Archive for Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’

November GBBD: What’s Peaking Now

Posted in evergreen, Fall, Fall Color, hellebores, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

This Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, of unknown origin broke off in the ice and snow in January 2011.  For a photo of it then, click here.  It has recovered beautifully with an even more interesting habit.

I have said before that no matter how much I try to enjoy it, November is not my favorite month.  As I wander around, all I see are plants dying back, work to be done, and time running out.  Last year wasn’t too bad because we had a long warm fall with beautiful weather and plenty going on through the middle of November.  I even called my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post “Prime Time” (click here to see the show).  This year most gardeners in the mid-Atlantic US agree that fall colors on many plants have been muted and gardens have gone by early.  Even September and October contained few of the clear, crisp, and sunny days we look forward to, and then along came Sandy.

A seedling Japanese maple along my front walk.

Despite the bad fall, there are plants in my garden right now that make a stroll outside worthwhile.  What is it about them that so attracts me?  It is that these plants are reaching their ornamental height right now.  They are not just re-blooming or showing a few flowers on a plant that really peaked earlier like asters or phlox, and they are not producing lovely fall color on a woody that I grow just as much for its flowers like hydrangea or viburnum.  November is the month when they reach the top.

The Japanese maples that seeded around this London plane tree produce a variety of fall colors from yellow to orange to red.

In this post I re-introduce you to some of the plants that show their best side in November and December.  I have written about many of them before, and I will provide links to those posts.  However, I wanted to gather these plants together here to provide a complete reference of fall stars to use during your spring shopping  trips.

‘Shishigashira’ is a gorgeous Japanese maple that just starts to turn in mid-November.  It will eventually become a solid orangey red.

When all the other trees have shown their colors and lost their leaves, Japanese maples are just starting to turn.  Every time I go outside I grab my camera to take one more shot of their eye-catching color.  I think it is their prime ornamental characteristic, especially because of its timing, even though I also appreciate their fine branching structure, delicate leaves, and variety of habits.

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium.

The white and pink flowers of hardy cyclamen.

Fall-blooming hardy cyclamen is dormant in the summer and re-emerges in the fall.  To get all the details, click here to read my recent post on this unusual but easy to grow plant.  For the purposes of this post, what makes it so desirable is that November is its peak when its leaves are fully emerged and provide a stunning backdrop for the flowers.

The basic Italian arum, A. italicum, sometimes called ‘Pictum’.

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‘Gold Dust’ Italian arum has much more distinct markings with gold veins.


The leaves of ‘Tiny Tot’ Italian arum are about one-third the size (or less) of the species and very finely marked.


Italian arum’s life cycle is very similar to hardy cyclamen: it goes dormant in the summer and comes up fresh and beautiful to peak in the fall and through the winter.  It makes a great groundcover, and you can read more about it by clicking here.


Giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii.

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A giant snowdrop with unusually long outer segments (petals).

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‘Potter’s Prelude’ giant snowdrop, G. elwesii var. monostichus, is just starting to open in mid-November.

I couldn’t write a post this time of year without mentioning fall-blooming snowdrops.  Although we think of snowdrops as blooming in March, there are several species that bloom in the fall, including G. reginae-olgae, which blooms in October and is done now.  Also the giant snowdrop, whose flowers are quite variable, blooms for a long period from November to February so I have included some photos above.  But the king of fall is ‘Potter’s Prelude’, a very robust and vigorous snowdrop that blooms reliably in November.  For more information, click here to read my post on fall-blooming snowdrops.

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Christmas rose ‘Josef Lemper’, Helleborus niger

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This photo was taken today—as you can see ‘Josef’ Lemper’s’ October flowers have gone by, but a whole new crop of buds are preparing for November.

 

The Christmas rose ‘Jacob’ begins a month later that ‘Josef Lemper’.  Its buds are just beginning to reach up beyond the leaves.

‘Josef Lemper’ and ‘Jacob’ Christmas roses are also stars in my November garden, producing pure white 3 to 4″ wide flowers set off by smooth evergreen leaves.  Fall is their season, and they produce copious amounts of flowers to cheer up dreary November days.  For more information on fall-blooming hellebores, click here.

