Archive for Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus

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.

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:  Our 2020 Snowdrop Catalogue will be posted sometime in December.  If you would like to get email notification, please send your full name, cell number (for back up contact use only), and your address if mail order to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  We do not take advance orders for snowdrops.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  We are open from approximately December 15 to June 15. The only plants that we ship are snowdrops to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of local 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.

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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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‘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.

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

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

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

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‘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.

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

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‘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.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) 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 interested in mail order snowdrops 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 only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active 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.

The Sochi Snowdrop

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

Galanthus woronowii Cresson GardenGalanthus woronowii

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

The over 1,000 types of cultivated snowdrops all originated from just 20 snowdrop species found in the wild and making up the genus Galanthus. This post is the second in a series of posts profiling the important  snowdrop species, which are all great garden plants in their own right. 

In the first post I discussed the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, and you can read that post by clicking here.  I have written a lot of other articles about snowdrops, covering among other topics their ornamental characteristics, fascinating history, the importance of provenance, and profiling many cultivars.  For links to all my previous snowdrop posts, click here.  In this post, I will discuss G. woronowii.

Much of the information in this post comes from Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop et al. (Griffin Press 2006) which is absolutely indispensable if you are researching or collecting snowdrops.  I have also used documents produced by Kew Gardens and the Tbilisi Botanical Garden in the Country of Georgia.

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Galanthus woronowii Cresson GardenGalanthus woronowii

Although a few sources have randomly assigned the common names green snowdrop, Russian snowdrop, and Woronow’s snowdrop to G. woronowii, it really has no regularly used common name.  So why am I calling it the Sochi snowdrop?  Because in the early 20th century, Russian botanist A.S. Losina-Losinskaya collected a new species of snowdrop in southern Russia around Sochi on the eastern shore of the Black Sea.  In 1935, he named these snowdrops Galanthus woronowii in honor of Georg Jurii Nikolaewitch Woronow (1874-1931).  Several sources confirm that G. woronowii is still abundant in the mountains and forests above Sochi, the resort town on the Black Sea where Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics beginning February 7.

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G. woronowii CressonG. woronwii‘s glossy, bright green leaves sparkle in the rain.

G. woronowii is found in northeastern Turkey, Georgia, and southern Russia mainly around the eastern part of the Black Sea.  For a map of its range, click here for a report by Georgia’s Tbilisi Botanical Garden.  It grows in an extraordinary variety of habitats from deciduous and even evergreen woods to rocky slopes, cliff ledges, and river banks.  It thrives in both shallow rocky soil and deep organic loam in areas with cold winters and abundant precipitation.  According to Kew Gardens, Georgia harvests 15 million G. woronowii bulbs every year for export to the western European horticultural trade.  Kew along with Tbilisi and the CITES* authorities have been monitoring this harvest from wild populations and cultivated sites, click here.

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which covers snowdrops.

.Galanthus woronowiiG. woronowii flower showing the small mark on the inner segment

G. woronowii is grown for its beautiful, glossy green leaves and lovely white flowers.  It is the only commonly available snowdrop to have bright green leaves as opposed to the blue-gray leaves of the other common species.  The leaves persist longer than other snowdrop foliage and form a lovely but temporary, thick and attractive groundcover.  The flowers, which have a small green mark covering one third or less of the inner segments, are the last snowdrops to bloom in my garden in late March and early April.  I really appreciate the way they extend the end of the snowdrop season. 

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Galanthus woronowiiThe fold in the center of the leaf is clearly visible in this photo.

The identification of G. woronowii is confused in the horticultural trade where it is often called G. ikariae, a much less common snowdrop from the Aegean Islands of Greece.  However, while G. woronowii has light, glossy green leaves folded in the center and a small green mark on the flower, G. ikariae has dark, matt green leaves and a mark covering more than half the inner segment.  I have been told that all the G. ikariae sold in the U.S. is actually G. woronowii.

