Galanthus 'Epiphany'

Galanthus 'Epiphany' appears on lists of Autumn flowering varieties though in my three years' experience it has flowered in January, if slightly later than the 6th as suggested by its name. Funnily enough, last year I wrote about venturing out into the garden with flu, despite having had the jab. I'd had the same bad cold the previous year. This year, slightly later, I have succumbed once again! Epiphany. January is bad for me.

Galanthus 'David Baker'

Galanthus 'David Baker' is reliably marked this year, the touches of green adorning all the snowdrops that have increased noticeably in the borders. I wish I'd planted them together as they look good in a drift. Sometimes less is more and this Atkinsii lookalike has a classy feel, its restrained green stripes adding to its appeal. In truth, its slightly reflexed outer petals make it stand out from Atkinsii as the flowers develop, its green splash not withstanding. Discovered in 1987 in the Bakers' Farnham garden and named in 1997 after the grower, this has grown to be a favourite of mine.

Galanthus 'Pieces of Eight'

Galanthus 'Pieces of Eight' is a new snowdrop discovered by the late renowned collector, Veronica Cross (1932 - 2019). Her reputably glorious, four-acre garden at Lower Hopton Farm, Herefordshire, has a wealth of snowdrop varieties so I suspect there is more scope for discovering jewels than in my own little plot.  'Pieces of Eight' is small, certainly in its first year here but pretty with a heavy green spot and inner dark green. It has a rounded shape to its petals, seen more vividly in the second image. Veronica gave us 'Wasp' and 'Dragonfly', the former just appearing, the latter on my wishlist. She also bred 'Treasure Island' which at nearly seven hundred pounds on eBay recently will not be seen here until prices come back to earth. Just one point I should make: unlike some snowdrops in flower very early, mine are grown either in pots, as here, or in the open ground. Visiting Welsh gardens last week I realised our plants are at least a week later. Note: I edited this to recognise the very sad news that Veronica died in 2019.

Plants in flower or just barking at Bodnant Gardens

Despite the snow there was plenty to see at Bodnant yesterday. In winter the colour of the bark is as important as the flowers. I did not get the name of the arbutus but in the dappled sunshine it looked a treat.

The flowers of this rhododendron dauricum are of course essential to its beauty.

Wintersweet, or more precisely Chimonanthus praecox, has an insignificant flower, making its impact with the sweetness of its perfume, carried well in the cold Welsh air.

This time the Acer griseum provides the colourful bark.

And the birch, Betula ermanii 'Grayswood Hill'.

Dogwoods and ericas always give good value for money at this time of the year, the yellow, green and red stems reflecting the sunlight.

Rijnveldt's Early Sensation was planted all over the extensive gardens and are truly one for the early garden.

 Last year I very nearly bought the hellebore, 'Penny's Pink'. This year I wish I had.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Feuerzauber', and the warm brightness of  'Iwato' through the sunlight.

Finally, as I draw an end to what amounts to a shopping list, a lovely fresh euphorbia, characias 'Wulfenii'.

The Winter Garden at Dunham Massey

500 years and still going strong, the oldest oak tree at Dunham Massey
In 2007 the National Trust commenced transforming Dunham Massey's 7 acre wilderness of thicket and brambles into a spectacular winter garden underneath the towering beech and oak trees. The season must be milder than our Yorkshire garden for the plants were two weeks more advanced. I'd taken my new Sony Macro Lens for the close-up work but was tempted to use it for all the shots. Here's the results and I can recommend the lens, and garden.

The dwarf iris was the first test for the lens
Beech, Birch and Beauty
Camellia 'High Hat' looking far too exotic for the winter garden
Hellebore, Ashwin Garden Hybrid

 Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (Honeysuckle) makes up for its diminutive flower with the size of its perfume

Snowdrops in profusion   
Hamamelis (witch hazel)   

Galanthus "Llo "n" Green" - first of the lost labels

Flowering rather earlier than last year though sadly with only one flowering shoot, Galanthus "Llo "n" Green" is a smasher for reasons other than its petite beauty. In April last year we heard a crash in the house during a storm and, on venturing outside, I was mortified to discover my two new display benches collapsed in an unholy mess on the back patio. I had lashed them together for added strength only for the one to bring down the other. The combined effect of heavy, sodden clay pots, poor workmanship and storm conditions had done for my plants. Pots were broken, labels blown all over the place and bulbs luckily cushioned by the soil. One bulb looks very much like any other so for for a sizeable part of my collection I've had to start from scratch. New benches, far more plastic pots and, from hereon in, vigilance, as I attempt to name unnamed varieties. "Llo "n" Green" is the first. So it may well be that others of the same variety are still to disclose themselves. So then, one of the survivors.

Galanthus 'Green Bush'

Galanthus 'Green Bush' is a robust snowdrop, reasonably priced too and it has certainly flourished  here. I could not claim it is the most elegant of flowers, more coal than diamond nugget and the broad, Elwesii foliage is a little too broad for my tastes, more cabbage than lettuce leaf, so to speak. But on a day when powerful winds rip through the garden rendering photography of the daintier varieties impossible 'Green Bush' seems solid as oak.

Galanthus elwesii "Godfrey Owen" flowering early

'Godfrey Owen' flowered early last year, but this is very early, a testament to a particularly mild winter so far. I wrote about this perfect snowdrop in a previous blog and I have nothing substantial to add, save that unlike yesterday's offering, Godfrey is very fertile and I have given his offspring to friends and family. Collectors' snowdrops make a good present! The first photograph shows the more usual view of the flowers, the six splayed petals very characteristic and attractive. I then lay on the patio to obtain an ant's eyes view, followed by a close-up.

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs McNamara' - a lady of considerable charm but modest ambition

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs McNamara' has been featured every January since I commenced the blog. She's ultra-dependable, tall and elegant in the early snowdrop display garden. She's also a lady who keeps her charms to herself if her reluctance to breed new Mrs McNamaras is anything to go by. In January 2nd 2015 I had three flowers, a number I've never exceeded, and this year two although there are shoots to suggest future scope. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the position, the soil or the feeding. Other nearby snowdrops flourish. One of life's little mysteries and shared with other growers I understand. I think I'll have either to move one of the small clumps or twin scale her. The lady has presence. She has been in flower for the past two weeks, her dependability in this respect one of her many virtues.

And remembering .....

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'