Were those snowdrops all just a dream?

It’s hard to believe that just over a week ago this gardener was completely consumed by snowdrops.  Today the grass is green and people are nursing sunburns but just seven days ago we braved the usual snow squalls and windchills to pay Trumansburg NY and Hitch Lyman’s Temple Nursery a visit.

snowdrops temple nursery

The garden’s namesake reflected in the overflowing waters of the garden’s pond. There had been plenty of rain in the days previous… good for melting the last of the snow.

This was our third visit to the gardens and for a snowdrop lover it’s always a treat.  Mr. Lyman opens his garden through the Garden Conservancy, an organization committed to opening gates and preserving gardens across North America, and although this one’s early spring drabness might not appeal to everyone, it’s a treasure chest for those interested in seeing what is likely North America’s most diverse collection of galanthus (snowdrop) cultivars.  But perhaps your interests lie in the warmer seasons and silly things such as sunshine and butterflies.  If so check out the other garden open days listings, and you may be surprised at what’s open in your neck of the woods!

snowdrops at hitch lyman garden

Snowdrops along the woodland path of Hitch Lyman’s Temple Gardens.

Since most of the rest of the world is well beyond snowdrop season I’ll try to keep this quick.  Interest in little white flowers dims quickly once the tulips start to open and I want to list this year’s favorites so I have something to look back on next January when the fever starts up again.

galanthus mrs backhouse #12

You can’t go wrong with the clean and simple. This is an old classic, galanthus “Mrs. Backhouse #12”.

Since I’ll be the first to admit that nearly all small white snowdrops look remarkably identical I’ll try to focus on a few that stand out.  The ‘greens’ caught my eye this year, and galanthus ‘Greenish’ was looking perfectly different this spring and really makes a nice clump among the whites.

galanthus greenish

Galanthus “Greenish”

Green is different, but a green ‘spikey’ is even more different.  I’m not sure if this tiny burst of flower is to everyone’s taste but it is definitely what I’d call ‘interesting’….

galanthus boyd's double

Galanthus “Boyd’s double”

Yellow is also different, but on a flower like “Spindlestone Surprise” it looks just great.  This was one of several nice clumps of yellow drops.

galanthus spindlestone surprise

Galanthus “Spindlestone Surprise”

Ok, so one more picture of an interesting green.

galanthus green arrow

Galanthus “Green Arrow”

I hear that when temperatures rise enough above 40F (5C) the flowers in this garden will actually open wide and show off their inner markings.  I have yet to experience that since we always seem to be at the garden the day before the sun comes out and the air temperatures rise.  This year was par for the course since the Sunday forecast called for a calm and sunny 60F.

galanthus augustus

Even when still closed, the puckered petals and grass green foliage of galanthus “Augustus” still make for a great show.

I hate to admit that over the years I’ve added quite a few snowdrops to my garden, and with each new one I somehow tell myself it’s exactly the drop to complete some final empty void in my collection.  To publically admit I have a collection is a bad sign in itself, but to admit I NEED even species snowdrops is probably another bad omen.  They’re all white and green, just like every other snowdrop, but each one is just so much more special than the last 🙂

Galanthus koenenianus

Galanthus koenenianus. How can you not love those fat grey leaves? This was just one of several interesting little species snowdrops Mr. Lyman grows.

Now that we’re getting into special little things which make your fulfilling life seem just a tiny bit lacking lets look at this early blooming scilla relative which goes by the name of puschkinia.  This strain is supposed to have more rounded heads with darker lines of color and since I don’t grow it (yet) I’ll take their word for it.

Puschkinia scilloides 'Aragats Gem'

Puschkinia scilloides ‘Aragats Gem’

…and what gardener goes on a garden visit without adding something to the wishlist?  These last two will surely remain on the list for a while since even I can’t justify the pricetags which usually accompany them.

galanthus phillip andre meyer

Galanthus “Phillip Andre Meyer”.  I think of these as pagoda shaped although they’re usually referred to as inverse poculiforms (ipocs, or inpocs if you fear the wrath of Apple’s trademark police).  The flowers are reversed (inverted) with the green inner petals on the outside, and all six petals nearly similar in length.

