Garden Photo of the Day

A Plant Collector’s Spring, Part 1

Unusual early bloomers from a Michigan garden

Glen Pace, who gardens in Birch Run, Mich., is an avid plant collector, and his garden is packed to the gills with fascinating, unusual plants. Even now, with winter refusing to give way to spring in Michigan, he’s got an assortment of really cool things in bloom between the returning snowstorms. In fact, he’s got so many cool things in bloom that we couldn’t fit them all in one post—we had to split his photos over two days! So come back tomorrow for part two of his fascinating collection.


Let’s start with something that isn’t a rarity. Winter aconite (Eranthus hymalis, Zones 3–7) is widely available and should be in every garden. In northern gardens, it blooms the same time as snowdrops, not missing a beat if covered by snow. The only trick to this plant is knowing that often the bulbs you order in the fall have been damaged by being stored too dry, so sometimes not many of them will come up in the spring. Sometimes the best source for this plant is fresh bulbs from a friend’s garden. Once you get a plant established, it multiplies quickly, and you’ll soon have carpets and plenty to share with others.

What about a double-flowered winter aconite? Eranthus hyamlis ‘Flora Pleno’ takes the usual flowers and adds a couple of extra rows of petals! Still extremely rare in the U.S., ‘Flora Pleno’ takes this old favorite to a new level.

In bud, ‘Flora Pleno’ has a distinct greenish hue, with bright gold petals hidden inside until a sunny day coxes them fully open.

Eranthus hyamlis ‘Moonlight’ is another very rare selection of this great species, this time with soft, delicate, pale yellow flowers.

Not into pale yellow blooms? Eranthus hymalis ‘Orange Flowered’ is a selection with darker, richer colored flowers.

There are the standard snowdrops every gardener has, usually Galanthus nivalis (Zones 3–8), but there is a whole world of “galathophiles” who collect a long list of rare and unusual selections and hybrids. This is ‘John Gray’, one of the best selections, with very large, very early, perfectly formed flowers.

Galanthus nivalis ‘Lutesecens’ is one of the selections of snowdrops that changes out the usual pattern of green on the petals and flowering stem for a beautiful cheerful yellow! Snowdrops with this type of yellow pattern are wildly popular with collectors—one called ‘Golden Fleece’ broke records a couple of years ago when it sold for £1,300 (almost $2,500 in U.S dollars). But ‘Lutesecens’ is more available, more affordable, and well worth adding to any garden.

Sometimes snowdrops get weird. This is the selection ‘Walrus’.

Galanthus ‘Walrus’ up close. What do you think? It is definitely different and unusual, but maybe not to everyone’s taste.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    user-7007816 04/10/2018

    I love the little jewels from your garden. This spring is taking forever to get here so these little gems are really appreciated. Any sources of rare plants in Michigan that you can suggest? I live near Lansing.

    1. user-7053948 04/11/2018

      I buy 99.9% of my plants via the internet. Just remember, if a deal on a plant is too good to be is! Stay away!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/10/2018

    Zone 8b here & aconites are a no go but oh how I love them. Adore that sweet little snowdrop Walrus.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/10/2018

    Count me a fan of the quirky 'Walrus'...I find its 2 tone coloration and the curls and extra elongated furls of its petals quite appealing. Despite its diminutive size, it is not lacking in personality.

  4. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/10/2018

    Nice. I'm anxious to see more of your collection. I've loved the yellow Galanthus of which I've seen photos, but as mentioned: hard to come by and pricey. I'll have to look for lutescens. Very cool.

  5. btucker9675 04/10/2018

    Love these and am going to try them!

  6. Chris_N 04/10/2018

    The Galanthus ‘Lutesecens’ is a winner. I will have to look for that. I'll have to invest in some winter aconite as well. I've always liked their cheery yellow blooms. Looking forward to the rest of your photos.

  7. reubi 04/11/2018

    Beautiful! Where in the world do you buy them?

  8. user-7003263 04/11/2018

    Glen, really enjoyed seeing the hardy spring ephemerals from your garden. All very pretty. Thanks for sharing.

  9. user-7053948 04/11/2018

    I am happy to share pix of my gardens. I am glad you enjoyed them.

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