A Galanthus Gala and (some more) Winter Denial

This Saturday Downington Pa became the horticultural ground zero for Mid Atlantic snowdrop lovers.  For those who never get out of the house, David Culp is author of ‘The Layered Garden’ and breeder of the Brandywine strain of hellebores (as well as many other accomplishments… which a better blogger would probably research and list…) and this weekend he and several friends hosted a snowdrop party with talks and vendors and an (almost complete) list of who’s who of snowdrop lovers for the area.  Again a better blogger would have photos and lists of all the snowdrops and other goodies for sale on this special day, but I was too distracted, and I’d suggest a visit to facebook and a quick search for snowdrop gala or David Culp and you should be able to get a good feel for it.  My attention was held by the plants and people, and if you’re interested here’s what passed through the vetting process and came home with me 🙂

hellebore pennys pink

Gifts, trades, and purchases.  Of course there were four new snowdrops mixed in there… apologies for that cold, ugly white background…

I’m a little concerned by how many people I knew and just how friendly they all were.  This must be how people are convinced to join cults and by the looks of it I’m already drinking the punch!  Treasures were exchanged and I even pried open the wallet for a few more treats.  To my credit I resisted the hellebore rush, and as David Culp’s Brandywine hybrids flew off the sales table I limited myself to a single ‘Penny’s Pink’, one which I’ve been eyeing for at least a couple years.

hellebore pennys pink

Hopefully ‘Penny’s Pink’ will prove hardy for me.  The flowers are nice enough but it’s this foliage which won me over.

I’m already planning on attending next year’s gala.  Four hours flew by almost as fast as plants were flying out of the building, and before I wanted it to happen I was back in the car trying to beat the weather on my drive home.  Hopefully next year there won’t be a snow dump in the week prior and hopefully we can fit in a gala garden visit or two as well!

primula silver dollar

Back home, indoors is where you have to be in order to find anything not buried by snow.  Here’s my favorite primrose so far, a red from the Silver Dollar strain of Barnhaven seeds, and I love the large velvety flowers and their subtle color shading. 

I may have to clear a little room under the lights while my new goodies wait for the last foot or two of snow to melt.  Right now the light table is packed with semi-hardy things waiting to go outside, seedlings starting to take up more room, and other odds and ends which just needed a home.

growing under lights

A few more primula (pretty enough but maybe just a bit boring), plus some generic forced bulbs… all of which are priceless when there’s nothing outside but white. 

The amaryllis are starting to come to life as well.  The first one, hippeastrum ‘Lemon Sorbet’ has a nice pale yellow which leans more towards lime.  The plant is considered a mini which means smaller flowers and a ridiculously small bulb, but still a full blooming height.  I’m pretty sure a shorter plant would be more convenient, but I guess cut flowers are more valuable than a short dining table amaryllis.

amaryllis lemon sorbet

Amaryllis ‘lemon sorbet’ and one last flower on the tulips.  I’m still in shock that these have been allowed onto the new table, but they do look nice there.

So tomorrow is Monday and the kids head off to school again for the first time in six days.  Snow is still in the process of melting but I don’t think much of it will be gone in the two days left until official spring arrives.  We’ll see what happens.  You can feel the strength in the sunshine and it’s just a matter of time now before the tide turns!

29 comments on “A Galanthus Gala and (some more) Winter Denial

  1. Pauline says:

    There’s nothing quite like a bit of retail therapy, especially while there is snow on the ground, I do hope it goes soon for you. Your indoor garden is looking very good under their lights, the flowers give you a welcome splash of colour while everywhere outside is white.

  2. Christina says:

    You were very restrained, I love the Hellebore leaves, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any so marbled.

    • bittster says:

      The leaves are something aren’t they? I hope it does well enough here but hellebores lead a rough life with our up and down temperatures.
      You wouldn’t think I was restrained if you saw the price tags for the snowdrops. Absolutely ridiculous that anyone would spend good money on just another tiny green/white flower… but I did 😉

  3. David Culp is one of my gardening heroes! I love his gardening style and make a (poor) attempt to emulate it. I would love to visit Brandywine Cottage when the flowers are blooming. Your beautiful pictures brought spring into my house, while my snowdrops and hellebores are under two feet of snow. You give me hope with your weather predictions. P. x

    • bittster says:

      Originally the snowdrop festivities were set to take place at Brandywine cottage, and I was completely excited to visit again, but then that miserable snow came down and made a mess of it. My fingers are crossed we both get down there some time soon, it really is an inspired garden!
      At least you got to the flower show, that was a great way to while away the time while we wait for this white stuff to disappear.

  4. Linda B. says:

    Lucky you! I have thought about getting H. Penny’s Pink for the same reason. Most of my Hellebores really fade into the background with their foliage once they are done blooming. I heard David Culp speak about the winter garden years ago at a Horticulture Magazine Symposium. One of the best winter talks I’ve ever heard. He will be in Madison next month for a garden symposium and I am really looking forward to it. But I would love to do a Galanthus visit. Too much fun!

    • bittster says:

      It was fun to get together with so many other snowdrop fans. I didn’t have to justify the snowdrop thing to anyone and went on and on about galanthus without anyone judging!
      I’ll let you know how Penny’s Pink does. If it goes belly up in the winter here I’m not sure it would like your garden…

  5. You’ve almost talked me into going next year. The plants you traded must have come from the indoor garden.

    • bittster says:

      I actually had dug into a two foot snow bank that morning to find a few trading drops… of course I ended up digging the wrong clump first, but then worked things out before frostbite took a finger!
      If you talk yourself into it stop by here and you can hitch a ride down the rest of the way. You just have to be prepared to stay too long 😉

  6. Harold J Cross says:

    Frank; Well written and a nice photo display. This OLE farmer would just have said that a lot of people showed up to buy some nice unusual plants. See you next time. Thanks for the gift…. Harold

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Harold, and it’s always a pleasure getting to hang out with you. Glad you made it and hopefully if this snow ever goes away we’ll meet again at Hitch’s!

  7. Tim Calkins says:

    Glad to have met you! Looking forward to hearing about and seeing your gardening year — and how you use that variegated comfrey.

  8. Cathy says:

    I think I would have fallen for that hellebore foliage too, as well as the pretty flower. It’s unusual to see such a bright yellow Hippeastrum – I like it! My last red Hippeastrum bud is trying to open today. Hope your snow melts a bit quicker so you can get some of your treasures planted safely. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      This is the time of year when those indoor flowers come in so handy, but hopefully the outdoor ones will take over soon enough!
      We are getting a lot of melting in the March sunshine. My fingers are crossed we are both out of the worst of it!

  9. Indie says:

    My garden club is just now reading ‘The Layered Garden’! I haven’t read it yet, but I hear it is good! What a fun gathering! Be careful with those snowdrop enthusiasts – I hear it is pretty close to a cult, ha! The hellebore is gorgeous. I started growing hellebores just a couple years ago, but this winter the deer ate them right to the ground, so I might find myself no longer growing them. Can’t wait until spring decides to get here and stay!

    • bittster says:

      I can’t believe your deer eat hellebores, I thought they were poisonous but I guess desperate deer will munch on anything. Hopefully they recover quickly. Who knows maybe the flower buds were spared?
      I’m with you on spring. These last few days with warmer weather yet snow everywhere are driving me crazy!

  10. Ian Lumsden says:

    Go easy with the alcohol during garden visits. You end up with a headache and, next morning, a stack of expensive pots and plants in the back of the car. And you can’t remember purchasing one. (The wife, of course, drives.)

    • bittster says:

      hmmm. I bet a few Tylenol and another drink would cure that real quickly… and I would be real excited to see what my alter-ego purchased! I bet he has better taste, and maybe he can even search out a bargain as well 😉

  11. We only ended up with a few inches of snow and would have preferred the heap you had! I would have gone home with a few hellebore! Love that foliage. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I have to admit I do like a massive snowstorm much more than a dusting. It’s a huge mess, but always brings back the memories of snowdays and sitting home snowbound. All the shoveling was also a great excuse to sit around and relax!

  12. Wow, a yellow Amaryllis! I didn’t know there was such a thing. I must get one, or several, next year!

  13. Chloris says:

    What a great distraction when you have yet more snow. I love the marbled leaves of Penny’ s Pink, I have been trying to get hold of Anna’ s Red with similar leaves.
    I love the primrose, in fact primroses and fritillaries are my current obsession. Snowdrops are finished and now I can’ t think what the fuss was about.

    • bittster says:

      I wouldn’t mind having dozens more of these fancy leaved hellebores, but they are harder to sneak in to the car than the tiny bulbs of snowdrops.
      Primrose are amazing, aren’t they? Mine are almost embarrassing compared to some of the real special ones, but based on the fact I kill 90% of the newest additions I guess it’s better not to go crazy. -same with fritillaries. They also have been hit or miss, although I keep trying.

  14. Matthew Bricker says:

    I had a blast at the Gala: great plants and lots of friendly gardeners. If I had a face to go with the blog, I’d have been sure to say hello. I’ve really enjoyed your posts from Hitch Lyman’s open days over the years and was planning to make the trip myself this year until it was cancelled. ‘Axminster Gold’ is superb. Give it plenty of room!

    • bittster says:

      I have yet to decide on a spot for the comfrey but at least now I know it will get big and will plan accordingly!
      Don’t give up yet on visiting Hitch’s garden this. The snow has melted and I don’t think his were as far along as mine, so they might have held up very well under the white stuff. The original open garden date was set for April 8th, so maybe….
      At the gala I almost introduced myself, but you were always busy so I’ll have to be more determined next time. I did have a question, I wanted to ask you how you get away with chipping snowdrops on the kitchen table. I’ve been banned from such activities indoors and have to find a spot in the cold garage which of course is much less relaxing.

  15. […] sales.  Not to sound smug, but I already bought a couple of John’s drops this spring at the galanthus gala hosted by David Culp, and had the chance to visit John’s greenhouse this spring and admire his horde, but to have […]

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