“A. E. Bowles” will not likely visit my garden anytime soon but I’m going to put it as number one on the wishlist.  How exciting (for me at least) to be able to see it in bloom, and what a great way to commemorate such a talented plantsman and author.  Actually the snowdrop “Augustus” is another drop which is named after him, as well as dozens of other cultivars of plants.  Not a bad legacy in my opinion.

galanthus e a bowles

Galanthus “E.A.Bowles”

Of course it’s not all about pedigreed names and high pricetags.  There were plenty of clumps who’s names were known only to Mr. Lyman yet were still fantastic first signs of spring.

double snowdrop galanthus elwesii

No obvious label on this one, but its fat, rounded blooms made me happy to see it. Nice foliage as well.

After a long visit we were finally on the road again and made a quick pit stop at Ithaca’s Cornell Plantation.  The plantation is part of Cornell University and we wanted to stop in quickly for a look at their gardens, in particular their winter garden.

cornell plantation winter garden

Cornell Plantation’s winter garden.  Bright conifers, colorful bark, and a few winter bloomers all just recently released from underneath a cold blanket of snow.

The winter garden was a nice stop but since our fingers were still tingling from the cold we didn’t exactly linger much.  I don’t think I’d mind coming back in another few weeks when things really explode, but on this particular day the conifers and bare twigs, for as colorful as they were, just couldn’t keep us away from the heated car seats.

cornell plantation winter garden

More gardens at Ithaca’s Cornell University. The arboretum and other parts called but we wanted to get home before dark!

In spite of the weather we always end up enjoying our visit up to Trumansburg, Ithaca, and the Temple Gardens and are grateful that Mr. Lyman opens them up each spring.  In case you’re unaware Mr. Lyman also sells snowdrops so if you’re interested the process is to send three or four dollars to the following address: Temple Nursery (H Lyman) Box 591 Trumansburg, NY 14886.  Catalogs go out in January and the drops are usually sold out within a few weeks so you need to be quick!

Enjoy spring and your very own garden visits 🙂

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

A few weeks ago I posted about the trouble with idle hands and how they were inching me over to the dark side.  It sounded funny at the time but the string of bad luck and minor tragedy which followed reassured me that there will be no deals made on this end and I would in fact like to stay on the lighter side.  So to sum it up surgery has been scheduled for some, blood tests every three months for others, stitches have been removed, and the family has a new bunny.  Hopefully garden cleanup will now continue to bring us back into good graces.  It’s about time for both 🙂

yard cleanup perennial beds

The front yard is definitely looking a little wild and wooly now that the snow has melted.  Probably time to get rid of the sled.

Cleanup has been ongoing all week (in between April showers) and this morning the sunshine and leftover morning frost are making the front yard glisten with springtime promise.

front yard garden cleanup

front yard garden cleanup

The view from inside the front door was also in need of some sprucing up.

messy yard spring cleanup

I sometimes think my entire neighborhood is an advertisement for plastic and vinyl.

Cleanup this spring is nearly all power tools.  Everything gets cut down with the hedge trimmer into manageable bits and then the largest bits are raked onto the lawn for mowing up into the bag.  The bag is then emptied onto the beds out back.  The front yard then gets a nice topping off with shredded leaves from last fall’s cleanup.  Not only do the shredded leaves cover up all the twigs and debris I was too lazy to remove, they also frame the first crocus nicely.

spring garden cleanup mulch

Mulched leaves on the beds and the lawn mowed at its lowest setting.  Things look better already.

Work has an annoying way of getting in the way of spring cleanup, but whenever I have a chance it feels great to get out there again.  The birds follow behind looking for worms and the kids rediscover all the messes they can make with the most simple of tools.  Spring mud and mulchpiles are fun but I’m just happy enough to see plants finally growing again in the open air.

hardy cyclamen with leucojum vernum

The pink cyclamen coum look much better this spring even after our insulting amount of cold and snow.  Temperatures were actually lower than last winter but a good amount of leaves and flower buds made it through and at least I have something to set off the spring snowflake (leucojum vernum) flowers this year.

