Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Bloom and Grow (February 2015)

Planning to have blooms in the garden year round is not as hard here in my wee corner of Scotland as it might be in other parts of the world.  We rarely have the extreme winter weather that would hamper winter blooms or the grueling summer heat and drought that might bring some plants to their knees. Taking the garden as a whole, there is always something in bloom but there are some areas around the garden looking better than others and where I think even the smallest of blooms would provide a wee bit of cheer along side the structure that the evergreens provide.  These gaps are none more apparent than at this time of the year.  This monthly series will feature plants I buy in bloom in order to address the issue.        

My February post has, theoretically, been in the making for a whole year.  It all began last February - the point at which I became an admirer of what some call 'special snowdrops'.  The day out to Dunblane would bring with it an opportunity to add to my small collection of special snowdrops.  I started saving my pennies and I do mean pennies.  Each Saturday morning when I finished work, any loose change I had in my pocket would be deposited in the wee glass jar I had labelled 'My Snowdrop Fund'.  Whether they were pennies or pounds, in they went.  It soon all mounted up.   Last weekend I emptied my jar, counted out all the change and took it all to the bank on Monday morning for changing into notes.  It amazed me at just how much I was able to save in this way.  If like me you garden on a budget, it's a great way to save up for that something special you otherwise wouldn't buy.

Off we went, my friend Sheila and I, early on Saturday morning.  It is the first show of the year held by the Scottish Rock Garden Club.  The Early Bulb Show does exactly as it says on the tin.  The day begins with much oohing and aahing at all the wonderful exhibits on show.  It's a chance to see what the growers have looking good this early in the year.  Behind the scenes, the judging of said exhibits takes place and medals are awarded.  The day is split into two, with a break for lunch in between. The talks for this year's show were presented by Kit Strange from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  Kewing for bulbs with Kit Strange - the talk would be in two parts, first would be about growing bulbs at Kew Gardens.  It was detailed and well put together.  For a complete novice, like me, their methods and practices were explained clearly and in a manner that was easy to understand.   For the second talk of the day Kit shared with us images and tales from her trips overseas.  Her experiences and excitement at seeing many of the bulbs growing in the wild, in their natural habitat.  Explaining to us the often harsh growing environment the bulbs have to cope with was quite an eye opener to me.  I had never really considered the bulbs in their natural environment before.  One important lesson I will take away from this talk is to look more closely at the natural environment in which not only the bulbs grow but indeed, some of the other plants I grow.  This should help me make a more informed choice when selecting plants to grow in my garden.

There was time between seeing the exhibits and the commencement of the early talk for our first sweep of the plant stalls.  I did not have a shopping list, per se, you could never guarantee what the growers would have for sale.  The growers would only take with them a small selection of plants and then that would only include plants that were growing well this season.  I commented to my friend that I did not think there was as many growers represented as there had been at previous shows but she disagreed.  I was proved right later in the day as we met up with the owner of my local nursery, who this year, was not selling his wares!  He also mentioned that there was another couple of growers missing.  I digress, I'm sure you don't want to hear me rabbit on about a conversation held over a tuna sandwich - let's get down to the nitty gritty!   What did I buy?  A selection of snowdrops, ranging from around a fiver a pot to the most expensive at £25 per single bulb in a pot.  I think £25 would be the maximum I'd spend, I don't think I could justify to myself spending any more than that.        

Galanthus Wendy's Gold

At last year's show, I passed up the opportunity to purchase Galanthus Wendy's Gold in favour of buying the more expensive G. Sophie North.  The opportunity was not going to pass me by this year. It was the first snowdrop I sniffed out.  I was determined it was coming home with me.  3 stalls later, I found it, phew!  The flower had been in perfect condition when I bought it, I suspect that it was burnt in the sun coming through the car window.  It was beautiful while it lasted!  




Galanthus plicatus Augustus

G. plicatus Diggory was on my wish list, that too would be coming home with me if I was able to source it.  Sadly, none of the stalls had it on offer.  I had been attracted to its dimpled petals. I did however notice that they had G. plicatus Augustus on offer today.  I think Augustus makes a suitable substitute.  Diggory can remain on the wish list for the time being.   Of all the pictures I took, this one shows up the effect on the outer petals best.



