Archive for Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’

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.

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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.

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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