I’ve added an embarrassing amount of snowdrops since last year.  These showed up in the mail one day as a baggie full of washed clean, sprouting bulbs.  I planted them immediately and they are perfect this spring.  In contrast the dry bulbs of the same type which looked perfect upon planting barely sprouted last spring and have now died off completely.

double snowdrop galanthus flore pleno

The double snowdrop (galanthus ‘flore pleno’) hopefully settling in nicely under the apple tree.  FYI -the apple tree is that twig at the back of the photo 🙂

I will bore you with more snowdrops at a later date but for now other spring bulbs.

corydalis George baker

The first corydalis, this one’s “George Baker”, looking good and reminding me I should divide my other overcrowded clumps.

Ok one more snowdrop.

galanthus wonston double

Galanthus ‘Wonston Double’.  I have to keep reminding myself I don’t like doubles.

This little bulb who’s name I will never be able to spell without looking up (scilla mischtschenkoana) is one of those unassuming things which you never NEED but you should always have.  This one’s been with me for a while going all the way back to a single stray bulb which must have been overlooked or abandoned by squirrels after all its brothers and sisters had been planted.  Being the daring teen who I was and feeling a little dangerous, I pocketed the bulb and brought it home.  Somehow it survived being unplanted all winter and within a few weeks even put out the first of many pale, icy blue flowers.  It has never reseeded (likely because they’re all the clone descendants of one single bulb) but it’s multiplied and followed me from garden to garden over the decades.  hmmmm.  I should go back to that park some day and see how the original planting has made out.

Scilla mischtschenkoana

Scilla mischtschenkoana.

The hellebores are starting as well.  This one is right up against the porch foundation and lives the good life.

white ashwood hybrid hellebore

I bought this one as a white Ashwood seedling from Santa Rosa Gardens.  I bought this one as a started plant, but deep down inside I covet seeds from the Ashwood line.  They’re either crazy expensive or I just can’t find them here in the states.

A few of the other hellebores are also coming along.  Drought last summer has really taken a bite out of this year’s show but the real killer was my transplanting several and then not really bothering to give them any aftercare.  A sprinkler would have done wonders in August, but you can’t dwell on these things in April.

double pink hellebore from seed

A nice double pink hellebore from Elizabethtown seed.  I’m glad I had the chance to buy seed from them before they closed retail sales…. but I’m still missing all the cool seedlings coming along each spring.

Last spring’s late blasts of arctic weather didn’t please the hellebores at all but this year the more settled pattern has done them well.  I finally get to see a nice clean bloom on my yellow.

yellow hellebore from seed

This one, also from Elizabethtown seed, looks buttery enough for me to think ‘yummy!’  I’ve been wanting a yellow like this for years.  Wish me luck it clumps up and continues to do well 🙂

The warmer temperatures and singing birds have me completely optimistic and I’m starting to rake back the winter mulch from around my late fall conifer splurge from Conifer Kingdom.  They all look great and I’m hoping for healthy new growth in a few weeks.  Just think… if my blue spruce (p. pungens ‘Walnut Glen’) doubles in size this year it may break the four inch mark!

late planting conifer winter protection

A late planting of conifers still snuggled in under a thick winter mulch of shredded leaves.  Time to start peeling it back.

So spring is finally here.  The sun is shining this morning and I’m buying pansies today.  The only snow left are snowdrops and since I paid a visit to the Temple nursery on Saturday you’re still going to have to sit through that, but fortunately the pictures aren’t all that great so you’ll be spared much of the repeating white and green.  Enjoy!

When the going gets tough….

The tough go elsewhere…..  like south a hardiness zone or two!

Leaving the below freezing temperatures behind for a couple hours doesn’t make me a quitter, right?  It was only a day, and when a friend and I worked out the details some cold, snowy, January night, the idea sounded like a great one.  It was, and the adventure started off with a two hour drive south to her place.

hellebores and snowdrops in the garden

An early hellebore (didn’t get the name) highlighting the early blooming snowdrops (flore pleno) and darker leaved hellebore sprouts.

