Archive for hybrid hellebores

Hellebores in the Garden Today

Posted in hellebores, my garden, New Plants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2018 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 ‘Anna’s Red’, a new addition to the FrostKiss™ hellebore family.

All my customers have been commenting that their hellebores are spectacular this year.  Mine are too, and I thought it would be fun to show you photos of hellebores in my garden today. 

Although I have hundreds of hellebores in bloom, I have limited the photos to hellebores that will be available for sale at the Carolyn’s Shade Gardens open house sale this Saturday, April 14, from 10 am to 3 pm.  If you can’t come on Saturday, I still have appointments available on Friday, April 13, on the hour and half hour from 10:30 to 5—just email me, carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com, your top three choices, and I will confirm.

Nursery News:  Our first open house sale featuring hellebores, early spring-blooming shade plants, and native plants is this Saturday, April 14,  from 10 am to 3 pm.

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 cell 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.

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First up, the FrostKiss™ outward-facing hellebores, including ‘Anna’s Red’ above:

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‘Dorothy’s Dawn’, another 2018 addition to the FrostKiss™ line of hellebores, has beautiful flowers, but what I really love is….

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….the leaves, which, like all FrostKiss™ foliage, lasts all winter into spring.

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FrostKiss™ ‘Penny’s Pink’ has been around for four years and thrives in my garden.

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The flowers of FrostKiss™ ‘Molly’s White’ are prolific and lovely, but the best attribute of this hellebore is ….

.….the gorgeous leaves.

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Other outward-facing hellebores:

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‘Pink Frost’ is a lovely hellebore, shorter than the FrostKiss™ hellbores and perfect for a smaller garden or space.

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‘Spring Party’ is also shorter and smaller, but blooms later and has beautiful marbled leaves that last through the winter.

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For unusual colors and double flowers, you can’t beat “Lenten Roses”, the standard hybrid hellebores and my personal favorites:

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‘Wedding Bells’ is part of the Wedding Party™ series, a vigorous and well-selected group of double hellebores.  White hellebores really stand out in the garden.

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Another Wedding Party™ series hellebore, ‘Flower Girl’.

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The Winter Jewels® series of double hellebores is also spectacular:

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‘Harlequin Gem’ has a lighter interior with dark purple-black outer petals.

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‘Golden Lotus’, a double yellow hellebore, is prominently featured in my yellow hellebore collection.

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‘Onyx Odyssey’, a blue-black selection, is outstanding.

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‘Peppermint Ice’, along my front walk, catches everyone’s eye.

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The Honeymoon™ series of single hellebores is also quite beautiful:

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‘New York Night’ is amazing, look for it around back by the deck.

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‘Spanish Flare’ is another prominent feature of my yellow hellebore collection.

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If you are local, I hope you can stop by on Saturday and see all these lovely hellebores in person in my garden.  For all my far flung readers, enjoy the photos!

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and phone number to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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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A Wonderful New Hellebore, ‘Penny’s Pink’

Posted in evergreen, hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter interest with tags , , , on March 30, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 4-13-51 PM‘Penny’s Pink’ hybrid hellebore

I rarely profile a single plant, but I am so excited about ‘Penny’s Pink’ hybrid hellebore that I decided it deserved a post of its own.  And where do I start, the new leaves, the old leaves, the new flowers, the old flowers….they all have amazing ornamental value.  Read on to find out about what has been called “the most exciting new hellebore in years.”  All photos were taken of actual plants at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Nursery News:  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.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-19-58 AMThe 3″ symmetrical, cup-shaped flowers are a lovely rosy pink with a prominent cluster of yellow stamens set off by chartreuse nectaries.

‘Penny’s Pink’ was hybridized by RD Plants in the UK and is named after famous British plantswoman Penelope Hobhouse.  It is probably a cross between hybrid hellebore and Helleborus x ballardiae, which is itself a cross between Christmas rose and Helleborus lividus.  The latter species gives ‘Penny’s Pink’ its burgundy overtones, marbled leaves, and distinctive pink flowers.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-24-21 AMBurgundy stems are topped by a fading flower on the right and a flower well past its prime on the left, both are beautiful.  Because the flowers are sterile, they last a long time.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-22-18 AMThe backs of the flowers are as pretty as the front and deepen to a dark pink with age.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-16-04 AMThe new leaves of ‘Penny’s Pink’ come out looking like pink fishnet stockings as one reviewer described them.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 11-17-38 AM The colors stop people in their tracks in my sales area.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 5-29-2014 7-12-10 AMBy June, the pink marbling has turned to lime-green, and the leaves are shiny, thick, and leathery.  You can see that the spent flowers still provide interest.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 5-29-2014 7-12-27 AMI didn’t stock this hellebore until late May last year.  Based on the leaves alone, the plants were gone within a day and never made it to the open house sale.  No one visited without buying one.

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 5-09-02 PMAnd here’s something amazing—this is one of last year’s leaves in my garden today.  After our horrendous winter, they still look beautiful, not something I can say about most plants or humans either.  I don’t need to tell you what my other hellebore leaves look like!

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 5-09-43 PMAnother “old” leaf photo of the whole plant from the top. 

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Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' 3-30-2015 5-09-23 PMFive flower stalks loaded with buds recently emerged.  This plant, which I put in my garden last June, was the smallest of the 100 plants I sold.

‘Penny’s Pink’ is 14 to 18 inches tall and 20 to 23 inches wide.  It blooms at the same time as most other hellebores but for a longer period and grows in the same conditions: well-drained soil in a mostly shady to mostly sunny location.  Available now at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Our first event is the Hellebore Extravaganza on Saturday, April 11, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase hellebores.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. 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.

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.

April GBBD: How to Choose

Posted in bulbs for shade, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, native plants, Shade Perennials, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2011 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.

Time is just flying by, and we have reached the middle of the month when I encourage each of you to walk around your garden and assess what you need to add to make early spring an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more early flowering trees like magnolias and cherries to give you a reason to stroll in your garden?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in early April like native spring ephemerals, bulbs, pulmonarias, and hellebores?

Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping this spring you know what you need and where it should go.  It’s beautiful outside, and you never know what you might find hiding in your garden like this ethereal double-flowered hellebore (pictured above), which I discovered during my own  inventory.  Usually I recommend a local garden to visit for inspiration, but I have to say Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is pretty inspiring right now!

Flowering quince, Chaenomeles x superba ‘Texas Scarlet’, with ‘White Lady’ hybrid hellebore

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for April when gardeners around the world show photos of what’s blooming in their gardens (follow the link to see  photographs from other garden bloggers assembled by Carol at May Dreams Gardens).  Here are  some more highlights from my mid-April stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, but to see it all you will have to visit as Jean from Jean’s Garden and Jan from Thanks for Today are doing this Sunday.

My early magnolias are in full bloom.  Magnolias are my favorite flowering trees, and I want to share these early-blooming varieties with you:

Northern Japanese Magnolia, Magnolia kobus ‘Wada’s Memory’, has the most beautiful form of any magnolia.  The branches curve upwards to form an elongated pyramid, which is maintained even on mature plants.

‘Wada’s Memory’ flower

Star magnolia, Magnolia stellata, blooms so early that it often gets damaged by frost, but amazingly the flowers are magnificent this year.

Star magnolia flowers

I have waited over 15 years for my Yulan magnolia, Magnolia denudata, to bloom, but once I saw mature trees at Longwood Gardens, I had to have one!  It was worth the wait.

My ingenious 13-year-old son used a grappling hook to pull a branch down and clip a Yulan magnolia flower for me to photograph.

There are so many beautiful hellebores in bloom that I made collages of my favorite flowers so that this whole post wasn’t dedicated to hellebores:

Clockwise from upper left: seedling double hybrid hellebore, ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’, ‘Velvet Lips’ (don’t you love that name?), ‘Painted Bunting’

Clockwise from upper left: seedling petaloid hybrid hellebore, ‘Blue Lady’, Helleborus x nigercors ‘Green Corsican’ (cross between Corsican hellebore and Christmas rose), seedling in ‘Double Melody’ strain

Clockwise from upper left: double from ‘Golden Lotus’ seed strain, ‘Raspberry Mousse’, ‘Goldfinch’, seedling petaloid hybrid hellebore

I could dedicate the whole post to epimediums too so here are more collages:

Clockwise from upper left: ‘Yubae’, Epimedium x rubra, ‘Cherry Tart’, ‘Sweetheart’

Clockwise from upper left: ‘Shrimp Girl’, ‘Orange Queen’, Epimedium x warleyense, ‘Cupreum’

I have a collection of about 15 varieties of European wood anemones, and April is their time to shine.  They are very easy to grow in shaded woodland conditions:

Left to right from upper left: Anemone nemorosa pink form; Anemone x seemanii; ‘Alba Plena’; ‘Leed’s Variety’; ‘Bractiata’; ‘Allenii’; ‘Vestal’; Anemone ranunculoides; ‘Wyatt’s Pink’

European wood anemones spread to form a sizable and eye-catching patch even in dry shade, photo above of the yellow flowers of Anemone ranunculoides.

I want to share so many exciting blooming plants with you that I don’t know how to choose the photographs to include, hence the title of this post.  Here are other plants that made the cut:

Red lungwort, Pulmonaria rubra ‘Redstart’, is a very unusual pulmonaria with green fuzzy leaves.

Winterhazel, Corylopsis species, unfortunately for the first time ever our late freezes damaged most of the flowers.

Obviously not a bloom, but I wanted to show you the early color of native variegated dwarf Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium reptans ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

Native rue anemone, Anemonella thalictroides double pink form

I planted a mixture of daffodils in the middle of my raised beds, and this lovely seedling appeared in the path.

Native cinnamon fern, Osmunda cinnamomea, is gorgeous as it unfurls.

A seedling Helleborus multifidus underplanted with the spring ephemeral  Cardamine quinquefolia.

The many colors of Corydalis solida when allowed to seed.  I am planning an article on this plant in the future.

Who could have planned this combination?  Native coral bells, Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’, with a seedling glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa forbesii.

The new leaves and flowers of Japanese coral bark maple, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, are breathtaking in early spring.  For the full story on this four season tree, read my article Coral Bark Maple.

My latest spring-blooming camellia addition, Camellia x ‘April Rose’, a formal double.


For breath-taking beauty in early spring you can’t beat cherry trees:

A very mature Yoshino cherry, Prunus x yedoensis, that came with our property.  I love the fleeting nature of the flowers and look forward to the day every spring when it rains petals in my nursery.  Its orange fall color is spectacular.

My favorite cherry (at least for today), Prunus x incam ‘Okame’, dominates my courtyard garden in early spring.


I will end with a heart full of cherry blossoms because I love early spring!

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

Carolyn


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

Nursery Happenings: My second open house sale is this Saturday, April 16, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring early spring-blooming plants for shade.

The Sex Lives of Hellebores

Posted in hellebores, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2011 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.

The green halo in this beautiful hybrid hellebore flower probably results from the influence of H. torquatus, which is characterized by a pale collar around the center of the flower.

Hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus (the Royal Horticultural Society approved name, previously called Lenten rose or Orientalis hybrids), are the most commonly available hellebores with the large, showy, nodding flowers in an amazing range of colors (click here and here to see photos).  In my article An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores, I explained my fascination with and love of the diversity found in hybrid hellebores .

I described how, unless tissue cultured, you can’t be sure what a hybrid hellebore  flower will look like unless it is in bloom.  But I pointed out that to me that is the magic of hybrid hellebores: each plant is a unique individual, with the potential for inheriting genetic material from any of the 9 species hellebores that could be its parents.  In this article, I want to explain exactly where hybrid hellebores come from and introduce you to their parents.  If you want to skip the technical discussion, photos of the parent species are at the end of the article.  I won’t be insulted.

The leaves of ‘Metallic Blue Lady’ hybrid hellebore come out a deep glossy purple showing the influence of H. atrorubens, which can have the same attribute.

The genus Helleborus contains between 12 and 21 species, depending on who is counting, but I usually stick with the 15 described by Brian Mathew, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in his authoritative work Hellebores (Alpine Garden Society 1989).  Six of these species are not relevant to our discussion here.  The other nine species are the parents of hybrid hellebores.  They are H. atrorubens, H. cyclophyllus, H. dumetorum, H. mulitifidus, H. odorus, H. orientalis, H. purpurascens, H. torquatus, and H. viridis.

