Archive for Sir Henry Elwes

Your February 2019 Snowdrop Trip to England

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2018 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The 2019 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

Expect fields of snowdrops and hardy cyclamen at Colesbourne Park.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens had been selling snowdrops for 25 years when we decided it was time to visit England during snowdrop season.  This was the trip of a lifetime for me, and my husband Michael was a very good sport about spending a vacation outside in winter looking at my favorite flower.  We both had so much fun that we returned in February 2018.  Now it’s time for you to plan your trip.  All the gardens described below are within driving distance of the Colesbourne Inn where I recommend that you stay.

Nursery News:  If you wish to order snowdrops, click here for the 2019 Snowdrop Catalogue. Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

 

This 11th century church on the grounds of Colesbourne Park is open for visitors on snowdrop weekends.

Although England is a popular vacation destination, most people don’t travel there in February.  That means you still have plenty of time to make airline reservations, and hotels are very inexpensive and practically empty.  However, once you arrive, you will find plenty of fellow gardeners from all over Europe and even Asia touring snowdrop venues and the winter gardens that surround them.

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‘S. Arnott’ is the signature snowdrop at Colesbourne, but you will also see breath-taking sweeps of ‘Ophelia’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Colossus’, ‘Galatea’, and many more.

Your first stop should be Colesbourne Park, which is considered England’s greatest snowdrop garden.  It is located in the beautiful Churn Valley in the heart of unspoiled Gloucestershire, which is in the Cotswolds. Colesbourne’s ten-acre snowdrop garden is filled with sweeps of what must be millions of snowdrops and thousands of cyclamen plus a collection of more than 350 snowdrop cultivars, including many rare varieties, artfully displayed around the stone buildings. 

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Colesbourne’s ethereal blue lake

Colesbourne has been owned by the Elwes family since 1789, and the snowdrop collection was started in 1874 when Henry John Elwes discovered the snowdrop that bears his name, Galanthus elwesii, in Turkey.  The current owners, Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes, are always present on snowdrop days to greet visitors and answer questions.  There is plenty to see in addition to snowdrops, including the 11th century church pictured above, the trails through the woods and around the surrounding 2,500 acre park, the scenic “blue” lake shown above, and the very impressive Colesbourne Arboretum of trees.

Colesbourne Park is open every Saturday and Sunday from February 2 to March 3, 2019, between 1 and 4:30 pm.  Local charities raise money by serving tea, coffee, and delicious cakes.  To view the Colesbourne website, click here.  For more photos of Colesbourne and its garden, read my blog post here.

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Michael poses in front of a sequoia in the Colesbourne Arboretum, which contains 13 National and 37 Gloucestershire Champion Trees.

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Rodmarton Manor

Rodmarton Manor was built in the 1920s in what is now called the Arts and Crafts style, and everything was made on site using local craftsmen.  The grandmother of the current owner and her head gardener designed the eight acres of gardens that surround the house, creating what is considered a premier example of the Arts and Crafts gardening movement.  The snowdrop collection is extensive with the base of trees in the orchard surrounded by many rare cultivars and snowdrops planted through out the dozens of garden “rooms”, a feature of Arts and Crafts style.

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A planting of the very rare snowdrop ‘Rodmarton Regulus’ surrounds a tree in the orchard.

Rodmarton is near Colesbourne in a very scenic part of the Cotswolds close to Cirencester.  Snowdrop open days are generally on Sundays in February starting at 1:30 pm, but the 2019 schedule is not on the website yet.  If you get a chance to tour the inside of the house, don’t miss it.  View the Rodmarton website by clicking here.  For more photos of Rodmarton and its garden, read my blog post here.

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Even without snowdrops, the Rodmarton Garden is well worth visiting especially if you are accompanied on your trip by a non-galanthophile.

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Welford Park

Welford Park has an illustrious history, starting as the site of a monastery dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536 when it became the king’s deer hunting lodge.  The house, which was built around 1652, served as a convalescent home for soldiers wounded in World War I.  The gardens, woods, meadows, and river banks are awe inspiring because of the sheer number of winter aconites and snowdrops, all of which are Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop.  It is located in Welford, Berkshire, about an hour from Colesbourne.

