Monday, March 14, 2011

Hellebore Happenings

Currently in bloom in my garden are several very welcome flowers. Witch hazel 'Jelena'; the first tentative snowdrops peeking out from a snowmound; three bright yellow winter aconites (where'd they come from?); and tah-dah! Hellebore orientalis, Lenten rose. First the purple, but hard on their heels will be the pure white, the speckled ones, and so forth.

Hellebore, given their preferred site of semi-shade in rich, compost-amended soil, will happily self-sow and create a carpet of early flowers. They require little care, but for best show there is one chore that needs to be done now.....removing last year's leaves.

Hellebore foliage is almost evergreen. It's big, serrated leaves persist until taken down by snow, ice or time. As you can see in the photo above, last year's leaves are now tattered, and need to be cut and composted. Once this is done, the unfurling new flowers will stand alone in full spring glory. But BE CAREFUL. Make sure you're clipping only the old material, and not snipping the emerging flower stalk.

Once you've completed this task, enjoy the hellebore flowers for weeks to come. They're one of the joys of perennial gardening.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's New in Gardening?

The 2011 Connecticut Flower Show is over, and what did I learn?

  • That more gardeners each year are interested in growing organically, the way our grandparents did.
  • That water gardening, be it pond, waterfall, stream, etc. is still HUGE.
  • That hellebore seems to be the plant of choice for 2011.
  • That there's real concern about invasive species, such as Japanese knotweed, bittersweet and garlic mustard.
  • That there are 5 million gardening-related products to sell to winter-weary gardeners.
The best product I saw, and acquired this year at the Show is the Grass Stitcher,, an easy-to-use, ergonomic, durable lawn aerator. I'm always on the lookout for products that make life in the garden easier, and I think this is a winner. I'll be reporting in as the season progresses.

We still have a couple of feet of frozen snow on the garden, so spring work hasn't yet begun.
But the white stuff is melting slowly in the moderating weather, so it doesn't appear we'll have floods, and for that we thank Mother Nature.