And it Begins…

February seems to be on its way to becoming the new March with the way these warm spells sneak in.  Today the afternoon high hit 75F (24C) and it was actually a bit unsettling to break a sweat in the garden knowing that the thermometer will drop down to freezing within the next few hours.  That could have been a serious concern, but obviously my thoughts on global warming vanished the minute I saw how much the snowdrops had come along.  I spent the entire afternoon trimming things, poking around for shoots, and admiring the early birds which had already come into bloom.

galanthus elwesii

Galanthus elwesii, the giant snowdrop.  One of the earliest to rear its head in my garden.

There are a lot of snowdrop favorites in this garden and one near the top is Galanthus ‘Godfrey Owen’.  He’s a handsome snowdrop, and of course he’s looking exceptional this spring.

galanthus godfrey owen

Galanthus ‘Godfrey Owen’, rising up fresh and clean amongst the winter wreckage of last season.

Godfrey is special for his doubled outer petals which make a brilliant star when fully open and looked at from above… this is how most sane people admire these tiny little late winter flowers.

galanthus godfrey owen

‘Godfrey Owen’ from above.

Another snowdrop which also shows some variation from the standard three outer petals, three inners, is ‘Natalie Garton’.  She’s a new one to the garden this spring but I wanted to show the interesting inner ‘extras’ which hang down from the middle of some of the flowers.  New is always special, so we’ll have to wait for time to tell if this strange inner remains just interesting or slowly becomes a classic.  (fyi for the snowdrop nerds, word is that this snowdrop is the same as a similar one named ‘Chris Sanders’.  Natalie G is now the accepted name).

galanthus natalie garton

Galanthus ‘Natalie Garton’ with her extra inner petals.  

Green snowdrops are also a thing.  ‘Rosemary Burnham’ is one of the classics and today she was looking fantastic.  She’s a Canadian originally and as such is one of a limited number of named North American snowdrops, but her true specialness lies in the solid green wash to her outer petals.  The flowers don’t jump out in the garden and are a little on the small size but I think they’re amazing.

galanthus rosemary burnham

Galanthus ‘Rosemary Burnham’ looking great on her first day open.

The majority of the other snowdrops are yet to come, but here’s one last plain old white one.

galanthus bill bishop

Galanthus ‘Bill Bishop’ has extra grande flowers on a short plant.  Of course it’s one of the favorites.

Keep your fingers crossed for a gentle ride into real spring.  The last few years have been on the harsh side as far as late winter flowers go, so I promise that even if 2018 is the most exceptional snowdrop season I’ll try to control myself.  I kind of recognize that not everyone is as obsessed with these short little plants and hopefully you won’t have to resort to praying for another tornado to save you from my snowdrop overkill!

37 comments on “And it Begins…

  1. AWESOME POST and GREAT photos! I’ll have to check to see if they will grow here. Thanks for sharing!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! Someone told me that Galanthus worowonii are good further south, plus some of the fall bloomers… but on the other hand you have so many other cool plant options.

  2. Christina says:

    As you know I’m not a huge fan of the specials but that is probably because I’ve never seen any for sale here. Cathy (Rambling in the Garden’ said she thought the ones I showed last week contained a special even though I bought them as straight Galanthus nivilus. One of two flowered before Christmas and also seemed to have different markings so perhaps I do have some specials after all. The temperatures have become arctic here with snow predicted! Spring suddenly seems a long way off again. February is usually our coldest month.

    • bittster says:

      There is such a fine line between an official special and your own specials that I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. So many of the named varieties were just plucked out of wild populations anyway so it’s not hard to imagine you did indeed find something particularly nice.
      I was almost positive you were over the hump of winter and well on your way to spring. I didn’t realize February could be so sold for you and I don’t like the sound of snow at all!

  3. Chloris says:

    Oh you have Rosemary Burnham, have you been raiding the chidrens’ piggy banks? I am green with envy, I have been coveting it for ages. The closest I got was ‘Greenish’ but that has disappeared without trace this year. Lucky you, with spring arriving so early. We have a polar vortex on the way.

    • bittster says:

      Well I haven’t yet raided the children’s money to buy snowdrops, but I have advised them on the reduced college options. I told them that ‘more affordable’ isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.
      If it makes you feel better the flowers of Rosemary are slightly small compared to newer greens and don’t make a remarkable impression in the open garden. Did that help? It didn’t help me of course. In fact it only made me want some of the newer greens even more…. although they are absolutely outside my price range!
      Stay warm, hope it’s short lived.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    We had one of those crazy warm days here too just before this rain and cold set in. I even threatened to turn on the ac. Had to open all the windows at 77. Crazy. Your Galanthus are crazy beautiful. I would love to get to know Godfrey better, as in seeing him in my garden. I have never been a fan of green flowers so I wouldn’t invite Rosemary into my garden. I wouldn’t mind Natalie joining the party along with the short but sweet Bill. It is difficult to hold back on some late spring chores but I always feel a few chores done now are better than trying to do it all at one time. Cheers.

    • bittster says:

      It was so warm here yesterday a few of the snowdrops wilted, but I surely won’t say the cold and icy rain of today is a relief…
      I make a big deal over different snowdrops but even the plainest little drop is a welcome sight once the days get warmer. I don’t think you can have too many 🙂
      I’m always so anxious to get started that I’m often out in the snow doing the first bits of pruning and tidying. I don’t work hard, but I do drag every little thing out in order to spend more time enjoying the fresh air. I miss being outside.

  5. Peter Herpst says:

    We seem to have traded weather as it’s a snow covered ice rink outside here at the moment. Love learning about all the specials. I was lucky enough to inherit drifts of snowdrops with my garden and they’ve been seeding around (yes, that’s it, seeding around. They never get inadvertently transplanted with other plants in the summer) all over the garden. It may be time to add a few specials.

    • bittster says:

      I’ve already taken note of your snowdrops. Good for you, and as long as we *might* be confessing to careless transplanting I’ll have to add that there’s a good chance that’s how crocus get moved around this garden. It works 🙂
      Tidy gardens where each plant has its own designated area are admirable but that’s really not anything close to the reality of this yard. I got over that a long time go and I think you have as well!

  6. I like them all but not enough to pay a premium for them. So many people discover variants in their G. nivalis that I will have to start taking a closer look at mine, including the ones back at the old place. The thaw caused two eranthis to pop up. I don’t know if they bloomed yesterday because sadly I wasn’t here and got home after dark. Today they are only showing yellow but not opened and it’s about 40 degrees colder and snowing so I’m not holding my breath.

    • bittster says:

      C’mon Kathy. You’re only saying that because your budget has already gone over to your colchicum supplier. I suspect that in a few more years you’ll have quite a few ‘special’ snowdrops in between the regular specials which you already have. I’d be hard pressed to judge any snowdrop as better than another, they’re nearly all excellent in my opinion!
      There were a few eranthis which popped up here as well. Oddly enough they were no where to be seen when it was so warm, but all of a sudden last night in the cold, sleety rain they unfolded up out of the ground. One sunny day and they’ll be open.

      • Well, of course, when I say I’m not going to pay a premium for a particular snowdrop, I mean I won’t pay any more than I pay for a colchicum. I didn’t mean that I would never buy snowdrops, ever. But you have to admit, one colchicum corm is a lot bigger than one snowdrop bulb. More bang for the buck, as it were. And there are a few colchicums that bloom almost as early as the snowdrops.

      • bittster says:

        I never doubted that you’d be in the market for snowdrops. In fact I think you might have been the one to first introduce me to Temple Gardens and the idea that you could find different drops on this side of the Atlantic …and years ago you inspired me to search out a few of my own! (btw don’t worry, this in no way implies any liability for my current condition)

  7. Ian Lumsden says:

    Some great images and matching photography. ‘Rosemary Burnham’ looks spectacular here in a small clump. I lost my first one to the narcissus fly a few years ago. The replacement has already clumped up well but not as well as your beauties. I was looking at ‘Bill Bishop’ in my garden this afternoon thinking how large the flowers were for the height. I can rival you for size of clump for ‘Godfrey Owen’ and they are very showy. And I can confirm that ‘Natalie Garton’ is a stunner. Funnily enough I’ve never peeped underneath – though I now will. I have a clump of them outside the front door. She’s a big girl.

    • bittster says:

      Good to hear they are doing well in your garden. Rosemary and Godfrey seem to like the hot dry summers here and are practically exploding into clumps, but ‘Bill Bishop’ sulked for a few years before even trying to send up a second bloom. The photo is of the first day he opened, and I’m sure the flowers will still expand over the next few days 🙂
      I look forward to the day Natalie clumps up. I was told she’s a good grower and so far things look promising.

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Beautiful snowdrops cheer us up after a long winter, so I don’t mind seeing your different varieties, Frank. I esp. am enchanted with G. ‘Rosemary Burnham’ – love that green!

    • bittster says:

      I’m also in that club which thinks green flowers are cool 🙂
      Hang in there during these next few days and I think you’ll see snowdrops out your way soon enough. Flowers in February seems awfully early but even in a normal winter the stronger sun that’s around now goes a long way in pushing this tired old winter weather out the door.

  9. Lisa says:

    Great to hear that you´re enjoying some warmer weather at the moment! Hopefully it will stay like this. Here in Vienna February, December and January were very mild and I was sure spring would arrive sooner this year. Unfortunately, February has been super cold, we are having temperatures below zero and snow. I really hope this cold weather will be over soon! I really love your collection of snowdrops. I feel so envious when garden bloggers post about their lovely galanthus collections. Here in Vienna garden centres only offer one or two varieties of galanthus and this is why I only have two varieties of snowdrops at the moment.

    • bittster says:

      I hope the cold doesn’t give you too much trouble. I’ve seen the forecasts and there’s nothing worse than an unseasonably frigid blast coming through just when all the tender sprouts are showing. My hellebores suffer the most from this kind of unsettled weather, and to be honest it’s been at least two years since they were last able to flower well.
      I had to journey into the dark world of the plant obsessed in order to round up the less common snowdrop varieties 🙂 . They’re even less common at garden centers here than on your side of the Atlantic!

  10. Cathy says:

    That green one is new to me, but I think the larger white ones are my favourites – Natalie is very pretty. We are in the middle of a good freeze, but once that is over I am hoping it will start to warm up a bit. The 24°C you had might be a bit too warm though!

    • bittster says:

      I’m also a big fan of the larger drops. ‘Short and fat’ is how I describe them, and it’s my favorite look (in snowdrops) 🙂
      Good luck with the blast of cold. I don’t think there’s ever been a year like this where my garden is anywhere near where you’re at!

  11. Not usually an enthusiast for fancy-schmancy Galanthus varieties, but I admit that Godfrey and Rosemary are both quite charming.

    • bittster says:

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the run of the mill white snowdrops. Anything in bloom at this time of year is remarkably inspiring… assuming it stop raining long enough to get out and enjoy them 🙂

  12. Annette says:

    “…and it ends.” is more appropriate in our part of the world. We saw on the news that the temperatures are awesome over your end. Hope you won’t get a cold spell after this. We’re in for a touch of Siberia next week, brrr, I’m most worried and suppose I have to replace bits afterwards. Love your snowdrop collection, such a welcome sight! In parts of Europe they have been deep-frozen. Enjoy your w-e 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I have extensive experience in those late season freezes 😦
      You sound much better, I’m glad your escape to the northern wilds has helped you kick out the last bits of illness. Now you just have to kick out the last bits of winter!
      Hopefully you’ll see that your plants are much hardier than you suspect. Hellebores and tulips are often the worst off in my garden after a particularly brutal freeze, but if forced to chose between acceptance and running around worrying and covering things, I find acceptance to be saner option. All the best!

  13. So glad to hear Rosemary is not quite as showy as we thought. Serious money has been saved that can now go to buying trees!

    • bittster says:

      If you can convince yourself you don’t need a drop more power to you. I on the other hand have a terrible habit of needing it more then 🙂
      But you really can’t go wrong buying trees, and it’s possible I’ve committed to a new witch hazel!

  14. pbmgarden says:

    Snowdrops are lovely and yours are exceptional. What a treat to see them emerge.

  15. Yes it seems February is becoming March even after this hard winter….winter released its icy grip already and I am surprised although March can still give us cold and snow. What a treat to see your snowdrop collection….bulbs are just beginning to peak through the soil so it will be a slow time before we see flowers…..I am smitten with Galanthus ‘Rosemary Burnham’ after seeing yours. Wow!

    • bittster says:

      Hmmm. What did you just say about March can sometimes still give us snow and cold? Seems the weather is proving you right this weekend!
      The sun is getting stronger every day and I love watching March snowstorms quickly melt away so it’s not all bad.

  16. Ali says:

    Gorgeous selection! I love the different shapes, especially the fat ones.

  17. You have a wonderful variety of snowdrops there, Frank. I haven’t had too much success with the ‘fancy’ ones, but my ‘run of the mills’ are reliable. Looking back at last year’s pics, I notice they are a little later this year. But still early with this crazy weather. Great photographs. P. x

    • bittster says:

      In my opinion the ‘run of the mills’ are still the nicest ones. I would love to have sheets of them someday but I think that would require a bigger garden!
      Talk about crazy weather, this is one of those days when I’m quite happy to be living in the valley rather than the mountains. Spring will come though!

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