Winter-blooming Flowers in the Garden

Curator Joel Fry was exploring the Garden this week and discovered two very early-blooming flowers. Let’s hear from Joel:

Galanthus elwesii Hook. f., giant snowdrop Bartram's Garden, lower garden 1/26/2017 JTF
Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii Hook. f.), Bartram’s Garden, lower garden, Jan. 29, 2017. Photo by Joel Fry.

“First is the Yellow-flowered winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox) that is blooming in the Anne Bartram Carr Garden, near the outer picket fence. This variety was listed under ‘Additions: June 1819’ in a Bartram Catalogue issued by Ann and Robert Carr.”

“Chimonanthus is a Chinese flowering-plant, related to Calycanthus or the American sweet shrub. It is very much associated with the Chinese (or Asian) New Year Celebrations. It is cut and displayed during New Year’s along with bamboo and pine branches. It has a very strong, sweet scent (worth smelling), and I expect our plant will be flowering for a while. The scent is probably stronger on sunny days.”

Chimonanthus praecox (2)
Yellow-flowered winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox), Bartram’s Garden, Ann Bartram Carr Garden, Jan. 30, 2017. Photo by Pete Prown

“Next I saw the Giant snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii). We have a small clump of this in the lower garden, along the southern path down to the River, about two-thirds of the way down on the left. It’s been there for a very long time, and blooms very early. This year the flower buds were up in December, but didn’t open until the warm weather at the end of last week.”