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!