Start of the Snowdrop Season

Galanthus Ding Dong

Whilst we are still in the midst of Winter, the first signs that Spring is just round the corner comes from the Snowdrops which are beginning to put on a show.  I have a number of named varieties which flower ahead of the normal Galanthus nivalis.   Above is Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’, named by Avon Bulbs as a nod to the marketing jingle of the Cosmetic company Avon..

Galanthus Selborne Green Tips

Next to it is Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’ which is looking at little nibbled, probably because it grows under the bird feeders and the local pigeons seem to try to eat anything, a bit like avian goats.  I am toying with lifting these clumps now once the flowers have finished, splitting them and planting them in an additional location to protect against losing them.

Galanthus Mrs McNamara

Galanthus ‘Mrs McNamara’ is the star of the snowdrops at the moment.  She started flowering at Christmas and being a larger flower really stands out.  I’m not that clued in to identifying snowdrops but if you look at the photo below you can see how much bigger Mrs McNamara is  compared to another unknown snowdrop

This is a close up of the unknown snowdrop which I am sure is a named variety due to its location in the garden but all the labels have gone, even those I put in last year.  I am going to have to relabel and I think I might need to make some notes or draw a plan as not knowing the snowdrops names is an annual event now.  I think I will also look back through my posts and make a list of the snowdrops I know I have and see if I can identify the unknown ones from that.

Galanthus Godfrey Owen

Every year I add one or two new Galanthus (with labels honest).  This year’s new acquisition, so far, is Galanthus ‘Godfrey Owen’.  As you can see it is a large snowdrop and quite distinctive from the six outer petals all being the same size.  Galanthus ‘Diggory’ is also on my wish list as it has quite distinctive texture to its petals.


A winter’s weekend

Galanthus Ding Dong

I’ve been slowly adding special snowdrops to the garden for a number of years now.  Nothing very unusual but each year I have bought 2 or 3 special bulbs and planted them out in the garden.  So it is thrilling to see them bulking up now and reappearing year after year even if the labels which I know I put with them aren’t so reliable.  Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ is usually one of the first to flower and is now a good size clump from just one bulb.

Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’

Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’ is in the same border as ‘Ding Dong’ and by a process of elimination this should be ‘Selborne Green Tips’ but there is a distinct lack of green tips so now I am befuddled.  I will have to wait and see how the flowers open out and see if there are any more clues.

Another mystery is this hellebore.  I have had it for years and I have always thought it was a helleborus niger but as the plant has grown again I’m not so convinced.  What is really strange is that it always seems to struggle to lift its flowers up, they spend all their time almost prostrate and facing the ground.  If anyone has any ideas I would love to know what it is.

I mentioned earlier that I am reviewing the garden and it is interesting how when you have ignored a space for nearly a year that you then see it with fresh eyes.  One of the areas that is top of my to sort list this year is the compost area.  I have battled with the compost bins for years but  now with my fresh approach I have  decided that enough is enough. They take up a huge amount of space in my small garden and with the best will in the world I’m awful at turning them and managing them.  About once a year I steel myself to empty them out and it nearly kills me partly because I have to move all the unrotted stuff but also because the slopes in the garden makes it exhausting to barrow the good compost around.  So I am planning to do away with them – outrageous I know.  My local council has a green waste collection service so I have bought a wheelie bin and it is collected fortnightly.  I am impressed with how much it takes; so far it has coped with my obsessive tidying up and pruning and if for some reason I create more garden waste than it can take  I will take the extra to the dump and put it in the green waste recycling there.  Then when I need a mulch I will buy some green compost back from the council.  Yes this is a more expensive approach but I buy green compost every year anyway and I doubt I will buy more so I see it as a win win because once I have cleared the current bins I will have a new area to plant up which can only be a good thing.

So that’s the first plan for the new year.

Hope you managed to spend some time in your garden this weekend.



In A Vase on Monday – Snowdrops


Finally the first snowdrops are flowering so I thought I would feature some in this week’s Monday vase, plus it means I get to enjoy them in the evening when I get home from work rather than only at weekends.

