Galanthus "Llo "n" Green"

I love reading the enthusiasts on the forum for the Scottish Rock Garden Club They know their plants and the posts related to snowdrops are particularly interesting. It was there that I first saw reference to Joe Sharman's "Golden Fleece" featured here last week though it was then actually named "Galanthus plicatus yellow Trym" . Such is progress. The posts serve, too often, as a shopping list. A couple of years ago I noted the name "Galanthus 'Llo "n" Green", on the very same list as the yellow specimen above, and an image of a green tipped beauty. The green tips are described as being variable. The bulb is certainly my first snowdrop to bloom displaying green markings on the petals. My bulb was provided by a superlative plantsman from nearby Harrogate, purchased on eBay and a bolster  to those who feel eBay an unsatisfying or intimidating market. The image below shows how the little nivalis survived last week's journey through the post to land in a small pot on my display table. How do you pronounce Galanthus 'Llo "n" Green' ? Probably with a French swagger as it came from there.

Renishaw's Bluebells, May 2016

Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire has one of the finest displays of bluebells on earth. So before I lead off on a succession of blogs on bulbs now venturing out in my own modest garden, I'll go grand and whet appetites with this snippet from a fine spring day in the bluebell woods.

And for the sake of colour symmetry I'll throw in an unnamed ceanothus and guess that the second shrub is Rhododendron 'Blue Tit' because I purchased it on that basis.

Keukenhof Gardens, Part 2 (Orchids)

We are undecided yet whether to visit Keukenhof Gardens again this Spring. Our last visit was three years ago and the Dutch gardens are in direct competition with the Mediterranean for a break. The sun may win out. For now a reminder of the orchid house held in the Beatrix Pavilion where forty Dutch orchid specialists surpassed themselves with displays that rivaled the spectacle outside.

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs McNamara': a stately flower

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs McNamara' is up there in my top ten snowdrops. In many ways it exemplifies the plant. There is a stately grace about the flower, like swans gracing the park lake. It is a tall snowdrop, classically shaped and flowering early. Indeed it has been in flower for nearly two weeks here in Yorkshire. I have featured it previously and gladly repeat myself. That invaluable source of rare plants and encyclopedic detail, Dr. Paul Christian, describes it as "arguably our tallest and longest-lasting snowdrop." I heartily concur. But, and there is usually a "but", the dear lady has proven not nearly so fertile as I had hoped. Last year I had four blooms, this year the same. And it is all my fault. I lost some snowdrops last year and decided I was overfeeding the bulbs after they had flowered. In the same part of the garden Japanese anemones proliferate like mad, sucking out what goodness was still left in the soil in preparation for what turned out to be great autumnal displays. I fear the old lady suffered in the competition. I'll feed her up for next year.

Photographing snowdrops

Bright, still days are rare in February. I've lost count of the times I've steadied the camera lens on some exquisite snowdrop only to have the wind gust and the image blur, or it has proven too dark because it's winter and the flash seems to wash the vitality of the flower away, or the result seems to have lost all its detail, or ... So here is a link to a helpful article from Alexandra Campbell that in turn is based on the advice of photographer, Lisa Valder. The article, How to create beautiful photos of snowdrops, was written a year ago and I do wish I had discovered it earlier. It might have saved me many a disappointment. I've added Alexandra's excellent blog to my list on the right.

Galanthus plicatus 'Golden Fleece' - an eBay record?

I'll put my neck on the line and predict a record price in the current eBay auction for an astonishing snowdrop described thus: "The first fully pterugiform yellow snowdrop which took Joe Sharman 10 years to create." It is just over £100 as I type but there's room to go and sadly the bulb will not be in my garden for quite some time. We can all dream and Joe is a fantastic gardener. I've bought bulbs from him many times in the past. Not this one however. I'll just admire the images from the auction.

Addendum: 6.00pm Thursday (UK time) the price has risen to over £200. I have just discovered the bulb went for £1390 in February 2015 so I guess that record is not on. Still, the price will be high.

And Stop Press: £442. I wonder if the bulb's fate is to be sliced into bits in May and dunked in vermiculite?

Galanthus "Godfrey Owen" and Raindrops

Technically speaking, "Godfrey Owen" is notable as the only elwesii cultivar to have six inner and six outer petals. It is described as being mid-season. My own specimens have been in flower much earlier however and in the mild and wet weather we are presently experiencing, they are opening out to display their distinctive charms. The blooms would have spread out more had I waited a week but such was the beauty of the flowers this morning with last night's raindrops captured by my new camera lens that I could not resist. I wrote about the bulb last year and am pleased to report how well it has increased to fill the pot, a charming sight from our kitchen and a good buy should the opportunity arise. Mine came from Matt Bishop in 2014. There are different snowdrops, but none prettier.


