I can barely call this a post. It’s a rambling aimless overload of this year’s snowdrop season, and it’s a basic confession of how far out of control things here have become. For years this blogger has tried to play coy about an above-normal interest in snowdrops, and casually deflected comments suggesting a developing case of galanthomania, but there’s no escaping it now. I have fallen deep, deep into a pit of snowdrop obsession. Sorry. On the plus side two days of temperatures in the mid 70’s (23C) and a day and night of rain, has pushed many of the midseason drops over and we’re now looking at the tail end of the show. A few photos from earlier in the week, and a quick review of the garden today tells me you’ll be free of this soon enough.
Overnight the crocus have arrived. They finish so quickly but I love them anyway, even when the rabbits finish them off even faster than they fade.
Wendy’s Gold is in surprisingly good shape considering she’s one of the earliest to come up and started blooming under the snow this year.
‘Viridipice’ is probably one of the cheapest and best named snowdrops you can plant.
This spring I came to the conclusion I have more than enough regular white and green snowdrops. Going back at least four years I bet I’ve said the same thing every year, but then still can’t turn down a few more. Galanthus ‘Bertram Anderson’ is a big and stout drop, very plain and very excellent, and I’m thrilled to have her!
Of course even regular white and green can surprise, and in the case of Galanthus ‘Natalie Garton’ (aka ‘Chris Sanders’) the surprise is underneath with a doubled inner and usually some extra “tusks” poking out as well. Even in a terrible spot this is a vigorous one.
More regular green and white. ‘Ding Dong’ has an elegant, long form with a nicely marked inner.
…and ‘Merlin’ also has a nicely marked inner, nearly completely green…
…and ‘Abington Green’ also has a nicely marked inner which is almost completely green. Why do I need them all? That’s not important, it’s because I just do!
A drop with a difference is one of Calvor Palmateer’s poculiform selections from the far West of Canada. ‘Kermode Bear’ with his double set of outers replacing the green marked inners (known as a poculiform) is flowering for the first time here, and I love the form.
Just like there are too many plain white drops here, there are also now too many doubles. Doubles rarely thrill me like the yellows or poculiforms, but I guess they’ve got their admirers. Galanthus ‘L.P. Short’ is a sturdy thing with a nice look to it….
…but Galanthus ‘Rodmarton’ has such a dark and neat inner that even I think it’s somewhat amazing this year.
The Greatorex doubles such as ‘Cordelia’ were bred in the middle of the last century and are possibly a confused bunch, but this one mostly matches the description. They do ok here, but often suffer bud blast when warmer weather or a lack of enthusiasm leave a flower bud or two which don’t bother opening.
The legendary ‘Lady Elphinstone’ is the only commonly available double yellow, and for many gardeners she’s actually a double lime, or a double green. People say there’s a more yellow form, and plenty of less yellow ones out there, but I don’t know. Fortunately mine come up a sweet cool yellow each spring, and if I flop down into the mud and roll over onto my side to peek up into the blooms it’s a beautiful show.
‘Richard Ayres’ is not yellow nor neat but he does do well here and I have way more of Richard than a garden needs. Still he’s been excellent this year and I’m thrilled even if he’s a little on the floppy side.
Speaking of floppy, the good ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ likes to hang all over her neighbors and get by on just her good looks alone. Fun story about her days in this garden… She’s doing really well now but sulked in this same spot for about three years prior. I didn’t give in though, and one year a bloom came, the next a couple, and now she’s come around.
‘Magnet’ came up all dainty and neat but now two weeks later is a floppy, drunken mess. I should probably divide him and weed out all those purple flowers that have invaded this bed, but studies show there’s only about a 9% chance this will happen any time soon.
The flip side to floppy is short and stout. Not many of my snowdrops are successful in defeating gravity but ‘Sophie North’ does. Even now with yellowing, almost past flowers, she’s still as dignified and poised as the day she sprouted.
Galanthus ‘Curly’ is another one who stands up well. He’s just come up and can hopefully hold up to the warmth, rain, and wind well enough so that I can still enjoy perfect flowers for a few more days.
Let’s visit with some yellows next. ‘Blonde Inge’ is looking a little tired this year but still showing off her yellow inners. Usually she’s more upright and fresher looking but I think the sun, wind and warmth were more than she wanted.
‘Primrose Warburg’ is always excellent here. Compared to other drops her flowers might seem to be on the small side, but she clumps up so well and blooms so heavily for me I will never complain.
This spring there’s even a seedling in flower. She’s nearly a carbon copy of her mom but much more special of course. I have to make sure this one goes off into a seedling bed somewhere so that the gardener doesn’t someday forget she’s not identical to the ‘Primrose Warburg’ parent bunch in the background.
