My Plant of the Month – Galanthus elwesii ‘Doris Page’

Each month we invite one of our HCP volunteers to introduce us to a favourite plant. This month Amy Sanderson, a volunteer in the Doris Page Winter Garden at the HCP has taken the opportunity to share her love of Galanthus elwesii ‘Doris Page’ with us.

Galanthus elwesii ‘Doris Page’
By Amy Sanderson, Doris Page Winter Garden Volunteer

I’m sure all the other volunteers feel the same about their gardens, but our group of volunteers who maintain the Doris Page Winter Garden believe we’re the luckiest, especially in the months of January, February, and March. The tasks aren’t especially exciting, mostly weeding and ‘tidying’ (a polite word to describe all manner of activities from picking up storm windfall to cutting back the foliage on thousands of hellebores so you can see the flowers better), but we love being out in the garden together in the darkest months, with the nubs of thousands upon thousands of bulbs bursting out of the ground and the scent of Hamamelis (witch hazel) drifting through the air.

The first of the bulbs to flower in our garden is of course Galanthus, the snowdrop. They’ve been delayed this year, perhaps due to the dry fall and unusually cool temperatures, but finally the large G. elwesii are fanning their petals out with the sun, and the smaller, later flowering G. nivalis are poking their heads up. In the Winter Garden we are pleased to have a selection that comes directly from the Saanich garden of our namesake. You’ll find a healthy patch of Galanthus elwesii ‘Doris Page’ located on the corner of Bed G. It’s not clear that this selection is so distinguished from the species (which has naturalized throughout Greater Victoria) that it warrants a name, but for sentimental purposes let us say that ‘Doris Page’ is a fine, robust example of G. elwesii, with attractive, dark green markings on the inner perianth (the shorter petals that are often marked with green in snowdrops). We appreciate that she is always among the first to bloom, marking the start of our favourite time in the garden.

Around the clumps of ‘Doris Page’, you’ll notice the little green lion manes of Eranthis hyamelis (winter aconite) unfurling from the soil; their yellow petals also open and close with the sun. And above, the aptly named Lonicera fragrantissima (winter honeysuckle) is just coming into bloom. The small white flowers smell of citrusy jasmine – not to be missed!