Hellebores

It’s still very cold here and I cannot do much in the garden aside from filling bird feeders and changing water in the birdbaths. But there are a lot of activities with regard to gardening in the house. The plant catalogs are piling up as well as weekly if not daily email from companies I have ordered from in the past. New issues of garden magazines provide suggestions for new plants on the market. Winter is a time for compiling information and planning for the coming season. I don’t mind spending money on the garden although reckless spending was never my habit, so I spend the winter down-time outside immersed in:

  • Price comparison on plants that I want to add in spring.
  • Research on plants suite for area need to be redone: dry and sunny, moist shade, dry shade, boggy, sandy area…
  • Research on plant habit and propagation: height, width, bloom time, pollinators-friendly, self-sown, invasive, pruning time…
  • New vegetables in the market and what they are good for.
  • New diseases and insects to look out for in the area

These are just some of the winter chores I do. I find myself looking for late winter-early spring flowering plants more often around this time. Maybe it’s just a longing to see colors back in the garden.

One of the late winter-early spring flowers I fell in love with are Hellebores. Their leaves are almost evergreen and they even bloom before the daffodils. It very effectively self-sows yet never becomes invasive, so I keep looking to add new colors to our garden every year. One plant per color and patience to let it grow is enough. Within a couple of years this one plant will become a patch or a colony if I let it set seeds.

After a couple of years, one plant will expand into a patch with plenty of flowers
The darker color ones grow much faster and produce a lot of seedlings
Individual flower in the colony above

I don’t remember the names of the earlier Hellebores I planted. I forgot to note the names down and there are so many colors and patterns out there that I can’t really use mere descriptions to identify mine. With the new batch, I keep name tags and note on color and location down. Below are some of them, forgive me for the unidentifiable ones. I’m open to any suggestions for identifying the unnamed flowers.

White with purplish freckles
Yellow & Pinkish
Pure white with greenish base
‘Painted Double’
White with green base & maroon pattern
Maroon & green
Double pink
‘Winter jewel-Golden Sunrise’

I love them in part because there are so many colorful choices of Hellebores to select from and they also come in single and double layers petals. They are winter hardy, no fuss for drought either. They can be grown in semi-shade. Since they are a low grower, I grow them under the trees, by a rose trellis and along a shady path. They are not invasive. They produce seedlings but the seedlings may not be true to the parents especially when I grow a variety of them close to one another. That’s the fun part of it; I’ll never know what the flowers from any seedling will look like until it blossoms. Pollinators love them; they are a good food source for early spring when other flowers have yet to blossom. If you want to reproduce the ‘exact’ color as the original plant was, you can do it only by division. Dig the plant you want to propagate up and separate an individual from the clump, then replant it.

Last year, I added ‘Onyx Odyssey’ to the garden. As the name suggests, the flower is black. I can hardly wait to see it bloom. I’ll keep you posted.

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