier snowdrop destination in England.  Snowdrops describes ‘S. Arnott’ as “a first-class garden plant with an unquestionable constitution, admired by everyone….[a] classic snowdrop.”   This is the snowdrop that collectors repeatedly state that they would choose if they were limited to one—the so-called “desert island snowdrop”.  It is named for an early galanthophile, Samuel Arnott (1852-1930).  ‘S. Arnott’ has also received an RHS AGM, one of only 28 snowdrops to receive this honor.

 And, finally, I have met some of my favorite people while visiting snowdrops.


Our friends Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes maintain Colesbourne Park as a spectacular snowdrop destination.  Here, Sir Henry Elwes talks about snowdrops at Colesbourne Park, standing in a patch of ‘S. Arnott’.


Alan Street in a border of ‘S. Arnott’ during our walk around Avon Bulbs.  He is the only person I know who gets more excited about snowdrops than I do.

.‘S. Arnott’ in the lovely private garden “Welshway” of Hilary and Hugh Purkess in Gloucestershire, where we received a wonderful garden tour and some hot tea with delicious cake on a freezing day in February.

Despite the fact that all these snowdrops have been around for over a hundred years, they are still treasured by galanthophiles and grown in every serious enthusiast’s garden because they are such good plants.

.Although there are a plethora of new snowdrop cultivars, Avon Bulbs still chose to feature ‘S. Arnott’ in its award-winning display at the Royal Horticultural Society Spring Show.

Here are three more classic snowdrops I think you will love:

.‘Merlin’ is a another beautiful classic snowdrop discovered in 1891 by Victorian plantsman James Allen of Shepton Mallet in Somerset.


‘Merlin’s’ almost solid green inner segments are quite striking shown here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  It has been awarded an RHS AGM as an excellent snowdrop for the garden.


‘Hill Poë’ is a beautiful and vigorous classic snowdrop, shown here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  It was discovered by James Hill Poë in his garden at Riverston, County Tipperary, Ireland, in a patch of Galanthus plicatus, sometimes called the Crimean snowdrop.  In March of 1917, he wrote to an RHS publication that the G. plicatus came to him from a family who received them from an officer serving in the Crimean War (1853-1856).  Many soldiers sent or brought home snowdrops from the Crimea, a testament to the irresistible attraction of snowdrops.

‘Hill Poë’ is double and has five outer segments.


‘Hill Poë’s’ inner segments are very regular and full.


‘Hill Poë’ at Evenley Wood Garden in Northamptonshire, England.


‘Scharlockii’ is another classic snowdrop, which, though not as tall, is even more vigorous than the others profiled in this post, shown here growing at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  It is identified by the lovely green markings on its outer segments and even more so by the “rabbit ears” overarching each flower.  They appear when the spathe (flower covering) splits to drop the flower bud and then elongates into two leafy ears.


‘Scharlockii’ is a selection from Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, made by Julius Scharlock in 1868 near Frankfurt, Germany.


‘Scharlockii’ in the copse at Avon Bulbs in Somerset, England.

It is difficult to imagine now with the multitude of named snowdrops available, that at a seminal RHS snowdrop conference in 1891, there were only 42 cultivars in existence.  All five of the snowdrops in this post existed then and have persisted as desirable plants to this day despite the competition.  In 2001, when Matt Bishop’s book (referenced above) was published as an exhaustive reference, there were approximately 500 snowdrops included.  Earlier in 2019, A Gardener’s Guide to Snowdrops: Second Edition by Freda Cox (Crowood Press) was published and provides beautiful drawings, descriptions, and brief histories for 2,400 cultivars.  It takes a lot to stand out in that crowd.



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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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