Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hellebore Fever

Well, March has certainly come roaring in! For those of you who didn't see it on the news (or experience it personally), parts of Tennessee received nearly a FOOT of snow last Saturday and Sunday. A FOOT!!! I know that to some of you that's pretty average, but in the South, where people (cities) are ill-prepared to handle such events, that's a LOT of snow. Imagine Buffalo or Chicago getting 5-6 feet of snow all at once and that's what we're talking about here. I may be wrong, but I believe I heard that the city of Memphis doesn't even have a snow plow--and they got 6 inches of snow! Snow plow or not, we're just not prepared to handle that kind of snow event around here. I'm still miffed, however, because the entire thing missed Nashville. I'd be hard pressed to call what we got a good dusting. Figures.

Snow aside, the garden is really starting to come to life now. It has been slowly awakening over the past several weeks, but now we're to the point where everyday something new pokes it's head out of the soil. I'm still learning my way around at the new place. I haven't done much digging yet because I still don't know what might be lurking underground, waiting to make its appearance. For instance, what I thought was going to be a convenient path from the front walk to the sideyard appears to have Virginia bluebells planted in it. All winter long I've been trampling a path through the area and now I find little purplish-red sprouts pushing through the soil. They're going to have to move. The path is staying. Same for a couple of clumps of daffodils that have shown themselves in the middle of the path going into the main part of the yard. They won't mind being dug, divided and relocated once summer arrives. That path is staying, too.

The hellebores that survived the winter (the ones in containers took a real beating) are looking glorious. 'Ivory Prince', pictured here, is truly an outstanding garden plant. Its vigor, I'm finding, is second-to-none. The same is true for many of the newer hybrids. Excellent parents have led to excellent progeny and the growth that I'm getting out of many of my new hellebores is nearly double what I'm accustomed to from this group of plants. Some of my favorites are the plants from hellebore guru Marietta O'Byrne, which are being introduced by my friends at Terra Nova Nurseries. The colors are exquisite and the vigor is astounding! A few particular favorites are 'Golden Lotus', the 'Brushstrokes Strain' and the 'London Fog' series. There are several others, too, and there's not a dog among them!

Another group of hellebores that I've been most impressed with is the Brandywine series from good friend and plant guru, Dave Culp. His eye for color, flower size and plant vigor is extraordinary. This is a mixed color strain, but the colors are clear and delicious--I've been like a kid in a candy store--and my very best yellow-flowered plant to date has come from Dave's group, flowering in a clear, unspotted limey-yellow with flowers almost 3 inches across. It absolutely glows in the garden!

The weather forecast is sunny and 70 for Monday, so I'm looking forward to an entire day in the garden! I'll let you know what happens!


Tim said...

The "Ivory Prince" is beautiful. I've been hesitant to buy yet another hellebore, but if it looks that good in your area, I'm definitely going to put one in here.

Troy said...

It will do very well in Atlanta, I think. Never too many hellebores in my opinion. I bought 3 new ones today to start replacing what I lost when they froze in their containers during the 0 degree cold snap. A fabulous speckled pink fully double-flowered one from the 'Regal Ruffles' series, a second 'Golden Lotus' that is absolutely stunning and a really nice 'Mellow Yellow' that is a soft limey yellow with a purplish picotee edge. So here we go. Spring buying has started!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Appreciate the recommendations. I plan to pick up a couple hellebores for my zone 4/5 garden. I hope they will do well.