Two very choice snowdrops: Galanthus ‘Ecusson d’Or’ & ‘Beanie’

Galanthus nivalis ‘Ecusson d’Or’ is beautiful. I did write about it last year, its first season in flower, Indeed it is exactly 12 months since I deemed it right to photograph it for my blog record.  It was discovered in 2004 in France and still commands astonishingly high prices on eBay. It has certainly sent out new leaves but still the one flower. This is strange as I read that it does increase at a fast rate. Not for me. Anyway, ovary and all petals, inner and outer, show that highly prized yellow colour.

‘Beanie’ is beautifulish. From the thick blue green leaves emerges a robust flower, not fully opened out in the grey skies we’re having today – though I will rectify this retrospectively – and the sharply pointed petals have significant greening at the tips. It is my second year in its company and I could not resist featuring it alongside that svelte, French beauty above. By the way, I should desist from describing any snowdrop as ‘robust’ when I consider the grub ridden pot of filth that should have been my gorgeous ‘Big Boy’. He was bulking up nicely last year and is now no more. Matt Bishop, the seller, has, hopefully temporarily, disappeared from eBay and I have no means at the moment of replacing the cultivar. Unless there is anyone out there…. Narcissus Fly has done for some lovely snowdrops over the years, particularly the later flowering varieties. I’ll have to research and write on the subject.

Galanthus Similarities: ‘Diggory’ & ‘Fatty Puff’ and ‘Godfrey Owen’ & ‘Mrs Thompson’

There are some distinctive snowdrops and there are some similar. ‘Diggory’ is distinctive. One could not mistake those puckered petals. It’s a great favourite. If ‘Diggory’ were a fruit you’d eat it. Admire the photograph, run your fingers over the textured character, all rounded dimpled perfection. Distinctive.


And then there’s ‘Fatty Puff’. Note the similarity? I suppose I should have photographed the flower in close-up like its brother but if nothing else the image demonstrates its fertility: how one becomes two and three and … So as investments go it provides a quick show. ‘Fatty’ is the smaller and rarer. If I had to choose between the two I’d go for ‘Diggory’.

One of the most striking snowdrops in a border is ‘Mrs Thompson’, seen below. A large flower and a distracting habit of throwing out different numbers of petals is its distinctive character. Without doubt it is in my top ten ‘must haves’ in the snowdrop garden. As is ‘Godfrey Owen’ seen below. Godfrey is an early bloomer although, as can be seen in the final image, it is in glorious bloom today although many of the flowers are spent. Do you notice the similarities and differences? In the case of the latter, Mrs T is the more imposing flower, Godfrey the prettier. It’s a bit like those puzzles for kids (and adults). Of course, there are clear differences, the shape of the petals being a notable one, the smooth petals versus the ridged effect, and the size of the blooms, not obviously apparent in photographs. Godfrey always has six perfect splayed out petals. Mrs T can have six petals but I don’t have one flowering like that this year.. Five is the most I could muster this afternoon. In the case of these two snowdrops, I could not choose a favourite. They both grace the Galanthus Garden.

Brodsworth Hall Snowdrops

Over the past few years nearby Brodsworth Hall has been building up its displays of snowdrops, taking out acres of overgrown beds and planting a variety of shrubs and flowers, as well as creating vistas based on original photographs of the great house and estate.

Under this tree on the approach drive are some of the choicest cyclamen varieties I have encountered. They mainly flower in April but have had outriders in flower from late autumn onward. They can be discerned among the snowdrops. The cyclamen survive grass mowing a mere week or so after flowering. Remarkable.

Three years ago this area was overgrown

Galanthus elwisii

The aconites combine well. A little sun is required to show them at their best

The woodland snowdrops have thrived in the last three years

Galanthus ‘Melanie Broughton’ & ‘Janet’

‘Melanie Broughton’ stands out in a crowd. I know this because she sits on my display bench surrounded by so called choicer (or rather more expensive) varieties and yet holds her own. Named after the daughter of the owner of Anglesey Abbey, Lord Fairhaven, the snowdrop is large, solid, rounded and has markedly failed to produce progeny, a strange but true snippet of information seeing as the bulb is available for the cost of alpine grit from suppliers. She’s a bargain for someone. And she will be planted somewhere more hospitable for the creation of young ones.

There is another woman. ‘Janet’, who I introduced to you last year, has unlike her aristocratic sister proven remarkably fertile producing triplets. Janet is much more petite than Melanie, with pretty markings.  A choice variety.

Galanthus ‘Phil Cornish’

Galanthus ‘Phil Cornish’ is one of the snowdrops that has caused me a lot of trouble since I bought it four years ago. Frankly it was a poor specimen, having been overcooked somewhere warm and not hardened off for the Yorkshire ‘sunshine’.  The second year I transplanted what I hoped was the correct bulb, last year it looked healthy enough though devoid of flower and now there are three flowers. I’m so pleased that here it is before it opens out into its distinct pagoda shape. The even younger bloom is just as nice.

This difficult or slow to propagate bulb was named after the Gloucestershire galanthophile, Phil Cornish. It was discovered in 2002. I’m still waiting to see the all green inners but in the meantime, no token presence this, may I offer the full pagoda shaped ‘Trymming’, a similar flower don’t you think though extra green comes at a price. The miserable rain is free.

Hodsock Priory – snowdrop heaven

Hodsock reduced their number of weeks to only three this year, commencing on Saturday. A difficult decision I should imagine but reducing staff overheads is a consideration for any business. And on a bright day today with lots of visitors, perhaps it has been the correct decision. The woodlands looked particularly impressive. I normally meet George Buchanan, who manages the estate, though today he was not in evidence. Still, the plant stalls and refreshment tent were splendid as usual.

The view of the house is always impressive from this point, almost the perfect English country residence, don’t you think

The thick snowdrops and early flowering narcissus, ‘Cedric Morris’ take the eye on the bank

Thick clumps of big snowdrops abound

Chimonanthus

The spur to many a purchase of Hamamelidaceae in variety, well priced at the stalls

Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’, I believe

Cyclamen Coum

And always a chance of unearthing something special

‘Cedric Morris’. I acquired one last month. It’s been a long wait for this early bloomer. They were just going over here 

But another early cultivar was just coming into bloom in a sunny spot

Carpets of white

The Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey

The Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire is one of the sights of the season. We had gone to admire the snowdrops (and they were super) but it was the varied winter plantings of trees and shrubs that captured our attention. Excellent restaurant and plant stalls with wide variety, including a range of snowdrops. “You say to ask about  ‘Anglesey Orange Tip’. ‘We have one left.’ ‘How much?’ ‘£95.’
‘Er sorry …..’

The gardens have more than 250 varieties of snowdrop. Here snowdrops are mixed with hellebore

Winter aconites and snowdrops combine wonderfully

Anglesey Abbey itself with a fascinating collection from all over the world

Looking towards Jubilee Avenue planted in 1977

Cyclamen leaves 1

Cyclamen leaves 2

Lode Mill

First daffodils

Witch-hazel 1

Witch-hazel 2

Viburnum

Himalayan Silver Birch

Chimonanthus

Witch-hazel 3

Sarcococca – nothing to look at but wonderful scent

Galanthus ‘Modern Art’ & ‘Jade’

 Two  similar snowdrops, one rather better known and dating back to the 1950s. ‘Modern Art’ was modern then and modern now, with its long outer petals with markings green at the tips and variable colouring higher up the petals. It was described in ‘A Gardener’s Guide to Snowdrops’ (Freda Cox) as a seedling selected by E B Anderson in his garden in Lower Slaughter, near Stow on the Wold, another discovery being ‘Tubby Merlin’. I lost my first one last year and this is a replacement.

 ‘Jade’ was also more recently discovered in Gloucestershire, and was described in a best snowdrops list for ‘Gardener’s World‘ as, ‘Highly sought after for the wash of green on its outside petals and habit of curling its scape (flower stalk) almost back on itself. The amount of green can vary.’ I bought it at the same time as ‘Modern Art’. Similar aren’t they? They sit beside each other in identical pots on the shelf so I’ll trace their development. I listened to Bob Flowerdew last week on ‘Gardener’s Question Time’ say with no trace of irony that his garden was a laboratory. My garden is a laboratory.

Snowdrops in the green: Galanthus ‘Trymlet’, ‘Bertha’ & ‘South Hayes’

Galanthus ‘Trymlet’  has multiplied very well and is ready for a change of location. I’ll have to give it a bit of thought. In the meantime the bulbs still share a spot with ‘Percy Picton’ and are a little earlier than that worthy cultivar. Last year Percy was earlier. I’ve notice this about snowdrops over the years. They do sometimes vary in flowering time. The flowers will progress to form that perfect pagoda shape and I will post another view later in the month.

I thought it might also be an opportunity to compare the green marked varieties. So here are, first, ‘South Hayes’ and second, ‘Bertha’ taken on Sunday. The former is an upright grower with the petals very tight together save in warm sun, and it was not warm on Sunday though bright. The green markings extend almost to the full length of the outer petals. And it is a deep green making the flower very striking. It is sending up offsets with some abandon. ‘Bertha’ needs a bit of fleshing out yet and I have been waiting for the full opening of the petals for two weeks. The variety is a softer green. ‘Phil Cornish’ is coming into flower and I’ll post on that very slow growing cultivar in the next few days. It’s hardly offered for sale as it doesn’t take too kindly to the scalpel so someone will contact me as they often do and I say I haven’t the time to sell on eBay. But that is for another day and I do obtain swaps that way!

Hepatica Japonica Momohanabi

They are tricky beggars to grow properly. However, Hepatica japonica Momohanabi has just commenced flowering and I hope for a mass of the tiny, jewel like flowers. I am experimenting with the best place to plant them. At the moment the highly regarded plants reside in a sunny position though I have lost several in the past when they have either dried out or been waterlogged. Momohanabi is a named variety, rather choice. I have some interesting unnamed doubles. They are so exotic they seem out of place in the winter garden. Lovely though.

I was a little dissatisfied with my images of this little plant and this afternoon (Monday) decided to redo them. So first up is a photograph set against a more colourful background, the one below sitting on the outside windowsill. You can see why the Japanese have developed the culture of these little plants into something of an art form.