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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hellebores - The Lenten Rose

One of my constant goals is to give the botanical name along with a nickname in parenthesis. While the nickname of this plant is Lenten Rose, I do believe that many gardeners also know the botanical name of Hellebore.

Lenten Rose though is a pretty apt description for this wonderful perennial as it most certainly does begin blooming during Lent (that is, it does so here on Long Island in my zone 6b garden).

Hellebores can be quite expensive so one has to have either much money or much patience before amassing a large collection of them. In my case, it's patience, I've added one or two a year for about 8 years now.

Gardening books will tell you that Hellebores are shade lovers and will grow in lean soil. While that may be true, I've found that they reward me well for giving them a half a day of sun (morning is best) and lots and lots of compost.

Most often, Hellebores don't have single cultivar names but are sold as seedling lots. This white double is one of my favorites. If you leave the seed heads on your Hellebores they will reward you with seedlings near-by. I keep checking the ground near this beauty, no babies yet but I always have hope.

One of the reasons I heard for the down-turned blooms on Hellebores is to protect the pollen and reproduction organs from severe late winter temperatures. It certainly sounds like a good reason to me so I'll stick with that thought.

Every now and then you do find an upturned bloom. Hellebore hybridizers are working hard to get more and more varieties that do turn their faces upright. I love the freckles on this lovely seedling.

This last shot is the least artistic but the most exciting one for me. Last September I posted about dividing a large Hellebore in my garden. This is one of the divisions I planted out, each and every one of them is just chock full of blooms and buds! So much for thinking that they might sulk after division.

If you want to read the post about dividing your hellebores you need to visit my other blog, Old Country Gardens. Once there, you can type in the word "Hellebore" in the search field at the top of the blog and it will bring you to the post.

I've also added a search field to this blog and a list of post labels down the side.

Happy Spring!