Buying Snowdrops on eBay

I have been much taken by the bidding on eBay over the last few weeks. Snowdrop bulbs that may be obtained for a weighty but fixed amount from well known traders on-line are making much larger sums due to the bidding frenzy of the internet auction. All power to the eBay sellers for I have bought from the same individuals in the past, discovering them to be friendly, informed and providing excellent bulbs, well packaged. Indeed, having just purchased five snowdrops from a well known nursery, I have to say that the size of the bulb and the packaging has been inferior to those specialists who sell on eBay.  A quick google might assist one in deciding how much to spend. My own purchase on Saturday was almost half the price of exactly the same bulb sold by the same seller the previous weekend. So it pays to be patient. I bid in advance, deciding just how much I am prepared to pay and checking on progress when the auction has completed. I lose some, win others. (Actually I lose most.) Laughably I put in what I considered a high bid for "Green Tear". It went for £200 no less. Five years have gone by since its record price. Has no-one heard of twin-scaling? A laughable bid, so you won't be seeing that particular specimen on my blog this year at least. There are one or two green ones to come though and almost as good, I think.... Or is it sour grapes, green ones?

On another tack, here's a small pot of two specimens planted last year and featured here in full colour. "Trymming" and "Percy Picton" are in bud. One is burgeoning, the other promising a solitary if beautiful flower. One cost two and half times the other. Guess which one is parsimonious, which profuse? You've guessed it. Sod's law. The little solitary fellow on the bottom right is "Trymming".

I believe I mentioned yesterday that it is a wet winter. "Godfrey Owen" got soaked poor fellow. I have a pot full of bloom. Expensive (still) but a fertile fellow and very attractive.

Winter colour in the rain: Viburnum × bodnantense 'Dawn' & Hamamelis Intermedia 'Diane'

My front garden's most spectacular colour in a grey, wet winter so far is provided by Viburnum × bodnantense 'Dawn', purchased eons ago from Hodsock and now masking the brown foliage of next door's leylandii hedge. That mess is masked completely in the warmer seasons by green leaves and blossom and, thank goodness, presently by the bright blossom of this fragrant winter shrub. I normally photograph birds on the bird table. Today I captured the pink backdrop.

And on the subject of winter blossom, I confess I have been previously underwhelmed by my expensive witch hazel, Hamamelis Intermedia 'Diane' . All change as the red blossom penetrates the gloom. Even my next door neighbour's attention! She told me this morning it was a pleasure to open her bedroom curtains and see the red and pink flowers in our garden. If she got up close she would of course see the real beauty and even detect the subtle scent that is a boon on wet winter days. Did I mention the rain? Dawn and Diane. Enticing beauties.

Helleborus Harvington Single Yellow

My Helleborus Harvington Single Yellow four years since purchasing it from Twelve Nunns Nursery is looking fresher than ever since rectifying my failure to both top dress and feed it for the past couple of years. Feeding plants is elementary but tucked away in a corner sometimes one forgets things. I forgot! There is a double yellow variety that may well find its way onto the display bench later this month. Below is a picture of "Christmas Carol" looking somewhat more yellow than its fresh faced white original in 2015 but still attractive.

African violet (Saintpaulia)

Today was a difficult day as my wife had to have her arm operated on following her fall on Sunday. Walking in the dark is not to be advised. Anyway the pins are in place and pain killers hopefully will kick in. We arrived home to discover her sister and brother-in-law had left her a small consolation. We used to have lots of African violets in the house, house plants generally. It is about time we made a break from orchids.

Witch hazel, Nostell Priory, New Year's Day

January weather is not expected to be good so a suggestion of lighter cloud in the west had us travelling through the gloom and driving rain to Nostell Prior near Wakefield. This was not the weather to distract me from my hoped for villa somewhere warm but we trudged through the mud, saw a touch of blue in the sky and enjoyed one of the witch hazels planted some three years ago. My phone doubled as a camera but it was worth it. I suspect the variety to be Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' and in a more favoured spot than my own that is a few weeks off yet I fear. I arrived home to discover my own red variety looking quite good in the cold drizzle so I collected my camera and ... decided to have a coffee in the warmth. Always another day for photography. Oh, and have a great New Year!

And remembering .....

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'