Chilly. Cloudy. Chance of rain. This is Bloom Day 2010.
Although we are behind last year’s bloom day beauties, the front garden is still on track with bulbs popping up everywhere, and the beautiful Viola x wittrockiana ‘Imperial Antique Shades’ F-1 hybrids lend a softness to the border. I still need to trim the dead foliage from the nandinas. It was a hard winter for all of us.
Instead of complaining about my chilly (43F) late-winter, early-spring, I’m going to reflect on it just a moment. Last year, everything was sunny and beautiful and warm. Like Athena, who emerged fully grown from Zeus’s head, the plants fairly sprang from the ground already in bloom. Do you remember what happened later? On April 8, 2009, we had a freeze which killed the Japanese maple in the front bed (fortunately the landscaper who installed it covered its replacement), and several of my roses. As much as I love R. ‘Rio Samba’, I won’t plant her again unless it’s against an East or South facing wall.
So, it’s okay, we’re a bit behind. Really. Keep telling yourself to have a late spring.
This is H. ‘Phoebe’s’ second year in the garden. I bought her from Heronswood Nursery, but before you head over there, I want to tell you how disappointed I was with their plants and service. Heronswood was once a great nursery, but it was sold several years ago to a bigger corporation. The original seed selection of hellebores at Heronswood is unique, so I bought ‘Phoebe’, a double blooming variety, from them. I also bought two plants of H. ‘Ivory Prince’ at a premium. (I later saw bigger, better plants of IP at Lowe’s). When the plants came, they were very small, and from the beginning, H. ‘Ivory Prince’ struggled. I wrote Heronswood, and they never returned my emails. All that is left of ‘Ivory Prince’ is his name tag. So, although I do love ‘Phoebe’, I won’t buy from Heronswood again.
Contrast their behavior with Plant Delights Nursery. I also bought several plants from them last spring, and one, a hardy geranium died. I contacted them, and they immediately replaced the plant. When the Garden Writers Association visited in September, the people at Plant Delights were very helpful in getting our plants home to us. They also have an extensive hellebore breeding program. They are pricey, but they take good care of their customers. I’d like to buy H. foetidus ‘Red Silver’ strain from them this year. Maybe I will.
I’m not telling anyone else what to do. I’m just stating my personal experience. Neither nursery gave me a discount. I paid full price. Locally, TLC Nursery has great hellebores this year too. Expect to pay $13.95 or so for one plant, but they increase each year, giving you more and more blooms. Francis at Fairegarden has some hellebors which are full grown.
At TLC, if you look at the names, with a little research, you can often tell which seed strain a plant originally comes from. If you love hellebores and would like to know more, I suggest buying Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide, by C. Colston Burrell and Judith Knott Tyler. It is a wonderful book which explains the seed strains and the original hellebores like H. argutifolius, Corsican hellebore
Enough ranting. Back to the pretty pictures.
I wish these little guys were a bit bigger, but that shade of blue makes up for their small stature.
Like most hellebores, the blooms of H. ‘Red Lady’ and ‘Blue Lady’ hang downward. However H. ‘Honeyhill Joy’ faces you and its yellow/green bloom is very pretty in partial shade.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ is still blooming. She’s been in bloom about a month I think.
This is one of my favorite views right now. H. ‘Arnold Promise’ started blooming about three weeks ago. I planted the pansies last fall and mulched them. The red beside them are heucheras. Behind the blue spruce, R. ‘Applejack’ will be blooming in a month. I try to have interest in the garden most of the year.
Now, doesn’t that make everyone feel a bit warmer?