January Meadow

eranthis, winter aconite, cyclamen coum, galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This is my January happy place – –  And I didn’t have to go on an extravagant vacation to find it!

Under a leafless Garry oak, blooms a winter meadow. I’ve never seen anything like it.

All flowering in the crisp sunshine.  Isn’t it grand?  I’m in awe of the expanse & fullness of the planting.

eranthis, winter aconite, cyclamen coum, galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

All of these winter gems grow in my garden. Each is planted in its own patch, and certainly not in a magic carpet like this.

Plans to copy this at home start percolating in my mind. (I’m not too proud.  After all, isn’t imitation the highest praise?)

eranthis, winter aconite, cyclamen coum, galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In Victoria, all three of these perennials are winter ephemeral.  In other zones, they’d be called spring ephemeral.  They pop up at this time of year, put on a show, then go dormant – – disappearing under the soil until next year.  By summer, this will be a barren patch shaded by the oak…. unless other perennials spring up to cover the same space?

cyclamen coum, in January, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Managing an overlapped planting must be quite the skill.  Even digging around the borders to put in summer annuals could disturb or destroy the sleeping plants.

Weeding in our garden the other day, I found some snowdrops that were really out of place.  In shifting them to a more suitable spot, I learned they grow well even when planted quite deeply.  Perhaps that’s the answer?

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Planting the ephemerals deeply would undoubtedly lower the risk of disturbance whenever I put a spade in the soil…

I’ve mistakenly covered over some sleeping cyclamen, and they still found their way to light when the time was right… I don’t know about Eranthis, though.

Hellebore in January, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Very soon, the Hellebores will add to this show.  Several are spotted through this bed.  Their blooms will carry the colour through the spring.  The leaves will help fill space through the rest of the seasons…

By summer, the oak will shade the south-facing bed from the hot sunshine.  What other perennials will emerge to carry the show?

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P.S.  Here’s some other meadow faves:

Snowdrop Variations

Each January, I’m on the lookout for the first blooms of the New Year.

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Here, on southern Vancouver Island,  it’s the snowdrops that take centre stage.  Our urban deer leave them alone, so there are patches of the winter blooms all around Victoria.

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Our garden club was treated to tours of 2 members’ winter gardens.  Carol & Jennifer introduced us to some of the many varieties of Galanthus… Who knew there was more than one kind of snowdrop?

galanthus elwesii snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I  start looking more closely at the pure white helicopter blades with their protected cockpit.   Analyzing means kneeling down in the wet grass, camera in hand.

galanthus elwesii snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Low & behold, one clump of blooms has double green markings on each of the outer petals.  (The inner trumpet is quite green, too.)

Hello, Galanthus elwesii    🙂

galanthus elwesii snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Farther along the path is another clump – – this one with wee green tips on the outer petals.

Another G. elwesii variety.

galanthus elwesii poculiformis snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And then, there’s a patch with the standard white outer petals – – but there are 6 instead of the usual 3.

I’m pretty sure these are called Galanthus elwessi poculiformis.

galanthus st annes snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

My favourite way to ID plants is via plant labels – which are great as long as they don’t go missing – –  crows like to claim them as booty.

This label clearly states that this particular snowdrop is Galanthus St. Anne’s.   From a distance, it appears a typical snowdrop, with white outer petals & a small upside-down heart on the inner trumpet…

galanthus st annes snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

But here’s the reason I don’t mind getting dirty from kneeling on the grass:
Check out the inner petals!
This is how botanists are born, & become addicted to looking at plants soooooo closely.

galanthus nivalis bagpuize virginia snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Peaking inside some more blooms, I find another delicate flower with an even more ruffled trumpet.  For such a tiny flower, this snowdrop has a ridiculously large name: Galanthus nivalis bagpuize virginia.
How’s that for a mouthful?

galanthus plicatus wendy's gold snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Protected from the others, is a pot of snowdrops with yellow markings.  This is the first one I’ve noticed with a yellow ovary above the dangling flower.  It’s Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’.
Quite a treasure.

galanthus elwesii barnes snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In the collection, I spied a clump of snowdrops that were already going to seed!  Although most snowdrops in Victoria bloom through the winter months, some snowdrops start crazy early in the fall.  Carol’s G. elwesii ‘Barnes’ begins blooming in November!

(It’s reported that G. reginae-olgae is a September bloomer & G. elwesii ‘Potter’s Prelude’ blooms through Halloween.)

galanthus elwesii poculiformis snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The final mystery of my tour is a variety with green stripes on the outer petals.  The label was there but washed out.

Perhaps it has a name like ‘Greenish,’
or ‘Green Tear’??
Any other guesses?

Only a  galanthophile can be sure.  🙂

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