My friend admits to being a galanthophile and since I might also be drifting in that direction I suppose it’s only fair I warn you ahead of time.  There will be plenty of snowdrop pictures.

galanthus green arrow

Snowdrops with a touch of green on the bloom are always a little different. Galanthus ‘green arrow’ looks nice enough, but I of course am still in my big-and-fat-is-better stage.

I tried to resist hinting too much that I wouldn’t mind one of nearly all of them!

galanthus cowhouse green

Here is a snowdrop with a green blush, which is how I like my greens best.  A good guess on the name would be galanthus ‘cowhouse green’.

What can I say about a fantastic clump of yellow?

galanthus primrose warburg

Galanthus ‘Primrose Warburg”. Wow!

This was a long garden tour.  We talked about the different varieties, where they were growing well, what seemed to be doing best, and what we still dreamed of getting our dirty little fingers on!  It was a great visit, and it’s not that often I can mention snowdrops in every sentence and not get some kind of sideways glance or a poorly concealed eye roll.

galanthus flore plena

We came to the conclusion that the common double snowdrop, galanthus ‘flore plena’, is among the best drops for making a nice display in your garden beds.

Of course one cannot live on galanthus alone, so the supporting trees and shrubs also called out for attention.  Here’s one which caught my eye and caused a little bit of inner conflict at the same time.  It’s the willow-leaf spicebush, and after a bright show of autumn color the leaves hang on throughout the winter.  I thought I despised trees and shrubs which play the trick of holding on to their dead leaves (fancy term for this being marcesence), and would never have considered adding it as contrast and winter interest, but I found it oddly appealing and might have hinted towards a few seeds or a cutting or two someday.  What do you think of it?

lindera glauca winter foliage

Not the best picture, but it shows lindera glauca’s smooth khaki winter foliage. According to my host it will all drop off (making a mess?) once the buds break.  Hardiness is zones 5-7 according to what I found, so it should be ok in my frigid garden.

How can you resist a late winter carpet of blooms with crocus studding the lawn?

naturalized bulbs in lawn

I loved this old cherry tree underplanted with a carpet of late winter bulbs and snow crocus naturalized in the lawn. A perfect view for right outside a window.

The garden tour (and lunch of course!) were only the start of our adventure.  We jumped into the car next and set off to a nearby abandoned farmstead to check out the naturalized drops there.  Clearly a different setting than my friend’s garden!

abandoned stone farmhouse

Your standard abandoned Pennsylvania farmhouse, all grown up and over with invasives like locust, bittersweet, and multiflora roses.  General decay all over but I was impressed by how well the chimney brickwork was holding up.

Back in the day I’m sure this was a completely different place, and while investigating the property my friend found she actually knew one of the former occupants.  It was a different place back then, one where children were being raised, lives were being led, and someone planted a garden.  A garden which likely contained a small patch of snowdrops at the doorstep, a patch which during the years of abandonment has spread.

naturalized snowdrops

Filling in between the house and street, naturalized snowdrops between the weed trees and vinca. They look cold because they were, and even with warmer air temperatures the ground was still frozen solid.

Naturalized snowdrops spreading over the years look even better when paired with a few decades worth of winter aconite (eranthis hyemalis).  Throw a few cyclamen in and you’d think you were at one of the great estates!

galanthus and winter aconite

Galanthus and winter aconite

There was little variation amongst the plants (all galanthus nivalis), but how can you beat the pure white flowers and fresh healthy clumps.  Special or not I admit I “liberated” a bunch found growing in a rubble pile next to the foundation.  Maybe they’ll start their own sheet of white at my own house, and live on after these drops are likely erased in some future redevelopment plan.

wild galanthus

Galanthus nivalis filling in and doing its thing before the oriental bittersweet leafs out again and refreshes its chokehold on this woodland.

Abandoned house=spooky, and no matter how blue the sky or how nice the sun was coming out it still wasn’t a place we wanted to open the picnic basket at, so we wrapped things up, jumped back in the car, and headed on to our next spot.

abandoned farmhouse pennsylvania

I sure didn’t want to enter the building even if the walls still look solid… but even if I was feeling brave, those dark, empty windows still give me the creeps.

We are such slow, lingering adventurers that by the time we made it to our final stop the light was already at that low springtime evening angle which gives everything a nice glow.  Perfect for a real photographer, but even my point and shoot method gave me a few decent pictures.

galanthus sam arnott

Galanthus ‘Sam Arnott’.  Seeing this makes me forget all the snow and ice back home.

When we first pulled into our friend’s driveway I just let out a hushed wow.  I’ve never been anywhere that has clumps of special snowdrops lining the driveway, and to tell the truth I was so distracted I forgot to take pictures.

galanthus diggory

This clump of galanthus ‘diggory’ makes me understand why it’s such a coveted snowdrop. Those fat little pantaloons of white would look great in any garden and I’m excited to think I might have one lined up for this summer 🙂

We spent the rest of the day here of course, talking, exploring, and just plain old soaking up the time with snowdrop friends.  Of course there were other plants too but I think all involved were just a little obsessed with one plant group right now 😉

adonis amurensis fukujukai

Yellow adonis amurensis ‘fukujukai?’ with what else but a snowdrop.

This friend likes to bulk the clumps up before putting them out in the open garden.  This was another wow moment looking at the drops which I only knew by name until today.

named galanthus with mrs thompson

Along the back are a few ‘Trym’ types with their green outer patches and the lovely ‘Mrs Thompson’ is in the front.  This is the kind of planting which makes me glad I wasn’t left alone with only my conscience to guide me.

There were plenty of things for the wishlist on this trip, but gardeners if anything are sometimes generous to a fault.  I couldn’t believe the haul which filled my trunk on the way home, a mix of purchased plants which my friend had picked up for me on an earlier trip, plus some other goodies which she knew I wanted.  I felt guilty as we walked from spot to spot with a shovel, but to look at them now just makes me even more excited about spring.

galanthus and eranthis for sale

This tub of galanthus and eranthis could be its own garden.

Spring has got to be close now, and the fact that it rained today made me realize just how long it’s been since something non-frozen has fallen from the sky.  I wasn’t thrilled to be out there, but it was perfect weather for planting new snowdrops from our trip, plus two new ones which I found in the mailbox today from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens! Bring it on I say 🙂

A snowdrop or two.

Tomorrow promises a few inches of fresh snow, so what better act of defiance is there than to enjoy a few spring flowers today?

galanthus Gerard Parker and Wendy's Gold

‘Gerard Parker’ and ‘Wendy’s Gold’, two of the earliest favorites.

I probably shouldn’t refer to them as spring flowers, it’s still clearly winter when you look at tomorrow’s snowy forecast and last night’s low of 18F (-8C), but I just feel funny calling them winter bloomers.  Winter is definitely not a time for flowers around here.

galanthus elwesii

A nice little bunch of the giant snowdrop (galanthus elwesii) with the first winter aconite opening up behind them.

Even so, the hold winter has on the calendar is starting to loosen and I for one am fine with that.  After snapping these pictures I trimmed a few hellebores and cleaned out the front porch bed so that these new little sprouts could show off to their fullest.  I didn’t get much further than that though.  The whole time I was haunted by little people asking about a baseball game and whether or not I was done yet.  The other snowdrops will have to wait.

galanthus elwesii snowdrops

Some of last year’s forced snowdrops.  They spent last winter flowering under lights in the garage, now they’re settling in outside.  By next year they should make for a nice show in this spot. 

Something else which I hope is waiting are the cyclamen coum.  They don’t seem as winter-weary as last year but the foliage still looks a little worse for wear.  Last year nearly all the flower buds were lost to the cold and ice, but this year looks a little more promising.  A few have already taken advantage of the four warm days without snow cover and have opened up their first blooms 🙂

early flowers on cyclamen coum

Last year every last leaf on this hardy cyclamen coum was a soggy frozen mess.  This year looks a little better and I’m hoping for a nice bright springtime show!

