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.

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