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Posts Tagged ‘fragrant winter blooming’

My prim(e) name is usually connected to a Rose.

P.v

P.v

I come in many colors, pink, yellow, white and in between.

Magenta

Magenta

This is a common color you will see in me!

I am a very old fashioned plant  and am referred to in many old stories and poems.

I am Vein

I am Vein

People often say I’m vulgar.

I think I am more of a star in a star!

Pure and Pristine

Pure and Pristine

If you need more come back tomorrow.

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I am a member of the Victoria Horticultural Society and as a member have the opportunity to go to events they sponsor.  The presentation that was put on in November was by Dr. John Grimshaw, the Garden Adviser to the Colesbourne Park gardens  in Glouchestershire in Great Britain.  Colesbourne Park was the ancestral home of John Elwes (1846-1922), the discoverer of the Snowdrop(Galanthus elwesii) which is named after him. He was a notable plant collector who was supposed to go on a trip to Cyprus in 1874 but had to change plans at the last moment. Instead he ended up going to Turkey. In Turkey he visited  a mountainous area near Smyna (modern day Izmir) in April where he discovered Galanthus elwesii, a little garden gem.  This Galanthus is called the ‘Greater’ or ‘Giant Snowdrop’ and is the first Snowdrop to bloom in the Victoria area.

 aGalanthus elwesii blooming.

Galanthus elwesii blooming.

I was surprised when photographing Galanthus this week that this was the form that bloomed first, I had assumed the Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) was the first. G elwesii is the most robust of the Snowdrops which are commonly seen in yards, naturalized along roadways and in the lawns of older homes here.

Naturalized along a country road.

Naturalized along a country road.

This species is larger in all parts; it’s leaves are wider and more notably glaucous, and the  broad petaled flowers are larger in all ways. It is an attractive glistening jewel ranging in height between 5 to 9 in (12-25cm) and  here it tends to the taller side. Everyone knows the dainty hanging 3 petaled blossoms with the noticeable green markings on the tepals or inner petals.

Fully opened Ganathus elwesii

Fully opened Ganathus elwesii

The other species commonly found here is the more delicate G. nivalis (Common Snowdrop) which appears to bloom about a week later. It has much narrower and greener leaves and stands only up to 6 in (15cm). at the most. It is originally found in a wide area of Europe from Spain through to the Ukraine and has naturalized in many areas in between. Being that it comes originally form Europe is was the first Snowdrop to be written about by John Gerard  in 1597 in his famous ‘Great Herbal’.

Naturalized Common Snowdrops

Naturalized Common Snowdrops

There are in all 19 named species found in Europe and western Asia which happily cross with each other. This has given us an astounding 250 cultivars, hybrids and clones. Many of these are extremely rare and expensive to obtain. Many plants in the Victorian age had passionate followers and Galanthus was no exception, mad Galantophiles collected and wrote about the plants. Surprisingly these dainty plants pack a potent honey scent , so they would make an enjoyable small bouquet.

Could this be a cross between nivalis and elwesii?

Could this be a cross between Galanthus nivalis and elwesii?

Fortunately for us these are easy plants to grow. Snowdrops like rich humus soil which is moist but well drained. They like open sunny positions mush like areas they would naturally grow. Snowdrops do tolerate cool shady places especially if they are grown in a very hot climate. Galanthus can have problems with botytis and gray mold if they are kept in a too damp location,(I have never seen this here). They will quickly multiply and produce clumps which can be lifted and divided when the flowers are spent and leaves are starting to yellow.  This is easily accomplished by replanting the bulbs singly at the same depth they grew in. these dainty plants can fit into almost any garden scheme, rock gardens,  early spring ground cover, early spring color and any niches that need filling. By carefully selecting where and what kinds of galanthus to plant, flowering will start in january and continue though March and into early April. Galanthus are hardy to -20c -Zones 4-8 but prefer cool winters.

Links for the Week.

Colesbourne Park

http://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk/colesbourne_park.htm

Henry John Elwes, an interesting and important man in garden history. Look under the History link.

http://www.snowdrop.org.uk/

Galanthus elwesii

http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/bulbs/Galanthus_elwesii.html

Galanthus nivalis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galanthus_nivalis

Until we meet again, same place, same time.

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When I went to Horticulture school  in Vancouver we started in September. The largest and most challenging part of the curriculum was learning the 300 new plants. Learning to identify plants in the winter with no leaves, flowers or fruit was for the most part a new experience for all of us.  After learning 20 new plants a week for weeks on end with nary a bloom or deciduous leaf in sight it was an absolute delight to find there really were some that dared to bloom in the depths of winter here.  The first plant we actually studied when it was in bloom was Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’.

bodnant Viburnum at Our lady of Assumption Church, Central Saanich.

Bodnant Viburnum at Our lady of Assumption Church, Brentwood Bay.

Bodnant Viburnum has a most interesting history.  It has two already distinguished parents being; Viburnum grandiflorum(the pollen supplier) which is said to have lent it’s foliage and Viburnum farreri(formerly known as fragrans) which contributed it’s wonderful fragrance. This cross was originally done by Charles  Lamont at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh in 1933. He didn’t think much of the resulting batch of seedlings and never propagated them.  In 1934-5 the same cross was done at Bodnant Gardens and several forms of this crop are the ones we have come to know and love.

Viburnum x bodnatense 'Dawn' in full bloom.

Viburnum x bodnatense 'Dawn' in full bloom.

Bodnant Gardens is an 80 acre treasure trove of plant delights. It is famous for introducing many fine Rhododendron and Magnolias into cultivation. This was the ancestral  property of Henry Duncan McLaren, 2nd Baron of Aberconway was an important contributor to horticulture and garden plant development in the 20th century

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' in bud

Wonderful clones were named, the first being  ‘Dawn’ with pink buds opening to a paler pink blossom, next was ‘Deben’ which is a paler color and said to have a more graceful form. Finally a pure white form was named to honor ‘Charles Lamont’ after he died.

Bodnant viburnums bloom over a long period through winter and are at their peak at the end of January and into early February. This is the period which which these plants shine, during the summer they are background fillers for the most part. These are easy plants to grow requiring moist well drained soil. The best blooming is produced in dappled to full sun.

Bodnant Viburnum used as a specimen plant.

Bodnant Viburnum used as a specimen plant.

They grow to a substantial shrubs of 6-10ft(2-3m) height and 7ft(2m) width. For winter blooming shrubs they are very hardy and tolerate tempetures down to -15 to 20c (zones 5 though 8). They take well to pruning which should be done soon after they have finniished blooming. These plants can be used several ways, I have seen them well used as specimens, in mixed shrub borders and as hedging which has winter interest.  They of course are mainly planted in gardens for winter interest.

An interesting use of Bodnat Viburnum next to windows at a motel.

An interesting use of Bodnat Viburnum next to windows at a motel.

For a treat you should take a blooming branch inside and enjoy the sweet spicy scent filling your house. This is what I did when i was in school and have loved the scent ever since.

The delicate pink blossoms of 'Dawn' Viburnum

The delicate pink blossoms of 'Dawn' Viburnum

Links Relatiing to this Article:

Everything you might want to know about Viburnum x bodnantense and how it came into being.

http://www.rhs.org.uk/WhatsOn/gardens/harlowcarr/archive/harlowcarrpomdec.asp

H.D. McLaren, 2nd Baron of Aberconway

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_McLaren,_2nd_Baron_Aberconway

Our Lady of Assumption Church at Brentwood Bay is where most of these pictures were taken. it is a spectacular location.

http://www.spparish.com/info/our-lady-of-assumption.htm

Bodnant Garden near Conwy Castle.

http://www.conwy-castle.co.uk/Attractions-near-Conwy-Castle/Bodnant-Garden.html

Until we meet again in the garden……

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