I started this blog in order to catalogue my snowdrops and keep a check on their progress. In that spirit here follow vignettes of some of those in flower when I toured the garden this afternoon on returning home from visiting Felley Priory, of which more tomorrow. I am sure I will also write more on the varieties covered here as time allows. One thing I did have reiterated at Felley was the great similarity of many varieties when in the garden. To distinguish the differences one has to get up close and personal. Whether the differences are worth the extra money I rather doubt particularly with some of the new yellow snowdrops being released to the market amid frenzied expense.
Here are four more snowdrops in flower on another sunny day (the last one for a few days according to the forecast ….) May I commence with a snowdrop that is stunning in any company. Were I advising someone on a suitable present for Valentine’s Day then Galanthus elwesii ‘Big Boy’ would be high on the list. Dispense with the cheerful banter over the name and concentrate on quality for this beauty looks special from the moment those huge globular buds swell out even before opening. And when they do open out they excel: shapely white bowls on strong, comparatively short stems. As an added bonus they even have a flush of green on the tips. I wrote about the big fella last year and since then it has two flowers and at least five more shoots promising riches long after those red roses have shrivelled, composted and been devoured by earthworms.
Galanthus elwesii ‘Big Boy’
How about a bit of bubbly for Valentine’s Day? There are those who claim the infamous Dutch Tulip Bubble of 1637 is being replicated with snowdrops and I can see the analogy. So here is Galanthus ‘Bubble’. It’s a tad early to burst as yet being new to me, or anyone else for that matter – try googling it. The slightly puckered look gives it some distinction in better known company on my bench. I like it a lot and little bubbles will certainly appear next year in this seemingly vigorous specimen. Your head stays clear with these bubbles.
Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ has grown very well in my garden over the years to the extent that it is perhaps the dominant double. It is said to come from the garden of Barbara Buchanan at Hodsock Priory, She in turn brought it from her mother’s Northamptonshire garden in Sibbertoft on her death in 1944, hence the name. This is an inexpensive bulb, not likely to float away with the other bubbles, and has been proven in the Lumsden garden. Be my Valentine (on a budget).
Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’
And finally, here is another of my favourites. I am hoping for a pot full of Galanthus ‘Trumps’ this year for it is a distinctive bloom and will wow the visitors. The first bloom is out. I said enough about it last year and took a better picture. The 2017 season is later and most of the buds have yet to open. Now a pot full of ‘Trumps’ would win any heart and game.
The worst weekend weather-wise in a year and our garden will never want for water. Today I had the opportunity to record the progress of some of our snowdrops. And stay dry in the sun. Introduced by nurseryman, Michael Broadhurst, Galanthus ‘Ivy Cottage Green Tip’ is an elegant addition to the display bench. Its green tips are the distinguishing feature I suppose but I like the way it stands proud. Its name is rather apt and attractive too.
Galanthus ‘Ivy Cottage Green Tip’
Galanthus elwesii ‘Louise Ann Bromley’
Named after the sister of David Bromley, a well known snowdrop enthusiast from Shropshire, Galanthus elwesii ‘Louise Ann Bromley’ is notable for the size of its flower and the thick glaucous leaves that are so distinctive. Big does not have to be ugly and the outer petals drooping down like a depressed February Hare (cursed with a third ear) are striking for beauty as well as mass.
Also cursed, this time with one of the worst names given to a noble flower, Galanthus elwesii ‘Mr Blobby’ has suffered from the driving rain and transportation from its supplier. Anyway it is presently more horizontal than vertical. My solitary bloom has three petals though it may well develop a fourth next year. It does not deserve the name with its gorgeous textured and rounded petals and ovary. I have high hopes of ‘Mr Blobby’.
Galanthus elwesii ‘Mr Blobby’
Finally, a snowdrop that is hardly ever seen for reasons that defeat me other than lack of suppliers. Despite its diminutive size Galanthus nivalis ‘Janet’ has real beauty in its flower and fresh blue-green foliage. As it matures it will display deepened green tips and a slight yellowing on the upper part of the inner petals. The clump should thicken out well next year. Small plants look particularly good when bunched together especially when they are this pretty.