Another first for the year is the snowdrop “John Gray” from Far Reaches Farm out in Washington state.  Last winter I enjoyed this one under lights in the winter garden and it doesn’t seem to have minded the time indoors at all.  This year it’s on Pennsylvania time and is blooming much later of course.

galanthus John Gray

Look, another white snowdrop.  FYI for all those snowdrop snobs out there, it’s galanthus “John Gray”.

The rest of the snowdrops are still laying low.  I’ll try to show restraint in the coming days as they open up but I’m not making any promises.  It’s been a long winter and it’s not just the birds who are singing a springtime song!

cool weather vegetable seedlings under lights

Cool weather vegetables are on their way in the winter garden.  The last cyclamen are shoved to the side and the few sad little snowdrops have been kicked to a windowsill to make room.  Even my treasured yellow primroses had to step to the side.

In all honesty the weather is rarely warm enough for the real spring bulbs such as crocus and hyacinths until the last week of March, so even with our February snowpocolypse we really aren’t much off from a normal year.  Still I would have been fine with an early spring, and I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing for even more sun and warmth!

Boom. Spring.

Last week we dipped down to some of the lowest temperatures of the winter, but this week it’s spring.  I’m not complaining.  We’ve been losing close to six inches of snow a day and this afternoon I came home to an almost cleared snowdrop bed along the East facing side of the house.  I’m sure those of you in warmer climes are rolling your eyes at yet another snowdrop post, but I’m thrilled 🙂

snowdrops emerging from snow

Snowdrops opening even before the snow has a chance to melt. They’re as anxious for spring as I am!

I think it was sometime in January when I last saw bare earth here, and back then only one or two snowdrop noses were barely poking through the surface.  Somehow they must have their own clocks and somehow must work their way up through the frozen soil.  Hard to think of plants as something more than just cold-blooded victims of winter, but there was some kind of growth going on here in the frozen soil under the icy snow and I’m very grateful for it!

Wow, winter was quick!

I got to sleep in an extra hour this morning, so the sun was already coming up as I left for work.  Strange things happen when your routine gets a little off.  Apparently while I slept, winter came and went and now we’re looking at the first snowdrop of the year!  Surely this picture must be right out of late march?

Fall blooming snowdrop

Fall blooming snowdrop

Wishful thinking aside, it’s not March and this isn’t the last snowfall.  It’s the first in fact and the snowdrop is my little fall blooming galanthus elwesii (monosticus?) which I thought had died of spite over the summer.  This is the fall blooming variant of the regular spring blooming giant snowdrop (giant being a relative term with drops) and I just love it.  When I saw it sprouting earlier in the week I did a little skip around the yard and then ran to tell my housemate…. She was much less impressed.  Maybe the kids will appreciate it, I’ll just have to remind them it shouldn’t be picked 🙂

Back to the Temple

 

Last Saturday some friends and I made the trip up to Trumansburg, NY for what I hope will become an annual tradition; the open day at Hitch Lyman’s Temple Garden Nursery.  As was the case in 2013, winter still had a firm grip on the weather so a thick coat was essential (and gloves and hat and scarf), but at least there was more mud than ice this year.  That’s a start….

open garden day

First garden tour of the year!

For those who don’t know, Mr. Lyman is (among other things of course) a lover of snowdrops, and his Temple Nursery catalog is the most specialized retail source for snowdrops in the US.  There are other great sources out there now, but Hitch has been dealing snowdrops since before they became cool (am I the only one who considers them cool?), and his collection is considered to be the largest in this country with around 400 varieties planted throughout the property.

snowdrops at the Temple Garden

Snowdrops all over, patches big and small, named/unnamed…. heaven for the galanthophile (snowdrop lover)

The bank along the driveway is the first planting you see, and here’s my first favorite, galanthus “Wasp”, with its long wispy blooms.  Not that I’m stalking Mr. Lyman’s snowdrops, but I just want to say it looks so much better this year upright and not all flat and frozen.   8 blooms this year (up from 4 the year before -in case you’re wondering).  I took a lot of pictures last year too 🙂

galanthus wasp and dodo norton

Galanthus “Wasp” with “Dodo Norton” in the back

I could go on and on about my visit but I’ll try to keep this somewhat short.  I referred to Hitch as a dealer of snowdrops, and I think that’s an appropriate term for someone who sells something so addictive…. here’s galanthus “Naughton” (also just 4 blooms last year)  Hope it bulks up quick enough to make it into the catalog soon!

galanthus noughton

Galanthus “Naughton”. Maybe it’s a little droopy, but the flowers are so big, and I love the little curl to the pedicle(?) just above the bloom.

