My Garden This Weekend – 2/2/14

Galanthus 'Selborne Greentips'
Galanthus ‘Selborne Greentips’

This weekend has been excellent from a horticultural perspective.  Saturday was spent at the AGS Snowdrop Conference in Stratford which I shall probably bore you about later in

Galanthus 'Ding Dong'
Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’

the week.  Needless to say I came away with some new purchases: Galanthus ‘Selborne Greentips’, Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’, Eranthis grunling and Eranthis schwefelglanz.  I am a novice when it comes to snowdrops and claim no level of understanding let alone expertise so I followed the advice of a couple of better informed attendees and bought some of the cheaper offerings and ones that looked clearly different to each other to me.

Having been enthused at the conference it was great to wake on Sunday to a blue sky and sun shining; finally an opportunity to get out in the garden.  However, as the ground is so sodden what could be done was quite limited.  I cut back the leaves on the evergreen epimediums so that the flowers which should be emerging in the next few weeks can be seen.  I have been caught out before now by leaving this too late and then trying to cut the leaves back without destroying the flowers.  I knew I had acquired quite a few epimediums over the last year or so but a count up totalled 7 different varieties.  I now need to do some research through my records to work out which one is which and sort out some labels. I also took the opportunity to cut down the various grasses which really have seen better days.


It was cheering to see that all the borders had bulbs pushing through the ground and in the Spring Border adjacent to the Patio the first snowdrops were flowering.  These are everyday snowdops, Galanthus nivalis.  The original bulbs came from the bank opposite my parents’ old house and have been slowly increasing over the last few years.  I have been dividing the clumps and spreading them around the garden; hopefully in a few years they will start looking quite impressive.

Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'
Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

Interestingly, some of the bulbs on the outside staging aren’t that far behind the frost-free greenhouse.  Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ will probably have unfurled its vivid blue petals by the end of this week if the sun shines, only one week behind the pot in the greenhouse.

Talking of the greenhouse, which some of you thought was very tidy in my last post,  it has been tidied further.  I have been planning to take out  the potting bench for some time especially since I have a potting area in the garage which is the right height and gives me easy access to the compost etc which I can now keep in the dry.  I am planning to replace the bench with some more staging but having dragged the bench out and relocated it in the garage I found the extra floor  space in the greenhouse quite wonderful.  The tiny greenhouse feels so much bigger and I can now access the plants on the staging in the far corners which were previously hard to get to.  Plus I do believe  that they are now getting better light. So the jury is out on the extra staging.  I need to make a decision soon as it was one of the things I had asked for my birthday which is a month today.


Finally, I have been fascinated by the Christmas Rose that is growing in the garden.  It was planted probably four or five years ago and has slowly established and has flowered for the last three years. This year the plant has been in flower for several weeks but the flowers have been face down flat on the ground and I have been able to lift them; it was as if they had clamped themselves to the soil.  Today, I noticed that they were starting to lift themselves up and you can now just about see the flower properly.  I haven’t seen them behave like this before even when covered in snow so it will be interesting to see what the plant does next year.

According to Bob Brown, of Cotswold Garden Flowers, being able to grow Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) makes me a witch as in his view they are impossible to establish or even grow successfully in pots – a debate at last week’s HPS group meeting – and you have to be a witch or a warlock to succeed.  I always knew I had something special!!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh you have no idea how happy you have made me, if Bob Brown thinks the Christmas Rose is hard to estabish maybe I just have to accept a lack of witchcraft in my blood – or just that they are hard. I lost two out of the three I bought last year, and the survivor isn’t flowering. I am going to try it in richer soil.

    Your weekend sounds perfect, and I can understand why you are hesitating over the extra staging. I’m not a galanthophile but that ‘Selborne Greentips’ is spectacular, and I think I would be severely tempted by anything called ‘Ding Dong’ though the snowdrop looks a lot more elegant than the name suggests.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      hi Janet
      I was rather chuffed when it became clear that Christmas roses weren’t that easy. The consensus was that they did well with dry conditions in the summer. Mine is planted by some box so I think they gets quite dry in summer.

    2. Hi Helen, I read somewhere about Niger coping with dryer conditions, it was one of my reasons for going for it, but it still clearly doesn’t particularly like it. Do you think it could be the wind exposure?Although it grows on mountain sides in the wild, which leaves me confused about whether I should try moving it to a more sheltered position or leave it be and see if it extablishes after all!

    3. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Janet
      This resembles the discussion we had at the group meeting. As ever there were differing views and experiences. Mine grows tucked in between a box and a rhodo. It sat for a few years and did nothing, the plant itself hasn’t really grown in size but presumably it has been putting its energy into putting roots down. I have another planted at the same time literally across the other side of a path and it just sits there, no flowers at all. It is more exposed to the weather. But as you say they grow on the side of mountains so I am mystified!

  2. Cathy says:

    I thought Janet would be pleased about that hellebore lore!!! My niger has only just lifted its flowers – don’t know if you have read about it – trimming the leaves back and getting more light to them seems to have done the trick as they had been grovelling at ground level for all the time I have had the plant. My special snowdrops are only just beginning to open fully so it lovely to see your Selborne Greentips in all its glory – although if it was potted and inside where the Snowdrop Day was then the warmth will have encouraged that. Enjoy them!

  3. Chloris says:

    Helleborus Niger does really well in some gardens and not in others- nothing to do with sorcery. I do like Bob Brown and I love his nursery but he is very opiniated. I love your Galanthus Ding Dong, I think I am going to have to look out for this one.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Chloris
      Bob was joking at the time, it was all very light hearted but the general consensus was that it was difficult to establush

  4. Anna says:

    Please, please come back and bore us later in the week on the subject of snowdrops Helen 🙂 Your new purchases look most attractive to me especially ‘Ding Dong’, which I’ve nearly but not quite yet been tempted by (in other words will succumb sooner than later). Always thought that there was magic in your fingertips.

  5. Pauline says:

    How wonderful to be able to go to a Snowdrop Conference, my idea of heaven! Love your Selbourne Greentips, fantastic markings. I did have G. Ding Dong a few years ago, but it only lasted one year I think unfortunately

  6. Ricki Grady says:

    I knew there must be hidden benefits to witchery. Welcome to the coven.

  7. foamofdays says:

    I love snowdrops! I have exactly 1 flowering right now in the garden.. But we (me and my dog) found quite a lot of them flowering in the wild.. Somehow they are happier to flower in the wild rather than in my garden.. And no, none of my Christmas Roses bought from different sources ever managed to come up again in my garden 😦

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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