28th January 2018
Galanthus 'Brenda Troyle'.
I think everyone locally has agreed that this has been the mildest winter since the last one we had that was this mild. It isn't much to agree on but it's a start. People's
experience of the weather is very individual.
I spent some time in the greenhouse through the week. The catus house is warm almost to the point of being hot. It is in full sun and well sealed so it warms up rapidly.
I have some tender orchids in there and I think they have stopped dying for the winter. In a day of magnificent sunshine the whole garden was magical, stretching its arms and yawning.
We could get a snap of cold weather now. It would be very very tiresome.
There comes a day in February when the snowdrops reach a peak. They tremble with perfection from their pedicels. It is a light and bouncy movement and I think we are there already.
'Brenda Troyle' is looking perfect. In a week, or perhaps two, the pedicals will arch outwards and the flowers lean towards the ground. They will look tired and suddenly the best days
of the snowdrops are over.
The camellias that shelter them are growing too large and will be cut back this summer. They are part of an internal windbreak in the garden
and the whole thing is getting too big and needs attention. It will be a messy job, so I will wait until the snowdrops are safe below ground again.
28th January 2018
I have badgers in the garden. They dig up the turf looking for worms. I'm not sure why they bother, the ground is so wet that the worms are extruded from their holes by the pressure
of the badgers walking about. I don't mind them, but I would gladly swap them for heffalumps. There would be great dinner-plate shaped indentations in the ground and the worms would
be shot from their burrows for the birds in the trees to catch. The closest I get is the snowdrop, and I'm pleased to have it.
Galanthus 'Heffalump' is quite unlike any other double snowdrop in the garden. It reliably has three outer tepals and they are narrow but well formed. As a result the inner
segments with their complicated green marks are clearly visible. The whole clump has a distinctive look, even from a distance. It was found in the garden at South Hayes by Primrose Warburg
and named in 1993. One of those things that was never distinctive enough to attract much attention but I like it more and more every year. If I could only have one double snowdrop
(I would swoon, and pine away until I was as skinny as an earthworm but) this would be it.
28th January 2018
Galanthus plicatus 'E. A. Bowles'.
'Heffalump' was never the focus of the 'droppers passion but 'E. A. Bowles' certainly was. It is a 'poculiform' G. plicatus discovered by Michael Myers while visiting
Myddeleton House. Bulked up by Joe Sharman, it became available four of five years ago and created a stir and demonstrated that a good new snowdrop could still set a price record.
I had to wait to get one, but fortunately it grows vigorously so last year it had come down into my price bracket - cheap enough to buy on a whim and not requiring a financial plan.
I bought it at the Myddleton House snowdrop sale last year and the whole event had a conceptual cohesion that was completely fictional but still satisfying.
I didn't see it on offer at the sale this year, it has slipped too far down the list of astonishing novelties.
In 2012 a single bulb of G. 'Elizabeth Harrison', a yellow flowered form of G. woronowii, sold for £725. This year there were plants available for £60, next year I might
keep my eyes open for one, which would put me at the end of a seven year trickle-down. In 2015 someone paid a new record price for a bulb of 'Golden Fleece'. I have it marked in my diary for 2022.
28th January 2018
Galanthus 'Straffan' .
The exceptional, some might call them freakish, snowdrops play a part in the garden, but they depend on detail. It is delightful to kneel on a dry day and study the variation.
Unfortunately dry days in early spring are the exception, and most of the snowdrops have to provide something for a casual glance as I walk by. 'Brenda Troyle' does the job very well
and I will probably lift and split some of the clumps next year. It creates a strange efect like the regular spacing of the tufts of hair in a hair transplant but it ensures the bulbs
remain vigorous. Eventually they will all knit together.
'Straffan' has also remained interesting, though for other reasons. All of my stock derives from a single bulb that I planted under a sycamore tree. A few years later I lifted the
clump, split it into five, and moved them about 2m to the side. I must have left a small bulb behind, because it continues to come up in the original position, however the two groups are different.
The "original" bulb has much bluer leaves. I would like to think that it was a seedling, and I was getting confused, but I don't get seedlings anywhere else, it seems unlikely.
A clump I moved further up the garden flowers a fortnight earlier. It might just be a sunnier spot, but it is all very confusing.
By next week I think I will have daffodils all over, the snowdrops will have lost their headstart and the weather might be warming. I checked my diary and I think the new season has started,
my next free weekend is at the end of May.