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Fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Joy’ produces its first two flowers but look at all the buds to come.

The last photo is a teaser because of course fall-blooming camellias play a huge part in my November garden.  As with the other plants profiled, they are not just hanging on into November but instead come into their own then.  Look for an upcoming post featuring my camellias and my recent visit to the garden of a customer who also loves camellias.

All these plants (except the single flower of ‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose) are pictured blooming in my garden right now so I am linking to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (“GBBD”) hosted by May Dreams Gardens where gardeners from all over the world publish photos of what’s blooming in their gardens.

Carolyn

 

Nursery Happenings:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is done for the fall.  Thanks for a great year.  See you in spring 2013.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

 

Species Hellebores for 2012

Posted in evergreen, hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, has very large flowers and blooms from November into May depending on the weather.

In my post New Hellebores for 2012, I profiled all the exciting new hybrid hellebores that I am offering this spring.  If you haven’t read it, there are some gorgeous photos.  Now I want to show you the species hellebores that are available at my nursery this year.  In a third post, I will describe what I call the “species crosses” that you can add to your garden this spring.


The Christmas rose ‘Jacob’ is loaded with flowers from November through late spring.

In The Sex Lives of Hellebores, I described the difference between hybrid hellebores, the subject of my February 2012 new hellebore post, and the roughly 15 types of species hellebores.  I sell most of the species by special order, but here I want to profile the five that I will be featuring this year.  My favorite is Christmas rose, Helleborus niger.  Despite its name, I used to have to wait until March to view its lovely pure white flowers.  With the introduction of the cultivars ‘Josef Lemper’ and ‘Jacob’, which reliably start blooming in November, you can now have Christmas roses blooming for Christmas.


Christmas rose flowers age to a lovely pink: ‘Jacob’ with fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Joy’.


Christmas roses have many desirable attributes which I described at length in Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore.  Their outward facing, pure white flowers are framed by lovely blue-green leaves that stay ornamental through winter.  They are deer resistant like hybrid hellebores but are smaller and have a more refined look than the hybrids.  For more information on ‘Jacob’ and ‘Josef Lemper’, see
Hellebores for Fall.

Double Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Double Fantasy’

I am very excited to be able to offer ‘Double Fantasy’, a fully double Christmas rose developed through tissue culture by a nursery in Japan.  Before it was introduced in 2011, I had only seen one double (in Charles Cresson’s garden), and double Christmas roses were not available for sale.  Its flowers are magical.


Fragrant hellebore, Helleborus odorus

The next three species, H. odorus, H. purpurascens, and H. viridis, were all profiled in depth in The Sex Lives of Hellebores because they are all parents of the hybrid hellebores.  However, they are gardenworthy in their own right and have attributes the hybrids don’t have.  I am a big fan of green flowers, and fragrant hellebore, H. odorus, has striking yellow-green flowers with a delicious scent that is pervading my garden right now.  It looks especially nice when grown with dark purple hybrids.


flower of fragrant hellebore

Fragrant hellebore (right) with ‘Blue Lady’ hybrid hellebore



flower of Helleborus purpurascens

Helleborus purpurascens, which has no handy common name, is another one of my favorites.  The colors mixed in its flowers, blue-green and a silvery, smoky purple, have not been duplicated in any of the hybrid flowers.  I would also grow it just for its circular, filigreed leaves:


Helleborus purpurascens


outside of H. purpurascens flower

Green hellebore, H. viridis, has the purest green flowers of almost any plant I grow.  It is also shorter and more compact than the hybrid hellebores and the other species.  It too looks great with dark purple to black flowers, but my favorite combination features green hellebore with a drift of the true blue flowers of brunnera—heaven:


Green hellebore, H. viridis

flower of green hellebore

The final species that I will be offering this spring is bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus.  I profiled this plant in detail in Hellebores for Fall.  Bearsfoot has the most ornamental leaves of any hellebore, and they are truly wintergreen coming through ice and snow looking pristine.  Bearsfoot forms its lovely chartreuse buds in the fall.  The flowers open in winter and remain ornamental until it gets hot.  It is also taller than other hellebores, reaching two feet or more and giving it the stature of a small shrub:


Bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus


unusual, evergreen leaves of bearsfoot hellebore

When I started this post, I thought I would be able to fit the seven species above plus the five “species crosses” I will also be selling this spring.  You know me though: I get excited about hellebores.  By the time I included all the photos I wanted, the post was long enough.  Look for a third post with some exciting crosses, all with Christmas rose as a parent.