Doubles are starting to grow on me.  Even the smaller blooms that normally bore me.  “Cornwall Gem” has small sideways blooms that are held further out from the stem.

galanthus cornwood gem

Galanthus “Cornwood Gem”

“Mordred” has a nice fat look that I liked.  It’s hard to say for sure though if this fat look stays,  since it could change completely as the flowers expand and open (if the weather ever improves).  Odd that for this one the sun came out, with a name like Mordred I would have expected even more dark grey ‘Lord of the Rings’ weather to rain down.

galanthus mordred

Galanthus “Mordred”, a nice recurved fat double with green tips.

Once up the driveway we were invited in to the house for signing in and paying the $5 admission fee.  We had only been out of doors for 20 minutes at most, and the break from the cold was already a welcome relief!

inside hitch lyman house

One of the most welcoming sign-ins ever! It’s hard to see, but some of those cut snowdrops were huge, and the cookies and muffins were a nice touch.

Out again and into the snowdrops.  There’s a more formal part of the garden out back beyond the garden’s namesake temple.  My traveling company spent most of their visit inside the temple, next to the warm fire.  Fortunately they weren’t offered wine or else I suspect we never would have gotten them out of there!

hitch lyman temple garden

Hitch Lyman’s backyard temple. Even though the pond was unfrozen this year, the fireplace inside was still a welcomed retreat from the cold.

From what I could see, the formal garden promised an explosion of lilacs , hellebores, and peonies as well as the small bulbs which were scattered throughout.  In past years I’ve seen reports on the summer garden, but I don’t believe he’s opened it in the last few years.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to see this in person when it’s green.

hitch lyman formal garden

A small part of the formal garden. Apples trained to goblet shapes, beds filled with perennials, lilacs and tree peonies everywhere, and buds of hellebores and herbaceous peonies sprouting all over.

Close ups of the beds showed plenty of signs of spring, snowdrops and winter aconite (eranthis) plus many other goodies on their way.

hitch lyman garden beds

Winter aconite waiting for the sun to open up, snowdrops scattered throughout.

Personally I was fine poking around in the still dormant beds looking at goodies, but the bulk of  Mr. Lyman’s snowdrops are in the back of the property and it’s there we rushed off to next.  To keep things moving along, here are more favorites, such as “Ballerina” a very neatly arranged double.

galanthus ballerina

Galanthus “Ballerina”

….and “Flocon De Neige”, a wish list snowdrop.  Easily on my top 10 or even top 5.  It’s hard to say since I don’t actually dare put a wish list together.

galanthus flocon de neige

Galanthus “Flocon de Neige”. Six outers with a doubled inner, very pure looking.

“Pricilla Bacon”, part of a healthy patch all with perfect large rounded flowers.

galanthus pricilla bacon

Galanthus “Pricilla Bacon”

The odd little “Alburg Claw”.  Not a great picture, but There’s some kind of strange attractiveness to this one.

galanthus alburg claw

Galanthus “Alburg Claw”, a tiny plant which I hope to see thriving during next year’s visit.

The snowdrop plantings lined a taped off trail that meandered through the woods.  You could tell quite some work had been done to get the gardens ready for this Garden Conservancy Open Day, brush was cleared, patches labeled, sprouts uncovered.  All this must have been carried out in the last four days since our most recent snow storm!

hitch lyman anowdrop garden

Trail through the snowdrop woodland. Snowdrops extended deep into the trees, and I can only imagine all the additional treasure growing on in the distance.