Of course not everyone’s as happy here. ‘Norfolk Blonde’ has a record as follows: Didn’t die. Didn’t die. Didn’t sprout. Didn’t flower, but came up again. I always doubted people who claimed a bulb didn’t sprout but then came up a year or two later, but doubt no more. Last spring I went as far as to dig the bulb and verify it was still there (and still completely dormant) but found no reason why it took a year off. I suspect an overly wet fall, but who knows. Regardless it’s still trying and hopefully I can add another ‘Didn’t die’ to the list next year.
Fickle blondes are another reason why entirely plain, green and white, Galanthus nivalis are still exceptional. This clump has been ignored for years as being “too average” yet even overcrowded and overshadowed by an also ignored juniper seedling, it’s still holding strong. I refer to this one as “abandoned house” and may actually divide and transplant this spring.
This plain old nivalis is one of my most anticipated flowerings of the 2021 season. I call it “Kathy Purdy” and it’s out of a basketful of snowdrops she brought down to last year’s gala to give away. These drops lined the path to her secret garden at her last house, and now line the woodland walk as a “river of snowdrops” at the new house. One trowel, bulb by bulb, clump by clump, these are the snowdrops which reassure me that someday sooner or later perseverance pays off and anyone can have their own river (or maybe sheets? of snowdrops.
My own fledgling “sheets” of snowdrops and winter aconite in the front border along the street. Each year a few more are added or divided, and finally this is the first year it is actually looking like something intentional 🙂
To me the nivalis are nicest for sheets because they’re so consistent. Galanthus elwesii on the other hand are a varied group, and something like this planting just about drives me nuts. Tall, short, rounded, longer, fat ovary, thin, heavily marked, faintly marked… I planted them too close and they’re just a mess. Seedlings are coming up now as well and there’s a good chance I’ll waste a whole afternoon trying to tease them out into clumps of single clones. Good grief you must have anything better to do, but…
In a moment of brilliance I decided the best place to separate out a different elwesii planting was to spread the bulbs out in my nice new (empty) sand paths. Who needs all that room for walking anyway? and I’m sure this is just a temporary thing anyway…
While we’re on the subject of beds completely given over to snowdrops, this one still has to be shown if only to showcase the nicely power washed birch clump. I might go around every autumn and power wash the birches, it’s very satisfying. Now if I could only manage an equally attractive background…
I think I’m about done, and I suspect you are as well so here are a few last pictures to round things out. Galanthus ‘Modern Art’ was named with the implication that not everyone “gets” modern art, and you either love it or hate it. In case you’re wondering I’m starting to develop an appreciation.
As the snowdrops fade the hellebores begin. I’m thrilled that the first year bloom on this hellebore niger seedling has blushed to such a nice shade of pink. Thanks again Timothy!
Hellebore ‘Spanish Flare’ is the first xhybridus hellebore to open here. Since you’ve been so good with the snowdrops, I’ll try to not overdo the hellebores this year… or the corydalis… or the daffodils or tulips or…
Finally. Last one to flower here and last snowdrop photo today, Galanthus ‘Greenish’. Purchased on a visit to Hitch Lyman’s open garden in upstate NY, it’s a souvenir from one of our last Temple Garden visits.
Congratulations on making it this far, even if it involved a good amount of skimming 🙂 I’ll try to return to normal photo limits with the next post, but with all the usual spring excitement bubbling up it’s going to be tough. Fortunately once I get working outside the blog takes a back seat but in this lingering, odd Covid world I still have far more home time than I’m used to so we will see what that leads to.
Hope spring is finding its way to you as well, and all the best for a gardening weekend!
Wow, ‘Kathy Purdy’ is multiplying well. I handed out little baggies of 5 snowdrops each. You’ve got well more than 5 there! I’m very pleased.
I must have been on the VIP list 🙂
I think they’ll double again for next spring, I’ll have my river in no time!
What a lovely post to wake up to! I really enjoyed wandering through your garden with all its various snowdrops while drinking my early morning cup of tea. I think you have far more varieties than I do, you are a true galanthophile!
Thanks Pauline, and yes, I think I’m far deeper into the obsession than most normal snowdrop lovers. It sometimes feels a little silly when even I can’t tell them apart 🙂
The snowdrops are doing excellently for you! Our season is over here – south-east Ireland – with just a few stray flowers here and there around the garden. I have spent my time taking the seedpods off snowdrops this past week.
and just think… You’ve been enjoying your snowdrops since the New Year (in between deluges), while ours appeared about two weeks ago and I suspect will be finished in another few days!
