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)

    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

    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

    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.

    Moorcroft at Hodsock Priory this Weekend

    Moorcroft, that quintessentially English pottery company is presently displaying its latest ranges at that most English of snowdrop sanctuaries, Hodsock Priory. You have only Saturday and Sunday to visit. The first pot here is specially made for the exhibition and I have taken a few images of the snowdrop/hepatica/winter themed ranges. There's a lecture and demonstration in the morning and various experts on hand to guide you. We were all given a £50 money off voucher and there was a definite queue of buyers so it seems a commercial success. I didn't part with my voucher however although I was tempted by the very large owl at the end. The ticket price of £4000 was admittedly a distraction. There were however other discounted pieces to tempt most pockets.

    Wasps and Perfume

    There they sit on the display bench, swaying in the merest hint of a breeze. Galanthus 'Wasp' is at its finest now, flowering slightly later than suggested by some observers. Whilst many snowdrops are the same, 'Wasp' is full of character with its narrow shape and willingness to fly in the air. There's not even a sting these days with a plentiful supply to blunt the prices. I'm in the process of moving a lot of my cultivars from pot to border; in this case I'll maintain the display at eye level so I can duck!

    Is there anything more sensational in the deep winter garden than Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'? Well not here in the UK. Visiting Harlow Carr at the weekend I noted a lot of different daphnes without encountering one with the sheer exuberance of fragrance of 'Jacqueline'. The scent is present all day and night, spreading throughout the front garden. Neighbours love it and coach parties... I published a close-up last year so here is a section displaying the multitude of small flower clusters that light up our garden. In my opinion there is something of the hyacinth in the fragrance. Actually, you can see the slight yellowing of the leaves here, something that has been absent for years since I heaped some lime chippings under the shrub. I took a chance and it paid off, so I'll repeat the exercise as soon as it ceases to flower.

    Hoops and Hepaticas

    Normally I have little problem deciding which plant to feature first: I normally go with the more spectacular. On a brilliantly sunny if chilly morning there was no problem. Returning home this afternoon, another plant took my eye. So in no particular order .... Hepatica japonica Haato no Kingu is spectacular with a cluster of showy flowers startling in that they brave the cold without the unaffordable alpine house. I give more attention to hepaticas than any other plant. This one is sited in the most sheltered and sunny part of the garden during the cold months and I give it shade in summer as it needs moisture. In nature it would sit under trees, only obtaining direct sunlight in early spring before the leaves unfurl. Narcissus 'Lemon Flare' was photographed first thing this morning, delectable despite a light frosting. From grass-like shoots, hoop petticoats emerge in profusion if well grown. In the last few years I have become a fan and even my family notice them, not necessarily the case with all our plants. 'Yes, Dad, did I tell you about the er yawn.' (Our grandson takes another approach: 'It was the ball's fault.')

    How to make money from fraud using eBay (and the money back guarantee from PayPal that isn't)

    'Galanthus 'Cinderella' after two months since purchase on eBay.
    "here we have a cute collection of the stunning small snowdrop 'Cinderella,with x6 young,3 south hayes lastt but not least the charming greenfinch all are a very good quality bulb, these all are a very nice galanthus to have in your collection,these bulbs shall be kept healthy and placed in the right environment and stored  at the correct temperature,thank you for looking and i wish you all a merry Christmas and a wonderful snowdrop new year." (19.12.17)

    1. To defraud buyers of snowdrops on eBay is easy. First obtain an account with both - they are supposed to be separate but really aren't.

    2. Steal some images from Google of the valuable snowdrops you are selling. They have a legal owner but, hey, you're going to do something far worse.

    ''Cinderella taken from eBay auction

    'Cinderella' taken from Scottish Rock Garden Club

    3. Obtain some common snowdrop bulbs in a juvenile state (this is important.) If you have them in your garden great, but you can always dig them up from the wild. (Illegal but ....)

    4. For the eBay auction say the bulbs are 'fresh' or 'detached offsets' (a good one this). Use one of the stolen Google images in your description. Why not say recent heavy rain has washed out your raised bed giving you sixty or so 'Rosemary Burnham', for example.

    5. Wait for the bids to flood in.

    6. Obtain the money from the 'winner' in your PayPal account.

    7. Send off some of the small bulbs of your probably wild snowdrops in a margarine tub or some such other cheap packaging. And don't forget to charge a lot for the privilege.

    8. Wait for the Feedback to come in. The buyer has received bulbs he or she believes are correct. You'll get the good feedback you need from the polite people who normally buy such things.

    9. Tidy up the extensive nursery for your bulb making enterprise generating hundreds of sales of rare named snowdrops. A single wet wipe may be required for the kitchen table.