These nine hellebore species have crossed and re-crossed naturally and through human intervention by hellebore breeders  over hundreds of years to produce hybrid hellebores.  That is why hybrid hellebores are so variable: they can have the characteristics of any of these nine species in their background in infinite combinations.  And it is impossible to be sure which species a particular hybrid hellebore has in its genetic makeup, although flower and leaf characteristics can often lead one to speculate that a particular parent might be predominant (see two photos above).

The species themselves are also incredibly variable in the wild, often freely crossing  with each other,  making them difficult to identify.  For a discussion of just how variable, read Chapter 3 in Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide by J. Tyler and C. Burrell (Timber Press 2006).

This very beautiful but clearly hybrid hellebore was sold to me as H. purpurascens.

I was a hellebore fanatic long before I became a galanthophile (see my article Snowdrops: Further Confessions of a Galanthophile), and over the years I have collected, grown, and, in some cases, sold to my customers all 15 species, which are all very beautiful in their own right.  In addition, I have attempted to acquire them from as many different sources as possible in order to get plants that I consider the most true to type.   Many of my plants were grown from seeds collected in the wild by Will McLewin of Phedar Nursery in the U.K. You would be amazed at what I have been sold as species hellebores (see photos above and below).

These four plants were all sold to me as H. atrorubens.

So over the years, through trial and error, I have developed what I jokingly call the “U.S. National Species Hellebore Collection”, and I present them to you.  But please remember that I have never actually seen these plants in the wild.

Helleborus cyclophyllus

Helleborus cyclophyllus is native to the open dry hillsides and woods of Greece,  Albania, the former Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria.  Its name means with leaves in a circle.  It is quite fragrant and not ornamentally distinct from H. odorus,  fragrant hellebore.  All the chartreuse-flowered species hellebores look gorgeous in combination with red- and purple-flowered hybrids.

Helleborus atrorubens

Helleborus atrorubens is native to dry hillsides and woodland margins of the former Yugoslavia.  Its name means dark red, and it gives purple and red colors to hybrid hellebores.  It can also contribute the desirable attribute of leaves that emerge  dark purple.

Helleborus dumetorum

Helleborus dumetorum is native to the mountainous woods and thickets of Austria, Romania, the former Yugoslavia, and Hungary.  Its name means of thickets and hedgerows.  At 8 to 12″ (all the others are 12 to 20″), it is the smallest hellebore species and looks like a miniature.  Its multiple skinny leaflets give it a feathery appearance.

Helleborus purpurascens

Helleborus purpurascens is native to light woodlands and meadows throughout eastern Europe.  Its name means purplish, and it usually doesn’t exceed 12″ tall.  It is my favorite of the species both for its gorgeous and unusual flowers and its circular, filigreed leaves.  It must be more stable in the wild because every plant I have acquired looks similar to the photos above.

Helleborus odorus (Fragrant Hellebore)

Helleborus odorus is native to woodland margins and thickets of Hungary, Romania, and the former Yugoslavia.  Its name means fragrant, and it is one of the more commonly grown species.  On warm days, H. odorus and H. cyclophyllus perfume my whole species hellebore area.  I have never noticed that this trait was passed on to any hybrid flower.  As noted above, it is not ornamentally distinct from H. cyclophyllus.

Helleborus torquatus

Helleborus torquatus is native to light deciduous woods and clay soil of the  former Yugoslavia.  Its name means with a collar, referring to the pale ring around the neck of the flower, which you can see in the photo above.   Its leaves have 15 to 25 long tapering segments giving the whole plant a unique spidery look.   It produces double flowers in the wild and also contributes purple and blue color and metallic highlights to the hybrids.  It is the rarest of the species in this article, and I have only been able to acquire it from one source.

Helleborus viridis (Green Hellebore)

Helleborus viridis is unusual culturally and geographically because it is native to the moist deciduous woods and meadows and clay soil of western Europe and the U.K.  Most of these species hellebores require well-drained soil and are native to eastern Europe.  Its name means green, and its flowers are certainly the best green of the species.  I find them quite beautiful.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose)

There are three subspecies of Helleborus orientalis, the Lenten rose.  The photos above are of  a plant sold to me as H. orientalis subsp. abchasicus.  However, because of the green carpels and spotted flowers, I am inclined to think it is subsp. guttatus. The seed came from well known hellebore expert Will McLewin.  It is native to open fields as well as scrub and woodlands of the Caucasus Mountains where Europe meets Asia, which explains its name meaning of the Orient. Most hybrid hellebores are derived at least in part from H. orientalis, which is why they were originally called Orientalis hybrids.