I felt as if there were easily twice as many snowdrops as remembered from my last visitWarmer weather and another year’s growth seemed to make all the difference, plus I recognized a few names which seemed to have been moved here from off the driveway bank.  “Sophie North” was now in the woods, and this unidentified favorite from last year now has a name too.  It’s galanthus “R.D. Nutt”(and was only two bulbs last year!) 

galanthus rd nutt

Big Flowers, two blooms per bulb, nice wide plicate (folded on the edges) leaves, and olive colored ovaries make galanthus “R.D Nutt” another one of my favorites.

A few really stood out for having big blooms.  This is “Grayswood” who’s blooms are easily an inch long.  I don’t have small hands.

galanthus greyswood

Not the best picture of galanthus “Grayswood”. It’s listed as having four outer petals, but I didn’t have enough sense to look. In my defense my hands were probably freezing at this moment.

“Imbolc” is another one I’d put in the short fat group (a good group to be in if you’re a snowdrop).  Technically it’s out of the “Mighty Atom” group, a strain of stocky, large flowered drops, but until my snowdrop sophistication grows….

galanthus imbolc

Galanthus “Imbolc”. I love this one, but have two related ones which are similar, so it’s closer to top 20, and not top 5.

“Major Pam”, a nice clump which was offered in Mr. Lyman’s catalog this year.  Tight, neatly organized blooms with short inners, it’s part of my “I don’t like doubles” remission.

galanthus major pam

Galanthus “Major Pam”

You’re doing well if you made it this far.  I’m almost done so here’s “Peardrop” showing two blooms per bulb, nice long blooms…. I’m not sure if the bulbs to the left are also pear related, but the one on the right looks to be a real nice drop.

galanthus peardrop

Galanthus “Mrs. Thompson”.  Almost always referred to as a ‘variable snowdrop’ because it can be all over the place with extra petals, twin flowers, Siamese twin flowers…. I think it really makes for a nice display, but I wonder what the real Mrs. Thompson thought of having such a fickle flower named after her?

galanthus Mrs Thompson

Small blooms, big blooms, four petals, six petals; galanthus “Mrs. Thompson” looks good all the time (to me at least)

I included “Richard Ayres” because one of my hardier traveling companions told a nice story about meeting the real Mr. Ayres when this was spotted.  I always love a good story, too bad the sun couldn’t come out to open him up a little.

galanthus richard ayres

Galanthus “Richard Ayres”

Finally a little hope for my ugly duckling of the snowdrop patch, galanthus “Blewbury Tart”.  Grown well and in a bigger clump maybe someday mine can also have an attractive oddness to it, instead of just plain old oddness.

galanthus blewbury tart

Galanthus “Blewbury Tart”, a ‘unique’ looking snowdrop that still needs some time to grow on me.

So thanks for sticking with me for way too much galanthus talk.  We probably spent about three hours out in the cold and I believe it confirmed my and my friend’s suspicions that there’s something deeply wrong with my idea of fun.  With frozen toes and fingers we returned to the house and headed around the side for one last look.  Unless it was the hypothermia talking, there was still a point here when I actually may have skipped across the grass to look at another snowdrop.  I’m that far gone.

hitch lyman house and fountain

A beautiful springtime sky in western New York. It almost makes you want to take a dip in the fountain 🙂

I have my fingers crossed for next year.  Maybe the sun will come out and maybe I’ll even have the courage to talk to Mr. Lyman.  Despite the cold and wind he was out and about in the gardens mingling, answering questions, and probably just plain enjoying the return of green (and white) things such as “Mrs. Wrightston’s Double”.

galanthus mrs wrightston's double

Galanthus “Mrs Wrightston’s Double”

So that’s it.  It may seem odd to those of you in Europe to again be looking at snowdrops (you’re probably in bathing suits by now) but for us it’s only just turning in to warmer weather.  I’m happy for that, and I’m happy to see green things returning here too.

Thanks again to Mr Lyman for another enjoyable visit and continuing to open his garden to visitors, and if you’re interested in receiving a snowdrop catalog, word on the street is to send three or four dollars to the following address: Temple Nursery (H Lyman) Box 591 Trumansburg, NY 14886.  Catalogs go out in January and the drops are usually sold out within a few weeks.