    10. If there is a delay in obtaining feedback make a promise of the odd three or four 'Cowhouse Green' that you have somewhere when you do some 'uplifting'.
     'i shall send you a replacement and the cowhouse when i uplift them friday ready for my local sales,i should of kept you updated but ive been ever so busy thank you' (20.02.18)
    All you need is that feedback so a promise of riches may help to persuade your buyer.
      ('hi ian if you pay post i have a gift for you') 
    (I didn't send the postal charges, by the way! And he never sent the 'gift' despite other promises.)

    11. Complain of overwork in getting ready for the market if there is a further complaint.

    12. Ignore further requests. Get abusive if challenged. Threaten legal action. Remember you've already got the feedback from those nice buyers of your fake snowdrop cultivars.
    ' Please feel free and where an when have I been picking wild snowdrops you have got your information wrong now go and get a life picking snowdrops what rubbish'

    13. When there's a lot of complaints and it's getting a little hot, hide your History on eBay. You can. Your previous good record will minimise the impact for some time. The percentage may go down a point or two but the details are not available.

    14. Change your name. Always a good ploy. Instead of galanthophilesgreen try '1bestof1'. (Give it a try, readers.)

    15. All this is unnecessary for the majority of your buyers who are waiting for the tiny bulbs to mature. Trouble is in most cases this will be outside the 180 days PayPal money back guarantee. This matters not one jot to you. And you won't have many claims.

    16. And if the worst comes to the worst, in the interests of fairness and minimising the money back guarantee, PayPal will find in your favour in a matter of days because the buyer hasn't got proof the tiny shoots are not the snowdrops in the auction. This scam is foolproof.

    17. And if there is any further complaint, PayPal will not change their decision despite the nice lady on the phone being sweet because it has been decided. The resolution will not work against you because you have rights as a seller.

    18. And should everything fall apart there's a good chance the police will be so busy they won't deal with the complaint.

    The seller purports to be James Arthur Bulmer from Crook in the North East of England. His email is scarnan111@outlook.com but it can change.

    Others have been tricked. Read this. The link provides various members' accounts of their dealings with Richard. They include images like mine and a very interesting photograph of just what will emerge from the bulbs when and, in my case, if they flower. You may be surprised to learn that they are ..... the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis.

    Paypal and eBay are still letting James Arthur Bulmer trade although, despite his change of identity, he has not placed any more small snowdrop bulbs on sale. He's told one of his buyers he's off to somewhere warm. He's made thousands of pounds from the scam.

    I shall now leave PayPal and only buy snowdrops on eBay from buyers I know. There's a list on the above link although there are others I have used and I intend to publish a list of these shortly.

    And if James should like to challenge me in court I'd welcome the opportunity. I have also traced the original images used on James' eBay auctions for most of his sales to other buyers. As examples, 'Dragonfly' the image stolen from our own Avon Bulbs, and James went international with a German site for South Hayes.
    ' That’s what am saying there not mine look at my listing photos' (20.02.18)

    I have forwarded a more detailed copy of this to the Police 'Action Fraud'.
    Just  time to add the following:

    'We've completed our review and unfortunately are not able to decide this case in your favor.
    During our review, we found that the seller had sufficiently described the merchandise.
    Transaction Details 
    Case number: PP-006-658-413-722
    Seller's name: James arthur Bulmer
    Seller's email: scarnan111@outlook.com
    Seller's transaction ID: 5JP88058B04793300' (20.02.18)

    Ebay and PayPal have been contacted by an expanding number of angry customers. Yet they have upheld a fraudster's case. The criminal wins. I have earned my money in the past from writing for a variety of outlets. I have plenty of material to do so again, don't you think.

    'Rosemary Burnham' and the meaning of the word 'virescent'

    The vocabulary of the keen galanthophile can be daunting. Personally when someone writes or speaks in the technical terms beloved of snowdrop lovers in all their finery I get a buzzing in my head and wonder what's for dinner. Sometimes however an odd technical term or two can turn the conversation in your direction. And so to 'virescent' defined as 'becoming green' or words to that effect. Thus when enthusiasts speak of a virescent snowdrop they refer to a green snowdrop. (There's also a word for an all white snowdrop but too much buzzing spoils the appetite.) 'Rosemary Burnham' is one such. 'Green Tear' was another dealt with earlier in the month.