Helleborus multifidus

Helleborus multifidus is native to the deciduous woods and open scrubland of Italy, the former Yugoslavia, and Albania.  Its name means much divided, referring to its beautiful frilly leaves.  I grow three of its four subspecies, which I treasure for their foliage, and two are pictured below.

Helleborus multifidus subsp. bocconei is a variant from central and southern Italy and Sicily named for a Sicilian botanist.  It is said to be a better garden plant than the other subspecies and certainly makes a gorgeous lacy statement in my gardens.

Helleborus multifidus subsp. hercegovinus is native to Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It is definitely harder to grow but well worth the effort for its extraordinary leaves, which can be divided into 100 leaflets.

I hope you have enjoyed my photo gallery with short descriptions for each of the nine hybrid hellebore parents.  I have spared you many details that interest me as a collector.  I felt that this was enough to take in in one article.  I should probably also mention that none of the photos above picture the true leaves of the plants, which come out after the flowers.  What you are seeing above are the bracts, which are part of the flower stem and often reflect the leaf characteristics.  If readers are truly interested, I could photograph the leaves, which in many cases are extraordinary, for a later article.

I would really appreciate reader feedback on your experiences with these species, and I would especially like to know if you think any of them are mislabeled and why.

Caroly

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.), click here.

Nursery Happenings: I sell several of the species hellebores pictured above so if you are interested send me an email (no mail order).  My next nursery event is Bulb and Native Wildflower Day on April 9 from 10 am to 2 pm.

Thanks from Tara:

In my post I Need Your Help, I asked you to send cards to Tara, the five-year-old daughter of Kartik whom I profiled inNew Year’s Resolution to Edit the Garden. Tara had recently been diagnosed with leukemia.  As a result of your generosity, Tara received cards from all over the world and has sent you one in return.


March GBBD: The Philadelphia International Flower Show

Posted in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2011 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.

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the beginning of spring an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more early-blooming hellebores, to give you a reason to go outside?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in early March like hardy cyclamen, snow crocus, or snowdrops to relieve the gray?

Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping this spring you know what you need and where it should go.  I know it’s still pretty cold outside, but you never know what you might find to end the winter doldrums like the beautiful double-flowered hellebore (pictured above), which I discovered during my own  inventory.  More photos of my blooming plants are included at the end.

As you entered the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show, you walked under a very large replica of the lower half of the Eiffel Tower

If you need ideas, there is no better place to go in the mid-Atlantic this time of year than the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show.  It is the largest indoor flower show in the world.  This year’s theme was “Springtime in Paris”, and the designers went all out.  I sent photos of some of the weirder stuff to Cheri at Along Life’s Highway The Yard Art Game, and you can see them by clicking here.  But I found the following displays and entries inspirational for my own garden:

There is nothing more beautiful than an individual well grown plant

A new idea for my sedum displays, which are fantastic in containers

Inspiration to upgrade my troughs

I need an elegant metal gate for my walled compost area

Simple can be very beautiful

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

Eranthis hyemalisWinter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

Scilla mischtschenkoanaVery early-blooming Tubergen squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana

My original snow crocus, Crocus tommasinianus, which is rodent resistant, has multiplied into thousands of plants

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, has no scent but makes up for it by blooming so early

Winter-blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum ‘Rose’

I want to include hundreds of hellebore photos but am limiting myself to some really special plants:

The rare species Helleborus purpurascens

The flower of Helleborus purpurascens

Another even rarer species Helleborus viridis: inspired by Laura at PatioPatch, I am dedicating this flower to the people of Japan because green is the color for hope

A cross between Corsican hellebore and Christmas rose, Helleborus x nigercors ‘Honeyhill Joy’

A very beautiful anemone-centered hybrid hellebore where the nectaries have become petal-like (petaloid)

Another petaloid hybrid hellebore

‘Blue Lady’ hybrid hellebore

Hybrid hellebore with picotee markings (darker edges, veins, and nectaries)

A very good yellow hybrid hellebore with maroon nectaries

Some of the thousands of common snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, which have multiplied on my property since the 1800s:

Common snowdrop with Italian arum, Arum italicum ‘Pictum’

Common snowdrop with Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’ displaying its winter color

Some of my very special snowdrop cultivars:

Galanthus 'Ophelia'Double-flowered Galanthus ‘Ophelia’

The unusual species with pleated leaves, Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus

Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe crazy upward facing double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Blewbury Tart’

Galanthus 'Flore Pleno' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe double-flowered common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’

The only yellow-flowered double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Lady Elphinstone’

A beautiful yellow snowdrop, Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

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

Carolyn


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

Nursery Happenings: I have five spaces left for my March 19 Hellebore Seminar (March 18 is sold out).  For the brochure and registration information, click here.  My first open house sale is Saturday, March 26, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring hellebores and other winter-blooming plants.

Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Posted in hellebores, How to, Shade Perennials with tags , , on March 8, 2011 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.

Spring Planting Issue 2006, Horticulture Magazine

Back when I was writing for gardening magazines, I authored an article for Horticulture on dividing hybrid hellebores.  I suggested the topic because so many gardeners think hybrid hellebores are difficult to grow and wouldn’t think of dividing them.  Nothing could be further from the truth: they are easy to grow and propagate by division.

Horticulture photo shoot in my woodland

Hybrid hellebores are an ideal plant with their large flowers, which are ornamental in the mid-Atlantic from February (and sometimes earlier) to May, substantial wintergreen leaves, and resistance to deer.  For photographs of the full range of their colors, please read my article An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores by clicking here.

Horticulture photo shoot at my potting bench

Reproduced below is my step-by-step guide to dividing a hybrid hellebore.  You probably can’t read the fine print so I will narrate the high points to go with the photos.

Hybrid hellebores are expensive relative to other perennials because it takes three to five years for them to bloom.  An economical way to increase your supply is to divide your own desirable plants.  The method outlined below can also be applied to all species hellebores except Majorcan hellebore (Helleborus lividus), Corsican hellebore (H. argutifolius), and bearsfoot hellebore (H. foetidus).  However, the most beautiful hybrid hellebore specimens in my garden are my large clumps that have never been divided.  They are four feet across and have hundreds of flowers.  I only divide a hellebore if  it is so special that I can’t replicate it without division.

For your first experience with dividing a hellebore, select a plant with between five and ten flowers, older plants are too woody.  I always divide my hellebores as they are coming into bloom because each flower represents a potential division.  Insert your spade in a circle all the way around the plant and pry it out of the ground as shown in the photos for steps 1 and 2.  Shake it to remove excess soil and then wash away the remaining soil to reveal the extensive root system as shown in step 3.

Before you attempt any cuts, please make sure you have a heavy duty knife that is very sharp, preferably with serrations on some portion of the blade.  Hellebores have very extensive, woody root systems and dividing them with an inadequate tool can be dangerous.  Make your cuts where you see natural divisions in the root system as shown in the photo for step 4, including some roots, woody rhizome, and flower stems in each division.  For your first attempt, separate your plant into no more than three divisions.

Plant your new divisions in full shade to almost full sun.  Dig the hole as shown in the photo for step 5 and mix the existing soil with an equal amount of compost before replanting.  Firmly tamp down the soil, water well, and mulch with ground leaves.  Although you should water until frost for the first season, hybrid hellebores require no supplemental water once established even in droughts.  I never water or fertilize my hellebores, but I do apply ground leaves yearly.

These  are some of the hybrid hellebores that I think are so special that I would consider dividing them

This is the method I use to divide almost all plants, not just hellebores.  I often read in gardening books that you should cut off a portion of the plant while it’s still in the ground and wonder if the writer has ever tried that method.  Only by digging the whole plant up can you avoid injury to the plant by viewing the unique way each individual plant needs to be divided.

Since writing this, I discovered that none other than the famous Gertrude Jekyll and I agree on this point.  In 1898, in Wood and Garden, she wrote: “I never divide things by brutally chopping them across with the spade….The only safe way [to divide a Christmas rose] is to wash the clumps well out and look carefully for the points of attachment, and cut them either with knife or chisel….”

Please let me know in a comment/reply about your experiences with dividing hybrid hellebores.

Carolyn

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

Part One        Hellebores for Fall

Part Two       An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Part Three   Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore

Part Four      Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Part Five       The Sex Lives of Hellebores

Part Six          Double Hellebores

Part Seven   Cutting Back Hellebores

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

Nursery Happenings: I am currently accepting orders for snowdrops, including  mail orders.  For the catalogue and order information, click here.  I am taking reservations for my March 18 & 19 Hellebore Seminars.  For the brochure and registration information, click here.  The March 6 session of Charles Cresson’s Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants Seminar has been rescheduled for March 13 and has a few spaces left.  For the brochure and registration information, click here.

An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Posted in hellebores, Shade Perennials with tags , on January 28, 2011 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.

Plant breeders have been hard at work for years trying to get hybrid hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus) to submit to tissue culture.  For a long time the hellebores were winning, and I was quietly cheering from the sidelines.  But it seems even the mighty hybrid hellebore, the toughest plant I know, was not a match for modern technology.  You can now purchase tissue cultured hellebores that all look the same.  But my question is: why would you want to?

You have to realize that I am a person who treasures diversity even with its inherent risks of dissatisfaction and unpredictability.  I still shop at my local hardware store with its wood floors and oily smells.  I have a tab, the people there know me, the people there know hardware.  They might not have what I want—I can take that risk.  You couldn’t get me to go to a Home Depot if my life depended on it.

When I travel, I try to stay at a local B&B.  I introduce myself to the owners, I appreciate their eclectic decorating schemes, I eat their funky breakfasts.  They know the local area, they have eaten in the restaurants, they can give directions.  I stayed at a chain recently where the very nice desk clerk was not aware that there was a gas station two doors down.

So I am a person who doesn’t treasure predictability, as in sameness, the way most people seem to.

When it comes to hybrid hellebores, I don’t understand the most common concern expressed by gardeners: if the hellbore is grown from seed you can’t be 100% sure what the flowers will look like unless it’s in bloom.  There is an element of risk involved in the purchase.  Tissue culture of hellebores was developed to eliminate this unacceptable risk.

But to me that is the magic of hybrid hellebores: each plant is a unique individual, with the potential for inheriting genetic material from any of the possible 9 or more species that could be its parents.  It’s like having a baby, you don’t know and you can’t control who he or she will be because that is determined by generations of intertwining DNA.  I am assuming that even in the predictability driven US, where we invented the almighty chain store, we still would rather roll the dice than clone the cute little baby next door.  I could be mistaken.

Don’t get me wrong, the poster child for tissue-cultured hybrid hellebores ‘Kingston Cardinal’ with its large double raspberry flowers is gorgeous.  I would grow it.  But here is its main marketing mantra: Tissue cultured so every plant is identical.  Every one on your block can have the exact same plant right next to their ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum and ‘Goldsturm’ rudbeckia.   I like ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Goldsturm’ (I have them in my garden), but hybrid hellebores offer so much more than that: the diversity of life in a beautiful flower.  And tissue culture has the potential to destroy that magic just like we are losing the genetic magnificence of apples, and chickens, and tomatoes.

Here is my ode to seed strain hybrid hellebores:

photo Carol Lim

photo Carol Lim

photo Carol Lim

Please let me know in a comment which hellebore is your favorite.

Carolyn

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

Part One        Hellebores for Fall

Part Two       An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Part Three   Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore

Part Four      Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Part Five       The Sex Lives of Hellebores

Part Six          Double Hellebores

Part Seven   Cutting Back Hellebores

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

In my post I Need Your Help, I asked readers to send cards to the daughter of Kartik who was the subject of my post New Year’s Resolution to Edit the Garden.  I would still appreciate your help with this appeal.  Tara is home from the hospital, which is good news, but being confined to home and suffering daily intrusive medical procedures has left her lonely and depressed.  The cards she has received from all of you are a major bright spot in her day, and your good wishes and prayers are an inspiration to Kartik.  If you still wish to mail a card, they would love to receive it (Tara Patel, 2216 Oakwyn Road, Lafayette Hill, PA  19444, USA).  Thanks.

The view from here:


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