Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: 'Blewbury Tart' Snowdrop

This morning it was twenty-five degrees and blustery. Humans would be miserable without a hat and gloves, sweater and long-johns, and windbreaker and wool socks. Snowdrops are much tougher. For them, freezing and blustery is what sixty and sunny is for humans: Time to be outside and shine.


This snowdrop's name is impossibly twee, as embarassing to write as to say: 'Blewbury Tart'. More about that later. Right now, to the flower's unique details. Once you've been bitten by the snowdrop bug—frost-bitten, maybe—the smaller, weirder, and subtler the details, the more exciting.




Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart' takes the snowdrop template—two nested trios of white sort-of-petals that droop like the ears of basset hounds—and goes wild. The outer, longer, trio of tepals (not petals, not sepals; so, someone decided, tepals) have a faint smudge of yellow-green at their tips. This modest marking—any marking—is of immense interest to snowdrop nuts, known as galanthophiles.


Imagine the excitement, then, over the inner tepals. They  are doubled and doubled and doubled: Three trios of inner tepals, not just one. The end of each tepal is deep green, switching to the same yellow-green farther down. Plus, such coloristic bravura (in terms of snowdrops, remember, and the galanthophiles who are weak-kneed over them) is bordered with a bright white edge.





'Blewbury Tart', then, is radical (again, among galanthophiles) in both form and coloring. Yes, I myself am such a galanthophile and, yes, the focus of this fetish is a flower that is barely as big as my fingertip.





Now, to the name, "Blewbury Tart": Blewbury is a village in England. The seeming archness of the spelling—blewbury not blueberry—isn't a major case of the twees at all.  Says the BBC: "The Old English name for nearby Blewburton Hill was bleo byrig dun, and it is from this that the name Blewbury evolved." And this snowdrop was found in Blewbury, so there's every right to the name.


But what about the "tart" part? When the flowers are fully open, the nested trios of green tepals have radial symmetry, like a tart formed from concentrically-arrayed slices of kiwi fruit. But kiwi tarts in Oxfordshire, not Auckland? Perhaps there's a local ingredient for tarts that's green. Someday, please, may the Fates of Travel bring a trip to England. Then I can visit Blewbury for the answer. BUT WAIT! A relative of the discoverer of Blewbury Tart has been in touch, letting me know that the upturned blossom could recall the petticoats of a woman who has fallen. By exposing her petticoats, she could be seen as fallen both physically and morally: a tart!



Here's how to grow these hardy and oh-so-early bulbs, plus the pictorial profile of my Galanthus collection (three cultivars so far, with dozens more must-haves) in their first Spring.


FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!


Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:


* indicates required