It’s always something different. One year we had a long cool spring and I almost reached the point of boredom, but then the next it was a freeze, another year saw 1 inch hail, some years it’s heat…
I’ll be snipping seedpods today. I already have too many elwesii seedlings!
Hoping not to upset you, but the first snowdrops opened here last September and have continued to now.
That was fun! They look really good. Very impressed with your ‘Sophie North’, which only managed slow growth and a swift decline here. And now I have to think about ‘Rodmarton’. Thanks!
‘Rodmarton’ really impressed me this spring! Both it and ‘Baylham’ have me rethinking years of discrimination against doubles.
Wow, such an amazing quantity and variety of snowdrops! I’m impressed! You’ve done well with the Crocuses, also.
Thanks! Snowdrops are pretty easy, plant them and wait. Same with the crocus lol
“Hello, I’m Frank and I’m a galanthomaniac,” 😀
Hey, the first step is owning it. 😉
I’m amazed you can keep them all straight. You must have a very effective labeling system. Until you came along, I never gave snowdrops much thought, but they are a varied bunch I now see.
My common ones are self-sowing all over the yard and that makes me happy. Some are doing better than others, but they all make the effort to grow and flower every spring right when I really need to see flowers, not to mention the early bees.
It’s great when they kind of find their own happy spots and settle in. They’re always much nicer that way, and given a couple years… or decades… and you’ll have sheets of white!
Don’t overestimate the labeling system. It’s just labels and a master list. I used to be better with maps and diagrams of beds, but I’m at the point where things are getting crammed in and seeding around so it’s getting tougher.
They do come up at a time when we really need some promise that spring isn’t just all in your imagination 🙂
What a marvelous collection. Really enjoyed seeing the differences among them. My “collection “ is less impressive, but it doesn’t take many to get one hooked. Plus it’s helpful to see them in a US garden with our harsher climate than much of the UK.
Thanks Linda. In my opinion anything greater than two is a collection, and it seems more and more plants are gaining that status here. I keep patting myself on the back for resisting hostas and epimediums but then you start counting up solomon seals and lycoris and you realize I’m really not winning any prizes. Of course it’s fun though!
Hope you’ve reached the other side of this cold spell and can settle in to enjoy a little spring!
I always learn things when you go off on one of your tangents. Primrose Warburg bloomed nicely for me this year, thank you. She appears to have a seedling a few inches from her. Am I reading this right in that the seedling might not come true? We had an awful drought the past couple of years that might have caused this. Hmmmmm
Your collection of galanthus is to be admired. I for one didn’t mind all these pictures and you way of fawning over them is quite entertaining. Enjoy this spring weather.
Haha, considering how many tangents I go off on I’m surprised any of it actually makes sense! Seedlings are always a little different than the parents but sometimes you can’t even tell. I can’t tell the difference in my Primrose Warburg seedling, but maybe she isn’t as hardy, or is slower to multiply, or has a larger bloom… it could be any tiny thing.
With the season advancing I’m all ready to fawn over the next great thing, I think it’s going to be daffodils for a bit and then tulips 🙂
How did you know I was skimmimg?! 😉 I have to admit I have not been infected with the snowdrop bug, but they are all lovely and it is amazing simply how many variations there are. How you remember their names is a wonder too! Now, when it comes to hellebores… my collection is slowly growing so in a couple of years you might be skimming my hellebore posts! LOL!
How could I possibly forget the names of all my children! That and they all have name tags 😉
I can think of worse obsessions than hellebores, and it will take a lot to get me skimming your posts.
Fortunately here the snowdrop days are over for another year, and it’s likely I won’t have as much time next year to really revel in the season. People will likely be happy for that!
I absolutely love your “out of control” garden, Frank, and it’s plain to see that the plants love you too. I’m not a snowdrop collector but I can see the appeal and admire your passion and knowledge. Your neighbours must be thrilled to have such a garden in the neighbourhood. Happy spring and Easter 🙂
You have the wild expanses of snowdrops and other treasures near at hand, and I think if I had any of that my collecting for the garden would be much less desperate. As it is I wander the garden alone, and my neighbors rush about to whatever they do and seem quite happy with dull mulch beds and meatball shrubbery 🙂
Sorry to tell you, Frank, but you haven’t been fooling anyone. Those reading your blog for a while knew years ago that you suffer from galanthomania. Great if, like me, you choose to enjoy them vicariously. A beautiful show! P.x
Haha, I thought for sure I was being so subtle about the snowdrop thing! Oh well, I guess we all have our vices 🙂