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Galanthus woronowiiClose up of G. woronowii flower.  I always recognize G. woronowii by the pollen glowing through the top half of the translucent white inner segments, although I don’t know if this is unique.

Unlike the other three more common snowdrop species, G. nivalis, G. elwesii, and G. plicatus, not many cultivated plants have been selected from G. woronowii, possibly because it only became available in large numbers in the 1990s.  Snowdrops lists only ‘Green Flash’ selected for its green marks on its outer as well as its inner segments.  Other sources add ‘Cider with Rosie’, ‘Green Woodpecker’, and ‘Boschhoeve’, all with green marks on their outers. 

Nevertheless, a cultivar of G. woronowii has caused more excitement than any other snowdrop when, on February 16, 2012, one bulb sold for 725 pounds ($1,185) on eBay, surpassing the previous record of around 360 pounds ($508).  G. woronowii ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ appeared as a seedling in a Scottish garden and is named after the owner.  It is considered so special because instead of the usual green ovary (the “cap” to which the petals are attached) and segment marks, ‘Elizabeth Harrison’s’ are an intense yellow, looking beautiful with the bright green leaves.  For the U.K. Telegraph story on ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ and a photo, click here; for today’s story in the Telegraph about another snowdrop, ‘Humpty Dumpty’, reaching 195 pounds, click here

I won’t be adding ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ to my collection anytime soon, but I do treasure the patch of G. woronowii in my garden.

Carolyn

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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.

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.

The Un-Common Snowdrop

Posted in bulbs for shade, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

Hybrid hellebore & G. 'Brenda Troyle'All snowdrops are great companions for hellebores.

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

I have written a lot of articles about snowdrops, covering among other topics their ornamental characteristics, fascinating history, the importance of provenance, and profiling many cultivars.  For links to all my previous snowdrop posts, click here.  I have never, however, talked in detail about any of the snowdrop species from which cultivated snowdrops, now numbering over 1,000, have been selected.  I hope this post will be the first in a series discussing each of the more important snowdrop species.

Much of the information in this post comes from Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus by Matt Bishop et al. (Griffin Press 2006) which is absolutely indispensable if you are researching or collecting snowdrops.

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Galanthus nivalis & Arum italicum 'Pictum'Common snowdrops pair well with snow crocus (just visible in the background) and really bring out the silver patterning on the leaves of Italian arum, which look fresh all winter.

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G. nivalis and C. coum 'Rose'Common snowdrops are a wonderful companion for the leaves and flowers of winter-blooming hardy cyclamen.

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Galanthus nivalis & Heuchera 'Creme Brulee'Common snowdrops look great paired with native coral bells, many of which keep their bright leaf colors all winter.

Brian Capon in his very handy book Botany for Gardeners defines a species as a “group of individuals sharing many characteristics and interbreeding freely.”  Generally these individuals are growing in the wild and have a defined native range.  There are 20 types of snowdrops that meet this definition and constitute the genus Galanthus, but only three of them have given rise to most of the named snowdrops: G. nivalis, G. elwesii, and G. plicatus

Here I want to discuss Galanthus nivalis otherwise known as the common snowdrop although it is by no means common in any sense of the word and would be one of the first snowdrops I would add to my collection if I had to start over.  In fact, it has received a coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

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G. nivalis CressonCommon snowdrops naturalize quickly in the mid-Atlantic U.S. generally by producing bulb offsets.

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The common snowdrop has the largest native range of any snowdrop species and is the species most widely grown by gardeners.  It is native to western, central, and southern Europe from France to the part of Turkey in Europe.  It was first mentioned in print in the 16th century when it was already being grown as an ornamental plant. 

Linnaeus named it Galanthus nivalis in 1753.  According to another fascinating book, Plant Names Explained (Horticulture 2005), gala means milk, -anthus means -flowered, and nivalis means snowy or snow-like.  Common snowdrops fill our gardens here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, which is part of an old estate called Wayside dating back to the 1600s (we live in Wayside Cottage which formerly housed the gardener).

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Galanthus nivalis/Common SnowdropGalanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop

Common snowdrops are generally 4 to 6 inches tall.  The narrow, straplike leaves are green with a glaucous center stripe giving an overall gray-blue appearance.  The flowers have three outer petal-like segments and three smaller inner segments.  They are pure white with a bright green v-shaped mark around the notch (called a sinus) on the apex of the inner segments. 

Common snowdrops flower here in February and March no matter what the weather and prefer moist deciduous woods with deep organic soil.  However, they are not picky about cultural conditions and will naturalize freely in a wide range of garden settings, including the dry woods of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  They pair beautifully with native coral bells, snow crocus, Italian arum, hardy cyclamen, and hellebores.

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Galanthus nivalisA natural mutation at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, if you look closely these flowers have four outer segments (petals).

Because common snowdrops generally spread through bulb offsets rather than seed, the flowers in colonies are theoretically identical.  However, natural variations occur as you can see from the photo above where the flowers have four outer segments.  Often these mutations are not stable and do not persist as was the case with the flowers pictured.  However, sometimes ornamentally interesting and stable changes occur, and, if they are noticed by a sharp-eyed galanthophile, they enter cultivated gardens and even become a named cultivar available for sale.

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G. 'Flore Pleno'A clump of double common snowdrops

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Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'double common snowdrop

I want to highlight three cultivars of the common snowdrop to give you an idea of the range available.  The double common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ (or sometimes G. n. f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’), is the oldest known snowdrop cultivar, first illustrated in 1703 and described in a prominent gardener’s dictionary in 1731.  Although it is sterile, it spreads vigorously from bulb offsets and is tolerant of a wide range of cultural conditions.  I have been told that in England it is often more abundant than the straight species. 

‘Flore Pleno’ has a lovely flower and has the advantage of being less expensive than the rest of the double snowdrops available so it is great for naturalizing.  It is the parent with G. plicatus of the Greatorex double series of snowdrops to which ‘Dionysus’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Ophelia’, and several other double snowdrops belong.  ‘Flore Pleno’ was also given an Award of Garden Merit by the RHS.

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G. 'Viridapice'the green-tipped snowdrop ‘Viridapice

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G. 'Viridiapice'‘Viridiapice’

One of my favorite snowdrops is the green-tipped common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Viridapice’.  It was originally found near an old farmhouse in northern Holland by a member of the Hoog family, owners of the venerable but now defunct Dutch bulb nursery Van Tubergen.  It is a vigorous and large-flowered snowdrop characterized by a beautiful and strikingly prominent green marking on the apex of the outer segments and a large single mark on the inner segments. 

Unfortunately,  the name ‘Viridapice’ was applied over the years to a number of different green-tipped common snowdrops, some of which are quite inferior.  I acquired my strain from the old Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, Washington, and I am happy to report that it is a superior strain and one of the best naturalizers in my garden.

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'the double common snowdrop ‘Blewbury Tart’

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Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart'‘Blewbury Tart’

Finally, I want to highlight a newer cultivar of the common snowdrop, because I love it and because it was discovered by the only person I know who is more excited about snowdrops than me, Alan Street of Avon Bulbs in England.  In 1975, Alan noticed ‘Blewbury Tart’ in a churchyard in the village of Blewbury in Oxfordshire, England, where he grew up, and collected it with the permission of  Vicar Hugh Pickles. The famous galanthophile Primrose Warburg helped to name it because she called it Blewbury Muffin when Alan gave it to her, thus inspiring the name ‘Blewbury Tart’.  

I asked Alan if there was a special anecdote that I could relate here.  He told me that when he first exhibited it in 1985, a prominent British journalist said it looked like a “squashed fly on a windscreen”.   Nevertheless Avon offered it for sale in 1992.  It is an unruly double with an outward-facing dark green inner rosette encircled by three narrow outer segments.  It looks like it is having a bad hair day and always makes me smile when I see it.  Alan relates that another prominent British galanthophile, Ruby Baker, considers it a favorite.

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Although I don’t expect most gardeners to share my obsession, whenever I write about snowdrops I hope to communicate some of the enthusiasm that snowdrops arouse.  Maybe you will add them to your garden this year!  All four snowdrops profiled are available from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Carolyn

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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.

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.

New Feature Article on Snowdrops

Posted in bulbs for shade, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 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.

Galanthus elwesiiEvery photo in this collage is of a giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, in my garden.  The differences in the markings are caused by the natural variation in the species.  None of them have been selected and given a cultivar name, although many plants like them have been named, probably too many.  Yet I find this variation fascinating.

To access the 2019 Snowdrop Catalogue, please click here.  To be put on the special snowdrop email list, please send your full name and cell number for back up to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com and indicate you are interested in snowdrops.

In this post you will find links and descriptions of every post I have written on snowdrops.  The original purpose of this post was to let readers know that The Hardy Plant Society Mid-Atlantic Group honored me by asking me to write an article on snowdrops for their newsletter. It is called “Confessions of a Galanthophile” and is the Feature Article for the January 2013 Newsletter.  You can access the on line version by clicking here.

Galanthus gracilisGalanthus gracilis

While letting you know about the Hardy Plant Society article, which makes use of parts of some of my previous blog posts, I thought this post would be a good place to list all the articles that I have written on snowdrops for easy reference.  I have interspersed the article names and links with photos of some of my favorite snowdrops.

A very unusual and pricey newer snowdrop with squared off outer segments, ‘Diggory’.

November 22, 2010

“Snowdrops or the Confessions of a Galanthophile”

origins of galanthomania, fall-blooming snowdrops

profiles G. reginae-olgae and ‘Potter’s Prelude’

click here to read

Galanthus reginae-olgae, Lamium 'Shell Pink'G. reginae-olgae blooms in the fall with ‘Shell Pink’ lamium.

January 22, 2011

“Snowdrops: Further Confessions of a Galanthophile”

fascinating history of snowdrop cultivars

short profiles of 16 snowdrop cultivars

click here to read

Galanthus rizehensisGalanthus rizehensis

February 9, 2011

“Are Snowdrops Thermogenic?”

discusses plants that produce their own heat

click here to read

Galanthus woronowii Cresson Garden The shiny bright green leaves of the species snowdrop G. woronowii.

January 19, 2012

“New Snowdrops for 2012”

importance of provenance in snowdrop collecting

profiles ‘Brenda Troyle’, ‘Tiny’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Dionysus’, and G. plicatus subsp. byzantinus

click here to read

Galanthus 'Potter's Prelude'The lovely American, fall-blooming snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’.

January 7, 2013

‘New Snowdrops for 2013″

where to find information on snowdrops

profiles ‘Wendy’s Gold’, ‘Standing Tall’, ‘Mighty Atom’, and ‘Scharlockii’

click here to read

A new American snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii ‘Xmas’

The Hardy Plant Society Mid-Atlantic Group

January 2013 Newsletter

“Confessions of a Galanthophile”

why gardeners collect snowdrops

click here to read

'Straffan' by Jonathan Shaw‘Straffan’, photo by Jonathan Shaw

January 5, 2014

“The Un-Common Snowdrop”

the common snowdrop and its cultivars

profiles G. nivalis, ‘Flore Pleno’, ‘Viridapice’, and ‘Blewbury Tart’

click here to read

My favorite single classic snowdrop, ‘Magnet’.

January 16, 2014

“The Sochi Snowdrop”

G. woronowii and its cultivars

profiles G. woronowii and ‘Elizabeth Harrison’

click here to read

‘Kite’, very early-blooming with extremely long outer segments.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Kite' twp scapes‘Kite’ can have twin flowers on one flower stalk.

January 27, 2014

“Top 25 Snowdrop Plants Part One”

UK ranking of top 25 all-time favorite snowdrops

profiles and photos of snowdrops ranked 13 to 25

click here to read

‘Godfrey Owen’ has six outer segments.

 February 4, 2014

“Top 25 Snowdrop Plants Part Two”

UK ranking of top 25 all-time favorite snowdrops

profiles and photos of snowdrops ranked 1 to 12

click here to read

Galanthus nivalis 'Lady Elphinstone' CadwaladerThe gorgeous double yellow snowdrop ‘Lady Elphinstone’

December 2, 2014

“Do All Snowdrops Look Alike?”

shows the many very different types of snowdrops available

  photos of 14 strikingly different cultivars

click here to read

Galanthus 'Viridapice'Although considered ordinary by some, ‘Viridapice’ remains one of my favorite snowdrops.

December 9, 2014

“New Snowdrops for 2015”

  profiles ‘Blonde Inge’, ‘Diggory’, ‘Walrus’, and ‘Wasp’

click here to read

‘Cowhouse Green’ is a lovely part virescent snowdrop.

January 5, 2015

“Companion Plants for Snowdrops”

snowdrops are great alone but look even better with other winter interest plants

  profiles 10 winter-blooming plants to pair with snowdrops

click here to read

‘Walrus’ is ranked number 12 in all-time favorite snowdrops.

January 14, 2015

“New Snowdrop Book”

Kew Gardens A Plant Lover’s Guide to Snowdrops

review with images from the book

click here to read

Leucojum vernum var. carpathicumAn unusual form of spring snowflake with yellow markings, Leucojum vernum var. carpaticum.

March 17, 2016

“Snowflakes (Leucojum) Continue the Snowdrop Season”

profiles many unusual forms of snowflakes, a close relative of snowdrops

click here to read

2017-catalogue-collage-11-26-2016-12-14-18-pm-11-26-2016-12-14-18-pmSome of my special snowdrops that I want to keep well marked.

December 6, 2016

“Curating a Plant Collection: Snowdrops or Otherwise”

how to keep track of your growing snowdrop collection

click here to read

The naturally blue lake at Colesborne Park below a hillside of snowdrops.

March 3, 2017

“Drifts of Snowdrops at Colesbourne Park”

photos and descriptions of our February 2017 trip to the famous English snowdrop venues

click here to read

March 15, 2017

“Snowdrops at the Royal Horticultural Society Spring Show”

setting up the Avon Bulbs snowdrop exhibit at the February 2017 show in London

click here to read

‘Fly Fishing’

November 18, 2017

“New Snowdrops for 2018”

profiles of ‘Ailwyn’, ‘Angelique’, ‘Bertram Anderson’, ‘Greenish’, ‘Fly Fishing’, and ‘Colossus’

click here to read

‘South Hayes’

November 28, 2017

“New Snowdrops for 2018 Part Two”

profiles of ‘Jonathan’, ‘Madelaine’, ‘Mrs. Macnamara’, ‘Welshway’, ‘South Hayes’, and ‘Titania’

click here to read

Galanthus 'Lapwing'‘Lapwing’ has a great mark and is a vigorous multiplier.

December 5, 2017

“Fine Gardening Feature Article on Snowdrops”

reprint of my cover article for the February 2016 issue of Fine Gardening

click here to read

Snowdrops and hellebores along the path to a folly at Painswick.

December 29, 2017

“Painswick Rococo Garden”

tour of winter garden and snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Gardens

click here to read

John Morley welcomes us to the gardens at North Green Snowdrops.

January 15, 2018

“North Green Snowdrops”

tour of the snowdrop garden at North Green Snowdrops

click here to read

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

March 7, 2018

“Exceptional Snowdrops and Gardens, England February 2018”

highlights of winter gardens and snowdrops in England

click here to read

Rodmarton Manor has an extensive snowdrop collection in its Arts and Crafts garden.

March 20, 2018

“Rodmarton Manor Garden”

tour of Rodmarton Manor’s winter garden and snowdrop collection

click here to read

 

‘Sprite’ is a beautiful and distinct snowdrop selected at Avon Bulbs.

March 25, 2018

“A Day in the Life of an Avon Bulbs Snowdrop”

introduction of new snowdrops at Avon Bulbs in England

click here to read

 

‘Art Noveau’ has a unique and elegant look.

November 13, 2018

“New Snowdrops for 2019: Part One”

profiles of ‘Godfrey Owen’, ‘Barnes’, ‘Art Noveau’, ‘Armine’, ‘Puck’, and ‘Sprite’

click here to read

 

 

‘Richard Ayres’ is a large and vigorous double.

November 27, 2018

“New Snowdrops for 2019: Part Two”

profiles of ‘Richard Ayres’, ‘Green Brush’, ‘Faringdon Double’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Trym’, and ‘Starling’

click here to read

 ‘Madelaine’ has gorgeous yellow markings.

2019 Snowdrop Catalogue

42 varieties of snowdrops for sale, local pick up and mail order

click here to access

Galanthus nivalis 'Blonde Inge'‘Blonde Inge’ is lovely in a mass and bulks up quickly.

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All the posts as well as the catalogue itself, provide interesting and informative reading on subjects ranging from the origins of galanthomania, the fascinating history of snowdrops, their provenance, how to research them, and even whether they produce their own heat.  I intend to add titles and links through the years as I write more about one of my favorite topics.

Enjoy, Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US, zone 6b/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 or you are interested in mail order, please send your full name and cell 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.

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 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.

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

New Snowdrops for 2012

Posted in New Plants, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 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 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.

Who said all snowdrops look alike?  Some of my favorites: top row, L to R, ‘Wendy’s Gold’, ‘Blewbury Tart’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Flore Pleno’; middle, ‘Jaquenetta’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Lady Elphinstone’, ‘Augustus’; bottom, unknown, ‘Ophelia’, G. plicatus subsp. byzantinus, ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’.

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

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This article includes photographs and colorful descriptions of the 5 new snowdrops I am offering for sale in my 2012 Snowdrop CatalogueFor entertaining descriptions of most of the remaining 13 varieties offered in the 2012 catalogue, click here.

The hundreds of snowdrop cultivars out there range from a classic like ‘Atkinsii’ pictured above to…(see next photo)

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 nivalis 'Blewbury Tart' at Carolyn's Shade Gardens…this crazy, modern double cultivar, ‘Blewbury Tart’, which looks like it’s having a bad hair day (I love it!).

The information in Snowdrops is not only interesting but also crucial to keeping straight all the available snowdrops.  Snowdrops describes over 500 cultivars, and the authors admit that it is now out-of-date, and a second volume is required (for details on Snowdrops 2, click here).  Snowdrops description of the cultivar along with the actual origin of the snowdrop plant in question both contribute to its provenance: the history of its ownership documenting its authenticity.  If a collector is purchasing an expensive plant, provenance is very important.

Snowdrop prices range from the very affordable (but no less desirable) common snowdrop, G. nivalis, pictured above with Italian arum and snow crocus, to…(see next photo)

…the highly collectible (with a price to match) ‘Wendy’s Gold’.

‘Brenda Troyle’, a new snowdrop from Charles Cresson in my 2012 catalogue, is a perfect example of how this works.  True ‘Brenda Troyle’ is a vigorous snowdrop admired for its well-proportioned, rounded flowers with flared and cupped outer petals (segments) and a strong fragrance of honey.  It received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1960 for “outstanding excellence for ordinary garden decoration or use.”  Customers who attended Charles Cresson’s snowdrop seminars last year loved it.

