*ok so I’m trying to get back onto the blogging ball. With a schedule finally cleared up I have a bunch of catching up to do here as well as on other blogs… so flashback to something I began writing about two weeks ago!*
Spring doesn’t normally roll around to this end of Pennsylvania until the end of March, but this year on the tail end of El Nino it looks as if winter has just thrown in the towel and let spring walk right in a few weeks early. “Sit down and stay a while” I say, and although I should speak glowingly about my own spring treasures in bloom right now, my first panicked thought was I might miss the snowdrop season down south. I promptly sent out a few emails, jumped in a car and met up with my friend Paula at a park near her home for our second annual Philly snowdrop adventure.
Snowdrops naturalized on the grounds of a former Philadelphia estate.
Last year our snowdrop adventure was a response to the miserably long winter, this year it was a desperate attempt to catch the season before it flashed by. We made the trip on March 8th and even though we were nearly a month earlier than last year many of the earlier bloomers were already past.
A nice yellow tipped spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) blooming amidst the rubble.
In spite of the advanced season we did manage to catch plenty of snowdrops still in bloom, and it was fun wandering from patch to patch searching for those little “specials”. Maybe someday after a hundred years of abandonment and years of gentle woodland protection my own garden will produce something different but for now I’ll have to rely on these hidden treasures.
We saw plenty of patches of four petalled snowdrops, but also a wonderful range of larger and smaller, thinner, longer, taller…. all the tiny variations on white and green which may make some gardeners yawn, but which make me smile.
But there was only so much time we could spend sweating our way through the underbrush. We had bigger fish to fry this morning and for us it was a visit to John Lonsdale’s Edgewood Gardens. John grows and sells (but more just grows and grows) about a billion plants in his suburban landscape and the plantings range from high desert cactus to mountain to woodland to everything in between. I was lost on much of it but I’m going to try my best and show a few favorites even if the names are lacking. If you are more cat-like and on the verge of death due to some unsatisfied identity curiosity then I would absolutely suggest contacting John directly via his website. He will surely have an ID for you, as well as cultural conditions, related cultivars, the exact source of his plant…. and to top it all off he probably grew it himself from wild collected seed!
A beautiful species iris right alongside hardy cacti. Did I mention the cactus? There were beds planted full of them as well as agaves and yucca, all surviving the Pennsylvania snow and ice without any additional winter protection.
I need to just move on here. I love growing bulbs and there were more here than I’ve ever even considered so here are just the highlights of our visit. Keep in mind the calendar is still saying winter for a few more weeks and the real show is still at least two months off!
Winter aconite (Eranthis species) galore in the Lonsdale garden. We missed the peak for many of the Eranthis hyemalis types but these crosses with Eranthis cilicica (similar to the ‘Guinea Gold’ cross) were just opening…. don’t let the label throw you off, that’s for something else yet to come right in front of this patch of gold.
At nearly 80F (26C) and sunny even a few of the first primula were opening.
The winter may have been short, but even here a sudden drop to around 0F (-17C) did its damage to winter foliage and early sprouts. Still bright and beautiful though, and its location on what looked to be a dry shaded slope has me rethinking how tough primroses can be.
Hellebores were everywhere.
Just a plain old hellebore which caught my eye. a little winter damage but I love the speckling.
John said he was in the process of working through the hellebores, getting rid of many older and self seeded plants, and ‘upgrading’ some of the hybrids… and I wish him luck. There were hundreds, if not thousands, and it would take a more critical eye than mine to thin the herd.
One of the newer, cross-species hellebore cultivars. I forgot what it was, but maybe it’s ‘Anna’s Red’?
Plenty of hellebore species as well. All over the garden were bits and shoots coming up from seed collected throughout the hellebore world.
A cool green species hellebore. Green may not be the showiest flower color but they sure look great close up.
Hailing from China is Helleborus thibetanus. This plant was only just brought into cultivation in the 1990’s and if you can believe it John says this plant plant produced only one flower last year. What a difference a single year can make!
Trilliums were also everywhere. John kept naming species, naming ranges and ecotypes, naming seed sources, describing how many were yet to come…. it was all a little overwhelming. I think to return in May and see patches and patches of trilliums blooming across the hillside would be quite the sight.
