Maroon with freckles, double
A week ago, on a Sunday, my garden club and I went abroad to visit a nursery. We went to St. Nicolaas in Belgium ;-) to visit a Hellebores nursery. If you have been paying any attention at all, then you know that Hellebores are one of my favourite plants and it's not difficult to figure out why, is it?
What's not to like? The plant has beautiful leaves and is more or less evergreen. It flowers for a long period of time (months) in Winter and early Spring when not a lot else is in flower. And speaking of flowers, Hellebores come in so many colours, single or double and with or without spots. Just have a look!
Single white with a crimson eye
Double cream with maroon spots
Single yellow with maroon eye
At the nursery there was also a show garden where we could look at all the gorgeous Hellebores and how well they do outside in the wild, so to speak, and to what size they grow. We got a guided tour by the owner of the nursery who told us a lot about how to grow Hellebores successfully. They grow the Orientals, which are healthy and strong plants. In December they remove all the leaves of the plants as Hellebores can be sensitive to black fungus. An added bonus is that without the leaves, the flowers are more noticeable. You should leave at least 75 to 100 centimeter of space between two Hellebores to keep both plants happy and healthy.
Here's another pic of those lovely yellow Hellebores. The picture doesn't do it justice because it really was a beautiful light yellow, not cream.
The black Hellebores were almost true black, some where a very, very deep purple, others a sort of very deep grey. Here's one combined with snowdrops, a wonderful combination.
This is a combination of the biggest snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis S. Arnott) and double white Hellebore. We enjoyed ourselves a lot as it was such a nice and sunny day and we were surrounded by many gorgeous flowers. There were a lot of plants for sale and who can resist buying lovely early spring flowering plants? Not I, that's for sure. Now you might be thinking that I bought a few Hellebores, as they are one of my favourites. But no, I'd already bought a few, well OK, I bought 5 Hellebores a couple of weeks ago, so this time I bought these
gorgeous winter aconites. Here they are the first to flower in the garden, even earlier than the snowdrop. They cost 1.50 euro ( 2.25 USD/CAD) a pot (10 bulbs) at the nursery. This is a new kind of winter aconite, its bulbs can withstand drought much better, which makes it easier for bulb growers to grow and sell them as the bulbs won't dry out so quickly and shrivel up and die. I'm going to plant them underneath my apple tree, together with some snowdrops. Hopefully they will spread and will look like this after a few years!
Words fail me to sing the praises of the winter aconite (Eranthis) so I'll let dear Beverley Nichols do that for me and so eloquently too:
It is not 'one of the first spring flowers.' It is a mid-winter flower. It is not 'effective'. It is dazzling. And, from my experience, it would come up if you planted it on a iceberg. I'm sorry to get so hot about the winter aconite, but I hate to see these lovely things neglected. I hate to think of all the bare gloomy spaces in English and American gardens, in mid-January, when they might all be made as gay as a buttercup field.
A buttercup field in mid-January! That is what the aconites will do for you, if you buy enough of them. For the aconite is like a large, brilliant buttercup with a green ruff around its neck, and nothing will stop it from flowering. Its brave gold is untarnished by rain, by snow, by the fiercest degrees of frost. I once planted some aconites in low ground under trees. Shortly after Christmas the ground was flooded. Then came the frost, and a thick sheet of ice covered the whole area. Yet the aconites pushed their way through the earth, expanded their blossoms, and gleamed underneath the ice, like a Victorian posy under a glass dome. They are particularly lovely when there are a few inches of snow on the ground. Their stems are just tall enough to lift the blossoms above the white coverlet. The effect is of gold-spangled satin. But they are lovely too on the mild days, for then they open very wide, and one sees how essentially innocent and childlike they are, which makes their courage and endurance all the more remarkable.
From Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nichols
If that will not get you out of your chair and off to a nursery or garden centre to buy zillions of winter aconites then I don't know what will. But that's enough of you Beverley, off you go, what were you thinking of, waxing lyrically about aconites on a blog about Hellebores? :-)
I'm feeling a bit better today, but am still very tired. It's not easy coping with both a viral and a bacterial infection at the same time. Thanks for all the kind words, healing thoughts and best wishes. They do help! :-)
copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen