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.
Thanks to Carol from May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, and tomorrow is Foliage Follow-up with Pam at Digging.
Also, don’t forget to enter the Ethel Gloves contest which ends tomorrow, and Mr. McGregor’s Daughter is also having a contest for a seed organizer.
Now, doesn’t that make everyone feel a bit warmer?
Hellebores are anything but boring! Love yours and thanks for your personal perspective on mail order nurseries. Customer service is a big part of any business and it is sad to hear that this once great nursery is ignoring their emails. Anyway…more blooms are on the way for all of us.
Hi Layanee, thanks for stopping by. Since I published the post, Heronswood contacted me and replaced my Ivory Prince. It is doing well in my garden. They also apologized for the lack of prior communication.~~Dee
I’m rather late for Bloom Day, Dee, but glad to see those pretty pansies and your lovely hellebores as well as all your other blooms.
I’m excited to see that I have some pansies that survived winter this year. Can’t wait to see their happy, smiling faces.
My scilla will be blooming soon. Love that blue!
Arnold’s Promise is blooming up a storm. Lucky you! Diane is lovely too…making me wish they were growing in my garden…of course 🙂
You have a beautiful garden.
.-= kerri´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March ’10 =-.
Great selection of hellebores you have there. I found Honeyhill Joy at Duke Gardens over the weekend in a 3 foot mass very impressive! I have red and blue lady thought I can barely tell them apart.
.-= Randy´s last blog ..Daffodils opened today finally =-.
Christine B. says
Hellebores are still very unusual in Alaska. I have Ivory Prince, but I haven’t seen any other varieties for sale (or in anyone’s yard). I’ll have to check out PDN for hellebores, even though shipping is beastly (as for most places to ship here) I agree with you, the service is grand and the plants healthy. Enjoyed your pics, we have nothing but snow here.
Christine in Alaska
.-= Christine B.´s last blog ..Luck in the garden =-.
Linda Lehmusvirta says
Yes, this has been a year to remember. . .or forget! With all the talk of hellebores, I must explore but I know what will happen in my clay soil. Love the scillas. Will try again. Your garden is truly lovely!
Helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence says
Hey Dee! With the winter you had, I know you must be happy to see such lovely blooms. The image of ‘Blue Lady’ does it form me. H.
nola at the alamo says
Your hellebores are beautiful! Every little bit of color makes a difference this time of the year. Won’t be long until spring, thank goodness!
Cindy, MCOK says
Dee, the Hellebores are just lovely. Tony Avent claims there are varieties I can grow here and I may have to test that claim! I love the blue of that Scilla, absolutely adore it. Those Antique Shades pansies have been faves of mine since they came out.
.-= Cindy, MCOK´s last blog ..Thyme Out =-.
Thanks for this, it is a wonderful reminder of what I have too look forward too in a few weeks.
.-= melanie´s last blog ..Aspidistra elatior =-.
The blue on that scilla really is outstanding. I’ve never given hellebores a try. I would think they would grow where I garden now. I saw that Frances’ Diane has been blooming for 3 months and now yours has been at it for a while too. Sounds like a good plant to look for.
.-= Jean´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day =-.
Jean, H. ‘Diane’ is wonderful. Francis’s started a week or two before mine. She has more moderate weather because of the mountains. You should try hellebores too. They are among my favorite plants.~~Dee
I have found over time that there are certain nurseries and garden centres that I avoid as I think their prices are too high for what they are selling or their after care is rubbish. Unfortunately, I dont think there are many decerning gardeners out there so they continue to get away with poor service.
Helen, I think you’re right. I’ve found several good hellebores at my local nursery, TLC, and I noticed the plants were featured on their newsletter this month.~~Dee
Love all the hellebore photos – mine are barely in bud right now so I’m living vicariously through all the GBBD posts of gorgeous hellebores in full bloom 🙂 Thanks also for the resources – good to know where to buy (and not buy!).
.-= GardenJunkie´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers Bloom Day March 2010 =-.
Thanks Garden Junkie. It won’t be long until yours are blooming too. I think my home has sunshine in the forecast today. It will make the hellebores and other plants open more.~~Dee
The Heronswood saga is a sad one. Dan Hinkley is now working with Monrovia to get some unusual items into the trade. I am trying a few at the garden center this spring. Happy GBBD!
