12 Days of Christmas

Day 2: Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’

For many Christmas may have been a little more low key, minimalist or subdued than usual; perhaps solitary but I hope not lonely. Christmas for the Croft Gardeners is always secular and modest, but perhaps with a touch of hedonism as befits the Winter Festival.

Today it is raining (again) and blowing a minor gale; and having consulted the weather runes, it is highly likely that I will be confined to the house until about Thursday. Now I could spend my time in earnest and profitable labour or I could celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Unfortunately I’m a little late for the Yule celebrations which began at the winter solstice (21 December) and end on 1 January. However the good thing about Christmas celebrations is that you can pick-and-mix from a variety of traditions to suit yourself.

I don’t think I can manage 12 days of indulgence in sybaritic pleasures – well maybe just one chocolate and a mince pie each day? So this will be a light hearted, celebratory musing on the things that enable me to enjoy winter on the croft. This is in the spirit of Cathy’s Week of Flowers , so you can participate if you wish and share your winter pleasures on one or more of my 12 days.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a partridge in a pear tree for my first day of Christmas, so I offered some tropical candles. Today I have a snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’, who is stalwart in defiance of the weather.

Although I don’t think I could be labelled a galanthophile, I do like snowdrops. My garden is not really suited to growing galanthus, but over the years I have managed to establish clumps in sheltered corners of the orchard and the shade bed. These are mainly G. nivalis and its more showy cousin G. nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’. I’ve not had much success with G. elwesii, but G. woronowii is slowly settling down and multiplying.

Various cultivars, gifted by generous gardening friends, have always been grown in pots and taken into a cold greenhouse to flower. This year we converted the cold frames into a nursery bed for bulbs and transplanted the snowdrop cultivars. I have been watching the new bed for signs of life for weeks – first the slender green leaves of the narcissus began to emerge, then some of the slightly thicker shoots of the muscari and finally the snowdrops. Last week the buds began to appear and then Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’ produced a flower. This is the first time I’ve had a galanthus in flower in the garden at Christmas.

The anticipation and excitement of watching the bulbs come into leaf and then flower has never diminished. It really doesn’t matter whether is it something rare, exotic or as commonplace as the daffodils or grape hyacinths in the garden. However, the joy of the first snowdrops is exquisite.

9 thoughts on “12 Days of Christmas”

  1. Seeing the first snowdrop is indeed one of winter’s greatest pleasures! Like you, I’m not quite sure I get the Galanthophile mania, lovely as they are, but perhaps it’s a lot to do with the time of year they appear, when we need all the hope we can get?

  2. I’d better whispher this, but when it comes to galanthus cultivars I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Give me a carpet of good old G. nivalis any day.

  3. It certainly is a joy to see flowers of any description open during the shortest days of the year, and this was perfect timing as a Christmas present for you! I am a bit late to join your 12 days of Christmas I am afraid, having taken a couple of days off blogging (and being thoroughly lazy as befits the season). Also, it has turned very cold which means activity outdoors has come to a standstill. 😉

  4. The 12 days of Christmas is a challenge to keep my mind from hibernating! We are enjoying a full Hebridean northerly gale, so not much hope of getting out for a few days yet.

  5. Good to hear you now have established clumps of snowdrops in various parts of the garden – and as you say there is nothing quite like a carpet of the common or garden G nivalis. I still get sucked into buying new varieties each year, and stoically face the disappointment of others not re-emerging – the thrill of the chase, I suppose. Good to see your Mrs Mac flowering – mine is above ground but still some weeks off flowering

  6. The weather is keeping us locked-down at present, so i do hope Mrs Mac and friends are OK. It was difficult to decide to liberate them from the pots, but everything does so much better when released or dies!

  7. Here I too have been liberating my ‘specials’ from their pots in recent years, and so far have had no need to regret that decision

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