Galanthus Merlin
For the best part, I wanted snowdrops that differed somewhat and of course did not fancy spending the kind of funny money that is synonymous with Galanthophiles and their obsession.  My wee glass jar could not possibly hold that amount of dosh!  Fitting the bill, Galanthus Merlin, did just so earlier when I spotted it in the exhibits hall.  I was quite taken with it. Nor did it cost a fortune, again proving the point that you need not spend a lot of money on snowdrops that are noticeably different. The green markings on the inner petals makes this easily recognisable from a distance.



Galanthus S. Arnott

I had read on so many blogs that G. S. Arnott is a much admired cultivar, reliable and scented and at an incredibly low price, who could resist?  Not me, that's for sure!  I grabbed pot to add to my haul. Not that I needed to be quick about it, there were lots of this cultivar for sale.  So much so my friend grabbed a few of them to give away as gifts to visitors she is expecting this week.  Of all the ones I bought, I think G. S. Arnott had the strongest scent.



Galanthus elwesii Fred's Giant

The large showy G. elwesii Fred's Giant, which I've since read was discovered in Aberdeen, Scotland - is described as one of the first to flower, it really did tower over some of the other cultivars on offer today.  It really stood out. The cost too was not prohibitive either.  It will be interesting to see how early it flowers here in my garden. This should be another that will easily recognisable by it's inner markings.    




Given enough time and experience, I do hope that I will be able to identify some of my snowdrops at a glance.  It truly fascinates me how some growers and plants folks, not forgetting the Galanthophiles out there, can, at the drop of a hat, put a name to the face.  I think that by introducing those with different markings will help me to distinguish between the one I want to grow.

We had time to nip back out to the car to safely store our goodies before the first talk commenced. After the break for lunch, we had a stroll round the town.  Again, as in previous years, the Cathedral was closed for lunch.  One day we will get to see inside.  Returning back to the hall, we had our second and what would be our last sweep of the sale tables.  I laughed out loud at a passing comment made to me by an elderly gentleman as I was admiring more snowdrops."Be careful hen, there's nae cure!"  Now he tells me!

Corydalis solida Purple Bird
I hadn't intended to by any more snowdrops, there was other things on my wish list for today but most of them were not available.  I could have had any amount of Iris reticulata I wanted but I already have enough of those, I didn't fancy any more. There was nothing different in the Crocus department either.  I wanted to buy some Corydalis specifically, Corydalis malkensis, Corydalis do well here in my garden and again they were either sold out or not available.  I did however pick up a couple of pots of Corydalis solida Purple Bird.  The seller only had 2 pots left or else I'd have taken more.  I think they'd look quite effective planted en masse beneath the Enkianthus.  A good bit darker in colour than Corydalis solida Beth Evans that already grows around the garden.

Time was catching up with me and it wasn't long before we had to take our seats for the second talk of the day.  I decided to have another look at yet more snowdrops. Yes I know - I probably had enough for one day but my money was really burning a hole in my pocket.   I hadn't bought any double varieties, maybe I could take a look at some of those.

Galanthus Hippolyta

The ever so pretty Galanthus Hippolyta, it's bloom appears far shorter and stouter than some of the others on offer, whether or not this is fact or just an optical illusion, I just don't know.  Those faint markings on the outer petals give it just enough 'something different' to make it stand out from the crowd.




Galanthus Hill Poe



Labelled as one of the best doubles, I could not resist G. Hill Poe. I am reading only good things about this snowdrop since coming home, although I can find no reference to a scent and can't detect one either.  This cultivar is another that is said to flower slightly later than others. I look forward to it opening fully in the coming days.



Galanthus Millhouse


I was recommended Galanthus Millhouse by the grower, another that has markings on it's outer petals.  The marks on the outer petals are lighter than those on the inner.  Another plant that was damaged in transit, the stem is dangling rather precariously.  It held on long enough to let me get a picture at least.




Galanthus elsesii Jonathan
Another snowdrop with something 'a bit different', is said to be G. elwesii Jonathan.  Described as a non white, in this image you can make out what is described as apricot flush on the inner petals. I'm not sure it matches the colour of Apricot though.  The markings on the inner petals remind me somewhat of one of those sock puppets I used to make when I was a child.  Quite possibly an odd description but it's how I see it.  The vendor tells me that in her garden she does not see flushed markings. She knows the provenance of her plants and is at a loss to know the cause.  It will be interesting to see how what it does in my garden.