Carolyn

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now has a Facebook page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Nursery Happenings: My Hellebore Extravaganza open house sale is Saturday, March 24, from 10 am to 3 pm.  The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are sold out.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  Snowdrops are still available for pick  up at the nursery, but mail order is closed.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

January GBBD: Hellebores on Parade

Posted in Camellias, evergreen, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, garden to visit, hellebores, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

I have had this gorgeous double purple hellebore in my garden for several years but it has never bloomed this early.  Photo 1/7/12

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on December 15) where gardeners from all over the world publish photos of what’s blooming in their gardens.  I participate because it is fun and educational for me to identify what plants make my gardens shine at different times of the year.  This month I hope that my nursery customers and blog readers will get some ideas for plants to add to their own gardens to extend their season through winter.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 6B.


‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’ is usually one of my first hybrid hellebores to bloom but this is early even for her.

Last January, the whole garden was under snow, and I didn’t even participate in GBBD.  This year couldn’t be more different with 7 days in the 50s (10C) and 6 days at 60 degrees (16C) or above since December 15.  Frankly, I find it extremely worrisome, but it means that I didn’t have to go searching for plants peaking between December 15 and January 15.  There are a few other plants worth featuring, but my hellebores are all blooming early so I call this post Hellebores on Parade.  For the benefit of my customers, I will note which hellebores will be for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (CSG) this spring.


‘Pink Tea Cup’ has the best pink color of any hybrid hellebore and was the first to come into bloom this season ( for sale at CSG this spring).  Photo 1/9/12


‘Jacob’ Christmas rose just keeps going and going with new white flowers appearing and mixing with the older pink flowers for a gorgeous effect, see below (for sale at CSG).  Photo 12/31/11


‘Jacob’ Christmas rose with Camellia x ‘Winter’s Joy’.  Photo 1/2/12

Flowers are emerging on the hellebore species cross ‘HGC Pink Frost’ (for sale at CSG).  Notice the dark red to burgundy highlights on the leaves and stems and the amazing color of the buds.  As noted in Cutting Back Hellebores, I leave the foliage on to make a nice backdrop for the flowers.  Photo 12/31/11


‘Praecox’ Christmas rose is also blooming at least a month earlier than usual.  Photo 12/31/11


The hellebore species cross ‘HGC Winter’s Song’ is now fully in bloom.  Photo 1/10/12

The rare species Helleborus dumetorum (no common name) continues to bloom (for sale at CSG).  It is deciduous so all the “leaves” in the photo are actually flower bracts.  The leaves will come up later.  Photo 12/31/11

This beautiful, pure white, outward-facing hellebore called ‘Snow White’ (aka ‘Snow Bunting’) is an extremely rare cross between hybrid hellebore and Christmas rose—something that was thought to be impossible (for sale at CSG).  Photo 1/9/12


The lighter chartreuse buds of bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, are becoming more prominent and will remain ornamental through May (for sale at CSG).  Photo 1/10/12


Helleborus x "Double Purple"Another look at the hybrid hellebore “Double Purple” (for sale at CSG).  Photo 1/7/12

My new favorite this year, hellebore species cross ‘HGC Cinnamon Snow’ (for sale at CSG).  I like it so much that I decided to put it in a basket by my front door.  Photo 1/9/12

There are some other plants looking great in my garden besides hellebores.  Most of the fall-blooming camellias still have viable buds but no flowers open to show you.  They will continue to bloom if the weather cooperates.  Here are the non-hellebore stars:

My un-named Korean Camellia japonica, which blooms in the spring and fall, continues to produce flowers.  Photo 1/9/12

Camellia x ‘Elaine Lee’ also has buds, and look at those shiny leaves.  Photo 1/10/12

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Joy’ has been flowering since October and is still covered with buds but none are open right now.

