Monday, 12 March 2018

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'

'Mighty Atom' is weeks later than last year. Here is the very same snowdrop in flower on 26th January two years ago and that was a week later than the previous year.  I've given up any certainty about flowering times for snowdrops. Yes there are earlies, yes there are lates, no I'm not completely certain of when or indeed 'if' for there are a few competitors around. If you Google the name 'Mighty Atom' you will discover different snowdrops, often being sold as 'Bill Bishop'. I purchased my 'Mighty Atom' from Matt Bishop some years ago and it is sightly different to 'Bill Bishp'. So it is that I present my own contender just filling out, short of stem and big of flower. And late.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Lake District, Derwentwater, Borrowdale, 29th October 2014

We're planning a few days in the Lake District. The following images accelerated our desire. One of the most beautiful places in one of the most beautiful National Parks. And my birth county.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Looking Down on Phil and Barbara: Galanthus 'Phil Cornish' and 'Barbara's Double'

I take a lot of photographs of snowdrops at eye level, so as best to appreciate their finer points. Of course, the natural viewpoint is from above so here are two snowdrops I have written about previously, 'au naturel': 'Phil Cornish' and 'Barbara's Double' are shown directly from above so it's hardly natural, just another perspective. Don't they make a bonny couple! I'd venture to suggest the former is one of the nicest marked snowdrops on the market. It's not a cheap buy but better than some, possibly all, that I have seen for huge sums on eBay or at plant fairs. 'Barbara's Double' is one for the collection, just such a pretty snowdrop.

When one pays a pretty sum of money for a single snowdrop cultivar it is reassuring to know that s/he will not stay single for long, and one hopes for large families. Such is the case with the very handsome Galanthus nivalis poculiformis, often referred to simply as 'poculiformis'. It is a pure white form possessing six petals and is particularly good when fully open which today it was not. That apart it is towards the inexpensive end of the Poculiformis Group or, for those whose education was unhampered by Latin lessons, 'little cup' from the Latin 'poculus'. I studied Latin to a decent level at school but believed the form denoted something to do with all white flowers. I should have studied harder for it refers to the form where the inner and outer petals are very similar. So my little fellow may be forgiven for the spot of green on the inner petal. I digress. The original bulb has clumped up very well indeed.

And another hepatica is in flower, the Hepatica japonica 'Imaizumi'. There is a huge range of such varieties sharing one thing in common: they're not cheap. So my collection is limited and will remain so until and if they seed themselves as did the seedling that closes today's blog. it is minuscule in reality.

Monday, 5 March 2018

After the Snow..... Spring

Well it's not really but it feels like it with temperatures at 12C and bright sunlight. Anyway the crocuses are out in force this afternoon. Crocus sieberi 'Ronald Ginns' looks particularly gorgeous. Just what the doctor ordered. It may not be the cheapest around but it certainly stands out. Raised by Ray Cobb from nearby Nottinghamshire - him of the yellow snowdrop that I don't have - they have increased measurably since first planting two years ago. There's nothing better on a sunny day than a field of crocuses. I don't have that much of an area, only a front lawn full of self sown seedlings. 'Ronald Ginns' however is in my biggest planter underneath the deciduous Viburnum Juddii.

It is always a relief when the snowdrops pop out of the snow untouched. Indeed some cultivars are desperately in need of splitting for next year. 'Uncle Dick' has clumped up and he is a handsome relative.

The yellows threaten to steal the show. I was a bit sniffy about Galanthus nivalis 'Blonde Inge' because, of all things, its ovary is a rather ordinary green. Churlish of me. There's such a freshness about it and for a nivalis it's a decent size. A charmer in the border.

Galanthus plicatus 'Wandlebury Ring' is a larger, taller variety exhibiting a little lateral growth at the moment. The yellow stands out. I did read a well known American blogger on snowdrops describe the British snowdrops as rather lacking in yellow compared with her own State. She put it down to the lack of sun. As she had been visiting a snowdrop garden in Northumberland she might have been unduly influenced by England's northernmost counties. I get the same feeling when visiting there in June, July, August ,,, Whatever, the yellow snowdrops are yellow even after our dull and dreadful winter.