Last year our first hoop-petticoat narcissus were in flower for early December. A milder winter and newly acquired bulbs were reasons for the early blooms. This year perhaps we are back to normal so it is only now that signs of yellow are appearing in the alpine pots. And again the first to flower is the lemon-yellow Narcissus romieuxii “Atlas Gold” from Anne Wright. The flower heads appear from grass-like shoots seemingly too tender for winter. But here they are, hardy enough to push through grass in their normal habitat though they thrive best when that grass is not too lush. They are a welcome sight in the sleet and gloom, with several varieties just primed to flower in the next week. “Atlas Gold” was first, however.
The greatest drawback with hellebores is their drooping habit. When I purchased ‘Frilly Isabelle’ it was on a display stand and its bad habit was not so obvious. I also liked the name. The latter is no recipe for parting with money though I have seen snowdrops sold for large figures on the basis of little more than an affecting name. So I have planted “Frilly Isabelle” in a pot high on a shelf from which to admire the delicate beauty.
Helleborus orientalis “Madame Lemonnier”
“Madame Lemonnier” has large flowers that make an impact with the rich colour of a good wine. She is more full on, literally and figuratively, than her frilly cousin but she always smiles at you. As befits her name, “Madame Lemonnier” originates from a specialist breeder in Normandy, France, an unlikely sport of H. x hybridus and H. niger.
Galanthus “Trymming” is singularly striking as it just begins to unfurl its pagoda shaped petals with the mandatory flash of green on white, its solitary flower still the same as last year. It is though one of the more attainable derivatives of “Trym”. Alan Street of the Chelsea Gold Medal winning Avon Bulbs explains it can have two scapes if well grown. By that measure, mine is not.
Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is gloriously in flower now, the scented air greeting us as we venture out in the front garden. Coach parties of visitors flock to sniff the air. I’m exaggerating but not about the scent. I have exhausted the topic in previous posts so here is the source of all that perfumed air.
My wife has a painful broken arm requiring surgery and is unable to travel much so our intended excursion to the south west gardens has had to be cancelled. So yesterday we joined friends for the opening day at Hodsock. I have written about the gardens there on several occasions so today I’ll do it in close-up. The early flowering narcissus are “Cedric Morris”, a gem I have been unable to obtain. They have been in flower as early as late October some years on a sunny Hodsock bank.
Among the snowdrops the so-called “spring snowflake” has started to emerge. The striking flowers of Leucojum vernum are spreading by self-sown seed and at some stage I will need to thin them out but they are rather beautiful. The first example is a naturally upturned specimen, allowing a view of the yellow stamens. The second image shows the more normal view, again beautiful. I also have Leucojum “Gravetye Giant” that flower a little later. They are not in my opinion quite so striking despite their stature.
I have not been lucky with “Rosemary Burnham”. My first bulb gave up the ghost for reasons I am unable to explain. It is supposed to be robust, with a pedigree dating back to the 1960’s in British Columbia. (We’ll be there later this year!) But mine faltered. Luckily I acquired another from a different source and it has just flowered for the first time. In the bright sunshine we had today it looks very green, always a bonus for snowdrop collectors with big wallets. And I owe an apology for my dismissal of “Percy Picton” a few days ago. It looks pretty fabulous at the moment.
Galanthus “Epiphany” is a snowdrop new to me so I am unable to say whether or not the great revelation will happen on the required date. But I am assured that this delicate snowdrop from the county of Shropshire will survive the rigours of winter and thrive – unlike me, given the gloom and rain. The photograph shows it leaning out of a pot at a rather alarming angle but I can attest that the plant is strong.
The cold weather of a few days ago has gone. It seemed to hold back the development of our snowdrops a tad albeit the rain has accelerated growth of all my plants considerably. Pity there’s been no sunshine to lighten conditions for photography and spiritual uplift. That said, snowdrops provide a light in the depths of winter. It is their essential charm. And we can enjoy the thickening clumps of bulbs below, essentially a mix of “Magnet” and “Brenda Troyle”. If my life were on the line I’d not be able to differentiate between the latter and “S. Arnott” with the proviso that “Brenda Troyle” flowers rather earlier. “Magnet” has spread everywhere, a graceful effusion with a long and graceful pedicel.
And in order, “Godfrey Owen”, winter aconites in our trough, and three images of one of my absolute favourites, “Ophelia”. This snowdrop is a double, not exactly apparent in the photographs. She is spreading her charm throughout the beds.