There are three varieties in the vase.  The two small ones at the front with the more yellow ovaries are Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ which although it has been in flower for a good week is still late as it normally flowers around Christmas, hence the name. The two to the right of the photo and central are Galanthus ‘Mrs McNamara’, another early which again has been flowering for a few weeks.  This is one of the Galanthus whose name has eluded me until I spent some time tracking back through the blog and plant labels.  On my to do list this month is to make sure any special snowdrops without labels are indeed labelled.  The last snowdrop at the back on the left is Galanthus ‘Galatea’ which has an arching pedicel, thats the thin bit that connects the flower to the stem.  You can see that it’s flowers and Mrs McNamara are larger than Ding Dong.

The vase has been on this meme before, a flea market find, and the backdrop is a pashmina I have had for years.  For someone who doesn’t really wear scarves or pashmina I seem to have quite a few!

Thank you to Cathy for hosting this meme which I am really enjoying.


First Snowdrop of the Year – 2015

Galanthus 'Ding Dong'
Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’

I was thrilled to see that the sunshine has encouraged Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ to open its flowers.  These are the first snowdrops to flower this year in the garden.  I bought the bulbs last year at the AGS Snowdrop Conference and planted them out in the border.  It was a bit of a risk given they weren’t cheap but I have been told by quite a few snowdrop growers that they don’t do very well in pots so I decided to throw caution to the wind and it has paid off – not only have they bloomed again but the clump has already bulked up which bodes well for the future.  The other two clumps of snowdrops I planted last year are showing signs of putting in an appearance so I am feeling more positive about my investment last January.

Boxing Day Flower Count – 2014

Iris unguicularis 'Walter Butt'
Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

This is the fourth year I have done a flower count on Boxing Day.  I had noticed when weeding on Christmas Eve that there seemed to be quite a few flowers around presumably due to the recent mild weather, so it will be interesting to see how things compare.

I am particularly thrilled that Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’ is in flower.  Last year it flowered at the start of December and although the plant is strong and healthy so far this month there had been no sign of flowers but Christmas Eve morning saw this wonderful elegant dainty flower fluttering in the breeze.


This double hellebore has been flowering for weeks, in fact months, since I bought it from a plant sale in October.  It is also covered in buds which means it should continue flowering for some time.  There are lots of other hellebore buds appearing including the Christmas Rose (Hellebore niger) but as yet they are still in tight bud so I can’t really count them.

Viburnum rhytidophyllum
Viburnum rhytidophyllum

The Viburnum rhytiophyllum continues to flower, really lighting up the back corner.  The Abelias which were in flower this time last year have gone over so can’t be included but the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ as per the last two years has its first few flowers coming out. Still no flowers on the Mahonia which I butchered two years ago, it is really putting on good growth so hopefully next year I will be able to include this in the count.


The prostrate Rosemary is also starting to flower and is already becoming popular with bees.

Then we have a whole range of primulas which are flowering away.  They are looking a little battered and I noticed when I was weeding two days ago that many seemed to be being eaten by something – I am assuming slugs.  The weather has been so mild and wet it wouldn’t surprise me that the slugs are still active.


The Viola orduta has also been munched as you can see from the top petals. I have come across some small caterpillars when tidying up so they might be causing the damage.  I shall have to keep an eye on them.


The Jasminum nudiflorum has responded well to pruning earlier in the year and I think I am getting the hang of this unruly plant.  However, it is proving harder to photograph as the flowers seem too shy to be photographed.


Finally the first outside snowdrop – Galanthus Ding Dong’ – has started to flower.  I had hoped it would be fully open for today but I suspect the distinct drop in temperature today has made it hesitate in opening.

There are also two different types of bedding cyclamen flowering and a rose whose bloom opened a c0uple of days ago. In the greenhouse the only flowering plant is Primula palinuri.  This is the first time the plant has flowered having been grown from seed probably two years ago.

The total plants flowering on Boxing Day 2014 is 17 which is up on the last three years when I recorded 12 each year.  Also, with the exception of the Primula palinuri all the other plants are outside which is a huge improvement on last year when a significant number were in the greenhouse.

You can access the previous counts here.

Boxing Day 2013

Boxing Day 2012

Boxing Day 2011

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!!