Is there a problem with Galanthus 'E.A. Bowles'?

Here is Galanthus 'E.A. Bowles in its pomp, 24th February 2016, a very good year and a stupendous snowdrop, easily the finest in my collection at the time. Well last year it failed to flower. When I checked out the pot it had rotted away. Given that in 2011 it was a world record breaking snowdrop, a loss like this is not to be tolerated. I replaced it and then, this spring, I checked the pot and there was no sign a bulb had ever existed. None. At the beginning of March I obtained a three nose sprouting bulb from a very reputable supplier, the price having gone down as rare snowdrop prices invariably do. This was to be a present for my sister-in-law. It has not flourished. Indeed when I opened up the pot the bulb was rotting, and black inside when I cut it open.

There are a number of reasons why bulbs give up the ghost. Narcissus Fly is one, compost that is not sufficiently well drained another. Neither of these factors applied here or indeed earlier with the bulbs.

Now I am informed by a very reputable grower that she has experienced the same problem with the cultivar. She no longer grows it and two other well known growers in her experience have also given up on this beautiful bulb. Luckily I was reimbursed for my failed bulb by the seller and I have a source for a free replacement.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

And remembering .....

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'