hellebore “Pirouette”

Crocuses along front walk

Spring Again

My garden to-do list for February and March

  • Finish winter pruning and haul brush pile to curb for collection
  • Clean up beds, cut down dead stalks, etc.
  • Uproot or cut suckers of lilac, snowberry, and Oregon grape from spots where they’re not wanted
  • Dig up or at least cut down plants of invasive Italian arum (aka Arum italicum or lords-and-ladies)
  • Pull up maple and laburnum seedlings, shotweed, and other weeds
  • Lay out soaker hoses. (They won’t be needed until June, but it’s much easier to wrestle them into place when plants are small)
  • Edge the beds that adjoin lawns
  • Acquire materials for mulching mix: bagged manure, lime, slow-release fertilizer, kelp meal, bone meal, alfalfa pellets
  • Mix above materials with compost to make Alfa-Omega* mix for mulching, and distribute among the beds
  • Repot potted delphiniums and hostas to larger pots; ditto the rose “Fragrant Cloud,” which was grown from a cutting and therefore is on its own rather feeble roots, rather than grafted onto a vigorous rootstock
  • Seed tomatoes
  • Execute the colchicum-clematis move as per plan.

*Alfalfa plus the “end product,” i.e., manure.

I’ve already done some of these things; others are in progress. Pruning was easier this spring due to the acquisition last fall of a ladder designed for use in gardens, as opposed to home maintenance.

Three-legged ladder and Photinia
This ladder is way more stable than the four-legged type, and can be adjusted for uneven terrain. Pruning the Photinia was much easier this year! (Photo taken Feb. 27/21)

While racing around doing the tasks on the to-do list, it’s nice to stop and admire something that looks wonderful.

Iris reticulata
Iris reticulata (Photo taken Feb. 19/21)
Hellebore "Pirouette"
Hellebore “Pirouette” in its new pot (repotted last September)
Hellebore "Pirouette"
Hellebore "Pirouette" flower closeup

Hellebore photos taken Mar. 6/21

Hellebore "Ruby Wine" flowers with "Ivory Prince" in the background

Hellebores: Neither Hellish nor Boring

On a recent trip to Salt Spring Island, I acquired three hellebore plants at Fraser’s Thimble Farm, a nursery that specializes in the unusual and intriguing. Soon after, I read this post about hellebores by Paul Andruss on Sally Cronin’s blog. That inspired me to feature my three new plants in a post of their own.

These plants aren’t your run-of-the-mill hellebores, like most of the ones I already have. They are hybrids specially developed by breeders looking for striking effects and unique colours.

First, Helleborus  x ericsmithii “Pirouette”, a lovely soft pink with lime green nectaries and cream-coloured stamens that look like stars.

Hellebore "Pirouette" pink flowers
“Pirouette”
Hellebore "Pirouette" pink flowers
“Pirouette” again.

Next, Helleborus  x hybridus “Winter Jewel Black Diamond”. This is about as close as you can get to a black flower. It’s really a dark purple-red with a greyish bloom on the petals that gives them that nearly black look.

Hellebore "Black Diamond" flower close up
“Black Diamond.” You can see the underlying red in the petals on the right.
Hellebore "Black Diamond" flower petal reverse blue
“Black Diamond.” The reverse sides of the flowers look almost blue!

Finally, Helleborus x hybridus “Winter Jewel Ruby Wine”. This one looks gorgeous with the flowers and leaves backlit by sunlight.

Hellebore "Ruby Wine" backlit
“Ruby Wine” living up to its name.
Hellebore "Ruby Wine" flower close up
“Ruby Wine” flower up close.

The featured image at the top of the post shows “Ruby Wine” with “Ivory Prince” in the background. “Ivory Prince” has lived in a big blue pot near my front door for years. Now it has “Ruby Wine” for company.

Oriental Hellebore "Ivory Prince"
Hellebore “Ivory Prince”

While I was taking pictures of the new plants, I noticed this youngish plant of the Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius, self-seeded in just the right place.

Corsican hellebore green flowers
Corsican hellebore’s lime green flowers.

Lastly, not a hellebore at all, but a photo of the Japanese quince, Chaenomeles japonica, that grows against a weathered cedar fence at the back of the garden. Years ago, I saw a photo similar to this in a calendar and determined to reproduce the effect in my own garden. Unlike many horticultural intentions, this one has actually succeeded.

Japanese quince Chaenomeles japonica March 2019 against weathered cedar fence
Japanese quince flowers with weathered fence behind.