Archive for The Galanthophiles

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 2019 Snowdrop Season Part Two

Posted in bulbs for shade, my garden, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Wendy’s Gold’ is an elegant beauty.  It has taken me eight years to capture on film the graceful look and beautiful stature of this snowdrop.

In my last post The 2019 Snowdrop Season Part One, I showed some of my snowdrop photos that really communicate the essence of that particular selection.  To read it, click here.  I explained that there is nothing I like better than roaming around our garden photographing my collection and focusing on the differences that make each snowdrop so special.  The cold weather we have been experiencing is prolonging the snowdrop season, and many have yet to bloom.  Here are some more of my other recent captures:

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.

 

‘Wendy’s Gold’ in a group.  It is a good multiplier for me in a sloped location in my rock garden that gets deciduous shade.  I am currently trying it in two other locations.  There is a lot of variability in the growth rate of different snowdrops in different cultural conditions, and I am constantly experimenting.

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Galanthus reginae-olgae, sometimes called Queen Olga’s snowdrop as it was named after Queen Olga of Greece, blooms around October 15 in my garden.  During this unusual 2018-2019 season, the flowers lasted forever—this photo was taken December 3.  It received a coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society (“RHS AGM”), one of only 28 snowdrops to do so.

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‘Three Ships’ never disappoints and always sails in around Christmas.  However, it is very slow to multiply.  RHS AGM

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On the other hand, ‘Faringdon Double’ blooms between Christmas and New Years and is a vigorous multiplier.  It took five years of attempts to portray all it charms in this photo.

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‘John Gray’ is an early snowdrop with very large flowers.  It was selected by avid gardener John Gray of Suffolk, England, and rescued from his garden, along with the famous ‘Mighty Atom’, and named by renowned horticulturist Bertram Anderson after Gray died in 1951.  RHS AGM

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‘Merlin’, along with the other iconic snowdrops ‘Magnet’, ‘Galatea’, and ‘Robin Hood’, were all selected by James Allen, called by the book The Galanthophiles “one of the greatest of all galanthophiles.”  I have found its particular combination of large bright white outer segments with bright green inner segments edged in white to be particularly difficult to show on film.  After nine years of trying, I am happy with this photo.  Although other snowdrops have come along with solid green inners, I do not think ‘Merlin’ has met it’s match.  RHS AGM

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‘Starling’ is a much more recent introduction selected by my friend the internationally famous snowdrop expert Alan Street at Avon Bulbs in England.  Its name means little star.  In my garden it is very vigorous, with a mass of roots and a large clump of leaves on each plant.

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‘Mrs. Macnamara’ is tall, elegant, and very early, making it stand out in the garden.  It originated from Dylan Thomas’s mother-in-law and was named for her by John Morley of North Green Snowdrops.  RHS AGM

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‘Bill Clark’ is new to me, and I particularly sought it out so that I can compare it to ‘Wendy’s Gold’ and ‘Madelaine’.  All three are Galanthus plicatus, the Crimean snowdrop species, with bright yellow flowers.  It is named after the Warden of Wandlebury Ring, an Iron Age hillfort located in Cambridgeshire, England, where ‘Bill Clark’ was discovered.

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‘Bertram Anderson’ has very large flowers and a classic beauty rarely surpassed.  It was selected from the Somerset garden of famous horticulturist E.B. (Bertram) Anderson after his death in 1971 and named for him.  RHS AGM

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‘Puck’ is a little cutey, named after the character in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, with a quirky nature and three extra segments, making it semi-double.

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It is difficult to name the particular charms of ‘Brenda Troyle’, but it is one of the most complimented snowdrops in my garden.  It was selected by William Thompson before his death in 1898 and sent to famous galanthophile Samuel Arnott, who named it.  Thompson was an expert beekeeper and probably grew snowdrops because they are one of the earliest flowers to attract honeybees.

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Honeybees have declined alarmingly in recent years, and if you want to help support them, snowdrops are a great flower to plant.  As soon as the temperature gets above freezing, the bees go foraging and during the winter snowdrops are one of the few flowers available.  My snowdrops are always covered with bees.

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Both these photos were taken by my customer Helen J. in Tennessee.  Thanks, Helen!

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Even in the freezing weather we are experiencing right now in the mid-Atlantic, I look out my kitchen window at this beautiful stand of ‘S. Arnott’.  It is considered by many the one snowdrop they would grow if they had to pick.  It was a seedling raised by the famous galanthophile Samuel Arnott.  RHS AGM

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Much of the historical information about these snowdrops, which I find fascinating, came from the recently published, excellent book The Galanthophiles by Jane Kilpatrick and Jennifer Harmer.

There are many more snowdrop varieties still waiting to open in my garden.

Carolyn

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 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.

The 2019 Snowdrop Season Part One

Posted in bulbs for shade, my garden, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ extends her wings.  It has taken me eight years to produce a photo that captures the elegance of this snowdrop.

The heart of the snowdrop season is upon us, and there is nothing I like better than roaming around our garden photographing my collection.  Taking photos forces you to view each snowdrop close up and really focus on the differences that make each one so special.  My snowdrop photographs are frequently praised, and people always ask what camera I use.  But what makes my photos great is not fancy equipment, but knowing the plants intimately and capturing their unique beauty.  One photo here can be preceded by years of attempts to get on film what I know is there.  Here are some of my other recent captures:

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.

 

I took this photo of ‘South Hayes’ at the 2017 Royal Horticultural Society February Spring Show at Vincent Square in London.  It was part of the Avon Bulbs display, which Michael and I helped to set up.  I am very honored that John Morley of North Green Snowdrops in Beccles, England, thought the photo was so good that he used it on the cover of his 2019 Catalogue.  You can view his catalogue here.  When I was profiled in Naomi Slade’s book The Plant Lover’s Guide to Snowdrops, I chose ‘South Hayes’ as my utopia snowdrop.  I highly recommend Naomi’s book for gardeners who want to expand their knowledge of snowdrops beyond the basic forms.  It is available on Amazon here.

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‘Xmas’ was named at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens for its vigor, bloom time around Christmas, and prominent X mark.  I have over 60 photos of this snowdrop saved on my computer (and those are the ones I saved!) and think this is one of the best.  Snowdrops look wonderful on sunny days with blue sky in the background, but it is very difficult to photograph their best angle then without casting shadows, capturing glare, or having something distracting in the background.

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Another recent shot of ‘Xmas’.  I was thrilled that ‘Xmas’ was included in the newly published second edition of Freda Cox’s book A Gardener’s Guide to Snowdrops and listed as one of only five notable snowdrops selected in the US.  I highly recommend Freda’s book, which is the most up-to-date encyclopedic snowdrop reference work with profiles and beautiful drawings of over 2,000 snowdrops.  It is available on Amazon here.

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Yellow snowdrops like ‘Wendy’s Gold are all the rage and rightly so, but it is difficult to capture them looking yellow.  They require sunshine, which has been in short supply this winter, to bring out their yellow color and, in the shade, they look olive.

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The simple beauty of ‘Robin Hood’ is enhanced for me by the history of the cultivar.  One of the primary reasons that I am obsessed with snowdrops is that almost every cultivar has a story attached.  ‘Robin Hood’ was selected in the later 1800s by James Allen of Shepton Mallet in England, who also selected the iconic cultivars ‘Magnet’ and ‘Galatea’.  The newly published book The Galanthophiles by Jane Kilpatrick and Jennifer Harmer devotes an entire chapter to Allen whom they call the greatest of all galanthophiles.  This wonderful book is available on Amazon here.

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‘Welshway’ is a petite beauty and treasured all-the-more by me for the memories it evokes.  The British snowdrop world is a small and welcoming place.  When Michael and I traveled to England in February 2017 and 2018, we were invited into the homes and gardens of people whom we had never met due to the longstanding English tradition of garden hospitality.  We visited the garden of Hugh and Hilary Purkess called Welshway Cottage for a wonderful tour and delicious tea and cake.  ‘Welshway’ came from the Purkess’s garden.

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‘Trymming’ was selected in 2007 by my friend the internationally famous snowdrop expert Alan Street at Avon Bulbs in England.  This photo captures ‘Trymming’s’ bold and bright green splashed outer segments and its ability to produce two scapes when well grown.  I had to move it a few times to get it to do that!

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Although I welcome them, snowdrop seedlings are rare in my garden.  However, this big beauty recently appeared right in the middle of a large patch of ‘Straffan’.

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‘Standing Tall’ is another notable American snowdrop profiled in the Cox book.  It was selected in 2013 by my friend and snowdrop mentor Charles Cresson after 25 years of evaluation—he just wanted to be sure it was worth naming!!!  ‘Standing Tall’ blooms in mid-December and grows to be one of the tallest snowdrops in my garden.

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Galanthus rizehensis is a relatively unknown species snowdrop with a small and perky stature and very dark green leaves.  It will be in our 2020 catalogue.

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This photo sent to me by my customer Tim Calkins really captures the petite beauty of Galanthus rizehensis, which he purchased from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

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‘Richard Ayres’ is one of my favorite snowdrops due to its vigor, exquisite beauty, and early bloom time.  To capture the beauty of double snowdrops, you must photograph them at an angle that includes the outside and inside at the same time.  This involves some very awkward camera positions and body contortions.  After many years and dozens of attempts, I am happy with this photo.

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‘Richard Ayres’ also looks lovely photographed from the top.

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The charms of ‘Lapwing’ also proved hard to get onto film until now, but that doesn’t mean I will not keep trying to do even better.

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Another favorite snowdrop, the stately ‘Kite’, featuring extra long and elegant outer segments.

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‘Kite’ is also known for producing two flowers on the same scape.  You can see this in the photo above where two flowers are attached by their pedicels (stems) to the same spathe.  They come out wrinkled from being crushed in together but usually straighten out.

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‘Anglesey Abbey’ is a unique snowdrop with bright green leaves instead of the usual blue-gray.  Although it is described as being almost poculiform and almost pure white, mine is pretty close if not perfect.  Poculiform means that the inner segments have been replaced by three additional outer segments of equal  length.

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The plump, upside down hot air balloon shape of ‘Diggory’ is recognizable anywhere but difficult to capture in a photo.  I am very happy with this one as it’s the fattest I have ever seen it.

If you have snowdrops or other winter-blooming plants, I encourage you to visit them regularly with your camera and expand your enjoyment of your garden into the winter months.

Carolyn

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 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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