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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