Charles Cresson’s authenticated ‘Brenda Troyle’

But Snowdrops explains that ‘Brenda Troyle’ is very mixed up in the trade.  In fact, it is even unclear whether it was named after a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Pirate or a staff member at an Irish nursery.  In cases like this, it is very important that the snowdrop display the desirable characteristics of the cultivar as Cresson’s stock does.  It is equally as important that the original stock was purchased from a reputable source and kept labeled since its purchase.  Charles got his plants from a bulb company started by the venerable Hoog family of Van Tubergen fame and conserves his whole snowdrop collection with the utmost care.

Galanthus ‘Tiny’

‘Tiny’ is a snowdrop that does not suffer from an identity crisis as Snowdrops states that almost every galanthophile in the U.K. grows it.  It is a diminutive form of the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, easily distinguished by its narrow leaves and elfin stature.  It is quite charming in a clump, which develops rapidly with this vigorous cultivar.  It also flowers later, extending the snowdrop season into late spring.

The subspecies byzantinus of G. plicatus is easily distinguished from subspecies plicatus by the two marks on its inner segments.


Unique provenance adds significantly to the desirability of a snowdrop as is the case with the Turkish snowdrop, Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus.  This subspecies has beautiful wide pleated leaves and lovely plump flowers joined in an elegant overall habit.  It comes from a small area in northwestern Turkey, but is uncommon even there.  Subspecies byzantinus is an exceptionally good form of G. plicatus, hard to come by even in the U.K.

The elegant habit of G. plicatus subsp. byzantinus.

But the part of its provenance that is really exciting is that these plants originated from one of the most celebrated and important American snowdrop collections, the gardens at Winterthur.  As Henry Francis du Pont added plants to Winterthur, snowdrops became a focus.  In the 1930s, he purchased the parents of these very bulbs from Barr & Sons, a renowned bulb house that operated in Covent Gardens, London, from 1882 to 1956.  When Charles Cresson worked at Winterthur in the early 1990s, he was given plants of this unique snowdrop, and we are offering the offspring of those plants in the 2012 catalogue.  Now that’s provenance!

The Greatorex double ‘Hippolyta’ (photo by and used with the permission of Paddy Tobin).

The final two new snowdrops were both hybridized in the mid-twentieth century by the legendary but enigmatic snowdrop breeder Heyrick Greatorex and are known as Greatorex doubles.  Snowdrops makes an unflattering reference to a story that he spent World War II in a local pub.  However, further research reveals that, in addition to serving in WWII, he fought in World War I, was wounded at Lagincourt, and received the Victory and British Medals—a very distinguished record indeed.  If you would like to read more about him, click here.

Galanthus 'Hippolyta' photo Paddy Tobin‘Hippolyta’ (photo by and used with the permission of Paddy Tobin)

‘Hippolyta’ is the shortest of the many Greatorex double snowdrops, which Heyrick Greatorex developed by crossing the double common snowdrop, G. nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’, with the species G. plicatus to create large and vigorous plants.  He named them after characters in Shakespeare’s plays, Hippolyta appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Although some of the Greatorex doubles are confused, ‘Hippolyta’ consistently produces neatly doubled, rounded flowers, combining a tightly compact inner rosette with cupped and flaring outer petals (segments)—a charming arrangement.  It received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1970.

 

The Greatorex double ‘Dionysus’

The final member of the five new snowdrops in my 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue is ‘Dionysus’, also a member of the acclaimed series of double snowdrops developed by Heyrick Greatorex (although not a Shakespeare character).  ‘Dionysus’ is one of the taller and earlier flowering doubles in this series.  It has fewer inner segments  than other Greatorex doubles, and  they feature a large, deep green, inverted heart-shaped mark.  Evidently Heyrick Greatorex described ‘Dionysus’ as one of the best of his doubles for cultivation in the open garden.  Charles got his bulbs from the well known Oregon bulb authority Jane McGary.

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

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.


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.

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

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.

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

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

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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

 

Carolyn

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The view from my office this morning:

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