The buds on my variegated winter daphne, D. odora ‘Aureomarginata’, are coloring up early.  It is the sole survivor of five shrubs I put in this spring.  Although I gave them excellent drainage, they just couldn’t tolerate all the rain we had in August and September.  One by one they wilted from too much water and died, while this one remained healthy.  Photo 1/9/12

If we have cold weather, winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, blooms in February, but right now it is opening flowers continuously.  Photo 1/10/12

Galanthus elwesiiThe only snowdrop in bloom right now is the giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii (for sale at CSG).  Photo 1/9/12

My fall-flowering snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’ has finished blooming, but I wanted to show you its beautiful leaves (for sale at CSG).  Photo 1/1/12

On New Year’s Day, my husband and I went walking in the Pinetum at the Haverford College Arboretum, a wonderful local treasure.  We saw two unusual conifers with great texture that I wanted to share:


Longleaf pine, Pinus palustris, is native from Virginia to Texas but is not usually found around here.


I love firs, and the texture of this Algerian fir, Abies numidica, really stood out.

I dedicate this post to Bob Stewart, my friend and horticulturalist extraordinaire, who died on December 16, 2011.  Bob and his wife Brigitta started the amazing nursery Arrowhead Alpines in Fowlersville, MI.  If you haven’t visited their site, you should by clicking here.  Bob will be greatly missed.

Carolyn

If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide, 20% off through 1/20/12.  For details, click here.


Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.


Nursery Happenings: To view the
2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here. I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.

Look for an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Cutting Back Hellebores

Posted in evergreen, hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, right now in my garden.  It always starts blooming in the fall, see Hellebores for Fall.  Photo 1/1/12

I usually don’t think about cutting back my hellebores until mid-February when the flower stalks begin to extend up through the old leaves.  However, here in southeastern Pennsylvania, we have had unusually mild weather during December—10 days over 50 degrees (10 C) and 8 days at 60 degrees (16C).  Hellebores that don’t usually bloom until February are coming into bloom now.  It seems like a good time to explain the ins and outs of cutting back the old leaves on hellebores.  This is done for aesthetic reasons and is not necessary for the health of the plant.


This beautiful hybrid hellebore, H. x hybridus ‘Pink Tea Cup’, is fully out right now.  It usually blooms in February.  Photo 12/31/11

The genus Helleborus contains about 15 species, and decisions about how to care for them require some knowledge of exactly which hellebores you have and how they grow.  The most commonly available hellebores are hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus (the Royal Horticultural Society approved name, previously called Lenten rose),  with the large, showy, nodding flowers in an amazing range of colors.  For some beautiful photos, check out my articles An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores and Double Hellebores.  Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, is also regularly found in gardens: for photos see Christmas Rose: The Perfect HelleboreBoth hybrid hellebores and Christmas roses produce leaves and flowers on separate stems (botanists call them acaulescent) so cutting back the leaves has no affect on the flowers.  The questions is when to cut.

If there is a “common” hellebore, then the un-named hybrid hellebore above would be it.  I couldn’t even begin to count the number of flowers on this one plant.  No leaves are visible yet, what you are seeing are bracts on the flower stems.  Photo 3/21/11


I do not cut back the leaves of hybrid hellebores in the fall because they are very pretty through the winter.

Hybrid hellebores have attractive leaves that stay green all winter (wintergreen), adding interest to the winter garden, so I leave them on as long as they look nice.  They are not evergreen though so the old leaves should be cut off when they become unsightly in late winter.  It is easiest to do this when the flower buds are still at the soil level and the old leaf stems and new flower stems are not yet intermingled.

This photograph illustrates the new flower stems emerging among the old leaf stems, which will be cut off February 15.  Usually the leaves are standing up causing old and new to mingle, but also providing some protection from cold weather.  Photo 12/31/11


In addition to winter interest, I also leave the old leaves on to protect the flower buds should we experience very cold weather in January and early February.  For southeastern Pennsylvania, this could be as low as -5 degrees (-21C).  I cut back my hybrid hellebores around February 15.  The same rules apply for the nine species hellebores that are the parents of hybrid hellebores (see The Sex Lives of Hellebores) should you have them in your garden.


This straight species Christmas rose is blooming right now in my garden—it has never bloomed before March in the almost 15 years I have had it.  Notice the lack of leafy bracts on the stem.  Photo 12/31/11


Christmas roses have very clean and elegant, blue-green leaves.

Christmas roses have even more beautiful wintergreen leaves.  Although you can cut them back without affecting the flowers (they are acaulescent), my considerations for this hellebore are somewhat different.  The flower stems of hybrid hellebores contain the buds and also leaf-like bracts, which provide a pleasing green backdrop for the blooming flowers (see photo of pink hybrid above).  Christmas rose flower stems have no bracts so if you cut off all the leaves, to me, the plant looks naked when it blooms.  As long as the leaves remain halfway decent, I leave them on until later in the season to serve as a frame for the flowers.  The leaf and flower stems do not intermingle so cutting them later is not a problem.

The buds of bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, emerge from the top of the leaf stem in the fall.  For more photos of this spectacular hellebore, see Hellebores for Fall.  Photo 12/2/10

There are two more wintergreen hellebore species that make their way into hellebore lovers’ gardens: Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius, and bearsfoot hellebore, Helleborus foetidus.  Botanists call these species caulescent because the flowers are not separate but are on the end of the leaf stem.  You cannot cut off the leaf stem until after the plant has flowered because you will be removing the flower buds.  And if you cut off the individual leaves, you are left with a long, ugly stalk, typically 2-3′, with the flowers at the tip.

I grow Corsican hellebore, H. argutifolius, as much for its gorgeous wintergreen leaves as for its flowers.

In mild winters when the leaves remain attractive, this is not a problem.  It is also usually not a problem for bearsfoot hellebore whose leaves remain pristine during very cold winters.  However, Corsican hellebore leaves are easily damaged, and I often make the decision to sacrifice the flowers and cut the plants back to the ground rather than look at their unsightly leaves while they bloom.  I grow this species equally for its foliage, and new growth springs up very quickly when the old stems are removed.

H. x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’ in my garden right now—much earlier than normal for this species cross.  Notice the leafy bracts surrounding the flowers.  Photo 12/31/11


H. x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’ displaying the pink color inherited from its parent H. lividus.  Photo 3/21/11

That pretty much covers care and maintenance of the hybrid hellebores and the available species hellebores.  However, a large group of gorgeous species crosses are beginning to appear in local gardens (especially if the gardener has been shopping at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens), and I want to let you know how to care for them.  These plants are generally the progeny of Christmas rose crossed with Corsican hellebore and/or Helleborus lividus (not hardy here) to produce elegant outward-facing flowers and silver-marbled leaves often with red highlights and stems.  The most familiar crosses are H. x ericsmithii (‘Silvermoon’, ‘Winter’s Song’), H. x nigercors (‘Honeyhill Joy’, ‘Green Corsican’), and H. x ballardiae (‘Pink Frost’).


H. x nigercors ‘Green Corsican': all the Christmas rose crosses have copious amounts of large, very desirable outward-facing flowers.  Photo 3/21/11

The Christmas rose crosses grow differently than either of the two groups discussed above.  Their leaves are one of their best features, and I cut them back only if they are unsightly.   They do have leaves and flowers on the same stems so you cannot cut the stems back to the base if cutting is necessary.  However, the plants are generally short, 12 to 15″, and produce such an abundance of flowers that cutting off individual leaves from the main stem does not leave an ugly stalk.  In addition, the flowers usually have leafy bracts to frame their beauty.

Our 2010-2011 winter was very hard on hellebore leaves.  However, even though I cut almost all the damaged leaves off these H. x ericsmithii ‘Silvermoon’ plants, they still look beautiful.  Photo 3/24/11

I hope I have answered all your questions about cutting back hellebores.  If not, feel free to seek clarification in a comment.  You are probably wondering what I will do this year when the hellebores are blooming early.  I have decided that discretion is the better part of valor so no leaves will be removed until mid-February.

Carolyn

If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide.  For details, click here.  It is 25% off through January 6, 2012, with the code ONEMORETHING at checkout.

This is part of a series of articles on hellebores, one of the specialties of my nursery.  Here are links to the other articles:

Part One        Hellebores for Fall

Part Two       An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Part Three   Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore

Part Four      Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Part Five       The Sex Lives of Hellebores

Part Six          Double Hellebores

Part Seven   Cutting Back Hellebores

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Nursery Happenings: To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here. I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.

Look for an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

December GBBD: Past Prime

Posted in Camellias, Fall Color, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Every year I make a Christmas wreath using all natural materials from my property.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day hosted by May Dreams Gardens where gardeners from all over the world publish photos of what’s blooming in their gardens.  I participate because it is fun and educational for me to identify what plants make my gardens shine at different times of the year.  I also hope that my customers will get some ideas for plants to add to their own gardens to extend their season well into late fall.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 6B.


I used berries from this native winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’, to make the wreath.  On December 7, the robins came and cleaned off all the berries.

Last month was still prime time in my gardens, but now with hard frosts and generally colder weather, my gardens are past their prime.  The show goes on though with the focus shifted from the garden as a whole to individual plants peaking between November 15 and December 15 (I do not take all my photos on December 15).  This means that they bloom now (or are still blooming), have ornamental fruit, or feature exceptional foliage or fall color during this period.

Let’s start with flowers:

The large and vigorous fall-blooming snowdrop ‘Potter’s Prelude’ is in full bloom through this entire period.  Mine is surrounded by the marbled purple foliage of ‘Frosted Violet’ coralbells, Heuchera villosa ‘Frosted Violet’.  For more on fall-blooming snowdrops, click here.

Over the years, I have planted hundreds of giant snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii, and in the process have acquired plants that bloom in the fall instead of January when this species normally blooms.

I am always raving about the long bloom time of  ‘Shell Pink’ lamium so I thought you might like to see a photo of it in full bloom in December.  For more on lamium as a wintergreen groundcover, click here.

The buds on my paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, have gotten large enough to show their beautiful silvery color and will remain ornamental until they start to open in March.

‘Zebrina’ hollyhock mallow, Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’, does not seem to be bothered by hard frosts.

Hellebores are one of the primary contributors to flowers during the winter months:

The spent flower heads of ‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Josef Lemper’, which has been blooming since early October, seem more ornamental when everything else has gone by.  Buds are forming at the base for the next wave of bloom.

Since November 15, another Helleborus dumetorum (no common name) has put out fresh foliage and covered itself in flowers.

The lighter chartreuse buds are forming on bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, which will remain ornamental through May.

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, is covered with buds just starting to open.

This photo might not look very exciting, but I am thrilled to see buds on my rare double Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Double Fantasy’.  In all my years of collecting hellebores, I have only seen a double Christmas rose once in a garden.  Now I will be offering blooming plants to my customers in my 2012 snowdrop catalogue.

This is what ‘Double Fantasy’ will look like when it’s open.

My fall-blooming camellias are a mainstay of my garden right now.  The first three pictured below are Ackerman hybrids, which I profiled in Fall-Blooming Camellias Part 1:

This is the last flower on Camellia x ‘Winter’s Darling’.

Camellia x ‘Elaine Lee’ still has a few buds left .

Camellia x ‘Winter’s Joy’ has been flowering since October and is still covered with buds.

Fall-blooming Camellia oleifera is no longer covered with flowers but still continues to produce blooms when the weather warms up.

I was very lucky to receive as a gift this fully hardy, red-flowered Camellia japonica from Korea.  It has not yet been introduced for sale.  For more information on and photos of camellias, including this one, click here and here.

If you are just in it for flowers, then you can stop here because the last few plants rely on leaves to make their contribution.  However, foliage is very important for filling out the late fall garden, and I wanted to give you a few ideas:

Although they have dropped now, dwarf fothergilla, F. gardenii, holds its gorgeous fall leaves way beyond November 15.  For more information on this outstanding native shrub, click here.

Another woody with late fall color is ‘Shishigashira’ Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’.

‘Magic Carpet’ spiraea, S. japonica ‘Magic Carpet’, is still displaying some of its gorgeous fall color right now.

‘Albury Purple’ St. John’s wort, Hypericum androsaemum ‘Albury Purple’, remains fully clothed in plum-colored foliage.

This is the first year that I have grown ‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle, Lonicera sessifolia ‘Cool Splash’, but I am amazed to find that it looks like this right now.  For more information on this great native shrub, click here.

I have over 20 kinds of pulmonaria or lungwort in my garden providing me with beautiful flowers from February to April, but I appreciate them almost as much for their pristine foliage through early winter.

‘Diana Clare’ lungwort, Pulmonaria ‘Diana Clare’

Both native ‘Bronze Wave’ coralbells, Heuchera villosa ‘Bronze Wave’, and fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. herifolium, will look like this all winter.

My post, More Flowering Wintergreen Ground Covers of Shade, included several photos of Italian arum cultivars, which are great winter interest plants.  I won’t repeat those plants here but show you a seedling that appeared among my arum.  The leaves are more pointy and narrow than the species and the markings go beyond veining to cover the leaf.

If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide, and free ground shipping with the proper code.  For details, click here.

Enjoy the last few days of fall,  Carolyn


Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.


Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed for the year.  Look for the snowdrop catalogue (snowdrops are available mail order) in January 2012 and an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore

Posted in hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter interest with tags , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The pure white, outward-facing flower of Christmas rose, Helleborus niger

In the rush to seek out the newest and rarest hellebores on the market,  I am afraid that gardeners are neglecting to explore fully the wonderful qualities of the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger.  Christmas rose is a  species hellebore no garden should be without.  In addition, recently introduced cultivars have made this species a must have for gardeners seeking fall and winter interest.

The smooth, blue-green leaves of Christmas rose are pristine and beautiful and often have red stems

Christmas roses have been in cultivation for hundreds of years and are a very distinctive species hellebore with little variation in the wild.  They are native to woodlands and open areas of the central and eastern Alps in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and northern Italy.  They are about 9 to 12″ in height with a very woody root system.  The smooth, leathery dark blue-green leaves are deeply divided into 7 to 9 leaflets with irregular teeth around the tip.  If covered with snow, the leaves will stay pristine through the winter.

The buds of Christmas rose are quite ornamental

Christmas rose exhibiting its desirable characteristic of outward-facing flowers

Christmas roses have pure white flowers on upright fleshy stems.  The full, rounded blossoms are outward-facing and open flat with a width of 2 to 5″ and a bloom time starting anywhere from November to March, depending on the cultivar.  The flowers often age to shades of pink to red.  They make a very good cut flower.

Established Christmas roses produce an abundance of flowers

The flowers on Christmas roses often age to pink

Christmas roses prefer a well-drained site rich in organic matter.  High or dappled shade is best, and they seem to prefer the edge of beds.  Although they don’t like to be moved, they are easy to divide because their leaves and flowers are on separate stems.  Once they are established, all they need is a yearly mulch of ground leaves.  Christmas roses are usually found in areas with alkaline soil and several sources recommend applying lime, but I have never found this necessary.

The 3 1/2″ wide flowers of ‘Praecox’ Christmas rose in mid-February in my garden

There are several cultivars of Christmas rose that have enhanced the ornamental qualities of this already desirable hellebore.  The straight species blooms in the mid-Atlantic area of the U.S. in early March, after the hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus.  The Christmas rose cultivar ‘Praecox’ moves the start of bloom time up from March to mid to late January.  ‘Praecox’ also produces an abundance of flowers at a young age unlike the straight species, which can take a while to establish itself.

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose coming into bloom in my garden in November–its flowers are 3″ wide

Two more recent introductions from the Helleborus Gold Collection in Germany have moved the start of Christmas rose’s bloom time to November and extended it to May. ‘HGC Jacob’ begins blooming in my garden in mid-November, while ‘HGC Josef Lemper’ begins around December 1.  Both cultivars continue blooming into May.  For detailed descriptions of ‘Jacob’ and ‘Josef Lemper’, read my article Hellebores for Fall by clicking here.

The 4″ wide flowers of ‘Josef Lemper’ blooming through the snow in my garden in February

Although rarely for sale, I treasure my ‘Potter’s Wheel’ Christmas rose, a cultivar with huge flat, 5″ wide symmetrical flowers.  Although most ‘Potter’s Wheel’ is not true to type because it is seed grown, I acquired mine from Arrowhead Alpines, which vegetatively propagates their plants from the original ‘Potter’s Wheel’ in England.

The huge 5″ wide flowers of authentic ‘Potter’s Wheel’ Christmas rose

I hope that you will consider Christmas rose the next time you add to your hellebore collection.

Please let me know in a comment/reply about your own experiences with growing Christmas roses.

Carolyn

This is part of a series of articles on hellebores, one of the specialties of my nursery.  Here are links to the other articles:

Part One        Hellebores for Fall

Part Two       An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Part Three   Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore

Part Four      Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Part Five       The Sex Lives of Hellebores

Part Six          Double Hellebores

Part Seven   Cutting Back Hellebores

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: I am currently accepting orders for snowdrops, including  mail orders.  For the catalogue and order information, click here.  I am taking reservations for my March 18 & 19 Hellebore Seminars.  For the brochure and registration information, click here.  I have a few spaces left for Charles Cresson’s Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants Seminars.  For the brochure and registration information, click here.

February GBBD: Add to Your Spring Shopping List

Posted in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, garden to visit, hellebores, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

“Spring-blooming” hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum, sends out its first bud

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the end of winter an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more early-blooming hellebores to give you a reason to go outside?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in January and February like hardy cyclamen, snow crocus, or snowdrops to relieve the gray?  Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping this spring you know what you need and where it should go.  I know it’s icy outside, but you never know what you might find to end the winter doldrums like the hardy cyclamen (pictured above), which I discovered during my own chilly inventory.

Snowdrops and winter aconite on Winterthur’s March Bank, photo courtesy of Winterthur

If you need ideas, visit local arboretums and gardens.  I always find a trip to Winterthur, an elegant and intimate public garden in Delaware, highly inspirational and informative.  Starting March 1 when Winterthur opens for spring, the area of the gardens known as the March Bank erupts into bloom with tens of thousands of snowdrops, adonis, winter aconite, snow crocus, early scillas, glory-of-the-snow, spring snowflake, and early daffodils.

Snowdrops and winter aconite on Winterthur’s March Bank in early March, photo courtesy of Winterthur

Later in March, glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa, takes over, photo courtesy of Winterthur

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for February when gardeners around the world show photos of what’s blooming in their gardens (follow the link to see  photographs from other garden bloggers assembled by Carol at May Dreams Gardens).  Here are a few more highlights from my mid-February stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens:

Very early-blooming double white hellebore, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’

Bearsfoot hellebore, Helleborus foetidus, was waiting under the ice

Sweetbox, Sarcococca hookeriena var. humilis, prepares to perfume the garden

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, began blooming in October and has waited patiently under the snow and ice for a chance to show its flowers again

The lowly Japanese pachysandra, P. terminalis, forms its flowers the previous season adding winter interest to its evergreen leaves

The flower buds of hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus, wait for the hard-packed snow to melt, in warmer years they would be in bloom now

Some hybrid hellebores are farther along than others

Giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, was the first flower through the snow in 2011 (see Are Snowdrops Thermogenic?) and was also blooming in December

With our near record-breaking snowfall accompanied by generous doses of ice (see The Joys and Sorrows of Snow), I wasn’t planning on participating in February’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  But when I grabbed my camera and walked around, there was much to be seen.   In addition to the flowers, there was more than enough views of the destruction of the winter by nature and otherwise.

Remnants of the white pine and coral bark maple branches lost this winter

The signs marking my epimedium collection after the ravages of my three snowboarding teenage sons.

Please let me know in a comment/reply what flowers are blooming in your winter garden.  If you participated in GBBD, please provide a link so my nursery customers can read your post.

Carolyn


Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: I am currently accepting orders for snowdrops, including  mail orders.  For the catalogue and order information, click here.  I am also taking reservations for Charles Cresson’s Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants Seminar.  For the brochure and registration information, click here.

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