I came up trumps on my last purchase, Galanthus Trumps, that is. My most extravagant purchase of the day.  I kept going back to it over and over again.  My friend finally gave me the nudge I needed. Telling me that we only had 5 minutes to spare before the next talk began.  I hesitated no more.  G. Trumps was coming home with me.
Galanthus Trumps
I'm seeing this snowdrop described as stunning, beautiful and gorgeous and whilst that might well be, vigorous and reliable are two I was pleased to read.

What about you, do you get the whole snowdrop thing?  I know many of you don't.  Until last year, I just didn't get it either but the more I look, the more I see and then more I like!  Am I on that slippery slope or is it just a whim at the moment?   Who knows, time will tell.

Thanks for reading.  I know many of you mentioned last month that you'd like to join in with this series.  Please feel free to add your link in the comment box, I'm sure we'd all love to see what you've been buying.  It maters not if they are blooming or otherwise - we gardeners always appreciate the chance to drool over something plants.

44 comments:

  1. The snowdrops really are stunning and I enjoyed the review of the different types. I have been looking to possibly incorporate some into my gardens for some winter blooms. Right now we are covered in snow and I hope to see the crocus coming up in the near future once the snow melts.

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    1. I'm sure just as soon as the thaw begins your Crocus will cheer your winter days up Lee.

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  2. I think reading garden blogs about snowdrops is the start of the slippery slope!
    The pictures are really informative, I think I can now say I have 'Arnott' growing in the garden.
    I must get a jar for a "Fund".

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    1. Glad to have helped with your ID Brian. A fund jar is a good idea - I wonder what you'll buy.

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  3. Thank you, Angie, for your kind comment - and for this lovely post. I am so jealous (in a nice way!) of your ability to photograph snowdrops in such a stunning way. They seem to dazzle my camera, and I rarely get the detail I hope for!

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    1. Snowdrops are tricky to photograph Caroline, often the light outdoors is way to glaring. These pics were all taken indoors but it took me quite literally hundreds of attempts to get some that look half way decent. Try putting something black behind the blooms, it often shows the flowers up better.

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  4. I did enjoy this post Angie. You love just the same things as me. Wendy's Gold and Diggory are both on my wish list, how lovely that you got Wendy' s Gold. I have been coveting it for years. Trumps is gorgeous, a friend who has twinscaled it has promised me one next year. I have Augustus, S. Arnott, Merlin, Hippolyta and Hill Poe but I love the look of Millhouse. The Corydalis is lovely too. What a great idea to save up your pennies.

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    1. I have noticed we have some similar tastes Chloris. If and when Wendy's Gold is mature enough, if you've still not sourced it, I'll gladly send you some down. I know you won't be disappointed with Trumps, as you say, it's gorgeous.

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  5. Some lovely snowdrops. I think it's quite easy to become passionate about snowdrops and I quote from my gardening club blog http://gardenersfridayforum.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/plants-for-shady-spots.html
    Gill read from Christopher Lloyd’s book where he derides the plant passion that's become known as Galanthomania and says he likes snowdrops to be straight. Andy Byfield wrote in an article that although Lloyd mused lovingly about some of the snowdrop varieties that flourished at Dixter, but I am also sure that it was he who coined the phrase Galanthobore, disdainful of those gardening folk who come out of hibernation around this time of year, and do nothing else other than eat, drink and sleep snowdrops until February draws to a close.

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    1. Oh, I do hope I don't become a Galanthobore! I think I'm a long way off becoming so obsessed that it consumes me for the whole month of February :)

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  6. Congratulations on your finds! I've read the posts on snowdrops on your and other UK blogs with a degree of fascination, Angie. I haven't seen any American, even those in climates more hospitable to snowdrops than mine (which could scarcely be less hospitable), display the same degree of intensity over a genus. However, as I've been developing a fixation of my own with Grevilleas and certain other Australian plants, I can identify on some level. Agave collectors along the Pacific coast and in the Southwest probably come closest to the Galanthophiles in terms of the intensity with which they pursue their passion.

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    1. Grevilleas are the new snowdrops in your gardenf then Kris ;) Providing we don't get overly fixated we should be ok!
      It strikes me as odd that some of the growers in the US than can grow snowdrops don't have quite the same enthusiasm as some of us here do. Maybe I just read the wrong blogs :)

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  7. Hi Angie, thanks for your beautiful fotos - I posted my snowdrops some days ago - but the most are closed. I have not for all the names, because they are presents from my friends. They do not grow very quick, S. Arnott I have since years, only three bells from one pott. I do not want to collect galanthus, but I'm pleased whem someone give me some as a present. Sometimes I buy some, but I'm not hooked.

    Sigrun

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    1. What lovely gifts to receive Sigrun. I love any gift for the garden - even better when it is plants. Your garden is looking wonderful right now.

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  8. Hi Angie, this is a very dangerous post to read. It should come with a financial health warning! I have always steered very clear of anything which might take me down the slippery slope of snowdrop extravagancies and now look what you've done. I am quite besotted with Merlin and Trumps. A fascinating post.... now I had better start saving.

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    1. Believe it or not Sarah, I considered putting a warning at the top of the page ;) Good luck with saving those pennies :)

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  9. I enjoyed your enthusiastic post even though I would count myself among the doubters where the special snow drops are concerned, I'd much rather see a huge drift of snowdrops than one or two special ones but it doesn't stop me enjoying them in others posts especially as they don't really grow here.

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    1. Christina, I am hoping that the G. nivalis I have spread themselves happily around the garden as I too like drifts of them. The special ones will be planted in the same bed until they clump up a bit and then I can intersperse them in the other beds.

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  10. Angie, I'm sure I have to get a jar for saving my kopeks :))
    Love snowdrops, but a bit of them could be purchased here, I have some wild species in my garden.

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    1. Start with a small jar Nadezda, it fills pretty quickly and then move up a size as the year goes on, it's ever so encouraging ;)

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  11. I do like snowdrops but not to the extent as to become a collector. I like to see them in drifts. Your expedition makes my plant shopping sprees seems very restrained,

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    1. Not so much of an expedition Sue, less than an hours drive but worth it!

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  12. Lovely, lovely photos. You have chosen some really good snowdrops to extend your collection, I have most of them and they are really good reliable varieties which will increase easily. I'm afraid you are on the slippery slope, no hope left for you!

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence in my choices Pauline. It's great to read that you consider them reliable. I'm holding on with dear life so as not too slip too far down that slope!

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  13. I'm another who loves to see snowdrops in drifts and I've seen some big drifts this year and they look stunning. Great photos of the different varieties :o)

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    1. Drifts of snowdrops are a wonderful sight aren't they Julie. I look forward to the G. nivalis I have planted around the garden spreading themselves around and forming big drifts.

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  14. Oh it sounds as if you had a brilliant day Angie and that you came home with some lovely little gems. I smiled at the idea of your 'Snowdrop Jar'. It's amazing just how much loose change can amount to over the course of a year. I'm lucky to have a January birthday so quite often himself gives me snowdrop spending money as my present. I think that choosing 'drops that are distinctive and that clump up well is a generally a good rule of thumb when adding to a collection. I hope that your February 2015 new additions settle in your garden and soon go forth and multiply.

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    1. I have a January birthday too Anna and always insist on garden related gifts. We don't do birthdays in a big way in my family, there are 5 of us with birthdays between Xmas and just after New Year! For my Bday this year I got my White stemmed birch, something I've yet to share with you all.

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  15. I adore your snowdrops, Angie! When I gardened in the Midwest, I didn't even know about Specials, other than Sam Arnott, which I couldn't source for a long time. We could buy G. nivalis or G. elwesii! I did have an elwesii that came up every year with green tips to the outer petals, so that was special in its way :) As you can tell, I would be a galanthophile in a snowdrop climate...! Merlin looks wonderful, and Trumps irresistable...

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    1. It's easier on the pocket to admire from afar Amy:) Glad you like them.

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  16. Your Corydalis solida Purple Bird looks lovely. I am amazed at the diversity of snowdrops.

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    1. It is lovely isn't it Alain. I don't know why but one of my cats has taken a liking to it too and is chewing it to bits!

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  17. Lovely treasuree, Angie, and as always I envy you a little for having all these fab garden events (and gardens!) to go to throughout the year. A bit poor around where I live and I wish I there was an uplifting event somewhere that would steer my gloomy thoughts away from this awful weather...the bulbs seem to love it though...well, guess we can't have it all! Take care :)

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    1. It's sad there is no such event there Annette, I'll bet it would prove quite popular too. You can't the the only one over there with such gloomy thoughts to cheer.

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  18. Angie what a wonderful day you had, I like you 'saving pennies (= £)' I have saved 20p for years now and am often surprised at how much is in my moneybox, perhaps I should use them for my plant buying I had not thought of that,
    I started finding out about where a plant comes from and growing conditions soon after I started gardening, I mostly try to get plants that like or at least can cope in the climate and soil here, the problem I find is finding out the information, there seems to be very little information and most of what there is is general for a large group of plants when in reality there is a lot of variation within a group of plants,
    I'm not addicted to snowdrops but can see they are pretty and delicate looking, which belies their toughness, I've never paid over £20 for any plant and can't imagine doing so, I know people do pay much, much more than that, I thought I was being extravagant when I bought a small conifer for £17 a few years ago, I think you need a small garden or a place where the snowdrops can be viewed up close, to properly enjoy them, I'd be tempted to put them in pots so I can more easily see up into them, enjoy yours, Frances

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    1. Gardening in the conditions you do Frances, it's wise to do the research first. Otherwise, you'd be throwing good money after bad.
      As for spending on plants, I have to say I'm guilty of often paying way too much on occassion.
      These snowdrops are all going into the shady bed near the house, primarily to allow them to bulk up, with a view to spreading them around but now you've got me thinking they'd possibly be best left there to enjoy them better. You might just have changed my mind Frances.

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  19. That's quite an extensive catalog of Galanthus. I had no idea.

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  20. Great post, if the snowdrops don't draw us in, your blog post certainly does. Great read and photos, I have a few in my collection but as I am in between gardens at the moment, I am trying not to buy too many. 'Lady Elphinstone' is a lovely yellow double if you ever see it for sale.

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  21. Oh no, there is no cure for it, I am hooked too! I haven’t spent silly money on any snowdrops yet but I could be tempted if I had any money to spend! Mind you, I have just spent £50 on lily bulbs, but I got 40 bulbs for that price and most of them will grow to over 2m tall when mature so I have effectively bought myself a lily forest for 40 quid. The same amount of snowdrops wouldn’t fill a medium size container. But snowdrops are oh so lovely! I have a few S. Arnott, but I planted them too far into a bed, I need to dig them up and plant them in a pot so I can sniff them whenever I pass them :-)

    I loved your collection of new purchases, especially Wendy’s Gold, Fred’s Giant and Hippolyta, which are all snowdrops I have seen online but not felt I could splash out on…yet. I also like snowdrops that look different to the rest. No point in spending much more money on some if you afterwards can’t even tell them apart from an ordinary Galanthus nivalis. Good luck with yours, I hope they multiply quickly for you!

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  22. I do adore snowdrops and many of the unusual ones although with my critter issues, I hate to buy them and with our winter, I can't put them in containers so I grow the common variety and a couple of the different ones too. I love many of these and especially Wendy's Gold.

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  23. What gorgeous specimens, "Hen"! There's definitely "nae cure" for you! ;)

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  24. Thoroughly enjoyed your fondness and tale of the Snowdrop Angie. I seem to have grown more fond of this plant in recent years. Haven't got around to thinking of a collection though, I am still starstruck with the sight of the common nivalis, and I saw a mail order site which have them in the green for only £9.50 for 100, must get some for the woodland path. The only named variety I had was Sam Arnott, which like yourself, I was very fond of.

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  25. Only just found this Angie; it sounds like you did really well with your purchases. I would say you are further down the slippery slope than myself, but I guess it gets worse every year! I enjoyed this post and and especially recognising some of the those snowdrop names.

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  26. Ciao Angie!! Che belle fioriture!! Qui non si vede ancora nulla!! Troppo secco...

    Un saluto :)

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