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Winter aconites and common snowdrops at Welford Park

Welford Park is open for snowdrops from January 30 to March 3, Wednesdays through Sundays, from 11 am to 4 pm.  A tearoom serves homemade cakes and homegrown sausages among other mouth-watering delicacies.  View the Welford website by clicking here.

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A walk through Welford’s snowdrop woods is an unforgettable experience.

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Painswick House through the trees on the right with two of the garden’s famous Rococo “follies” in the middle surrounded by the hillside covered in ‘Atkinsii’ snowdrops.  The orchard is in the foreground.

Also in Gloucestershire near Colesbourne, Painswick Rococo Garden is a marvel, not only for its glorious snowdrops, but also because it is the only surviving Rococo garden currently open to the public.  Painswick has the sweeping vistas, framed views, serpentine paths, and extravagant architectural features characteristic of the most lavish gardens of its style.  The garden plus the beautiful Snowdrop Grove and hillside covered in the tall and iconic snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’, which was discovered at Painswick, make it a must see.

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This curving Gothic screen called the Exedra is Painswick’s most famous folly.  Beyond it, you can see its formal garden, kitchen garden, bowling green, fish pond, and snowdrop woodland.

During February, Painswick is open every day from from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm.  There is a very good cafe on site with hot and cold lunches and homemade cake.  View the Painswick website by clicking here.  For more photos of Painswick and its garden, read my blog post here.

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the Snowdrop Grove at Painswick

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the private garden of John Massey, the owner of Ashwood Nurseries

Ashwood Nurseries is a world renowned nursery in Kingswinford in the West Midlands about 1 1/4 hours from Colesbourne.  It is famous for its winter and early spring-blooming plants like hellebores, cyclamen, snowdrops, hepaticas, and primroses but carries a wide-ranging selection of other plants at its canal side location in the lovely English countryside.  Last February, Michael and I attended a Snowdrop Lecture there, which included a private tour of John Massey’s personal garden. 

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Snowdrops, hellebores, and cyclamen by the canal

Ashwood Nurseries is worth visiting just to see the nursery.  However, I highly recommend attending an event, especially one that includes a tour of the Massey garden, which is not open to the public.  In 2019, there is a Snowdrop Lecture on Tuesday, February 5, which includes a garden tour.  The morning session is already sold out.  John’s garden is open to raise money for charity on Saturday, February 9, from 10 am to 4 pm, no reservation necessary.  Through out February there are “behind the scenes” pre-booked Hellebore Tours.  There is a tearoom on site with hot and cold food, an open fire, and garden views.  For the Ashwood website, click here.

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Just one of the hundreds of beautiful Ashwood hellebores

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The historic Colesbourne Inn, located right outside the entrance to Colesbourne Park (sorry, not a great photo)

During your exploration of snowdrops and winter gardens, you can’t go wrong staying at the Colesbourne Inn.  A charming inn with very comfortable en suite rooms is combined with a traditional English pub and a gourmet dining room using fresh, local ingredients, including eggs raised by Lady Carolyn Elwes.  Have a cappuccino or beer by the cozy fire or enjoy a delicious meal in the high quality restaurant.

If you do go to England to see snowdrop gardens, please let me know about your trip.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and phone number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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.

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Exceptional Snowdrops and Gardens, England February 2018

Posted in bulbs for shade, flower show, Garden Tour, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2018 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The 2019 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

 The best place to see snowdrops in England is Colesbourne Park in the Cotswolds.

Michael and I traveled to England during snowdrop season again this year.  We stayed with Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes at Colesbourne Park, called the greatest snowdrop destination in England.  From there we visited Evenley Wood Garden, Ronald Mackenzie at Barn Cottage, Olive Mason at Dial Park, John Massey at Ashwood Nurseries, Alan Street at Avon Bulbs, Simon Biddulph at Rodmarton Manor, and Hilary and Hugh Purkess at Welshway Cottage. 

We also helped set up the Avon Bulbs display at the Royal Horticultural Society Early Spring Plant Fair in London.  Each of these visits will eventually be a blog post, but I wanted to give you a few highlights now.

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

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Glory-of-the-snow on the March Bank at Winterthur.