Les, I didn’t know that about Dan. I’m glad to hear it. Monrovia is a great company.~~Dee
Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening says
Your late spring would be early for me! My hellebores are just barely emerging from the ground. But things are blooming about the same as last GBBD in my garden.
Kathy, I read that about the same timing on your site. I think that’s very interesting. Our weather is so unstable in the spring. I’ll just wait. It will be fine.~~Dee
Ooooh – I think I’ll take your book advice as I would like to learn more about Hellebores. Helleborus ‘Phoebe’ is delightful. You have so many of my favourites (like Witch Hazel Diane) so it was great to stop by and see some great photos!
.-= Stevie´s last blog ..A Wee Lull In Early Spring: Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day =-.
Hi Steve, there are other doubles. Thanks for your kind words about the photos. I love my early spring plants.~~Dee
Ramble on Rose says
Your garden looks great, and even if it is running a little behind it still is lovely!
.-= Ramble on Rose´s last blog ..The Chicago Flower & Garden Show 2010 =-.
Thank you Rose. I enjoyed your photos of the Chicago Flower Show.~~Dee
Carol, May Dreams Gardens says
You are having the same kind of spring we have here in zone 5. It was in the 40’s today here, too. But, your hellebores are much further along than our are. I would like to get some more hellebores, but I need more shade!
.-= Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2010 =-.
Carol, perhaps with your new plan you’ll get some shade before long. Actually in your zone, hellebores might do well with more sun. They were originally a sun loving plant, just not Oklahoma sun.~~Dee
Dee, maybe with the late spring you won’t have any surprise freezes or something even worse. I love all your hellebores. Such a variety of colors and styles. Must make you feel like a proud parent when they bloom. The blue scillia siberica is indeed amazing. Happy Bloom Day!
.-= Beckie´s last blog ..GBBD March 15, 2010 =-.
Beckie, we can only hope.~~Dee
Robin Ripley says
Well, that wasn’t really a rant. It was quite nice, really!
Thanks for the hellebores resource. I wonder if my gardening bookshelf can hold one more book?
.-= Robin Ripley´s last blog ..Southern Hospitality and a Winter Garden in Davidson =-.
Well, Robin, I kind of tore up Heronswood, but you’re sweet. Yes, that book is wonderful. They worked very hard on it. A great resource for any articles you might want to write.~~Dee
Kathleen Scott says
Found you from May Dreams bloom day. It’s always fun to see gardens in other places. And your post answered a question for me. I took a photo of an interesting bush/tree in bloom at Lady Bird Lake in Austin last week but had no clue what it was. Now I know, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ . Shoot–I want one but we’re waaay to alkaline in the Texas Hill Country.
.-= Kathleen Scott´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 15, 2010 =-.
Hi Kathleen, I’m so glad you found me. The witch hazel you took a photo of might be ‘Diane’, but there are other red ones now. There’s a great book on hamamelis too, Witch Hazels (Royal Horticultural Society Plant Collector Guide), by Chris Lane.
Lisa at Greenbow says
What beauties you have in your garden now. The forsythia is beautiful. Ours isn’t blooming yet. Not much of anything is blooming. A few crocus, pussywillow and a few hellebores. My red lady is still in bud. This is its first year. I am excited. I hope it is as pretty as yours. Happy GBBD.
Lisa, that’s not a forsythia. It’s a hamamelis, a wonderful one called ‘Arnold Promise.’ It does look like a fluffy forsythia though. Happy bloom day to you too.~~Dee
Monica the Garden Faerie says
What blooms when is so interesting–you are ahead of us in many things, but our witch hazels are pretty even! I love hellebores but alas only have one plant which has decided so far only to have one bud. I broke down and paid $15 for it last year from a local grower at the farmer’s market. P.S. The scilla are soooo cute! Why don’t I have any? (That’s a rhetorical question, LOL!)
