Were those snowdrops all just a dream?

It’s hard to believe that just over a week ago this gardener was completely consumed by snowdrops.  Today the grass is green and people are nursing sunburns but just seven days ago we braved the usual snow squalls and windchills to pay Trumansburg NY and Hitch Lyman’s Temple Nursery a visit.

snowdrops temple nursery

The garden’s namesake reflected in the overflowing waters of the garden’s pond. There had been plenty of rain in the days previous… good for melting the last of the snow.

This was our third visit to the gardens and for a snowdrop lover it’s always a treat.  Mr. Lyman opens his garden through the Garden Conservancy, an organization committed to opening gates and preserving gardens across North America, and although this one’s early spring drabness might not appeal to everyone, it’s a treasure chest for those interested in seeing what is likely North America’s most diverse collection of galanthus (snowdrop) cultivars.  But perhaps your interests lie in the warmer seasons and silly things such as sunshine and butterflies.  If so check out the other garden open days listings, and you may be surprised at what’s open in your neck of the woods!

snowdrops at hitch lyman garden

Snowdrops along the woodland path of Hitch Lyman’s Temple Gardens.

Since most of the rest of the world is well beyond snowdrop season I’ll try to keep this quick.  Interest in little white flowers dims quickly once the tulips start to open and I want to list this year’s favorites so I have something to look back on next January when the fever starts up again.

galanthus mrs backhouse #12

You can’t go wrong with the clean and simple. This is an old classic, galanthus “Mrs. Backhouse #12”.

Since I’ll be the first to admit that nearly all small white snowdrops look remarkably identical I’ll try to focus on a few that stand out.  The ‘greens’ caught my eye this year, and galanthus ‘Greenish’ was looking perfectly different this spring and really makes a nice clump among the whites.

galanthus greenish

Galanthus “Greenish”

Green is different, but a green ‘spikey’ is even more different.  I’m not sure if this tiny burst of flower is to everyone’s taste but it is definitely what I’d call ‘interesting’….

galanthus boyd's double

Galanthus “Boyd’s double”

Yellow is also different, but on a flower like “Spindlestone Surprise” it looks just great.  This was one of several nice clumps of yellow drops.

galanthus spindlestone surprise

Galanthus “Spindlestone Surprise”

Ok, so one more picture of an interesting green.

galanthus green arrow

Galanthus “Green Arrow”

I hear that when temperatures rise enough above 40F (5C) the flowers in this garden will actually open wide and show off their inner markings.  I have yet to experience that since we always seem to be at the garden the day before the sun comes out and the air temperatures rise.  This year was par for the course since the Sunday forecast called for a calm and sunny 60F.

galanthus augustus

Even when still closed, the puckered petals and grass green foliage of galanthus “Augustus” still make for a great show.

I hate to admit that over the years I’ve added quite a few snowdrops to my garden, and with each new one I somehow tell myself it’s exactly the drop to complete some final empty void in my collection.  To publically admit I have a collection is a bad sign in itself, but to admit I NEED even species snowdrops is probably another bad omen.  They’re all white and green, just like every other snowdrop, but each one is just so much more special than the last 🙂

Galanthus koenenianus

Galanthus koenenianus. How can you not love those fat grey leaves? This was just one of several interesting little species snowdrops Mr. Lyman grows.

Now that we’re getting into special little things which make your fulfilling life seem just a tiny bit lacking lets look at this early blooming scilla relative which goes by the name of puschkinia.  This strain is supposed to have more rounded heads with darker lines of color and since I don’t grow it (yet) I’ll take their word for it.

Puschkinia scilloides 'Aragats Gem'

Puschkinia scilloides ‘Aragats Gem’

…and what gardener goes on a garden visit without adding something to the wishlist?  These last two will surely remain on the list for a while since even I can’t justify the pricetags which usually accompany them.

galanthus phillip andre meyer

Galanthus “Phillip Andre Meyer”.  I think of these as pagoda shaped although they’re usually referred to as inverse poculiforms (ipocs, or inpocs if you fear the wrath of Apple’s trademark police).  The flowers are reversed (inverted) with the green inner petals on the outside, and all six petals nearly similar in length.

“A. E. Bowles” will not likely visit my garden anytime soon but I’m going to put it as number one on the wishlist.  How exciting (for me at least) to be able to see it in bloom, and what a great way to commemorate such a talented plantsman and author.  Actually the snowdrop “Augustus” is another drop which is named after him, as well as dozens of other cultivars of plants.  Not a bad legacy in my opinion.

galanthus e a bowles

Galanthus “E.A.Bowles”

Of course it’s not all about pedigreed names and high pricetags.  There were plenty of clumps who’s names were known only to Mr. Lyman yet were still fantastic first signs of spring.

double snowdrop galanthus elwesii

No obvious label on this one, but its fat, rounded blooms made me happy to see it. Nice foliage as well.

After a long visit we were finally on the road again and made a quick pit stop at Ithaca’s Cornell Plantation.  The plantation is part of Cornell University and we wanted to stop in quickly for a look at their gardens, in particular their winter garden.

cornell plantation winter garden

Cornell Plantation’s winter garden.  Bright conifers, colorful bark, and a few winter bloomers all just recently released from underneath a cold blanket of snow.

The winter garden was a nice stop but since our fingers were still tingling from the cold we didn’t exactly linger much.  I don’t think I’d mind coming back in another few weeks when things really explode, but on this particular day the conifers and bare twigs, for as colorful as they were, just couldn’t keep us away from the heated car seats.

cornell plantation winter garden

More gardens at Ithaca’s Cornell University. The arboretum and other parts called but we wanted to get home before dark!

In spite of the weather we always end up enjoying our visit up to Trumansburg, Ithaca, and the Temple Gardens and are grateful that Mr. Lyman opens them up each spring.  In case you’re unaware Mr. Lyman also sells snowdrops so if you’re interested the process is to send three or four dollars to the following address: Temple Nursery (H Lyman) Box 591 Trumansburg, NY 14886.  Catalogs go out in January and the drops are usually sold out within a few weeks so you need to be quick!

Enjoy spring and your very own garden visits 🙂

27 comments on “Were those snowdrops all just a dream?

  1. Oooh, I really like those “yellow-capped” snowdrops (making notes!) 🙂 . And now you have me scrambling around to figure out the difference between Puschkinia scilloides and P. libanotica (if there is any? or am I just behind the times in the plant-renaming department? gaaahhh! LOL) Darn taxonomists are going to drive us all stark raving mad yet…

    Sounds like you had a really good road trip. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      It was a nice trip, thanks! I wish I knew the answer to your puschkinia naming confusion but honestly I had to google the first part so was just happy enough to see any species name come up. I just don’t have the talent for research which you have, I’m so often stuck relying on a less than stellar memory….

      • bittster says:

        I think it still is p. scilloides. I found a few references as p. scilloides var. libanotica so maybe that’s part if the confusion?

  2. mattb325 says:

    That looks like such a lovely day out – the snowdrop collection looks delightful and truly dangerous (from a fiscally responsible point of view!)

    • bittster says:

      The snowdrops do cause a few problems with my wallet but I can proudly say i spent way less at the sales table than I could have. The sad reason for that is I already had all but two of the offerings 🙂

  3. Looks like a delightful nursery to visit, though I’m more in the “a snowdrop, while very nice, is a snowdrop” camp. Puschkinia are on my wishlist also – I’m told some people call them Striped Squill.

    • bittster says:

      I’ve heard the striped squill name. Much easier to get through spellcheck than the name puschkinia but why let autocorrect rule your life?
      I admire your cavalier attitude towards snowdrops. I remember those days 🙂

  4. I ordered from Hitch once and it was worth it just to get his hand-addressed catalog. Once you are hooked, there is always one more (or five or ten) that catch your eye. Yellow is on my list but that green one is gorgeous, too.

    • bittster says:

      I know the feeling well. One looks cool but then the next even cooler and before you know it….
      The catalog is a delight as is the handwritten postcards and personal notes. Email is faster and online clicking so much easier, but writing out an order and mailing it in seems so much more thoughtful.

  5. I admire them in other gardens, and have a few myself, they really do not do much in my city garden. Not having a shady moist lot does them not a lot of good. Not past the season here.

    • bittster says:

      Hmmm. I bet you wouldn’t mind finally getting past snowdrop season, after all April is halfway over!
      Even without snowdrops you still have plenty to fill your garden with. Maybe one day they’ll find a special spot on their own 🙂

  6. I have good luck with the Puschkinia here. According to Scheepers, it is Puschkinia Scilliodes var Libanotica. Mine is a much more subtle shade of blue, almost white.

    You are going to convince me to grow snowdrops yet!

    I’ve been to Cornell Plantation in the dead of summer. It’s very lovely then!

    • bittster says:

      Hi Kimberley, I’m only just starting on your snowdrop-indoctrination, in a few years your husband will roll his eyes at the little white flowers and curse me under his breath!
      I’ll need to keep Cornell Plantation on the list, it’s much easier to get to than the bigger-city gardens and we didn’t even see the arboretum.

  7. You are close to getting me totally hooked on snowdrops, Frank, darn you. Carolyn started me off after a trip to her shady haven in Philadelphia, but I’m resisting getting too involved. They are not easy to grow here and I’ve already lost some rather expensive ones. I suspect moles and chipmunks are the culprits, but maybe I just didn’t give the dainty little darlings what they needed. I must avoid visiting Mr. Lyman’s gardens or I may succumb completely. Let’s drop the whole subject now please, so I don’t have to take out my checkbook. Oh, but the handwritten addressed catalog sounds so delightful — surely there’s no harm in looking … P. x

    • bittster says:

      haha, yes of course, there’s absolutely no harm in looking is there?
      You may still need to find just the right spot for them. The plain ones should be able to find somewhere to settle in and then (should it happen) you’ll know where to put the special ones!
      I have yet to get down to Carolyn’s garden. It’s on the to-do list but now would be the perfect time for it and I seem to always be pressed for time during the spring season.

  8. Pauline says:

    I knew you’d get hooked, there is no hope for you now!
    You saw some really lovely snowdrops, it must have been a wonderful visit for you, thank you for taking us with you!

  9. Christina says:

    I think you are in denial about being a snowdrop addict Frank. First it’s just a couple soon your whole basement will be given over to them. I’m sorry I’ve heard there is no cure.

    • bittster says:

      I’m ready to confess I’m hooked on snowdrops and I’ve heard there’s no cure. Maybe I can manage my illness, that may be enough to let me function normally.

  10. Cathy says:

    The Puschkinia jumped out at me after all the snowdrop pictures! The snowdrops are all over here, so you got me feeling a little nostalgic, but I do have summer snowflakes out now which I think are a perfect follow-on. That spiky one looks interesting!

    • bittster says:

      Summer snowflakes are a nice follow-up to the snowdrop season, and the viewing weather is much nicer now!
      I might have already looked up sources for getting one of the puschkinas for my own garden. Such are the problems of a garden visit 😉

  11. Chloris says:

    Some beautiful snowdrops. I love the Phillip Andre Meyer, what a beauty. E A Bowles is lovely but incredibly expensive. My galanthomania is in remission now that we are in April; it has been replaced by an obsession with tulips.

    • bittster says:

      Our season is quickly catching up to yours, the snowdrops are gone and the tulips are just a week or so away. Shame that I have to enjoy everything in just a few weeks which you can admire for months (snow free!).
      Yesterday I walked by the snowdrop foliage without even looking too long. I think I might be in snowdrop remission as well.

  12. pbmgarden says:

    These snowdrops make me start longing for some. They’re really lovely in a mass planting.

  13. Now I can see why folks want to collect these and how they can be so expensive…I have to let it go, but oh there were so many I want now.

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