One of the earliest trilliums already up. The foliage is just amazing and there were hundreds more sprouting or just waiting to burst out of the ground.
There were tons of early trout lilies (Erythronium) coming up as well. More cool foliage, exquisite flowers 🙂
Just a few of the earliest of the trout lilies coming up. I love the fine markings on these and the fancy purple pollen just as much as the silvery speckling on the leaves.
I’ve never seen blooming Hepatica (liverwort) in person but recognized the little jewels the minute I saw them. Maybe this will finally be the spring I venture out into the woods and find a few blooms of my own in the wild. I’ll be excited to find anything, but suspect they won’t hold a candle to some of the selections and hybrids which we saw springing up out of the leafmould.
What color on such a tiny bloom.
The detail on these flowers is amazing in all its intricate perfection.
It was also well into Adonis season. Several cultivars were spotted throughout the beds and each one seemed better than the last and we hit them perfectly with their flowers open wide in the warm winter sun. The saturated colors were almost too bright for an early March afternoon.
Double yellow Adonis Amurensis
I’ve heard that this native of NE Asia isn’t all that hard to grow it’s just a little slow to start and a little pricey to get a hold of. Spring sun and a sheltered woodland location for the summer seem to work well for it, just know that the ferny foliage dies back and the plant disappears once the weather warms for summer.
An orange Adonis cultivar with a nice bunch of hardy cyclamen leaves. Cyclamen were nearly everywhere, I began to not notice them unless I had to step over a particularly nice one seeded into the path 🙂
Dark ferny foliage, a fringed pale orange flower…. what’s not to like about this Adonis?
We spent way too much time at John’s but it wasn’t until we checked our watches that we realized how much we had actually imposed on his day! The poor guy had just finished up about ten days of on the road and had been through more states in a week than I hit in a year and here we were not even giving him enough time to enjoy his first day back. So we tried to get a move on it, thanked him again for his hospitality and time, and then rushed through the last hordes of snowdrops, cyclamen, and cacti between us and the exit… did I mention the cacti? I could easily fill a second visit with just the cacti (not that I’m really hinting).
Off to Paula’s!
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis mostly) scattered throughout the garden beds.
Paula has really put in some work into collecting and dividing and spreading snowdrops throughout her garden, and it’s really an inspiration to see the possibilities of what a few years hard work can produce. It makes me wonder when and if my own garden will ever start to show a similar effect of late winter interest. There were goodies everywhere and of course it was the snowdrops which I really honed in on.
Nice established clumps of Galanthus elwesii (the ‘giant snowdrop’) with it’s bigger blooms and grayer foliage.
Paula really has a great winter garden going with snowdrops galore and plenty of color from the earliest bloomers. It’s here where we wound down from our latest snowdrop adventure.
Double snowdrops (Galanthus ‘flore pleno’) and hellebores fill in a shaded slope.
There were hellebores, winter aconite, snowdrops, snowflakes, witch hazels, crocus, all kinds of flowers coming out to brave the last few weeks of winter.
A real nice raspberry veined hellebore. I really need to do a little ‘upgrading’ of my own!
Of course we got bogged down in examining every tiniest bloom and discussed every growing nuance. That’s what makes these garden visits so special.
Galanthus ‘Gloria’, a perfect flower with such long inners with just the smallest touch of white. I really like these ‘pocs’ where the inner petals nearly match the long white outers.
By this point my winter knees were starting to complain about all the kneeling and bending which I’d been putting them through all day. Maybe I should have started getting back into gardening shape a few weeks earlier, but in spite of the little aches and slower pace we carried on for a few more closeups.
You almost wouldn’t guess this were a snowdrop, but it’s Galanthus ‘doncasters double charmer’ in all its crazy, spiky, greenness.
And a final snowdrop….
Galanthus ‘big boy’, just coming up and already big even before it expands to its full size. The green tips are a nice touch and I think I like it!
And then the day was over. Time to hop in the car and head back North.
An orange witch hazel (Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ ) in full bloom as the day ends.
A special thanks to John Lonsdale for a great visit, and thanks of course to Paula for putting up with me for the whole day. It wouldn’t have been half as much fun without her, and when we were pulled over and asking a stranger if they’d mind us traipsing around in their side yard looking at the snowdrops I knew I had the right travel buddy. Until next year!