Archives for April 2013

Green Flowered Hellebores

helleborus-corsicus.jpgThe herbaceous perennial helleborus is represented by 20 or so species.  It is a member of the ranunculus family.  This incredible picture of a flower of Helleborus Corsicus, from, tells the tale.  Hellebore flowers are comprised of 5 sepals, which persist in fruit.  The fact that hellebores emerge from the ground and bloom very early in our gardening year is plenty enough reason to grow them.  But the fact that the 5 sepals hang on for months-during and after the time that the flower sets seed-is even more compelling. The lustrous green foliage grows vigorously, and persists in my garden throughout the winter.  My plants are virtually care free.  They get sun, adequate moisture, and are protected from winter winds by an old stand of dwarf spruce-picea mucrunulatum.  I have never divided them, nor do I feed them.  I do spend plenty of time looking at them-they are that good looking.

helleborus argutifoliusI had a mind to grow helleborus argutifolius, as I am very fond of green flowers.  This species grows quite tall, and features shiny and spiny leaves.  I had no idea at the time that hellebores are divided into 2 groups-those that bloom on the leaf stalks like helleborus argutifolius, and those whose leafless flower stalks emerge from the ground in the spring.  I was never successful with this hellebore-the Michigan winters invariably rotted the buds before they could open in the spring.  I finally ripped them all out, in favor of those hellebores whose flowers were kept safely below ground until the freezing winter weather had passed.

helleborus-viridis.jpgHelleborus viridis is fairly uncommon in the garden.  It is usually the darkest green, and the shortest of the green hellebores.  You can find excellent photographs and descriptions via Graham Rice.


Helleborus orientalis has in recent years been the subject of considerable hybridization.  You can find beautiful green hellebores for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Garden, Pine Knot Farms, Plant Delights Nursery, Fraser’s Thimble Farms and Arrowhead Alpines.  If you love green flowers, and perennial plants that are beautiful the entire season long, try some green hellebores.  To follow is a collection of pictures that will give an idea of wide a range of green flowering cultivars are available.




early-and-late-green-hellebore-flowers.jpgThis picture from my own garden shows the flower in full bloom on the left, and the sepals still intact on a flower from the same plant on the right.

double-green-hellebore-flowers.jpgMany of  these pictures come from – an excellent reference, if you are looking for more information.

pale-green-helleborus-orientalis.jpgThis photo is from  My hellebores at home are just beginning to throw their flower stalks.  The next month will be such fun-watching them develop.

green-hellebore-flower.jpgThese flowers are incredibly beautiful.  Looking fore a plant that is worth all of your love and then some?  Try a hellebore.



Sunday Opinion: The Plants


My enchantment with plants dates back so long I can hardly remember how it started.  To the best of my recollection, a brief residence in North Carolina after I graduated from college got me interested in orchids.  Who knows what prompted that.  A plant at the grocery store checkout counter-it could have been.  Within just a few months, I was spending more on orchids than groceries.  My rental house in Chapel Hill had orchids in pots and on boards hanging from the trees.  The mild climate made it easy to cultivate them outdoors.  The slipper orchids-loved them.  Who knows why or how, but I became intensely interested in plants.  All of a sudden, I was noticing them everywhere.  In parking lots, and in residential yards.  In buildings.  In wild places, left to their own devices.  What was growing behind the garage, or at the ocean shore.  The plants-loved each and every one of them.


The moment that I became aware of plants was not a momentous day.  Just an ordinary moment.  But in the years since, I can see that the life of the plants has altered and greatly influenced the course of my life.  Wildflowers.  trees.  tree peonies.  rock garden plants.  herbaceous perennials hardy in my zone.  the annuals that live but one season.  Ferns.  Dahlias.  Woody shrubs.  herbs.  evergreens.  succulents.  vegetables. bulbs, espaliers. moss and lichens.  Tropical plants.  The plant kingdom-the organizing metaphor, the language upon which a landscape or garden design is built.  Why am I thinking about this?  Our spring fair opened yesterday.  10 growers brought their spring plants to exhibit and sell.  We moved our fair inside-the cold, blustery, and snowy weather was so terrible.  As much as I hated to host a spring fair when fair spring weather was not in the forecast, I was ready for a spring celebration.  Lots of other people were ready for spring too-notwithstanding the current cold and gray.


As reluctant as I was to move the growers with their plants inside our shop, they were pleased.  And the many hundreds of people who came today were happy for a venue indoors too.  Our warehouse style garage was packed with people all day long-looking at the plants.  I was astonished to hear the general consensus from all of the growers in attendance. We like being indoors, in close quarters.  The feeling-community-like.  I personally observed gardeners in that garage for hours-looking over the plants.  They were dry, warm, and comfortable.  They had lots of company.  Why should I be surprised?  It is the plants- around which no end of different people express their delight and connection with the natural world.  There was a lot of talk.  A lot of looking.  A lot of exchange.  I feel certain, after a Saturday that was jam packed from start to finish, this spring fair was above all, about the plants.


I had lots of confirmation today that there is an instinct in people to make something grow.  Better than that-a love for making something grow.   People who had never met before, were deep in conversation, and making notes. Over the plants.  The peonies from Wiegands and the hellebores from Arrowhead Alpines-sold out.  The wildflowers from Starr Foster-all but gone.  I was so worried about the weather for our fair.  Tonight I realize that the gardening people and the plants made the weather a side story.  The main attraction?  Making something grow.

gardener-to-be.jpgAnd then of course, passing that on.

Yellow Hellebores

helleborus-hybridus-yellow-with-red-flare.jpgPictures of the yellow hellebores, as promised.  Helleborus hybridus with red flares.  As this strain is seed grown, each plant has individually marked flowers.  The yellow color is pale-but definitely yellow.  I couldn’t resist-I had to have this one.







At A Glance: Arrowhead Alpines

The plants Joseph brought from Arrowhead Alpines-I could not take my eyes off of them. To follow-a small sample of what he brought for the fair.  The pale yellow hellebores – this was a first for me.  They are so beautiful!  The plants are well grown.  How unusual they are is completely enchanting.  All of the plants that were brought in and arranged this afternoon-enchanting.  Itoh hybrid peonies.  Virginia bluebells and snowdrops. Primulas of various types.  Succulent bowls. A preview of summer annual combinations via Proven Winners. Pansy and lettuce pots.  Spring twigs. Potted tulips and hyacinths.  Some gorgeous doronicum in full flower-from Bogie Lake.  The spring has been so slow in coming that I am having time to thoroughly anticipate and savor the season.   Our garden fair-I will admit I am excited about it.  Black and white shortbread cookies, as usual.  The regular hearty sweet loaves. Great coffee and tea.  A community of great growers.  We are ready.









miniature-alpine-daffodil.jpgI have never seen this narcissus before.  If you have a big love for plants, come to the fair.  I will say that how the shop looks-courtesy of Rob’s tireless work- is worth a look see. Hope to see you this weekend.