Snowdrops Extraordinaires from the Temple Nursery Open Garden

– Posted in: Snowdrops

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I visited Hitch Lyman’s collection of snowdrops courtesy the Garden Conservancy’s Open Gardens program. Hitch owns the Temple Nursery, the premier snowdrop nursery in the United States, with over 400 different varieties on site, though only a fraction of them are offered for sale each year. Four hundred different kinds? I hear you ask. How different can they be?

How Different Can They Be?

First of all, there are several different species. Galanthus elwesii and G. nivalis are the two most common, but there are also G. gracilis, G. ikariae, G. plicatus, G. woronowii and more. I could see with my own eyes that G. elwesii had wider leaves than G. nivalis. I will concede that I looked at certain clumps, saw that they had a different name, but couldn’t really see the difference. But some of those clumps were too far away from the path to examine closely, and the blossoms were often dancing on the brisk wind. There were plenty where I could see how they were different, especially when the docent turned a blossom so we could see inside.

The Temple Nursery Is A Garden

I had thought, since it was a nursery, that the snowdrops would be lined up in production rows. Nothing of the sort. They are planted as you or I would plant them, along the driveway, by a wall, near some shrubs, and along a path through the woods. All of them had garden variety plastic labels identifying them. Some had really huge labels, about the size of a paint stirring stick from the hardware store, labeled with easy to read letters, for the benefit of the visitors. The docent was pretty sure Hitch also had a map of the snowdrops’ locations. So the snowdrops that Hitch sells are the ones he feels he can spare from his private collection, and the offering changes every year.

Order Your Catalogue Now

I remarked to the docent that I had written for a catalog in January and was told they were all gone. I asked him the best time to request a catalog. The answer? NOW. So if you are interested in purchasing exquisite, rare snowdrops, send $3 to

The Temple Nursery
P.O. Box 591
Trumansburg, NY 14886

A Sampling of Extraordinary Snowdrops

Below is a gallery of snowdrops from Hitch Lyman’s garden. These are the ones that I am sure are properly identified. In most cases you can read the tag for yourself. When you click on each thumbnail image, you will be taken to a larger image with additional description. Use your browser’s Back button to return to the gallery.


I consulted the following sites to be sure of species names, spellings, etc.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Elizabeth David September 5, 2011, 8:39 pm

Hello Ms. Purdy,

Snowdrops remind me of our family farm in Ireland.

For the last 4 years I have been planting snowdrops since I discovered I could buy them from I am now ready to branch out to other varieties and was delighted to see your written piece on Temple Nursery. I am mailing a check to Temple Nursery tomorrow for their latest catalogue, and am looking forward to my reply….

Layanee April 9, 2011, 9:13 am

There is no more welcome sight in spring that that of the snowdrops. I know they are pricey but they do spread quite quickly. By the time I leave this earth I hope to have huge drifts and puddles or, perhaps, rivers and lakes of snowdrops.

Alistair April 7, 2011, 9:14 am

I was of the same opinion as Mr Mcgregors Daughter and wasnt so keen on the double snowdrops, I am having second thoughts after seeing Ailwyn.

Cyndy April 6, 2011, 5:35 pm

Thanks for the report Kathy, I really would have liked to go – tiny Cordelia has won my heart!

gretchen April 6, 2011, 4:49 pm

Greetings Kathy,
A lovely post about galanthus varieties. I found your site and wonderful post about heirloom narcissus while researching n. telamonius plenus. I too, think that I have some ‘growing blind’ and will dig and divide when they have finished blooming. I dug them originally from my grandmother’s garden about 12 years ago
Thank you!

Kathy Purdy April 6, 2011, 4:59 pm

Glad I could be of some help. You should know some gardeners don’t even wait until they are done blooming before dividing. This especially makes sense where hot temperatures come early. I think if you are in a cold climate you can wait until the blooms have faded.

gretchen April 8, 2011, 1:42 pm

Thanks for the feedback Kathy. No worries about the weather being too warm here in unseasonably cool and wet Seattle. Hopefully will be able to increase the number of blooming bulbs.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens April 5, 2011, 8:33 pm

Great post on your visit. I wish I had been there to see them with you. I will get there some day. For the record, I sell snowdrops mail order too.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter April 5, 2011, 4:36 pm

Those are all wonderfully different. I used to think I didn’t like double snowdrops, but I’m starting to think I need some.

Frances April 5, 2011, 8:07 am

Thanks for this, Kathy. I am glad the snowdrops do not do well on my dry and hot sunny sloping property, or it would cost an arm, a leg and perhaps one of my offspring to satisfy the snowdrop craving. Hitch should give you a commission. 🙂

commonweeder April 5, 2011, 7:58 am

My goodness! I had no idea. I have two types of snowdrop in my garden. I’ll have to check my records to see if I can identify them. Your post is a wonderful reminder of the extravagance of Mother Nature – so many different forms for even the simple snowdrop.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm April 5, 2011, 7:33 am

I love the snowdrops! They are always the first things up and blooming in the spring. Spring is just now showing itself as the snow slowly melts here!

kerri April 5, 2011, 7:30 am

How interesting to see the differences between the varieties of these tiny beauties. They are exquisite little plants and especially appreciated for being the very first early bloomers in my garden. That Hellebore is looking vigorous and healthy with it’s multiple gorgeous blooms.
Like you, I’d love to have a patch of those beautiful Cyclamens. I’m happy to see them growing and blooming so early in our north country climate. Elizabeth Lawrence said the tubers grow slowly so I’m wondering how old that patch is.
Thanks for sharing these photos and descriptions. Fascinating stuff!

Carol April 4, 2011, 11:24 pm

I definitely need some more snowdrops.

Deborah April 4, 2011, 11:07 pm

Very nice description. Thanks for capturing so many of the varieties. I really enjoyed seeing them all in person last Saturday. I might add that the catalog request that can be sent right now is for next year’s catalog, in case that wasn’t clear to anyone.

Donalyn April 4, 2011, 10:21 pm

Nice to see all of the different varieties Kathy. My snowdrops always make me think of you, because you gave them all to me. They are all spreading quite nicely and two clumps have sprung up far from where I planted the others. Thanks!