Before I get to England though, this Saturday, March 10, from 10 am to 3:30 pm, is the annual Winterthur Bank to Bend Event.  It promises to be a great time with a lecture, garden tours, and interesting vendors, including Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  Here are the details:

Celebrate the first flowers of the year at Winterthur on Saturday, March 10, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. At 11 am, Dr. Peter Zale, Curator of Plants at Longwood Gardens,  will explore Intrinsic Beauty: Snowdrops, Choice Bulbs, and How They Enrich Gardens. From 1 to 2 pm, enjoy guided or self-guided garden tours.  Shop at the specialty sale of rare and unusual plants from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, RareFind Nursery, and Edgewood Gardens. Garden tours and plant sale are included with admission.  To purchase tickets please call 800.448.3883.

And now for snowdrop highlights from England:

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Leucojum vernum, spring snowflake, on a stream bank at Evenley Wood Garden.  Although snowdrops generally prefer well-drained sites, leucojum thrives in wet areas.

.One of the rarer Greatorex double snowdrops, ‘Desdemona’, at Evenley Wood.

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One of my favorite snowdrops of the whole trip, ‘Don Armstrong’ in Ronald Mackenzie’s garden.

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This snowdrop, also at Ronald Mackenzie’s, has been at the top of my wish list for a while, although it is supposed to be hard-to-grow, ‘Daglingworth’.

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Michael thinks Olive Mason’s long-pediceled snowdrop, apparently a relation of ‘Fly Fishing’, should be introduced as “Deep Sea Fishing”.

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As we walked around Dial Park, I pointed out snowdrop after snowdrop with very interesting marks and asked what it was.  Olive Mason’s response: “Oh, it’s just another ‘Trym’ seedling.”  ‘Trym’ seedlings were even growing out of the hedges and between paving stones.

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A beautiful use of snowdrops in a stumpery in John Massey’s private garden at Ashwood Nurseries.

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The beautiful and eBay record-setting, yellow Galanthus woronowii ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ in John Massey’s garden.  One plant sold for £725 in 2012.

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A very pale virescent snowdrop from Andy Byfield, ‘Northern Lights’, seen at Avon Bulbs.

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A lovely and rare new snowdrop with yellow on the outer segments to be introduced soon by Avon Bulbs as ‘Bitter Lemons’.

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Again this year, we were privileged to be escorted around Rodmarton Manor and gardens by owner Simon Biddulph.  Rodmarton is one of the best surviving examples of the Arts and Crafts Movement with 8 acres of gardens.

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Introduced by Simon Biddulph, ‘Rodmarton Arcturus’ is one of the most impressive snowdrops I have ever seen.

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Another rare and beautiful snowdrop seen at Rodmarton, ‘Celia’s Double’.

.An enchanting scene from Hilary and Hugh Purkess’s garden, Welshway Cottage.

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The best display of ‘Augustus’ I have ever seen, at Welshway Cottage.

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Another wonderful snowdrop at Welshway where every scape produces a twin-headed flower, ‘Harewood Twin’.

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Drifts of ‘S. Arnott’ at Colesbourne Park, the place to go to see massive quantities of snowdrops!

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Snowdrops cover the hillside above a huge, moss-covered English oak on the shore of the naturally, bright blue Colesbourne lake.

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‘Under Cherry Plum’ in the Avon Bulbs Royal Horticultural Society Exhibit.

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‘Philippe Andre Meyer’ in Avon’s exhibit.

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Such a gorgeous snowdrop and so well-named, ‘Puffin’ from Avon Bulbs.

Each of these venues deserves a post of its own, but for now, all I have time for is a sampler!

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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.

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.

The 2019 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar, and we are taking orders, to access the catalogue please click here.

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

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Galanthus 'Titania'‘Titania’ en masse

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

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

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

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Galanthus 'Galatea'‘Galatea’ drifts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

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

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Galanthus 'Atkinsii'A hillside of ‘Atkinsii’ at Painswick.
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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:
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galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-7-26-017Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, with winter aconite.
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galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-6-50-02-amCommon snowdrops at Welford Park
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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.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events or mail order information by sending your full name and phone number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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.

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