I’m not exactly sure how many years it takes before something becomes a tradition but I’m going with two, and since this year marks my fourth springtime visit to the Temple Nursery’s open garden day I guess it is now a tradition, and tradition shouldn’t be tampered with. I say that because up until the morning of the visit I wasn’t entirely sure I would actually make the drive up to Ithaca NY and beyond since this season’s early warmth had me pretty sure there wouldn’t be much left to look at as far as the garden’s snowdrop (Galanthus) collection goes. To a certain extent that turned out to be true, but at the end I realized a day visiting a garden in the (almost) spring is never a bad idea, and even if the weather’s not perfect it’s always fun to get out once winter starts retreating.
If this visit has become tradition, imperfect weather has also become a tradition, and after weeks of above freezing, almost balmy weather, the bottom dropped out of the weather system two nights before. Light snow for Saturday and then a low of 17F (-8C) the next morning did in many of the remaining snowdrops and wilted many of the emerging perennials. We’re used to freezing our kazzoies off on these visits though, so by the time the temperature rose into the 40’s it felt downright balmy. No wind either and not a single snow squall during the visit… unheard of!
The majority of the snowdrops were past, which is somewhat surprising considering The Garden Conservancy had already moved the open date forward two weeks and the date was nearly a full month earlier than last year, but what can you do at such an unsettled time of the year? I just felt a little bad for others who had traveled much further to see what is normally an exciting collection of hundreds of different snowdrop varieties growing happily in the garden’s small woodland area.
I also felt bad for the plants. The majority of the snowdrops were flat on the ground from the previous night’s cold, and overall the garden did not show well for someone expecting swaths of snowdrops and early flowers. They’ll recover I’m sure, but frozen plants are never fun.
Still I found plenty to keep me entertained, and I enjoyed the company of the garden’s owner, Conservancy volunteers, and several other entertaining guests. Hanging out… is that too common a term for a Conservancy event?… outdoors with other like minded gardeners on a not-too-cold March afternoon is something I don’t get to enjoy too often in my neck of the woods, so I was quite pleased for making the drive up.
Of course there were blooming snowdrops as well. I was pleased with some of the later blooming varieties such as the daintily named ‘Dumpy Green’
and the very attractive late 19th century snowdrop, Galanthus ‘Virescens’.
Luckily for me one of my favorites was still in bloom. It’s been divided since my last visit and is still doing well, Galanthus ‘RD Nutt’ is one that always catches my eye, even though it’s no more white or green or fancy than any other of Mr. Lyman’s many other snowdrops.
So I’m glad my schedule cleared up enough to make the trip again this year, and it was a treat to finally see the gardens with a few traces of blue in the background sky. We will see what next year brings but I’m sure as usual we will make the best of it!
One final note though. I was a little insulted by how well the hardy cyclamen were doing considering the sad state of my own plantings. My own Cyclamen coum were killed back to the roots and failed to put on much of a show this spring. I’m going to blame a lack of mulch and see if I can’t do something about that next year. We just didn’t have the protection of a snow cover last year, and it looks like these did.
Thanks again to the Conservancy and Mr. Lyman for another enjoyable visit, and in case you are interested the Temple Nursery sells snowdrops as well as growing them. To get on his mailing list (there is no online available) send three or four dollars to the following address: Temple Nursery (H Lyman) Box 591 Trumansburg, NY 14886 and you should receive a listing in January. Act fast, they sell out in just a few weeks 🙂
Have a great Easter!