Advertisement

A Tough Plant for Tough Times


This is the year of the hellebore, at least in my garden. I have about a dozen now, with several of the lime-green ones being self-sown seedlings that have turned into grown-ups that now produce flowers. The others are rosy-red (sold as pink) and the color contrast is pleasant. So far there has been no “intermarriage” or “promiscuity” among them, so green is staying green and rose is staying rose.

Pink and mauve Helleborus x hybridus with light green foliage plays well with purple-red Euphorbia on a slope at the Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore, Pa. Photo: Charlotte Kidd

I wonder if there is any hardier spring perennial on the planet — or at least on this part of the planet. As soon as I felt inspired to venture into the garden this spring (a journey I usually make in mid-March, but this year March found me still ensconced indoors with a hot cup of tea), I went rummaging around in the mulch, and sure enough, I saw hellebore buds just beginning to poke their noses through the ground.

When it got a little warmer, it was time for the annual hellebore maintenance — cutting off last year’s leaves. That’s it. Nothing more to do.

Hellebores aren’t cheap, but the Helleborus orientalis I have (sometimes sold as Helleborus x hybrida) will last and last. It’s also sometimes called the Lenten rose. There’s another hellebore called the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), but it doesn’t put out as many flowers, and I think it’s not as hardy. Better to spend your pennies where they will do some good.

Now there are double-flowered hellebores and two-toned varieties on the market, who knows what goodies the breeders will come up next? I’m saving my pennies.

categories

Chicago Flower and Garden Show Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Spotlights
From Home Garden to Production Garden

Home garden or production garden? This space does both.


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - Nov/Dec 2014

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s a flash mob of garden writers! Late last summer 420 garden writers from the U.S. & Canada ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Volunteer Army

Pop Quiz! (Bet you didn’t see this coming. Hurry! There’s still time to turn to another page! Oops, too late.)


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Pathogens on Parade

Those of you who are regular readers of this column are no doubt already aware that actual horticultural content is not my ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
A Bit about Bees

Growing bee-friendly plants is one way to help increase the bee population. Another way is to actually raise bees.


questions

I am interested in growing fruit trees in my suburban DuPage County yard. Can sweet cherries be grown here? Can you suggest varieties of apples, pears, peaches, apricots and plums that are hardy and disease resistant?

Is there a best time to plant tulips? I see them at the garden centers in late summer but I am afraid that it is too early to plant them. If I wait too long, I might forget all about them.

Besides mums, what are a few other plants you would recommend for containers for fall color?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement