Halesia monticola. var. vestita. The Snowdrop Tree.

Snowdrops are just a memory in our gardens now but the Snowdrop tree is looking wonderful.

It is a delightful tree with lovely white bells hanging from under the branches. I am looking forward to my tree being big enough to stand under. It is a wonderful sight to look up into and the flowers have a delicate scent. Last year it flowered in May in my garden and was a perfect match for the white Aquilegia growing alongside it which echoed its white bells at a lower level.

This year it is flowering in April and the Aquilegias are keeping to a different timetable. Perhaps I will put some of my Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ seedlings round its feet.  This plant has lovely heart shaped, silver leaves veined with green and sprays of bright blue forgetmenot flowers. It comes true from seed.
I love a blue and white combination so maybe I should try putting some of the lovely Corydalis ‘China Blue’ to make a frilly skirt at its feet.
On the other hand it is rather fun to echo the lovely white bells with more white bells so one has a whole carillon going on. Perhaps some white Dicentras and Polygonatum: Solomon’s Seal would look good with it.
The lovely Lilies of the Valley are just coming out so maybe a sea of  these tiny white bells would look lovely growing round the Halesia. When it stops raining I shall go and play around with these different ideas.

Halesias are members of the  Styracaceae family. Halesia carolina is also easily available and it does not grow so tall. Its flowers are not as big though. I think I prefer the one I have.  In America I believe this tree is called ‘Silver bells’. I am not sure why as they are white, becoming cream as they mature.You can also buy pink varieties but  I think snowdrop trees should be white.

The Halesia is named after Stephen Hales who was an eighteenth century clergyman and highly esteemed scientist. There is a monument to him in Westminster Abbey. The tree was given this name by an eminent naturalist John Ellis who was an expert on coral and wrote a paper on it. He also  distinguished himself in the field of botany by describing Halesias and Gardenias which were unknown at the time. Perhaps Halesias should bear his own name but Ellis chose to show his esteem and admiration for Hales by naming this genus after him.

Whatever its name it is a lovely tree. It needs a sunny position and a soil that doesn’t dry out. It would probably be happier on an acid soil but it seems to be fine without this, but I do give it a mulch of composted pine needles every year.

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36 Responses to Halesia monticola. var. vestita. The Snowdrop Tree.

  1. sueturner31 says:

    lovely combinations …you will have fun picking one …..or two…….or three…….

  2. Alison says:

    What a pretty tree, with its hanging white bells! It will look great with any of the options you mentioned.

    • Chloris says:

      It is a lovely tree. I believe it is native to America. I love your post on Epimediums. Maybe I will plant the pretty white Epimedium ‘Niveum’ under it.

  3. rusty duck says:

    Be careful with Lily of the Valley. I spent most of yesterday trying to get rid of it… pretty as it is it has completely taken over the upper level of the terraced beds. In the end I resorted just to snapping off the shoots. They are growing up through the middle of geums and other perennials and I’ll need to get the whole lot out and start again. Will wait until they’ve all flowered..

    • Chloris says:

      It is weird how in some areas it takes over and in other spots it refuses to grow at all. But you are right it would be sensible to leave it where it is quietly spreading under some trees and not introduce it somewhere new where it could cause problems.

  4. mrsdaffodil says:

    A fine post. The combination of the snowdrop tree and the white columbines is indeed a good one. Your blue Corydalis is delightful. My Corydalis scouleri is just beginning to emerge: I don’t know how much of a showing it will make this year, its first in my new garden.

    • Chloris says:

      C. scouleri is a pretty pink one isn’t it? I love all the Corydalis and I am always delighted when the different coloured C. solida inter -marry and have different coloured children.

  5. Kris P says:

    The Halesia is beautiful and the flowers DO look just like snowdrops. I looked it up in my western garden guide and found it shown with the common names of snowdrop tree and silver bell. Unfortunately, like the snowdrops, it’s not suited to my climate zone.

  6. Julie says:

    I haven’t come across this plant before, its really very pretty though. I really like a blue and white with a splash of yellow combination, for some reason my Brunnera Jack Frost and Dicentra alba have not appeared this year, seeing yours looking so lovely makes me determined to replace them.

  7. A lovely tree indeed. I’m also very fond of the white dicentra and Solomon seal. I have the straight species of the Brunnera, the blue flowers go really well with the pink dicentra.

  8. It’s so exciting to find scented shrubs that are new to me, and this one certainly is. As for your combinations, you’re spoilt for choice. All great ideas, but me? – I’d plump for the white Solomon’s Seal and Dicentra – they mirror the shape of the flower, and create a cool, white composition. Might I suggest another? If you’re a fan of Brunnera, I grow Brunnera ” Mr. Morse”, which is similar to “Jack Frost”, but with white flowers. Could work too!

  9. Chloris says:

    I think you are right, I think I will move the Dicentra and the Solomon’s Seal and put them under the Snowdrop tree. I move my plants around so much that I am sure that they all duck as I walk past. The only plants I find I cannot move are Daphnes.
    I haven’t come across Mr.Morse, it sounds lovely, I will look out for it.

  10. Annette says:

    It is a lovely tree indeed, maybe I shall be able to find a spot some day. Lovely impressions from your garden – the blue of the Corydalis is stunning!

    • Chloris says:

      It is worth planting this lovely tree if you can find a place for it. This blue Corydalis flowers when all the others have gone. I have a similar one with purple leaves which is pretty too.

  11. AnnetteM says:

    Lovely tree! I love whites in a garden too though your blue Corydalis is amazing. Another plant for my wish list.

  12. Flighty says:

    An interesting, and informative, post.
    I like white flowers, and also the combination with blue ones. xx

  13. Chloris says:

    I love white flowers too. It is specially nice on a summers evening. I grow lots of white flowers.

  14. Cathy says:

    You have a lovely combination of blues and whites planned – and i will look out for Brunnera ‘Mr Morse’ too!

  15. Chloris says:

    I have 2 other Brunneras which I am fond of. Looking Glass and Hadspen Cream. Jack Frost seems to be the only one that seeds around though.

  16. bittster says:

    It sounds like you’re going to have some fun playing around with plants, you seem to have an excellent selection of toys! I’m still a little timid about adding trees, even the small ones. They seem like such a commitment, but I should really just get into the mindset that second thoughts are just a pruning saw (or chainsaw) away.

  17. pbmgarden says:

    Was just admiring this tree at our local botanical garden. This weekend I planted my first brunnera–Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’.

  18. Robbie says:

    I love white and blue together,too. I have been trying to find a place for a moon garden the past few years, but maybe soon:-) Lovely post 🙂 I enjoy learning about all the plants you grow in your garden. I had a friend give me a Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ many years ago, but I don’t know where it went:-( Your post makes me want to get another. I love the little blue flowers in your photo!

  19. Pauline says:

    Such a lovely tree and there have been so many wonderful suggestions for under planting, I think whatever you choose, they will look super together.

  20. Chloris says:

    I have decided to underplant it with the white Dicentra and a Polygonatum.
    I enjoyed all the foliage in your post today.

  21. Anna says:

    Oh your snowdrop tree is most attractive Chloris and just the ticket to extend that snowdrop season 🙂 How long does it flower for? I think that any of the plants you’ve mentioned would be complimentary companions.

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