    Fashions in the snowdrop world ebb and flow. Three years ago green snowdrops were more popular in the obsessive world of galanthopiles than hot tea in the garden café on a cold February day in North Yorkshire. Today it is probably yellow snowdrops. But I digress. I did write about the flower last year, I can report that the single bloom has doubled and, touch wood, it appears very healthy. I fully intend to separate my best snowdrops into two this year to avoid losses. Don't get me started on 'Elizabeth Harrison'. And as one of my finest, 'Rosemary Burnham' will be in two different places after flowering. I recommend this cultivar, by the way. It's very pretty indeed, Just don't plant it among bushes. Virescent snowdrops get lost in foliage.

    Yellow Snowdrops in the Rain

    The temperature is 12 °C and heavy rain has given way to light rain although the skies have not lightened. We do get bright weather in the UK, or so I've been led to believe. Having gardened all morning, or at least revealed the block paving drive from under moss and algae, I stopped the pressure washer long enough to take a few photographs of some of the rapidly emerging yellow snowdrops. I did not take the time to note the exact names of the forms though I think I'm correct. The first thing to say is that they all look very alike, save for  'Ecusson d'or'. 'Wandlebury Ring' is not featured as it was not fully opened. It however is a little taller and stands out. 'Blonde Inge', such a pretty thing, is also not out yet. And my first yellow to flower, 'Bill Curtis', looked as if he's had a bad night so  I couldn't subject him to the ordeal. And before someone tells me they all look the same, I'll say, yes they are very similar. Remember that when writing out the cheque, or flashing the card at the reader. There are however differences of height and manner of growing. I'll get round to that another day. Finally, if the yellow has got to you, enjoy 'Kew Green', a favourite with clump forming traditional flowers and that deep green. the inner green in all of us.

    'Ecusson d'or'

    'Ecusson d'or'


    'Primrose Warburg'


    'Spindlestone Surprise'

    'Wendy's Gold'

    Two very choice snowdrops: Galanthus 'Ecusson d'Or' & 'Beanie'

    Galanthus nivalis 'Ecusson d'Or' is beautiful. I did write about it last year, its first season in flower, Indeed it is exactly 12 months since I deemed it right to photograph it for my blog record.  It was discovered in 2004 in France and still commands astonishingly high prices on eBay. It has certainly sent out new leaves but still the one flower. This is strange as I read that it does increase at a fast rate. Not for me. Anyway, ovary and all petals, inner and outer, show that highly prized yellow colour.

    'Beanie' is beautifulish. From the thick blue green leaves emerges a robust flower, not fully opened out in the grey skies we're having today - though I will rectify this retrospectively - and the sharply pointed petals have significant greening at the tips. It is my second year in its company and I could not resist featuring it alongside that svelte, French beauty above. By the way, I should desist from describing any snowdrop as 'robust' when I consider the grub ridden pot of filth that should have been my gorgeous 'Big Boy'. He was bulking up nicely last year and is now no more. Matt Bishop, the seller, has, hopefully temporarily, disappeared from eBay and I have no means at the moment of replacing the cultivar. Unless there is anyone out there.... Narcissus Fly has done for some lovely snowdrops over the years, particularly the later flowering varieties. I'll have to research and write on the subject.

    Galanthus Similarities: 'Diggory' & 'Fatty Puff' and 'Godfrey Owen' & 'Mrs Thompson'

    There are some distinctive snowdrops and there are some similar. 'Diggory' is distinctive. One could not mistake those puckered petals. It's a great favourite. If 'Diggory' were a fruit you'd eat it. Admire the photograph, run your fingers over the textured character, all rounded dimpled perfection. Distinctive.

    And then there's 'Fatty Puff'. Note the similarity? I suppose I should have photographed the flower in close-up like its brother but if nothing else the image demonstrates its fertility: how one becomes two and three and ... So as investments go it provides a quick show. 'Fatty' is the smaller and rarer. If I had to choose between the two I'd go for 'Diggory'.

    One of the most striking snowdrops in a border is 'Mrs Thompson', seen below. A large flower and a distracting habit of throwing out different numbers of petals is its distinctive character. Without doubt it is in my top ten 'must haves' in the snowdrop garden. As is 'Godfrey Owen' seen below. Godfrey is an early bloomer although, as can be seen in the final image, it is in glorious bloom today although many of the flowers are spent. Do you notice the similarities and differences? In the case of the latter, Mrs T is the more imposing flower, Godfrey the prettier. It's a bit like those puzzles for kids (and adults). Of course, there are clear differences, the shape of the petals being a notable one, the smooth petals versus the ridged effect, and the size of the blooms, not obviously apparent in photographs. Godfrey always has six perfect splayed out petals. Mrs T can have six petals but I don't have one flowering like that this year.. Five is the most I could muster this afternoon. In the case of these two snowdrops, I could not choose a favourite. They both grace the Galanthus Garden.

    And remembering .....

    Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'