Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hellebores Are Fun In Spring

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The sun is falling quicker now and soon the day's brightness will fade away until tomorrow. It has been a beautiful day in Vermont today and I hope the same has been true where you live. I can see a light wind is rustling the leftover spirea scapes but it doesn't look serious. The snow is still deep here as Alex and I were reminded Sunday when we went to Burlington for the day. Up there the fields were bare and Lake Champlain was open all the way across to New York.

I told Alex that when I went to the University of Vermont in the mid sixties I learned to ice fish quicker than I learned British literature or Zoology. I tried to encourage him to believe me when I said that in early April of those years the lake remained frozen solid and ice fishing was a glorious event. The Burlington waterfront was lined thick with fishing shanties that were a course in sociology all by themselves. I knew Alex didn't believe me as the view coming down Main Street showed open lake and whitecaps that made him challenge my recall. Kids will do that with their parents and you often never know if they will ever see the truth.

When April draws near I begin to think seriously about a plant I really like because it is one of the first to flower here. I think hellebores are a neat plant but I find that few gardeners around these parts know what I am talking about. Kind of like trying to explain about epimediums, another favorite of mine.

Joseph Woodard knows a lot about hellebores and he shares his knowledge at a site named
Hellebores.org It's worth the trip there to see why I am fascinated by the power of this plant to push away snowbanks and beautify garden paths. Prepare to spend a little time with this site. Europe has had an interest in hellebores and more recently American gardeners have expressed a sincere interest too. When it comes to hellebores, I continue to like to visit the picture tour of Barry Glick from Renick West Virginia. To me Sunshine Farm and Gardens is a place to visit if you like hellebores. The place!

In the time that's left between now and spring flowers, take a look at these sites and let me know what you think. In the meantime, the Vermont Flower Farm site is finished save for another hundred pictures and some minor tweaking. It is graphics heavy so be willing to spend some time. We think it will be a nice visit.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the great smells of a fat roaster are floating in here from the kitchen. Gail should be calling for supper any second. Maybe your supper is ready too.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm


lynn'sgarden said...

Hi George, we have the same pretty pink hellebore in bloom :) I have met Barry Glick at previous garden shows...he is quite the expert on this lovely plant. I remember a new introduction at $150(!)...mine were the "plain jane" mix through mail order at 3 for $20..lol. Looking forward to seeing your new website.

George Africa said...

Hi Lynn;

Glad you got to meet Barry. There are a number of hellebore growers but he knows a great deal about a lot of flowers. I've never not had him answer my questions.

In late summer I try to pick off the seed pods and get the seed planted. I never figured out what likes the seed more than me but there is something that seems to take it. Kind of like my love affair with those beautiful white trilliums, the grandiflorum alba where the ants will take the ripe seeds in a few days. They like the seed coating , not the seed, but take the whole product.

Going to 60 degrees here today so maybe some of this snow will get going too!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm (revised)

earlysnowdrop said...

I love the photo with your hand covered with lots of garden soil. You are a true gardener!

I spent the day turning my composter. I thought I might get to amend my soil with it this spring but things were not completely decomposed yet.

Happy Gardening!

joey said...

Hellebores are fun and handsome, George ~ great photos! Delighted to spend hours cleaning and raking yesterday, a good thing, 'cause it's snowing like crazy today. Dinner calls (I won't tempt you :)

George Africa said...

Hello everyone;

I'd like to be outside working but we are still waiting for the snow to melt. More rain is on the way.The wind is coming up and scooting left over tree leaves across the snow top, causing the birds to rise off the platform feeder in temporary fright. Green grass will be most welcomed!