A New Season

Last weekend was David Culp’s Galanthus Gala.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and the flood of friends and early season plants and rare goodies that filled the Downingtown Friends Meetinghouse were a treat as the new garden season begins to rev up.  What a difference a few days makes.  I’m sure you see the news so I won’t rehash, but I just want to wish all my friends the best and hope they stay healthy and safe.

cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum doing better than ever thanks to the relatively mild winter.  Over the last year about half the plantings here disappeared as a result of wet and rot, but this cyclamen is spectacular.

In just a few days spring has arrived and fortunately it’s a white fever which has infected this gardener.  Eleven years of planting and tending is finally starting to pay off, and the tiny handfuls of begged bulbs and lonely singletons are becoming puddles and pools.  I finally have hope that there will one day be a sheet of snowdrop white in this garden, maybe not a California King sheet, but possibly a twin, and that’s excellent enough for me.

nivalis x elwesii

My first handful of snowdrops is up for some more division this year.  I believe it’s a nivalis x elwesii cross.

The non-winter has been a new experience, with some things up early and others holding back.  Restraint payed off for those who held back, since there were a couple harsh nights in February, but for the most part the garden has escaped the usual damage associated with gambling on a winter garden in zone 6.

freeze damage snowdrop

Some drops had their tender stems turn to mush when temperatures dropped into the single digits, but over the years I’m learning who these tender drops are, and am moving them to more sheltered spots.

With the right attitude the good always outweighs the bad, and I like to think there’s a lot of good.  New snowdrops are good, and I can’t believe I have ‘E.A. Bowles’ in the garden this year.  I love it.  When I first saw this drop five years ago on a visit to Hitch Lyman’s Temple Garden,  I thought for sure it would be many years before I would have a chance at it, but here it is.

galanthus ea bowles

‘E.A. Bowles’, a pure white snowdrop which has replaced the three short inners with another set of pure white outers.

So now I shall continue with way more snowdrop pictures than good company should have to endure.  You are more than welcome to scroll down to the end and I won’t take a bit of offense  🙂

galanthus moortown

Another newer to me drop, galanthus ‘moortown’.  Thumbs up for me on these big blooms with a strong mark that bleeds up.

Only a few drops here can claim to be new and exciting.  They might seem that way to me but fancier people will turn their noses up at the plain white and green things I’m obsessing about.  No problem I say.  Social distancing is so much easier around here when your day revolves around tiny green markings on a tiny white flower.

galanthus alans long ovary

I’m not sure who Alan is, but here’s galanthus ‘Alan’s Long Ovary’ looking nice with a growing clump of ‘Winifrede Mathias’ in the background.

Before anyone gets the wrong impression, let me again clearly state that my garden is not as impressive as closeups and heavily cropped photos might imply.  Snowdrops are tiny, and one drop does not a garden make, so I think I still have plenty of time to consider charter bus parking and garden visitor handouts.

american snowdrop garden

A blank lawn is slowly giving way to planting beds and a garden design.  This is the bulk of my snowdrop garden, and notice that the glare of white is still far from overwhelming.

Even without visitors it’s a fun obsession.  It makes the next few weeks less painful as we shelter in place and face the waiting game.

galanthus kew green

A late galanthus ‘Kew Green’ backed up by an early hellebore.  I like when the drops open alongside other spring color.

Hopefully the garden is enough to wear me out and keep me safe from online plant shopping.  February has already seen magnolia and “hardy” camellia purchases and there’s no plans to where any of it will go, so if we stop there it’s probably a good thing.

galanthus greenish

A souvenir snowdrop from another Temple Gardens visit, galanthus ‘Greenish’.  It was beautiful in the gardens and I was thrilled to see it for sale at the exit.

There’s plenty to do without adding anything new, so let me remind myself of that.

rabbit crocus

Rocks thrown down for a new (and yet unfinished) bed edging have kept the rabbits away from the crocus they normally destroy.  I wonder if I can expand on this idea…

Moving plants comes first.  In the earliest days of spring I can pop stuff up and plop it elsewhere without water or worry and that’s perfect for the laziest of gardeners.  Today I shall finish the snowdrops and begin shrubs… according to the plan I never follow…

galanthus sutton courtney

One of my favorites, galanthus ‘Sutton Courtney’ with a few tommy crocus behind.  Fyi the snowdrops still looked nice a few hours later after the bunnies ate all the crocus.

Hope these days treat you well and you’re able to find your own retreat in the garden.

20 comments on “A New Season

  1. Pauline says:

    Love all your snowdrops, you have such a wonderful variety! I agree they do look even better when they are with other coloured flowers, although sheets of white in February do make me go weak at the knees!

    • bittster says:

      Although sheets would be nice, I’d be quite pleased to have a few nice patches scattered through a woodland. They are such a nice wakeup call for the year.

  2. OOOOh, I’m greenish with envy. I have seen it for sale online, here and there, but more than I want to spend. But it is such a different look. Mr. Bowles is quite lovey as is Sutton Courtney. As someone who reads a lot of garden (and other) history, I will just mention that Sutton Courtney is the name of the UK manor home of Norah Lindsay, a famed garden designer. The town of Sutton Courtney is where George Orwell is buried, a rather quirky link to our present time. Have you ever seen Hitch Lyman’s catalog? I have some from the early 2000s. His handwriting on the envelopes is gorgeous. I bought my first snowdrops from him. Looking back I see that I paid $15.00 each for G. ‘Straffan’ in 2004, so I guess I was happy to blow the wad on gardening from the get go. Thank goodness we have our gardens to help us get through this moment. Weird being in the at risk group of oldies.

    • bittster says:

      All the best to you in these unsettled times.
      It angers me when people brush off the virus as only dangerous to older people and people with underlying health conditions. So as long as you’re ok you don’t care? Between that and the panic buying I’m happier than ever to be out in the garden.
      I’ve been getting Hitch Lyman’s catalogs for a few years now. I save them all of course, and love seeing it in the mailbox each winter. If you ever get an urge to super-clean please keep me in mind for those old catalogs… although we can’t say anything to my wife. She regularly accuses me of catalog and garden magazine hoarding.
      The stories behind some of these snowdrops is amazing. I didn’t know that about Sutton Courtney, and weird how it all comes around. Someday I hope to get over there to get a good dose of English gardening!

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    A fine collection of snowdrops you have there, Frank. The variations are fascinating, I can see why you’ve caught the Gallanthus bug. It is fortunate that we’ve been advised to keep our social distance at a time when we can easily comply by working in our gardens, we’ll take it.
    Are your kids still in school and are you working? I wonder how different communities are dealing with this. I feel fortunate not having to go to work, but then, my age puts me in the vulnerable group, but I’m in good shape so aren’t too worried. Stay safe and well, both you and your family.

    • bittster says:

      The weather looks decent and the garden needs a ton of work. I have to be careful my social distancing doesn’t wear me out before the season officially starts!
      The kids here in Pa are off for two weeks, and both my wife and I are fortunate to be off as well. I suspect it will turn into a longer break as the situation develops but only time will tell.
      All the best to you and yours as well. My parents are much older than you and I worry about them constantly.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You will never bore me with snowdrop smack. I must become more aggressive in the search for Galanthus. So many you have I have never heard about. Those dang rabbits have eaten a whole swath of crocus in my garden. I was blaming rabbits for eating my galanthus blooms too but I actually saw a squirrel eating some. ARGHHHHH. I think your garden is adorable. All of our gardens are WIP (works in progress). I haven’t met a gardener yet that doesn’t have something they want to improve upon or is just sitting on their laurels thinking that their garden is the best it can be. Lucky you with your Cylcamen too. I wish I would have planted some last year. This winter as you say has been so mild and we are having the wettest early spring I can remember. Squish squish…Be well be happy…Happy GBBD.

    • bittster says:

      Ugh. A really wet spring is something I can do without. I just get so thrilled by warm sunshine I can spent hours just sitting outside doing nothing but listening to the birds singing and dreaming of the garden season to come. I love that the year is still perfect and all the mistakes are yet to be made! lol
      Don’t fall in to that snowdrop trap! They’re all just white and green and thats that. I wish someone told me that when I first started dabbling 😉
      At least here the hawks keep the squirrels on their toes. They don’t wander too far from an escape tree, but the rabbits… they must be too fat for the hawks to snatch.

  5. Chloris says:

    A lovely collection. I am very jealous about EA Bowles. Mine are mostly over now apart from Galanthus plicatus. I don’t know which it is but it is late blooming and huge.

    • bittster says:

      It’s shocking how big some of the snowdrops can get. I feel cheap and tasteless for liking them as much as I do, but I do!
      EA Bowles must be a good grower. Here the price has dropped more than I could have imagined, and once it fell below my absolute-most-I-would-pay-for-a-drop price I couldn’t say no any more.

  6. Cathy says:

    Your snowdrops are lovely Frank. I think I had three flowers from the dozens planted last year again! Still, the mice don‘t seem to like crocuses of which I have plenty in white too. 😉 Hope your weather warms up and you can do some gardening as we are all told to stay at home.

    • bittster says:

      I think next year you will see a big jump in snowdrop flowers, they take a little while to settle in, but crocus are excellent as well! I would have many more crocus here but the rabbits make it far less fun to grow them. You would think they would eat their fill and then move on to something else, but so far the answer to that is no, and I’m wondering if there’s anything else (other than cabbages and lettuce) that I could plant to entice them away.

      • Cathy says:

        Strange that the mice here don‘t eat my crocus unless they are freshly planted bulbs. Most survive long enough to get established. 😉

  7. Your masses of beautiful snowdrops, Frank, put my few clumps to shame. I can see that your berm and trees worked very well to hide what is beyond. Your garden is taking shape nicely. P. x

    • bittster says:

      Slowly but surely there’s some progress. I’m amazed at how little it’s improved since the start, but as the kids get older I sadly have more and more time to get things done.
      The snowdrops are funny, for years there’s next to nothing and then suddenly you realize you have a sheet forming!

  8. I love the Crocus growing between the rocks, and not only because they frustrate the rabbits. Is it wrong to hope that the rabbits break their teeth trying to get at the flowers? Nobody’s garden is as impressive as closeups and cropped photos imply. You have a nice bunch of early spring blooms and you are justifiably proud of the elegant ‘E.A. Bowles’.

    • bittster says:

      I like to imaging the rabbits cursing under their breath when they realize the last crocus are too deep down between the rocks. I don’t think thats wrong at all 🙂

  9. Cathy says:

    Wasn’t tempted to scroll down for a second. As Pam says above, your clumps put mine to shame too. I particularly like ‘Greenish’. But that cyclamen in the opening picture – what a treat!

    • bittster says:

      My garden planning seems to follow a cycle. Plant an area and fuss over it for a year. Loose interest for the next few. Realize it’s nearly lost to neglect. Try to save it and wonder why some things have excelled while so many others…
      That one cyclamen has excelled. I hope there’s some some of the same magic in it’s seedlings 🙂

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