Archive for giant snowdrop

Winterthur Snowdrop Event

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Crocus tommasianus

Snow crocus in the courtyard behind the house at Winterthur.

If you are crazy about snowdrops and other winter-blooming plants like snowflakes (leucojum), snow crocus, winter aconite, adonis, and glory-of-the-snow (chionodoxa), then a visit to the March Bank at Winterthur should be on your lifetime bucket list.  The display is as magnificent as anything found at the great British snowdrop estates.  The best time to see it is at the annual Winterthur Bank to Bend Lecture and snowdrop event, being held this year on Saturday, March 12, details below.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.

Hellebore Collage 2016

Some of the hellebores I am bringing to Winterthur, clockwise from upper left: Mango Magic, Apricot Blush, Blue Diamond, Rio Carnival, Sparkling Diamond, Painted, and True Love.

.

The speaker for Bank to Bend is Lady Carolyn Elwes, who, with her husband, owns Colesbourne Park, considered the premier snowdrop venue in England.  She even has a beautiful yellow snowdrop named after her.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be selling snowdrops, including a limited selection of some rarer cultivars, hellebores, cyclamen, and winter aconite.  There will be guided and self-guided tours of the March Bank.  It is worth the trip even if you are not local.  Here are the details and more photos to entice you:

.Winterthur

 Giant snowdrops and winter aconite on the March Bank at Winterthur.

.

March 12
Winterthur’s Bank to Bend Garden Lecture, Plant Sale, Tour and Snowdrop Event

Enjoy the spectacle of the March Bank clothed in snowdrops, winter aconite, adonis, and early snowflake in flower.

Bank to Bend Features:

• A lecture by Lady Carolyn Elwes, who will share the story of how a garden of private obsession grew into one of international importance in her 11:00 am talk, “Snowdrops at Colesbourne, Gloucestershire.”

• Sales of rare and unusual plants by Carolyn’s Shade Garden (www.carolynsshadegardens.com), 10:00 am to 3:30 pm.

• Guided tours of the March Bank, starting at the Visitor Center at 1:00 pm & 3:00 pm.

• A self-guided “White Arrow” tour through the March Bank, starting at the Visitor Center and available all day.

• Special Spring Tour Experience through the House and Conservatory available all day.

Lecture: $10 per member. $20 per nonmember. Free for Garden and Landscape Society and Garden Associate Members. All other activities (tours and plant sales) are included with admission.

For more information and to register, visit http://www.winterthur.org/spring or call 800.448.3883..

Winterthur Fall 2013-025

The Winterthur house is considered the premier museum of American decorative arts and is worth a visit in and of itself.

.

Winterthur Fall 2013-024

Another view of the house.

.

Galanthus and Eranthis at Winterthur photo Winterthur

Snowdrops and winter aconite at Winterthur.

.

Chionodoxa on the March Bank photo Winterthur

Glory-of-the-snow follows the snowdrops.

.

Galanthus nivalis and Eranthis

Snowdrops and winter aconite at Winterthur.

.

Adonis amurensis

Adonis is abundant

.

Leucojum vernum

Snowflakes at Winterthur

.

Winterthur

Snowflakes (leucojum)

.

Crocus tomasinianus

.

I hope you can make it on Saturday—it is well worth the trip no matter where you are coming from.

Carolyn

.

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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.

Advertisements

My Snowdrop Article in Fine Gardening

Posted in bulbs for shade, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Fine Gardening cover Fine Gardening February 2016

You will all want to rush to your nearest purveyor of elegant magazines—Barnes and Noble in our area—and pick up the current issue (February 2016) of Fine Gardening.  I wrote the cover article, “Snowdrops: Start spring with these easy care varieties.”  It features a lot of useful information about snowdrops especially for gardeners wanting to expand beyond the common snowdrop.  Four of the photos are also mine, and there are two lovely shots of my hands :-).

Nursery News: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.

Galanthus elwesiiMy photo of the giant snowdrop illustrates one of their greatest charms: their early bloom time. Shown here boring holes through the ice on Valentine’s Day 2011.

.

Galanthus 'Magnet'My photo of ‘Magnet’ illustrates how quickly the more vigorous varieties can multiply to form eye-catching masses in your garden.

.

My other photos are of ‘Lady Elphinstone’ and ‘Blewbury Tart’, but you will have to read the article to see those.  Please let me know what you think and ask me any questions that the article raises by typing a comment in the “Leave a Reply” box at the very end of this post.

.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: To access the 2016 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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.

Winterthur Part 1: Late Winter 2013

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Crocus tomasinianus In early March, the courtyard behind the house at Winterthur is completely filled with snow crocus, C. tomasinianus. It is worth visiting in late winter just to see this sight.

