Winter Rages?

The next three weeks are typically when winter throws its worst at us.  The average low dips down to around 18F (-7C) at night, and then climbs to 34F (1C) in the day, depending on all kinds of things of course, and the long nights and short days don’t set the garden up for much of anything.  That’s a normal year.  Besides all the other more obvious ups and downs, the weather last year was not normal, and in fact was one of our hottest years on record.  12 days in and 2021 isn’t looking to be the culture and climate shift everyone was hoping for.  Actually it looks a lot more like December 37, 2020.

galanthus elwesii montrose

This gardener prefers to use stylish and unobtrusive 5 gallon buckets to protect the earliest snowdrops from the coldest winds and heaviest snows of winter.  Here’s ‘Potter’s Prelude’ uncovered to enjoy the next few days of mild weather.

For a minute I’ll ignore the past and just enjoy this mild weather which draws these snowdrops up out of the ground.  Most of what’s flowering now would be fall bloomers in a milder climate but here they usually dawdle enough that flowering happens in winter, which should be fun, but for many the weather is just too much and the flowers (and foliage) end up destroyed.  Viva la global warming!  These days I have snowdrops blooming all winter… until we get a plunge in February of course, and then even with buckets galore, things still look like someone named Winter trampled through the beds with some heavy cleated snow boots on.

galanthus elwesii potters prelude

I moved a fall blooming Galanthus elwesii ssp monostictus hiemelis group ex Montrose (catch breath*) to a warmer spot to hopefully bring on earlier blooming, but it didn’t.  Still it seems much happier here and has been in bloom over a month!

I’ve been trying to find a perfect spot to make life easier on these little treasures.  It’s worked in a few cases but some still aren’t happy regardless of where I have them growing.  When the cold comes the flowers burn and the foliage dies back.  Some struggle afterwards, some go to the light, but I do have one who just shrugs it off.  ‘Three Ships’ (Galanthus plicatus ‘Three Ships’) has never shown a bit of damage in spite of ice and snow and cold.  He’s never made it into bloom for Christmas, which is the trick he’s best known for, but he is a snowdrop who choses to grow and flower just as the weather is at it’s worst and for that holds place as one of my favorites.

galanthus three ships

Today’s sunshine and just barely above freezing air temperatures have brought out ‘Three Ships’.

For the first few years I assumed the cold would do this little nut in.  What sane snowdrop would grow more as the temperatures dropped further?  Tender shoots and sub zero weather should not mix, but one shoot became two, two became four, and rather than die, ‘Three Ships’ is becoming a clump.

galanthus three ships

Not just a hardy snowdrop, but also a beautiful snowdrop.  Heavy textured, rounded blooms with soft green inner markings.  I love the ridges and the way the flowers puff out in the sun.

So right now the snowdrops are loving it.  It’s like winter in the North Carolina mountains, and although some more cold and snow would make for better skiing, I don’t mind mediocre skiing on Monday followed by snowdrops on Tuesday.

Be safe and have a great week!

18 comments on “Winter Rages?

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    It always amazes me to see such early snowdrops… mine won’t show up ’til the end of March, but with the mild weather these days, who knows? Thanks for sharing your lovely charges. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I can never make up my mind if these snowdrops count as really early for spring or really late for fall. Maybe I’ll just consider them actually winter flowers, and it’s now early winter.
      Actually I’m also not used to the idea that anything in the Northeast can be a winter bloomer!
      Maybe you need some earlier snowdrops? I know a guy lol

  2. Sounds like if I ever decide to try a fall/winter-blooming snowdrop, ‘Three Ships’ is the one to start with.

    • bittster says:

      Yeah, I’m still amazed it doesn’t freeze up and die in this weather!
      I’d offer you a bulb but I’m super selfish with this one and one other favorite which I’ll leave un-named 🙂

  3. PaulineP says:

    Snowdrops are made for the snow, if ever it snows here they collapse for a bit but when the snow goes they stand upright again, but we don’t get your low temperatures. Three Ships is a beautiful snowdrop, another good early one, flowering here in November is Faringdon Double.

  4. Chloris says:

    Yes, I agree with Pauline Three Ships and Farringdon’s Double are two of the best clump -forming early snowdrops. Your climate is certainly challenging for a galanthophile. What a nightmare having to run around with buckets when it gets very cold.

    • bittster says:

      Buckets for snowdrops only become necessary when the gardener foolishly plants unsuitable yet irresistible varieties. There are plenty of snowdrops which would do fine here without buckets, but… there are always plenty of gardening decisions which make nearly zero sense.

  5. Cathy says:

    I love those days when the sun comes out and you can almost smell spring… your snowdrops look so pretty in the sunshine. Let’s hope there is snow on the ground to protect them if you get a February freeze.

    • bittster says:

      Yes! A nice blanket of snow just before a polar blitz is so soothing to a gardener’s nerves. It’s those frigid, windy nights on a barren garden which take so many casualties 😦

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is always fun to see your latest or maybe I should say earliest Galanthus. Three Ships sound like a good one. I am not a very good bucket rustler tho. I would have to stick to the varieties that don’t need such coddling. Hang on to your hat. The Polar Vortex is supposed to arrived tonight and into tomorrow.

    • bittster says:

      Haha, the fun may get a little old when I start showing every next snowdrop to come up, and gush over every single one! But it does help with the winter gloom.
      Hopefully the polar vortex didn’t cause you too many problems. It seems to have missed us, either that or it was so warm that a polar vortex only just feels like winter. Right now it’s raining. Boo. I like snow in January.

  7. Ian Lumsden says:

    Having congratulated myself on our comparatively mild UK climate the snow has come down to cover the snowdrops. Today the snow was frozen solid and heavy, and I’m hoping the delicate things are as resilient as ‘Three Ships’. Good article and oh so pertinent.

    • bittster says:

      I’m sure they’ll cruise right through the snow and cold with only maybe a few bent flowers or damaged petals, and I’m sure you know what to do with your potted drops.
      Here they don’t work in pots, the sudden freezes and repeated thawing kills the bulbs.

      • Ian Lumsden says:

        The snow has thawed and in the main the snowdrops have bounced back. Funnily enough, a plastic label had entirely snapped in two, the plant it was identifying perfect again. Triumph of nature.

  8. Those are all looking gorgeous as is the sun and bare ground. We had snow yesterday on top of the snow that is on the ground, so I guess it is pretty normal January weather. Unfortunately , all I can think about is spring.

    • bittster says:

      I know! I’m eyeing plant catalogs and am going through the annual delusion that I’m going to want to grow and cook armloads of vegetables and fruits. Yesterday I was trying to work out where I would plant 8 oriental poppies and a tray full of dahlia seedlings. The easy solution would be no poppy or dahlia seed purchases, but… the dreaming is fun and gray drizzle is not.

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