Autumn flowering snowdrops are not my favourites. Yes it’s novel to see them so early in the year but they are overshadowed by the brighter colours still around at this time of the year. So ‘Cambridge’ is a lovely fresh snowdrop beside a showy colchicum and huge dinner plate dahlias. Everything has its own season. Perhaps in a pot, on the display bench, it might look better. For the record, ‘Cambridge’ has slightly textured petals and clumps up well. If snowdrops float your boat in October, there are few nicer than this variety.
I watched a YouTube video in which a man and woman sold three varieties of exotic dinner plate dahlias on a shopping channel. $20 or so, less postage. Their son had discovered these ‘hard to obtain’ plants from the Netherlands, that’s Holland we were informed. Last year I bought some by mail order. These are spectacular plants and have flowered here from the third week in July onwards. There is a drawback. When the huge flowers get saturated in our English summer they topple over like pins hit by a bowling ball. So support is the answer, something I’ll attend to next year. I’ve already bought pointed 4ft and 6ft wooden stakes for only fractionally more than than their bamboo cane equivalents. That’s for next year. Meanwhile this I believe is ‘Islander’ and a stunner. My favourite. The plant is so large that until the frosts cut it down I simply can’t discover my obviously too small label. I’ve got another fifteen on order for next year at a small cost. Perhaps I’ll set up my own shopping channel. Inexpensive and glorious plants.
Autumn crocus varieties have come on a lot from the days when anaemic shoots toppled over in a mess in the border and my wife complained they made her feel queasy. In fact they are not crocus but from the lily family. Colchicum autumnale ‘Alboplenum’ is a stunner with huge double white, rather scruffy blooms appearing at a time when other plants are receding.
‘Prague Spring’ pictured on the 23rd February this year. I first saw it in John Morley’s North Green catalogue three or four years ago though I obtained it from another source. The virescent snowdrop is distinctive enough though it was the name that captured my attention, As a schoolboy preparing for the General Studies examination I used to read ‘The Guardian’ newspaper’s account of Alexander Dubček’s all too brief liberalisation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Russians put paid to that. More prosaically the bulb was found in Prague in spring. One of my favourite cities and a lovely snowdrop. No emblem of freedom however.
Over time labels, especially near grass and therefore lawnmower range, disappear so I’m not entirely sure of the variety of this first survivor of a tidy-up. It could be one of the following: Galanthus reginae-olgae ‘Cambridge’, Galanthus elwesii monostictus ‘Barnes’ or Galanthus peshmenii. All three snowdrops are pushing up now and soon I’ll be able to compare them. I’m not so sure about my feelings about snowdrops this early. There’s still a lot of colour in the garden. And by the retrospective laws of blogging I can now confirm, having found the label, that this is ‘Rainbow Farm Early’.