.

Each year I choose an outstanding Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, US) area garden to profile through out the seasons. There are so many amazing gardens in the Delaware Valley that I will never run out of choices. It is more a case of which wonderful garden to choose. In 2011 to 2012, I visited the enchanting pleasure gardens at Chanticleer. To see those posts, click here. In 2012 to 2013, I focused on the diverse and magnificent gardens and conservatories at Longwood. To see those posts, click here. For 2013 to 2014, I have chosen the elegant former estate of collector and horticulturalist Henry Francis du Pont located in Delaware just over the Pennsylvania line and called Winterthur.

.

WinterthurThe Winterthur house holds the premier collection of American decorative art. For scale, look at the two people on the right side of the photo just beyond the path.

Henry Francis du Pont (1880 to 1969) was a voracious collector of American decorative art for his home and of plants from all over the world for his garden. He had a lot of space to work with as the house has 175 rooms and the garden is 1,000 acres, 60 of which he landscaped with naturalistic plantings. About 60 years ago du Pont opened the house and gardens to the public, fulfilling his wish that:

the Museum will be a continuing source of inspiration and education for all time, and that the gardens and grounds will of themselves be a country place museum where visitors may enjoy as I have, not only the flowers, trees and shrubs, but also the sunlit meadows, shady wood paths, and the peace and great calm of a country place which has been loved and taken care of for three generations.

.

WinterthurThe paths leading from the visitor’s center to the house and gardens meander through the magnificent trees.

.

The “peace and great calm of a country place” is what draws me to Winterthur again and again for the garden is not a botanical collection or a display garden in the usual sense. But rather, as the website states, “an artistic composition that captures a significant period in the history of American horticulture.” It is carefully maintained and preserved to allow visitor’s to enjoy the landscaped gardens as Henry du Pont designed them as well as the peaceful vistas that he carefully incorporated into his designs. Yet it does so with none of the rigidity and dated feeling of many historic gardens. The experience is as fresh and enjoyable as if du Pont himself were giving you a tour of his own backyard, albeit a very large one!

.

DSCN9477Another view of the house in winter.

.

This post shows photos from my visit to Winterthur for their annual snowdrop event, this year on March 9 (for more information on that event, click here). I apologize for the delay, but I have been so busy with my nursery that I just found time to sort through these images. I also thought that pictures of snowdrops and other winter bulbs might really stand out right now when other blogs aren’t posting them anymore. Most of the plants shown are in the area of the March Bank at Winterthur, which contains the premier collection of naturalized snowdrops and other winter interest bulbs in the U.S.

.

Galanthus at Winterthurnaturalized snowdrops

.

It is very difficult to give readers an idea of the massive amounts of snowdrops, aconite, crocus, glory-of-the-snow, snowflakes, adonis, and other winter bulbs at Winterthur. The plants are so small that once you back up to show a large area, they disappear into the leaf litter (at least using my camera, which is much better for macro shots). You will just have to take my word for it that in person the sweeps of bulbs are breath-taking and unparalleled.

.

Eranthis hyemalisWinter aconite with snowdrops in the background.

.

Winterthuraconites, snowdrops, and crocus

.

Adonis amurensisAmur adonis

.

Leucojum vernumspring snowdflake

.

Winterthuraconite, snowdrops, and snowflakes

.

Galanthus and Eranthissnowdrops and aconite

.

Winterthursnowflakes and aconite

.

WinterthurMarch Bank

.

Galanthus elwesiiMost of the naturalized snowdrops are the giant snowdrop, G. elwesii.

.

Galanthus elwesiiA particularly lovely clump of giant snowdrops with many more (plus a photographer) on the March Bank.

.

Galanthus nivalis 'Vidirapice'green-tipped snowdrops

.

Crocus tommasinianusSnow crocus growing in the grass courtyard behind the house.

.

Crocus tommasianusIt is much easier to photograph the snow crocus set off by the grass. However, all the bulbs in this post appear through out Winterthur in the same massive quantities and are just as awe-inspiring as the crocus portrayed here.

.

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of my year of Winterthur posts, out-of-season though it may be. If you are local, mark your calendars for March 1, 2014, so you can see this wondrous display for yourself. In the meantime, it is finally summer and my nursery is closed. I will be posting on the blog but less frequently. On Thursday I am off to San Francisco for the 2013 Garden Blogger’s Fling. Enjoy your summer.

Carolyn

.

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

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

Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed and will reopen in the fall around September 15. Have a great summer.

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 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.

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

.

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

.

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.

Carolyn

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

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

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

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

 

February GBBD: 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 phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Galanthus ‘Dionysus’, a Greatorex double

.

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

.

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.

 

%d bloggers like this: