Archive for the hellebores Category

March 2013 GBBD: Hellebores on Parade Again

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

hellebores at Davoid Culp'sMy friend David Culp had this lovely bowl of hellebore flowers on his porch when I visited his garden Brandywine Cottage recently.  This is an elegant way to display your hellebores and gives a feeling for the range of colors and forms available.  For more gorgeous photos of David’s garden, check out his book The Layered Garden.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on the 15th of the month) where gardeners from all over the world publish photos each month 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 am calling this post Hellebores on Parade Again because for GBBD in January 2012 I also put my hellebores on parade (click here to read it).

This month I am using this opportunity to profile the hellebores that will be available at my upcoming Hellebore Extravaganza Sale at my nursery on Saturday, March 23, from 10 am to 3 pm.  All photos are of hellebores blooming in my garden right now.

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


Helleborus x 'Pink Frost'
‘Pink Frost’ is my favorite of the Christmas rose crosses.  Its blue leaves set off the bright pink flowers beautifully, and the flowers fade to a gorgeous rose-red for an extremely long season of interest.

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hellebore pink frost at David Culp's‘Pink Frost’ also works quite well in a container where its beauty can be examined up close (Culp garden).

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Helleborus niger‘There is nothing like the pure white, outward-facing flowers of Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, to stop you in your tracks.  A mature clump can have dozens of flowers.

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Helleborus niger 'Double Fantasy'The double Christmas rose ‘Double Fantasy’ is quite striking.

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Helleborus x 'Mary Lou'Hellebore ‘Mary Lou’ has huge flowers and a wide pink border surrounding a bold maroon spotted “face”.

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Helleborus x 'Warbler'The late afternoon sun shines through the early-blooming, yellow hellebore ‘Warbler’, whose flowers continue to be very ornamental even when they have technically “gone by”.  As you can see though, new buds are on the way.

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Helleborus x 'Warbler'Here is a close up of ‘Warbler’ that I have posted before.

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Helleborus x 'Phoebe'The double pink hellebore ‘Phoebe’ is just coming into bloom in my garden.

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Helleborus x 'Phoebe'A close up of ‘Phoebe’.  

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'‘Painted Bunting’ is the first hybrid hellebore to bloom in my garden and isn’t fazed by all the cold weather we have been having.

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'‘Painted Bunting’s’ picotee markings with the maroon center flaring out to outline the pure white petals makes it very special.

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Helleborus x 'Elegance White'‘Elegance White’ is another lovely double hellebore.

.Helleborus purpurascensThe species hellebore H. purpurascens has a very unique slate purple color not found in any other hellebore.

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Helleborus purpurascensA close up of Helleborus purpurascens.

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Helleborus odorusFragrant hellebore, H. odorus, adds a bright note to the winter garden and looks gorgeous paired with red hellebores like ‘Red Lady’.

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Helleborus odorusA close up of fragrant hellebore.

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Helleborus x 'Red Lady'‘Red Lady’ hellebore

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Cinnamon Snow'Another early-blooming Christmas rose cross, ‘Cinnamon Snow’.

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow'A close up of ‘Cinnamon Snow’.

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Helleborus x 'Black'This black hybrid hellebore grabs the attention of every garden visitor I have.

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Helleborus x 'First Cuckoo'The double hellebore ‘First Cuckoo’ is new to me this year.

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Helleborus x sahinii 'Winter Bells,This very unusual flower belongs to the first ever cross between bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, and Christmas rose, H. niger, called H. x sahinii ‘Winter Bells’.  It is new for me this year but looks quite promising for flowers and foliage interest.

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Two more hellebore container ideas from David Culp:

hellenores David Culp'sDouble black hellebores paired with their favorite companion, snowdrops.

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hellebores David CulpAn enchanting combination of cream-colored hellebores and pussy willows, a shrub I may offer in my upcoming woody plant offer.

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Enjoy, Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US, zone 6b.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Nursery Happenings:  The nursery is open and fully stocked.  If you can’t come to an event, just email to schedule an appointment–we are available this weekend.  My Hellebore Extravaganza open house sale is Saturday, March 23, from 10 am to 3 pm.  If you are a customer, expect an email shortly with all the details.  There are still a few spaces left in the hellebore seminar on Monday, March 18, at 10 am.  For details click here.  The 2013 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar of the website and orders are being accepted now.  To view the catalogue, click here.  The 2013 General Catalogue is available here.

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.

2013 Winter Interest Plants

Posted in garden to visit, hellebores, Shade Gardening, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Galanthus 'Brenda Troyle'Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’ is one of the most robust and fragrant snowdrops in the Cresson garden.

This may be my last post that focuses on snowdrops, and I am sure some readers will rejoice.  I am aware that many gardeners do not share (or understand) my obsession.  However, I want to show photos from the recent Winter Interest Plants Seminars hosted by Charles Cresson for my nursery customers. 

Before I get to that though, I have to tell you about the snowdrop event this weekend at Winterthur, the fabulous garden in Delaware, US.  On Saturday, March 9, at 11 am, Alan Street, the world famous snowdrop expert from Avon Bulbs in England, is presenting the annual Bank to Bend Lecture on snowdrops.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be one of two nurseries selling snowdrops and other winter interest plants at Winterthur.  I hope to see you there.  Here are the details:


winterthur

Join plantsman and snowdrop expert Alan Street of the renowned nursery Avon Bulbs as he offers insight into these precious flowers, sharing how they have become a worldwide phenomenon and how Avon Bulbs brings them to market. Registration includes tours of the March Bank display and access to specialist nurseries selling snowdrops and other winter interest plants. $20 non-members; $10 members.

Call 800.448.3883 to register or find out more.

Bank to Bend includes free admission to the garden, tours of the March Bank and access to specialist nurseries Black Hog Horticulture and Carolyn’s Shade Garden to purchase rare and unusual bulbs and other winter interest plants.

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Cresson Winter Interest SeminarCharles Cresson talks about his witch hazels, winter aconite, and snowdrops with some die hard winter interest gardeners.

This is the third year that nationally known horticulturalist Charles Cresson has hosted my customers in his Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, garden to view and discuss winter interest plants.  Every year we see different plants, depending on the weather, but every year the group is just as enthusiastic despite the weather.  This year, February (and all winter really) has been cold and dismal, and the seminar days were no exception, but the attendees were enthusiastic and full of questions for Charles.

Cresson Winter Interest SeminarsCharles demonstrates how he protects important plants with plastic boxes if the weather is going to be unseasonably cold.

Plants are “late” to come out this year because it has been so cold.  The emergence of winter interest plants like perennials and bulbs is dependent more on the soil temperature than on the date.  If the soil warms up early, as it did in 2012 when we had no winter, many plants will bloom early.  This year it has been cold and gray, and many plants have yet to bloom or emerge.  Yet, such is the magic of Charles’s garden that there was a lot to see.  Here are some of the highlights in the order in which we saw them:

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'After seeing this daffodil for many years blooming in Charles’s garden in February, I finally added it to mine this year.  It is called Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’.

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Eratnhis hyemalis (pale yellow form)A rare pale yellow form of winter aconite, Eranthus hyemalis.

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Crocus tommasinianusThe snow crocus, C. tommasinianus, is my favorite crocus because it blooms now with the snowdrops and multiplies rapidly.

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Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'‘Ruby Giant’ snow crocus is a deeper purple.

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Crocus tommasinianus 'Taplow Ruby'‘Taplow Ruby’ snow crocus

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Galanthus 'Atkinsii'Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ is an old-fashioned and reliable snowdrop that should be part of any collection.

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Galanthus 'Atkinsii' & Arum italicum 'Pictum'One of my favorite combinations, ‘Atkinsii’ with Italian arum, A. italicum ‘Pictum’.

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost' with Cotoneaster salicifolius 'Henryi'The leaves of ‘Pink Frost’ hellebore, H. x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’, pair beautifully with this rare cotoneaster, C. salicifolius ‘Henryi’.

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Helleborus foetidus & Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost'‘Pink Frost’ again with bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, in another winning combination.

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Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Winter's Song'‘Winter’s Song’ hellebore, H. x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’ is very early blooming so it was fully out on this cold February day.

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Helleborus x 'Ivory Prince'‘Ivory Prince’ hellebore was just starting to open.

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Iris unguicularis subsp. cretensisThis subspecies is an especially dark colored version of the winter-blooming Algerian iris, Iris unguicularis subsp. cretensis.

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Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'

Galanthus ‘Mighty Atom’ has one of the best presentations of any snowdrop.

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Galanthus rizehensisGalanthus rizehensis is a rare and desirable snowdrop species.

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Galanthus 'Standing Tall'Charles’s newly introduced snowdrop ‘Standing Tall’ continues to stand up to whatever the weather throws at it.  If you didn’t know better you would think it was a daffodil.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Standing Tall' Cresson photo-001‘Standing Tall’ in full bloom in early January.

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Galanthus 'Beth Chatto' ‘Beth Chatto’

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Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen'Charles and I both acquired six-petaled ‘Godfrey Owen’ last year but his was not felled by snow and ice.

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Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen'‘Godfrey Owen’

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Galanthus 'Godfrey Owen'The inner segments of ‘Godfrey Owen’ are extraordinary too.  This photo represents to me what galanthophiles are all about.

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I know the participants enjoyed themselves because even after an hour and a half in the cold, they were still asking Charles questions.  I hope my readers have gotten some vicarious enjoyment.

I you would like to see what was featured during the 2011 and 2012 seminars, follow these links:

2011 Winter Interest Plants

2012 Winter Interest Plants

Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US, zone 6b.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Nursery Happenings:  We are now accepting reservations for our very popular Hellebore Seminars .  The Friday session is full but the session on Monday, March 18, at 10:00 am has nine spaces left.  For details, click here.  The 2013 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar of the website and orders are being accepted now.  To view the catalogue, click here.  The 2013 General Catalogue is available here.

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.

February GBBD: Hellebores and Snowdrops

Posted in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, Shade Perennials, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Helleborus x 'Warbler'This is just one of the many gorgeous hellebores that will be for sale at my nursery this spring.  ‘Warber’ is a lovely creamy yellow and is blooming in a pot for me right now.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on February 15) where gardeners from all over the world publish photos each month 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.  Several nursery customers have mentioned wanting to have color in late winter so I hope they will get some ideas for plants to add to their own gardens to extend their season.

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


Helleborus x 'First Cuckoo'
‘First Cuckoo’ is a double  hellebore with white petals shading to pink with deep raspberry edges.  It is also blooming in a pot and will be for sale this year.

Things really change from year to year.  In February 2011, my hellebores and other winter interest plants were barely emerging from under the ice and snow (to see photos click here).  In February 2012 when we had an extremely warm winter, all my hellebores were in full bloom (to see photos click here). 

This year, my early plants are up and blooming, but most of my hellebores are just starting to send up flowers.  That makes me appreciate the early-blooming varieties even more.  But it is the snowdrops that really steal the show right now.  They give me a reason to walk through the garden every day.  So enjoy the photos and keep warm until spring.  Note: For the benefit of my customers, I will indicate which hellebores will be for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (CSG) this spring.

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost'

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Pink Frost'‘Pink Frost, pictured here with common snowdrops,’ is an early blooming hellebore coveted for its flowers and blue leaves with burgundy highlights.   I can’t decide if the front or the back of the flowers is prettier (for sale at CSG).

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Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow'‘Cinnamon Snow’ is a close relative of ‘Pink Frost’—they both resulted from crosses between Christmas rose and a hellebore species from Majorca.  ‘Cinnamon Snow’s’ creamy flowers flushed with cinnamon pink are very elegant (for sale at CSG).

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Helleborus dumetorum subsp. atrorubensThis hellebore is so rare it has no common name but its botanical name is Helleborus dumetorum subsp. atrorubens (for sale at CSG).

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Helleborus niger 'Praecox'

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Helleborus niger 'Praecox'Christmas roses bloom continually in my garden from October through April.  ‘Praecox’ is the showiest right now but I also love ‘Jacob’, ‘Josef Lemper’, and ‘Potter’s Wheel’ (for sale at CSG).  

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Helleborus x 'Old Early Purple'‘Old Early Purple’ is always one of the first hybrid hellebores to burst into bloom.

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Helleborus x 'Snow White'This flower on ‘Snow White’ opened so long ago that it is already fading to green from its original pristine white color.

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'

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Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'‘Painted Bunting’ is always one of the first hybrid hellebores to bloom in my garden.  The bold burgundy red central central star spreads outward along the veins and edges the delicate petals.  Again the back of the flower is quite beautiful (for sale at CSG).

I managed to limit myself to eight snowdrops, all of which I think are very special. 

Galanthus 'S. Arnott'‘S. Arnott’, a classic early snowdrop.

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Galanthus 'Ophelia'The fat, rounded flowers and heart-shaped markings of ‘Ophelia’, a double snowdrop in the Greatorex group.

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Galanthus plicatus 'Wendy's Gold'Even non-galanthophiles admire ‘Wendy’s Gold’, a rare yellow snowdrop.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Kite'I fell in love with the extra long petals of ‘Kite’ when I saw it in a fellow galanthophile’s garden in 2010, and she kindly gave me a plant.  Now there are five with four flowers.

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Galanthus 'Blewbury Tart'‘Blewbury Tart’ is just waiting for a warm sunny day to explode into bloom.  You can feel the pent up energy.  Unfortunately sunny days are few and far between right now.

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Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'The refined elegance of the double snowdrop ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ makes her one of my favorites.

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Galanthus elwesii with X markI got this unnamed giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, in trade from a customer.  It has very large flowers with a distinctive X marking and starts blooming before Christmas, a very desirable trait.  It is still blooming now.

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Galanthus elwesii 'Godfrey Owen'‘Godfrey Owen’ is the snowdrop that I was most looking forward to this year.  It is very unusual for having 6 outer segments instead of the usual three.  When it opens, the petals form a completely symmetrical whorl.  Unfortunately, the flower was flattened by ice immediately upon opening, bending the stem, and then an insect ate away parts of the petals, ruining the whorl.  Isn’t that always the way?  I tried to prop it up unsuccessfully but then bit the bullet and brought it inside.

There are many other plants blooming right now, but it has been so hard to get photos.   The flowers are always closed because the sun refuses to shine, or waterlogged with the never ending rain and snow.  In fact, three of these photos are from previous years, but I decided to use them because they depict the plants as they look today:

Whenever the weather warms up winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, opens some flowers.

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Arum italicum 'Pictum'Italian arum always looks great.

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Crocus tommasinianusSnow crocus, C. tommasinianus, is the earliest crocus in my garden and is a great companion plant for hellebores and snowdrops.

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Eranthis hyemalisI am always surprised by how quickly winter aconite appears in the garden.  Monday there was no sign of it and Tuesday it was carpeting my woods.

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Aucuba japonica 'Gold Dust'‘Gold Dust’ Japanese aucuba is one of the best shrubs for lighting up full shade.  If you can find male and female plants, it produces these large berries which ripen now.

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Cyclamen coumThe first winter-blooming cyclamen, C. coum, peak through the leaves.  Hardy cyclamen is another great companion for snowdrops and hellebores.

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Cyclamen at Carolyn's Shade GardensPots of hardy cyclamen waiting to find homes with my nursery customers.

Enjoy, Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US, zone 6b.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Nursery Happenings:  The 2013 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar of the website and orders are being accepted now.  To view the catalogue, click here.  The 2013 General Catalogue is available here.  Look for a brochure for my very popular hellebore seminars very soon.

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.

December 2012 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Posted in bulbs for shade, Camellias, hellebores, Shade Gardening, Shade Shrubs, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

DSCN8663The first of my hybrid hellebores is just about to bloom: Helleborus x ‘Snow White’ (aka ‘Snow Bunting’).

I am two days late for the official Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  On the fifteenth of each month garden bloggers from all over the world post photos of what’s blooming in their gardens, and their posts are collected by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to see which plants are pretty enough to get me outside in December on a somewhat warm but dreary, rainy day.  I also wanted to add a new twist by allowing myself only one pass through the garden for photos instead of the numerous trips required by a normal post.

Not surprisingly if you read my blog, Italian arum, hellebores, snowdrops, camellias, hardy cyclamen, and coral bells are hogging the show this time of year accompanied by a few others.  Let’s see what we have:

DSCN8642 Fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’ has been blooming since October and still has buds waiting to open.

My late fall garden has been immensely improved by the addition of fall-blooming hardy camellias.  All five of mine are blooming now and have plenty of buds left.  For more information on fall-bloomimg camellias, click here.

DSCN8641‘Winter’s Joy’

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DSCN8650‘Lu Shan Snow’

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DSCN8656‘Winter’s Darling’

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DSCN8655‘Elaine Lee’

Italian arum is always a highlight this time of year after its fresh foliage emerges from dormancy in early fall:

DSCN8645‘Pictum’ Italian arum

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DSCN8659dwarf Italian arum ‘Tiny Tot’

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DSCN8654‘Gold Rush’ Italian arum, my favorite

Hellebores are just about to take over as the stars of the garden for the next few months.  For more information on hellebores, click here and follow the links at the end of the post.  If it wouldn’t violate my parameter for this post, I would run out and photograph bearsfoot hellebore and ‘Praecox’ Christmas rose, which are both almost open.  As it is, I have these two hellebores for you:

DSCN8662Another shot of the first flower on ‘Snow White’.

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DSCN8643After blooming in October, ‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose is at it again and will continue to bloom into spring.

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My favorite coral bells or heucheras are the cultivars that give me 365 days of colorful foliage, some of which are pictured below.  If I could go back outside, I would add ‘Frosted Violet’ and ‘Bronze Wave’.  I would also include some photographs of pulmonarias, especially ‘Diana Clare’:

DSCN8646‘Caramel’ heuchera continues to change from one beautiful hue to the next through out the winter.

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DSCN8652Green Spice’ is new to my garden this year and looks like a winner.

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DSCN8653‘Citronelle’ is a customer favorite for brightening dark corners.

You know I couldn’t resist showing you a few snowdrops:

DSCN8640  ‘Potter’s Prelude’, a fall-bloomimg snowdrop cultivar, is getting to the end of its bloom period which began in mid-November.

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DSCN8658A clump of early blooming giant snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii, hides in the Japanese holly ferns and hellebores.

Except during the heart of the summer when they are dormant, hardy cyclamen are stars in my garden.  I find their highly variable leaf patterns endlessly fascinating.  For more information on hardy cyclamen, click here.

DSCN8660The last few blooms on fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium, which began blooming at the end of August.

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DSCN8661Spring-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum, doesn’t need flowers to attract attention.

Here are some more late fall stars that might surprise you:

DSCN8639‘Brigadoon’ St. John’s wort always takes on this lovely peach color for the winter.

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DSCN8644This new mahonia called ‘Soft Caress’ was given to me by the breeders at the Southern Living Plant Collection to trial in my garden.  It is evergreen, blooms now, and is hardy to zone 7.  For more information, click here.  I have high hopes for it because I have since seen it in two other local gardens.

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DSCN8648This sedum always turns a lovely burgundy in the fall.  Unfortunately, I don’t know its exact name.

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DSCN8651Bigroot geranium, G. macrorrhizum, takes on red and pink tones for the winter.

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DSCN8649‘Black Scallop’ ajuga has quickly become one of my favorite groundcovers because its dark purple leaves remain shiny and beautiful through the winter.

You may be wondering why I would limit myself to one trip outside for photos for this post.  Every article that you read here takes me at least a full day to compose, including the photography, the research, the writing, and the editing.  I wanted to see if I could cut that back to a few hours and still produce a quality product, and I believe I have been largely successful.  It would only work for a post like this though where no significant supporting research was required. 

Enjoy, Carolyn

 

Nursery Happenings:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  The nursery is closed until spring 2013.  Thanks for a great year.

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.

 

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

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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’.


‘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.

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

‘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.

Christmas rose ‘Josef Lemper’, Helleborus niger

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.

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

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

‘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.

2012 Winter Interest Plants

Posted in bulbs for shade, Camellias, evergreen, garden to visit, hellebores, landscape design, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Camellia japonica ‘Berenice Boddy’ in full bloom in February in the Cresson garden.

On Friday, February 24, and Monday, February 27, Charles Cresson presented the second annual Winter Interest Plant Seminars for my customers in his beautiful garden located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US.  I did a post on the seminars last year (to read it click here) and thought I had covered the topic.  However, our very warm winter meant that many different plants were in bloom so I want to show you what we saw.


The weather was cold and rainy on Friday, but participants didn’t let it stop them from enjoying Charles’s presentation.

Monday was warm and sunny which allowed more time for dawdling in the garden.  The snowdrops were a big hit.

The attention to detail in Charles’s garden is amazing.  I thought I would show you some of the “hardscape” features, many of which Charles built himself:


The rock garden with hellebores, Algerian iris, and spring-blooming hardy cyclamen.

Garden shed with the original green roof.

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, photo by seminar participant Lucretia Robbins.

Charles has a spectacular collection of winter-blooming shrubs, many of which are fragrant.  We were all surprised by which one was the most fragrant at that time of year:


Chinese holly, Ilex cornuta, retains its berries through the winter.



Sweetbox, Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna ‘Purple Stem’, adds the additional feature of ornamental stems to sweetbox’s many desirable attributes.



Bodnant viburnum, V. bodnantense ‘Dawn’, is very fragrant.



Flower of Bodnant viburnum


The adult form of English ivy, Hedera helix ‘Poetica Arborea’, produces beautiful berries but is also considered very invasive.


Camellia x ‘April Tryst’ is blooming early.


I like the male flowers of Japanese skimmia, S. japonica, as much as the berries on the female plants.



Winter daphne, D. odora, is one of my favorite shrubs because of its wonderful fragrance, excellent habit, evergreen leaves, and lovely flowers.


And the winner is….  Yes, Japanese mahonia, M. japonica, was the most fragrant plant in Charles’s garden even with all the excellent competition above.

Winter-blooming herbaceous perennials were also well represented:

The pink flowers and evergreen leaves of heath, Erica x darleyensis ‘Furzey’.

Evergreen heart leaf ginger, Asarum virginicum

Fragrant Algerian iris, I. unguicularis, was a big hit.

Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, photo Lucretia Robbins

A gorgeous anemone-flowered (ruffle around the center of the flower) hybrid hellebore—my favorite type of hellebore flower.

The most evergreen hellebore of them all, bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus.

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’

Hybrid hellebore with the very robust and extremely fragrant snowdrop ‘Brenda Troyle’.

The tour included a wonderful selection of winter-blooming bulbs, including choice snowdrop cultivars.  Here are just a few:

Seeing this large patch of the very fragrant snowdop ‘S. Arnott’ sent participants back to add it to their purchases for the day.

Spring-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum

The common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, multiplies quickly and looks great when massed.

Evergreen leaves of fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium

A single bulb of a rare yellow-flowered cultivar of the species snowdrop, G. woronowii, just sold for $1,145 on UK eBay.

A silver-leafed form of spring-blooming hardy cyclamen.

The species snowdrop Galanthus plicatus has been in cultivation since the 16th century and comes from Russia and Turkey.  It has beautiful leaves with a unique folded (explicative) pattern.

For all of you who couldn’t actually attend Charles’s seminars, I hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour.

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: 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.

February GBBD: New Hellebores for 2012

Posted in evergreen, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

‘Phoebe’ is a beautiful double hellebore selected by Dan Hinkley formerly of Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, WA, as were most of the hellebores pictured here.  They are all superior forms.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (“GBBD”) hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on February 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 excited about adding colorful hellebores to their own shade gardens to extend the garden season through winter.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 7A (old 6B).


I grow the double ‘Elegance White’ for its distinct reddish purple spots and its symmetrical pointed leaves.

Because of the mild weather, I am overwhelmed with work at my nursery and behind on blogging.  So I am combining my GBBD post with a post on all the gorgeous new hybrid hellebores I will be offering this spring at my snowdrop and hellebore seminars and at my Hellebore Extravaganza on March 24.  They are coming into bloom right now so they definitely qualify for GBBD.  I will save the new species hellebores for a later post.

I decided to start with the doubles because, although I generally prefer single flowers, I love double hellebores.  Their flowers last for months.  In addition to the two above, I offer:


Hybrid hellebore “Double Rose”


Helleborus x "Double Purple"Hybrid hellebore “Double Purple”

My absolute favorite type of hybrid hellebore is known as anemone-flowered.  In this form, the nectaries around the center of the flower create a ruffle of mini petals matching the color of the flower.  I collect anemone-flowered hellebores (those of you who bought my calendar can see one in the February collage) but have never found them for sale.  I am thrilled to be able to offer one this spring:


The ruffle in the middle of this anemone-flowered hellebore picks up the beautiful colors of the larger petals (actually sepals).  Slate is also a very desirable hellebore color, and ‘Slate Anemone’ is similar to ‘Starling’, another Hinkley-selected hellebore.

I am also excited about the nine new single hybrid hellebores that Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will carry this spring representing every color of the rainbow.  I don’t know if I can pick a favorite:


‘Gold Finch’ has rounded petals of buttery yellow spotted with red flecks.


‘Black’ has striking near black flowers with a perfect rounded shape.


Helleborus x 'Pink Tea Cup'‘Pink Tea Cup’ is early-blooming with soft blush pink flowers reminiscent of cherry blossoms.

‘Raspberry Mousse’ has two-tone pale rose flowers with creamy white veins, and dark rose edges and reverse (the back of the flower).

‘Phoenix’ has apple green flowers edged in burgundy and with a burgundy center.


Slate gray petals with a metallic sheen and burgundy highlights in the center and veins make ‘Slate’ very desirable.


‘Painted Bunting’ has white flowers with a bold burgundy red central star, radiating red veins, and red picotee edges.


‘Velvet Lips’ has bright wine-red flowers with a soft creamy-yellow center and a shiny darker reverse.  I would buy this beautiful hellebore for the name alone.

The Yokoyama nursery in Japan has achieved the first ever cross between Christmas rose and hybrid hellebores to produce ‘Snow White’, this gorgeous early-blooming pure white hellebore with large, flat, outward-facing flowers; easy to grow like all the hybrids but easy to see the flowers too!

I tested all these hellebores in Spring 2011 by planting them in my garden.  This year I am being rewarded with big healthy plants loaded with flowers.  Stop by and see for yourself after I open on March 15.

Carolyn

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

Calendar:  If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide.  For details, click here.

Nursery Happenings: The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are now available for registration.  To view the brochure, click here.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.  This post is part one of my exciting new hellebore offering.

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

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

‘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.

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