Monica, it will take a couple of years before your hellebore looks decent. That was why I linked to Frances. The scilla are so small you could have some and not know it. LOL.~~Dee
Hi Dee. It’s been a long time since I’ve been over here. I saw you on fb and followed the link. Interesting about the hellebores you bought from Heronswood. I bought Phoebe also (last year) ~ it received a very small plant. I was out of the gardening world for a while (when I went thru a divorce) that must have been when the sale transpired?? I had previously purchased wonderful plants from them as well. You have a beautiful selection of hellebores. I will remind myself of what you said ~ a slow spring is good!! Happy bloom day.
.-= Kathleen´s last blog ..berm project =-.
Kathleen, I’m so glad you’re back! I’m also sorry you went through the divorce. Yes, probably on the sale, a couple of years ago. I love my hellebores. Yes, a slow spring is a good thing.~~Dee
Sorry to hear that your local nursery has gone downhill. How disappointing! Glad that ‘Phoebe’ is hanging on and doing well though-it’s so pretty and delicate and yet hardy looking too.
.-= Dreamybee´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day-March 2010 =-.
No, it wasn’t my local nursery. Heronswood is in Washington State and at one time, one the best nurseries. Phoebe will keep getting bigger and bigger now. It takes three years for perennials to sing.~~Dee
Oh how I feel your pain at the cold winter this has been, Dee. It is mid 40s, rainy and with a frigid wind blowing very strong right at the moment. It makes me want to cry, to be honest. Last year on this date it was 82 degrees. But seeing your Diane and Arnold made me smile, as did those lovely violas. I bought the same variety but mine are nearly all a dark purple for some reason. Switched tags perhaps? Anyway, I am with you on Heronswood. It has never been the same since it was purchased. The hellebores bred by Hinkley were terrific. I think Plant Delights carries that stock, they are buddies, aren’t they? You are right about the damage that can be done by late frosts when things leaf out too soon, so I guess we are better off in the long term. Thanks for the mention about the hellebores. I don’t have any doubles, but each one is unique and there are literally thousands of babies that have germinated. Sometimes having the no name types works out well. Although I did buy Ivory Prince from Lowes last year. 🙂
.-= Frances´s last blog ..March Bloom Day 2010 =-.
Frances, I wish I’d bought IP from Lowe’s last year when I saw it. I stubbornly though I had two so I didn’t. Silly me. You have amazing hellebores. I read somewhere that the colors in H. ‘Diane’ can be different shades depending on the soil and sunlight. I don’t know.~~Dee
Mr. McGregor's Daughter says
Thanks for the link to my Seed Keeper contest. I’m sorry about your bad experience with the “new” Heronswood. That is just what I was afraid was going to happen when it was sold. It’s really too bad, as ‘Phoebe’ is just lovely. I have one PDN Hellebore that came out of the “old” Heronswood breeding program. This is only it’s second year in my garden, so I can’t wait to see it bloom. It’s funny, you have ‘Blue Lady’ and ‘Red Lady,’ neither of which I have, but I have ‘Pink Lady,’ although a couple of those look like ‘Blue Lady.’ Gotta love those Hellebore seed strains.
.-= Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog ..Spring Begins: March Bloom Day =-.
MMD, I think the seed strains all resemble each other. ‘Blue Lady’ and ‘Red Lady’ are very similar.~~Dee
Such Pretty blooms! I’m so jealous, not much going on here aside from buds & Snow Drops! But that’s coastal living here, we’re a bit behind!
.-= Jo´s last blog ..March is Women’s History Month =-.
Hi Jo, you’ll soon catch up. Happy Women’s History Month and bloom day.~~Dee
Robin at Getting Grounded says
Dee, Those Hellebores are gorgeous! Thanks for the nursery info; I am always happy to send my business to companies that have treated others well. There are too many choices out there these days for me to honor a business that doesn’t care about me.
Yes, we are all behind schedule this year aren’t we? Though perhaps that means a more tolerable summer? We can only hope. Great post.
Lucy Corrander says
Your thoughts are in parallel to mine in that it has struck me that while some plants are missing or very late this year due to the weather – others seem to be doing specially well. There’s something in favour a wide range of plants.
.-= Lucy Corrander´s last blog ..TAKE ONE TREE =-.
Yes, Lucy, it’s a different kind of year.~~Dee