Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hellebore: A Walk in the Woods and a Winter Wedding

The greatness of the hellebore is that it grows in those shady parts of your yard where other flowers will not.  It loves the overhang of a big tree and left to its own devices will send off seeds to propagate and increase its coverage year after year.  The photo below was taken in West Virginia at Barry Glick's Sunshine Farm and Gardens (sunshine in the shade I suppose).  Farmer Bob paid a visit along with two of this year's interns and had a marvelous walk through these beautiful woods.
For the past few years the beds of hellebores have been slowly increasing here at Wollam Gardens. The mauve, pink, white and green blossoms are loved by florists and market customers as an early spring/late winter marvel.  My favorite part of the hellebore (aside from its sophisticated colors and late winter beauty) has always been when the bulbous seeds protrude through the petals towards the end of their show.  In the photo below two hellebores are prominent, one purplie/pink and green with no distinctive center and one with mauve edges and a circular ring of pointed seed pods in the center.  The seed pods are a textural bit of glory for my visual eye but left to their own devices they will sew your beds without your hand year after year.
On a cut-flower farm the trick is cutting as many flowers as possible to sell while still leaving something to increase the fold from year to year.  The visit to Barry Glick's farm produced a bucket full of seedlings which left to their own devices would have been prolific here....but alas were not.  Cutting the flowers to sell means the seeds do not have a chance to self-sew.
Farmer Bob loves to tell  you about the stratification process.  The hellebore thrives on the layering of cold, than warm, than cold, than warm weather.....get it?  It's stratified (like a good italian egg and sausage strata....layer egg, layer bread, layer sausage, repeat....).  The plants throw their seeds (12-15 in each of those tiny points!)  The little seedlings emerge during the last breaths of winter.  Gotta love it.

 The foliage is so pretty too.  An interesting choice for a ground cover with a path coaxing you through to explore.  Check out the number of varieties available at Glick's farm.  It is astounding.  

By the way, if you're planning a wedding in February or March you would do well to include this bloom.  Just imagine a winter wonderland with these graceful blooms and their generous foliage interlaced with pussy willow and linens shimmering with a hint of spring green.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Oooh, hellebores spread and self-seed? That is great to know! That might make me finally shell out for one (or two or three or...). They're one of my favorite flowers, just so elegant.

    1. Yeah! The hellebore is such a great addition to the garden and one you will enjoy for years! Happy Planting!

  2. I'm not familiar with growing hellebores--other than their incredible blooming time. I love them with the seed pods! They add a lot of interest to the arrangement.

    1. I'm glad you also love the seed pods. They really are such a beautiful element of the flower!


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