Galanthus plicatus 'Madeleine' is very similar to 'Wendy's Gold'. I've read that it clumps up better and flowers better and is better. They both seem pretty good to me. 'Wendy's Gold' has done everything 'Madeleine' has done. And both are glorious in our Yorkshire sun ...

Now an apology. I featured 'Trymming' here at the beginning of February. Well it's still in glorious bloom but it's not 'Trymming', it's 'Trymlet'. I only read the top of the label and charged right in. By the magic of  technology I shall now proceed to change the name to demonstrate my infallibility. Trouble is I'm exceedingly fallible. If you want a spectacular spotted snowdrop that clumps up with almost magical ease, and lasts longer than a film star's coiffure, go for 'Trymlet'. If you want 'Trymming' read on. You can see that both snowdrops are very similar being bred from the popular 'Trym'. They both clump up well, 'Trymming' at present being a little shorter with bigger flowers. 'Trymlet' is the more charming perhaps being earlier, taller and with a mass of smaller though showy flowers. Both very eye-catching. Mind you, and I win a prize every time for being decisive, the two-tone markings on the petals could just swing the vote. A bit like promises on red buses. No, I'll stick with my first choice.

Finally a new look at 'Flocon de Neige'. It looks fragile but is not. Gazing downwards the six perfect petals are spread out to, well, perfection, and adopting a worm's eye view, it looks pretty good to all God's creatures.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Alpine House, Harlow Carr

Thick snow was covering the garden until today's rain and slight thaw. Still, time for the Alpine House at Harlow Carr. All 24m of it.

Primula allionii makes a striking show within the protection of glass walls.

Saxifraga 'Gemma'

Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' looking less beaten down by adversity than mine in the garden

Saxifraga allionii 'Elizabeth Burrow'

Saxifraga 'Miluj Mne' 

Ipheion uniflorum 'Rolf Fiedler'  - another that in my garden is looking a little sorry for itself at the moment

I was intending to show the difference between 'Brenda Troyle' and 'Sam Arnott', two very similar snowdrops. I will!

Years ago I saw Cyclamen cilicium  in the hills of Greece and it triggered a great love of all things cyclamen. I've had more flowers on mine however.
Saxifraga 'Kathleen' and spelt as my mother-in-law's name 

Saxifraga hybr. 'Večerní Hvězda' and my favourite of the day.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

eBay Sellers of Snowdrops You Can Trust!

I wrote a short blog a few days ago in which I criticised a criminal selling snowdrops on eBay. Well I feel a little guilty as my overwhelming experience of buying snowdrop cultivars on the auction site has been positive.

  • the seller who packaged a ridiculously cheap snowdrop as beautifully as if it were a crown jewel and included a helpful handwritten hint or two about its cultivation
  • the eBay arm of one of the big snowdrop companies from whom I bought six different early flowering cultivars only a few weeks ago, for them to arrive in such profusion and for such an acceptable 'Buy Now' price that I could have immediately resold the bulbs for the total price and had the originals to spare
  • the well known breeder of snowdrops who discovered his advertised bulb was a little smaller than he had anticipated and sent three bulbs instead
  • the sellers, and there are many, with whom one can have a conversation and build up a relationship. One or two are now friends

  • For many of the sellers, the funds go towards the purchase of the ever growing number of cultivars one simply can't do without. They mostly arrive fresh and, through a variety of means, they are intact to such a degree that I can unpack them, pot them up and the flower is unblemished.

    So for these sellers, big and small, may I contribute a list of those from who have offered premium service over the years and from whom I would unhesitantly purchase again. I commend them to readers of my blog. And I should say that the list will be added to as I realise those I've missed or receive new information. Oh, and by the way, there is no hierarchy of sellers here, they are merely as they were extracted from my email records.

