The Temple Nursery 2016

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.

hitch lyman garden

Side view of Hitch Lyman’s upstate NY garden.  The nursery’s namesake ‘temple’ is visible in the back.

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!

galanthus ex. highdown

The Lyman garden is known for its snowdrop collection, and only a few remained in bloom after all the ups and downs of the weather.  Here is a Galanthus labeled ‘ex. highdown’ which has held up remarkably well to the cold.

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.

eranthis hyemalis noel ayres

Just a few late blooming winter aconite remained.  This might be Eranthis hyemalis ‘Noel Ayres’ or something similar.  Compared to the bright yellow blooms of the species, this might be an Eranthis only a collector could love. 

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.

freeze damage primula

Early primroses wilting as the warm sun hits them.  This would have been a much cheerier sight just a few days ago.

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.

galanthus dr dress

It looked like some kind of sea creature to me, but it’s a Galanthus labeled ‘Dr Dress’ which I believe is the source of this unusually curly leaved snowdrop.

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’

galanthus dumpy green

Galanthus ‘Dumpy Green’

and the very attractive late 19th century snowdrop, Galanthus ‘Virescens’.

galanthus virescens

The classic green 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.

galanthus rd nutt

I’ve asked and then forgotten if ‘RD Nutt’ is the name or source of this snowdrop.  It always seems such a neat and heavy bloomer, and appears to be holding up well to the weather.

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!

hitch lyman garden

Hitch Lyman’s home, moved to the spot in the 90’s and restored back to it’s original grandeur.

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.

cyclamen coum upstate ny

Some Cyclamen coum looking quite happy in their upstate New York home.  A nice woodland mulch and most likely a protective blanket of snow have them blooming happily with nearly perfect foliage.

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!

23 comments on “The Temple Nursery 2016

  1. After seeing these pictures I am glad my garden was not as far along, because when we got our -23F night, nothing was up and blooming. I am at least one and probably sometimes two hardiness zones colder than where Mr. Lyman lives. There is no Finger Lake near me to moderate the climate.

    • bittster says:

      I didn’t realize things in the finger lakes were so much balmier in the winter! I should have figured it out though since his garden usually only runs a few days later than mine, and it’s over a two hour drive North…. and we do live in “the valley” of course and not the mountains 🙂
      I forgot about your -23F night. Ugh, what a memory!

  2. Pauline says:

    So glad you managed to catch some snowdrops, the weather has had the plants in such a muddle this year, they don’t know if they are coming or going! My last snowdrop “Baxendale’s Late” is just finishing flowering, so no more for another 9 months, I will just have to be patient!

    • bittster says:

      I need to wait patiently for next year’s snowdrops as well. Though I’m sure we’ll be fine, there are tulips and primrose on their way so how can we have any complaints!

  3. Paula says:

    Hoping for weather in the sunny 50’s in Trumansburg on snowdrop day is breaking with tradition. It looks like I’m going to have to invest in long underwear reserved just for future Temple visits, so I can relieve Bittster of loaning me his coats. 😉 Until 2017 –

  4. johnvic8 says:

    By the way, what is the origin of “Kazzooie?”

  5. Even though a long drive, I do enjoy the Finger Lake region. I do not collect snowdrops like my friend Carolyn’s Shade Gardens sells, but would suggest readers check out her nursery as well. She has many that people could not find anywhere else. I never did stop at Temple Nursery though. Oh, the primrose. I am going to miss the beautiful show this year in PA gardens.

    • bittster says:

      I really enjoy the Finger Lake region in the summer as well… although lake effect weather in the winter is another story completely!
      I’ve mentioned Carolyn’s nursery and others as a source previously and several of my drops come via her website as well. I think she’s one of the first hits when you google US snowdrop sources. I only included the Temple Garden address since this was a visit there and he has no online presence nor nursery advertisement. Kind of old school I guess, and you just eventually find him when your obsession grows 🙂

  6. Alain says:

    You seem to have had a very good time despite the weather. I should go to a place like this to learn something about snowdrops. I feel I am making a real ‘faux pas’ by admitting that snowdrops leave me indifferent. The differences between varieties seem so slight. But except for nivalis and Elwisii, I have only seen the others in pictures. A visit to a place like the Temple Nursery where I would see them in the flesh might open my eyes.

    • bittster says:

      I bet you could say the same thing for so many other plant groups, and that’s how these little obsessions begin! Right now arisaemas mean nothing to me, but talk to a jack in the pulpit nut and you would think plant evolution ended with these things.
      Snowdrops have one up by being the first thing in flower after months of staring at dull brown. I guess I’m desperate for anything in March 🙂

  7. Linda says:

    Lucky you to be able to visit Hitch Lyman. I bought my G. ‘Straffan’ from him a while back. Last year I bought three varieties from Carolyn. Now I need to save up to get one of those yellow ones. I don’t think I know anyone near me who is hooked on Snowdrops. Imagine how out of control I’d be if I had a snowdrop pal!

    • bittster says:

      Haha, having a snowdrop pal was probably the worst thing for me. Meeting a daffodil pal a few years ago has left me with hundreds of them… who knows where this snowdrop thing will go since I already had a weakness for them.
      But I will be the first to admit that 90% of them look identical from 10 feet. I always have to ask myself ‘why?’ when I find a new one of those entering the garden… and then five minutes later I’m just too pleased with myself to care 🙂

  8. pbmgarden says:

    Great you kept up your garden tradition this year.

  9. Traditions must be upheld, but any tradition observed outdoors in March is subject to inclement weather. Sounds like an enjoyable trip even so.

    • bittster says:

      I suppose enjoyment often depends on your frame of mind. Some people enjoy ice fishing or sitting at a bar watching football. I’m not that person.

  10. This is just an hour away but I have never heard of it…can you send me the info so I can bookmark it…perhaps I will make it one year and we can even meet up, I love seeing unusual snowdrops and these were lovely.

    • bittster says:

      Donna, I sent you an email with some info, hopefully it makes sense!
      I didn’t realize you were so close, it would be great to see you there someday since cold or not it’s always a nice day out.

  11. Sounds like a tradition to me! Anything that involves gardening and other gardeners is a win! 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I agree 🙂
      We make the best of any weather, even if it means hiding by the fire inside the temple. People have even been known to pop a wine cork for additional fortification against the cold!

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