    Of course, the best things in life are free! (Nostell Priory)

    Tuesday, 27 February 2018

    Laburnum Arch, Brodsworth Hall, May 16th 2017

    One tends to take one's locality for granted. We live nearby the stunning English Heritage property, Brodsworth Hall. We use it as a park, the facility more than paying back the cost of our annual subscription. Over the years we have seen a stupendous improvement in the gardens, from snowdrops in January, massed bedding displays in spring and summer, and throughout the year the gloriously maintained topiary. The gardens are one of only three on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens to Grade II*. The neglected gardens covering some 15 acres, and in the structure of the 1860s, received funding from the UK's lottery fund in 2002, the restoration initially supposed to take three years but the reality is that there has been continuous work to restore a grandeur I suspect was never quite as wondrous as it is now, despite the size of the 19th century workforce, a number only to be dreamed of by the more streamlined team working there today. The reason of course is that the trees and shrubs have achieved maturity and been shaped to an uniformity unknown in nature. Which leads me to the laburnum arch.

    I suspect we visited a week or so before the laburnums fleshed out to their full glory
    The formal spring bedding looking splendid to be replaced a few short weeks later with summer plants
    Brodsworth Hall Fountain, restored, eye-catching and cascading - not always the case

    The first of three of the structures, this Victorian privy was a restored, or rebuilt to be frank, last year

    Cutting down the overgrown trees and shrubs revealed to visitors of the house and gardens, the largely 12th century St Michael and All Angels, the vista recreated from an old photograph. If the visit is timed correctly tea and cakes are provided there several times a year and they are always delicious...
    Just a glimpse of the house itself viewed from behind the shrubs`clipped to a measured inch of their lives
    Different members of the gardening team take responsibility for the choice of bedding plants for spring and summer

    The chalet or summer house

    Monday, 26 February 2018

    Bumblebees, Winter Sun & Crocuses

    I'm very fond of bumblebees. When I discover them exhausted and dying in the garden or trapped behind windows I give them a spoonful of sugared water and, sometimes if they're lucky, send them on their merry way. Big gentle creatures. This hairy beauty loved the crocuses in the front garden. I hope she can find her way back to her cosy nest and gets back to sleep. Dreadful weather is threatened for the week:
    'Bitterly cold temperatures and deep snow are forecast across
     the UK this week as weather blows in from Russia.' BBC

    Saturday, 24 February 2018

    Galanthus nivalis 'Flocon de Neige', 'Springwood Park' & 'Barbara's Double'.

    The first image is of a rather choice snowdrop that should be in everyone's collection. However, first things first. Galanthus nivalis 'Flocon de Neige' was featured last year and I had hoped it would clump up. No such luck although there are enough leaves to suggest potential for next year. It is a small snowdrop with six perfectly formed outer petals.

    Galanthus nivalis 'Springwood Park'

    Now back to the fetching snowdrop that was pictured at the start of the blog and it is a rather larger flowered nivalis cultivar, the poculiform 'Springwood Park'. It has quickly formed a small clump. I was told it would be slow growing by the grower. This is a beautiful snowdrop and I recommend it wholeheartedly. I love the touch of gold at the top of the flower, a warm feature that persists throughout the flowering period. Of course it is the pure white that most captivates. The first two photographs were taken this morning, the third this afternoon as the flowers opened out in the strong sun.

    I am not quite so keen on the double varieties. However I'll make an  exception for 'Barbara's Double', a neat medium sized flower with fine markings positioned in such a way as to be visible from my normal position six feet up. I'm not one of those enthusiasts who crawls in the soil to steal a closer look. Barbara was the daughter of Lady Beatrix Stanley, her namesake in the snowdrop world also a double and shown in a post last year. It is another in the notable selection from Sibbertoft Manor in Northamptonshire, now rather sadly a nursing home albeit an award winning one.